Two weeks ago, it was Mario Batali who bared his considerable fangs and lashed out at the Gobbler in a most unseemly way. Now, this week, comes word of another anti-Gobbler screed penned by the aggrieved and suddenly blog-happy restaurateur Mr. Jeffrey Chodorow. Mr. Chodorow takes issue with the Gobbler’s not entirely unkind, one-star review of the restaurateur's giant fish-themed restaurant, Wild Salmon. To which the Gobbler can only say, “Thank you, Mr. Chodorow!” As we said last week in this space, a critic isn’t doing his job unless fat cats like Batali and Mr. Chodorow occasionally become unhinged. Restaurateurs know their own businesses intimately, after all, and we professional critics only peddle subjective opinion. If Chodorow chooses to take issue with our opinions, he’s more than entitled to it.
Steve Cuozzo uses his bully pulpit in the Post to come down hard on the Shake Shack, calling the place out for insanely long lines and “a hamburger that’s an also-ran at best.”
Related: Kyle Dureau Wants Shake Shack to Be Open 24/7 As Much As You Do [Grub Street]
Having weathered a major two-star review by Adam Platt, Insieme finally gets its first three-star one, from Moira Hodgson, who is impressed by how perfectly executed every dish is, lavishing special praise on one of the place’s more overlooked features, co-owner Paul Grieco’s wine list. [NYO]
Related: Italian, Old and New [NYM]
The Times gives Katz’s the full Frank Bruni treatment, and the place comes out of it with one star, much loving description, and an eerie semi-confirmation of our earlier report that the place might be sold. [NYT]
Related: Mother of Mercy! Is This the End of Katz’s? [Grub Street]
The attentions of New York’s food staff are divided between modernity and tradition. Gael Greene is vexed with Provence, a reopened French restaurant which was faithfully conventional even in its former incarnation. Rob and Robin, apart from their usual announcements of new places in Openings, extract from Anthos chef Michael Psilakis a comparatively novel recipe for mature dandelion greens. And Adam Platt finds himself caught in the middle of Marco Canora’s half-modern, half-classical menu at Insieme.
Adam Platt and Frank Bruni are no longer banned from Jeffrey Chodorow’s restaurants. Even though, says the restaurateur, Platt “missed the whole point of Wild Salmon.” [Restaurant Girl]
Related: Salmon Cured? [NYM]
In a revealing interview, Marco Pierre White takes a stand against the star-chef game: “Can you imagine: You take your wife out to my restaurant for dinner, and I'm not behind the stove. You find out I'm in America — how would you feel when you've just done $1,200 for dinner? It's a sour taste, isn't it?” [Salon]
Thomas Keller announces that he isn’t really the man at Per Se: “I [speak] as someone who is somewhat detached from it because it is a Jonathan Benno restaurant.” [MSN]
When the dignified and unflappable restaurant critic Adam Platt learned that, in a moment of unzipped candor, the great Mario Batali had called him a “miserable fuck,” the critic removed a dusty bottle of rye from his desk drawer and poured himself a noonday toast. After all, if chefs don’t squeal like stuck hogs once in a while, a restaurant critic isn’t doing his job. But the Gobbler had a different reaction. “Miserable Fuck”?!??!?! Wasn’t that a bit over the top? The Gobbler got on the phone with Mrs. Gobbler to find out.
Just another night at the Spotted Pig: Marco Pierre White, trying to demonstrate a flaming cocktail to Mario Batali, Tony Bourdain, and friends, sets himself on fire, gets doused with wine and Champagne, and stabbed in the hand. [NYP]
Related: Batali, Bourdain, and Ramsay Mentor to Finally Take on America? [Grub Street]
There are so many high-end restaurants looking for good ingredients that the world will literally run out of them, a world-famous Australian chef claims. [Australian News]
Utterly dependent as it is on illegal workers, the restaurant industry is lobbying hard against the new immigration bill in Congress. [Nation's Restaurant News]
The typical New York diner (to say nothing of the typical New York reader) will generally get around to all the major food groups in the course of a week. There is the fish group, represented this week by Adam Platt’s one-star review of Wild Salmon, and the southern Italian sea bounty of Bar Stuzzichini, Rob and Robin’s lead opening. The meat group is well served by Prime Burger, the Insatiable Critic assures. The vegetable tribe appears courtesy of Mark Ladner’s spring-onion flan in In Season. Finally, after all this eating, all most of us would want is a bed to lie down in, and Rob and Robin provide some tips for that as well.
A trio of food events, some stinging nettles, and two very serious Japanese restaurants make up this week’s food news. Though the items may be few in number, the magazine’s contents carry a significant freight of good tidings. Adam Platt visits a modern sushi restaurant and an intimate Japanese kaiseki establishment, and finds both pleasingly stark and traditional, a welcome change from the big-box Asian behemoths of recent years. Sara Jenkins, formerly of Bread Tribeca, provides a similarly plain but elegant recipe for one of the spring’s most welcome greens, wild stinging nettles, which adorn a simple Tuscan bucatini dish. Last, this week’s Short List features three events which have nothing in common except all sounding absolutely delicious.
“I took the expressway out to the track,” wrote Hunter Thompson on his way to the Kentucky Derby, “driving with a beer in one hand and my mind so muddled I almost crushed a Volkswagen full of nuns.” The Gobbler thought of the great Bard of Gonzo when he made his own pilgrimage to the Derby last weekend, traveling with Mrs. Gobbler and her box full of hats. Thompson wrote his famous account almost 40 years ago, but in the interim not much appears to have changed. The track, on the outskirts of Louisville, still resembles a “huge outdoor loony bin,” and members of the local gentry are still “guzzling their mint juleps with two hands.” Here is the Gobbler’s dimly recalled, blow-by-blow account.
New York’s food coverage this week has an air of decadence and satiety to it. Its mood is one of indulgence. Adam Platt wanders into two gastropubs and wanders out happy with one and very unhappy with the other. Charles Stuart Platkin describes the gastronomic orgy that is a tasting meal at Per Se and explains, scientifically, how insanely fattening it really is. Our three announced openings are likewise all of a starkly sybaritic kind: an expensive new sushi restaurant, a wine store, and a gelato parlor. And, this being Kentucky Derby time, this week’s In Season spotlights that perennial favorite of the idle, the classic mint julep, as prepared by LeNell Smothers, New York’s resident bourbon guru.
The question the Gobbler gets asked more than any other is “What’s hot?” And for a several months now, the Gobbler has answered, with tedious regularity, “Nothing.” People are still clawing their way into Waverly Inn, and if you enjoy offal products done up in an elegant, Asian-fusion style, Momofuku Ssäm Bar is the place for you. But the grandiose cycle of openings which began with the arrival of Masa and Per Se at the Time Warner Center four years ago and reached a crescendo early last year with the giant Meat District extravaganzas like Buddakan and Del Posto has more or less petered out. Sure, there have a been a few tepid revivals (the Russian Tea Room), and bigfoot out-of-town chefs like Joël Robuchon and Gordon Ramsay have opened franchise outlets. There are plenty of restaurants in town, and plenty of them are busy. But this most recent boom may have run its course. Here are some possible reasons why.
In this week’s issue, as befits spring, nature is bursting out of our food coverage. Snails and sea urchins take supporting roles in Adam Platt’s review of the highly rarefied Anthos; Gael Greene flutters into a restaurant called Tree; Rob and Robin talk tomatoes, spring almonds, and even more snails; and, in the spirit of growth, our food editors lay out two Short Lists of places where you can introduce young, growing gourmands to their future lifetime pursuit. Plus, four new restaurant bloom in the April sunshine, all in New York this week.
The Gobbler recently introduced the world to what he called the “Refined Meathead” school of cooking. Meatheads are mostly male, pork- and offal-obsessed cooks who disdain classical (read “French”) haute cuisine in favor of an earthier brand of cuisine. Mario Batali is king of the Meatheads. David Chang is a Meathead. Daniel Boulud, who grew up eating robust Lyonnaise food and cooks the best pork belly in town when he feels like it, is a closet Meathead. Who are the rest of the Meatheads? How would you know one if you met one in the street? Here are the Gobbler’s Six Meathead Commandments.
This week’s food section is all about pressure: A pastry chef has to cook every night for a president who hates pineapples and will send him packing at the first hint of progressive dessert-making; Vinh Nguyen, a first generation Vietnamese-American, rolls the dice with his Williamsburg restaurant Silent H, and, as far as Rob and Robin are concerned, comes up lucky seven; Jeffrey Chodorow, fresh off his battle with Frank Bruni and Adam Platt, opens a big new restaurant and hopes for the best; and four new restaurants open, surely hoping for the best as well. Even this week’s In Season is rife with tension, calling as it does for a delicate filleting operation that could easily destroy a beautifully roasted flounder. The New York food world is not for the faint of heart.
The Four Seasons gets perhaps the most negative two-star review in the history of the Times; Bruni seems to think the stars were grandfathered in. A telling example of how reputation floats reviews. [NYT]
Meehan, meanwhile, visits a chowhound's paradise, a Hindu temple in Flushing. [NYT]
Morandi takes another blow, this time from Time Out’s Randall Lane, who like our own Adam Platt, finds it overdesigned and unimpressive, albeit with a few decent dishes. [TONY]
Related: Not So Bene [NYM]
After much speculation, the 2007 nominees for the James Beard Awards, the Oscars of the restaurant world, are in. Adam Platt, Rob Patronite, Robin Raisfeld, and Grub Street all filled out Beard brackets (or at least revealed whom we’d like to see win) on Friday. Here's how the academy's coming down.
In this week’s issue of the magazine, things are a little topsy-turvy. Back from London after sampling (and writing about) that city's burgeoning restaurant scene, Adam Platt eats at a place that hasn’t technically opened, and Rob and Robin provide some choices for killing time at one that reopens this week. And if the winter weather is keeping you home, the Underground Gourmet provides a recipe for little purple potatoes, cooked simply up and smashed with a fork, just the way they do it at Gramercy Tavern.
Recently, apropos nothing much, a prominent young chef we were chatting with launched into a tirade about the restaurant world’s “labor problem.” “None of us can get enough good cooks!” he exclaimed, by way of explanation. Between 2000 and 2006, only a handful of high-end restaurants — Lespinasse, Meigas, Quilty’s — have closed, and there has been an avalanche of major openings: Robuchon, Ramsay, Per Se, Masa, Craft, Del Posto, Morimoto, A Voce, the Modern, Lever House, Buddakan, Cafe Gray, Alto — the list goes on and on. “And it’s not just the massive boom of restaurants,” Adam Platt tells us. “They also have to be either bigger, or chefs have to open multiple places, so that they can enjoy the economies of scale they need to compete.”
It’s no secret that Gordon Ramsay’s hasn’t exactly set New York on fire: As Adam Platt noted, his food is expensive and not very exciting. Ramsay must’ve been listening, because he’s introduced a prix fixe menu priced to rival the $28 lunch being offered at nearby Jean Georges.
The Best of New York, our annual declaration of supreme excellence in the fields of fried chicken, massages, etc., is our gathered opinion, honed down after a great deal of deliberation. It goes without saying that every New Yorker is entitled to his own conclusions. But you can at least credit the collective food brain at New York with getting around to a lot of restaurants (and other places where one eats). Here we cover the high and the low, from French fries to fugu. Is your most admired pot sticker or beloved cupcake on the list? And is it possible — just possible — that our pick could be better?