Brooklyn Heights: “Closed by the Commissioner of Health” clearly taken lightly at Heights Cafe where diners have been spotted munching the mediocre fare. [Brooklyn Heights Blog]
Chelsea: Richard Ruben, author of The Farmer’s Market Cookbook, will host classes at the Institute of Culinary Education starting June 1 that begin with an ingredient hunt at Union Square’s Greenmarket. [Blog Chelsea]
East Hampton: Restaurants open seven days starting this weekend, including Nick & Toni’s and Harbor Bistro. [Hamptons.com]
Fort Greene: Locals search for answers to the fate of the space at Lafayette and Cumberland Avenues, have high hopes for Thai but as yet no answers. [Brooklyn Record]
Little Italy: A two-way mirror intensifies the door policy at GoldBar, but if you have a face like an old Frenchman, you shouldn’t have a problem. [Down by the Hipster]
Prospect Heights: Flatbush Farm hosting another barbecue this weekend. [Eater]
Last winter we reported that the Frying Pan had lost its lease and was moving three blocks uptown. The little party boat that could has indeed made the move to Pier 66 at 26th Street, and though at one point it was set to open June 1, a call to Angela Krevy, wife of owner Steve, reveals that lease negotiations with the Hudson River Park Trust are taking longer than expected. “You can't fight City Hall,” Krevy quipped, “And you can’t speed it up, either.” But is this more than simply a matter of red tape?
Chelsea: The big pink cupcake may have gotten all the press up until now, but how do the cupcakes taste? [Blog Chelsea] A man who claimed to be the nephew of Dolce & Gabbana was arrested at Bungalow 8 and not by the fashion police. [Eater]
Jamaica: Delta terminal 2 at JFK is getting a Balducci’s. [NewYorkology]
Southampton: Cain drops its plans for the Hamptons. [Down by the Hipster]
Upper West Side: P&G Corner Café getting harassed by its landlords; hence the no walls. [Lost City]
West Village: New York toasts Italy this weekend. Maremma and Otto are among restaurants serving special tasting menus by the chefs. [Bene Magazine] A tipster says its lights out for Central Kitchen, but a message machine says they’ll be open by June. [Grub Street]
Customers at Chelsea’s Swich kill time waiting for their panini with one of the strangest of New York restaurant entertainments: SwichTV, a continuous loop of weird, soundless, Dada-like performances by random people shown on a big flat-panel display. (Two typical examples can be seen above.) Owner John Gargiulo creates the movies, which feature such stone-faced characters as Charade Girl, Awkward Mary, and What’s in the Box Guy, but feels that the videos have gotten a little stale. So he plans to do a new batch and is inviting all Grub Street readers to contact him for inclusion. There is no pay and no credit, but if you're chosen, you will have the pride of starring in videos about which Gargiulo says, “Most people get it, while others stare at it like ‘what the f*!k is this?‘”
Earlier: Swich On: New Shop Suggests Eventual Empire
There are few sites that entertain us more than Shameless Restaurants, where anonymous industry toilers rant about their current or former employers. However when we ran across this post on Bottino, a restaurant we like, we weren’t so much entertained as grossed out and skeptical. If you have a good appetite right now, you may want to hold off reading this screed from a former waiter.
Rob and Robin bring good news to two very underserved neighborhoods in this week’s Openings. The diurnal financial district gets a 24-hour brasserie complete with sushi bar in Gold St. Meanwhile the West Thirties, the grim border area between Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea, welcome Zipper Tavern, a legitimate gastropub with its own house-made charcuterie. We assume the view of passing tumbleweeds out the windows only adds to the atmosphere.
Openings: Provence, Resto, Gold St., Zipper Tavern
Given that Wayne Nish transformed March into Nish just three months ago, we were surprised when we learned last week that he’d been assigned the task of creating a new menu at Varietal in the wake of chefs Ed Witt and Jordan Kahn exiting. Capable dude that he is, Nish started serving his dishes over the weekend. He even took some time to hook us up with said menu and explain where Witt and Kahn had gone wrong.
RUB, fresh off its coronation as the best place for barbecue, apparently cannot be confined by the bounds of our city. We hear from sources inside the restaurant that an immense 9,000-square-foot outpost is in the works at the Rio in Las Vegas, with a planned summer opening. It will look completely different from the cramped New York original, with an open floor plan, 250-plus seats, and three full-size show rotisseries capable of slow-cooking whole pigs over wood fires. And apparently, this is only the start of a RUB plan for global domination: The restaurant’s negotiating to drop outposts into Harrah’s casinos both inside and outside of these United States. James Bond better let out that tuxedo.
Wayne Nish, who already has a namesake venue with Nish, will now take over the kitchen at Varietal, too, replacing Ed Witt. Varietal owner Greg Hockenberry implied earlier that he’d fired Witt; Witt informs us that he left of his own accord — because the restaurant was going more “mainstream.” (Avant-garde dessert chef Jordan Kahn also quit, presumably under similar pressure. He declined to comment when we spoke with him.) Restaurant Girl, who broke news of the hire, reports that Nish will implement a $48 prix fixe menu — and serve as his own dessert maker. That sounds more mainstream to us, but the imaginative Nish no doubt has his own ambitions. Find out April 6, when he steps up to the plates.
Varietal - Bruni Aftershocks [Restaurant Girl]
The Central Park Boathouse has allegedly been scamming the city — hiding money and giving away meals. [NYP]
Ollie’s Grill workers, claiming they are paid only $1.44 an hour, bring a federal lawsuit against the place. [NYS]
Jeffrey Chodorow is back to business, promoting Kobe Club on the Today show. The highlight? “This beef actually lowers your cholesterol.” [MSNBC]
Eater reports that Ed Witt, Varietal’s head chef, is leaving. The restaurant’s critical reception has been less than absolutely stellar, with Adam Platt giving it two stars and Frank Bruni awarding it one (out of four). “I think it would be silly to say that [the reviews] didn’t play a part,” owner Greg Hockenberry tells us, confirming the departure. Was Witt fired? “We’ve been looking to make a change for a while.” Okay. What about Jordan Kahn, the postmodern dessert whiz Eater earlier claimed is on the way out? “We’ll be making an announcement about that, too,” Hockenberry says. Uh-oh. Best of luck to both of the chefs, then.
EaterWire: Ed Witt Leaving Varietal [Eater]
Related: Varietal’s ‘Meditation in Purple’: Need We Say More?
After serving as a barista at Cafe Gitane, Jonathan Meyer joined the opening team as a server at RUB, New York’s pick for Best Barbecue. “It was a huge change,” he tells us. “I didn’t know anything about smoking meats.” (Meyer’s primary love is the theater group he runs, PossEble.) Almost two years later, the Long Island native is informed enough to hold his own against southerners who he says “wear their barbecue knowledge on their sleeve.” We asked him to steer us through the very heated world of Righteous Urban Barbecue.
Chelsea: Boston Market on 23rd Street and Eighth Avenue is the latest West Side chain to be called out by the Department of Health. [Blog Chelsea]Clinton Hill: The new Jelani Lounge offering a sick-sounding cocktail, possibly to serve especially at baby showers: the Preemie Martini. [Clinton Hill Blog]Dumbo: Wild Edibles fish market set to open within Foragers Market later this week.
[Dumbo NYC]Flatiron: Free BBQ! On March 12, chef Aaron Sanchez teams up with pit master Chris Lilly and barbecue expert Rick Rodgers to grill and smoke in celebration of early daylight saving time. [NewYorkology]Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens: K-Dog & Dunebuggy café celebrates its one-year anniversary today. Sorry, no freebies. [across the park]
Jeff Deisel was working as a bartender at nightclubs and then at Lower East Side Pan-Latino restaurant Suba before the owners of the latter invited him to be part of the opening team at their new joint Boqueria. He brought with him Suba’s (in)famous beer sangria but found that working at a straight-up tapas bar had a flavor all its own. We asked the bartender and server how local diners, including Ed Koch, are responding to the no-reservations rule, befuddling portions, and that elusive suckling pig.
Has the cold weather got you nostalgic for barbecue? We've got good and bad news, plus fallout from an ugly incident upstate. First, the good: Pitmaster Scotty Smith is now serving two weekly specials at RUB. Mondays it's full-beef short rib; Tuesdays there's spicy Asian pork belly, marinated for a week in a brew of chiles, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and the sweet soy sauce called kecap manis. then smoked for hours before being flash-finished in a hot oven.