Saturday’s New Taste of the Upper West Side was a coming-out party of sorts for the neighborhood, having regained its identity as a celebrated food district. Chef Michael Psilakis expressed gratitude for Kefi’s “cult status” in the neighborhood and its resulting full dining room. But the opening of Kefi 2.0 on Columbus Avenue has been delayed, Psilakis says. He hopes the new space will open in August, but don’t expect any changes to the menu. “We’re not looking to change the concept,” says the chef. “We just want a place where we can take reservations, take credit cards, and not make people wait an hour for dinner.”
On another side of the tent, a clogged Shake Shack table offered a glimpse of what the corner of 77th and Columbus might look like when it opens there. Design is complete and construction begins in a month, says Randy Garutti, who is overseeing the new shack for Danny Meyer. With a kitchen twice the size of the Madison Square Park outpost and seating for 70, Garutti hopes the line won’t be so long. But judging from the crowds who lined up all night for Shack-cago dogs, we suspect that’s wishful thinking.
There was plenty else to see and taste at the sold-out event. A raucous crowd imbibing from bottomless wine glasses and beer cups failed to shut up for honorees Gael Greene and Tim and Nina Zagat, so they quickly left the stage to chat with Daniel Boulud. Memorable dishes were Zak Pelaccio’s short-rib rendang; country biscuits with ham and gravy from Madaleine Mae; and Bar Boulud’s terrine of chicken and Meyer lemon. Desserts were more whimsical, with cotton candy from Landmarc and shaved ice from Eighty One, plus the inevitable bite-size cupcakes from Magnolia Bakery. —Michael Alan Connelly