Ringside Seats at the Chef’s CounterChef’s tables used to be the final word on special treatment: the one table in a good restaurant to which the chef paid personal attention. But as the entertainment ante is upped each year — blurring the line between gastronomy and theater — chef’s tables have given way to the even more intimate chef’s counters. There, the lucky diner sits only a few feet of burnished wood away from the action. From the high-end bar at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon to the counter-only option at Momofuku Ko, diners are eager to see the sausage being made. Here are a few of our favorite counters, each an example of the narrow border between feeder and fed.
You Don’t Need to Go to New Jersey for a Beefsteak BanquetEvery time we read about fantastic food events in faraway places (like, say, Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey), we fume at the fact that we are only reading about them. Why must we be, like Mr. Duffy in James Joyce’s A Painful Case, “outcast from life’s feast”? Such was our mood when reading Wednesday of the bacchanalian “beefsteak” banquets being held in New Jersey, but then, toward the end, we were reminded that New York has its own beefsteak coming up. It’s Beacon’s Beefsteak, of course.
Josh DeChellis Frying Lunch in the West Village; Gray’s Papaya Still PoliticalClinton Hill: Il Torchio may have only opened in August and be prone to underseasoning and overbearing Italian accents, but the restaurant is already gearing up to expand. [Eat for Victory/VV]
East Village: Savoy chef Peter Hoffman’s new restaurant Back Forty has a soft opening today and will officially begin service on Wednesday. [Grub Street]
Greenwich Village: The 70-year-old founder of Gray’s Papaya who posted the “Bloomberg for President” sign on 8th Street “has never been shy about using his store windows for political expression; Jimmy Carter, in 1976, and Bill Bradley, in 1999, both earned his presidential endorsement. And in 1998, when Bill Clinton was facing impeachment, Mr. Gray displayed a sign that read, ‘Hang in there, Mr. President.’” [NYT]
Midtown: Beacon has added a “kitchen counter” which functions as a chef’s table, a burger bar, and the site of a weekly tasting menu. [Strong Buzz] A midtown pizza-truck war has broken out. [Midtown Lunch]
West Village: BarFry kicks off lunch service today. [Grub Street]
Nello Buys ‘Page Six’ on the Cheap; Jody Williams Trying Not toNello’s Nello Ballan gives Richard Johnson a $1,000 gift, and fifteen “Page Six” mentions of Ballan’s restaurant later, the embattled gossip column has the devil to pay. [NYT]
Jody Williams claims not to have read Frank Bruni’s review of Morandi, though she knows that people are laying odds on the date of her departure. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
Related: Not So Bene [NYM]
Restaurant-industry lobbyists express a not-unexpected disappointment with the federal minimum-wage increase passed by Congress, finding it “entirely out of place” in a war-spending bill. [Nation’s Restaurant News]