Somewhere in the world there may be a train line that covers more gastronomic territory than the B and V subway lines, which start in southernmost Brooklyn and end deep in Queens, but if there is, we don’t know about it. For the next twenty-odd weeks, we'll be riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants and food stores near the subway.This week: Kings Highway
Fatty Crab chef Corwin Kave is living our childhood fantasy: His mom owns a candy store. Roni-Sue Kave first introduced diners to her buttercrunch at Borough Food & Drink through the good offices of Zak Pelaccio, the restaurant’s consulting chef. It was first sold at the retail counter, but now demand has put it on the menu. Kave’s store at the Essex Street Market will stock her even better fruit-flavored chocolate truffles. We had a little tasting here at the Grub Street offices, and each one was better than the last. There is none of the disgusting, cloying sweetness or gag-inducing cream innards you find in most fruit-filled chocolates. These taste like actual fruit (strawberry-rhubarb, mango) with a dark-chocolate oomph. Does Corwin have a sister? With food this good running in the family, we’ll marry her sight unseen.
The frozen-yogurt battle between Pinkberry and its competitors (Yolato, Öko, /eks/, et al) is pretty much a big bore by now, but the impending arrival of the grandfather of all Korean yogurt chains, Red Mango, may stir the pot a little yet. In sheer number of living germs or “cultures” as they’re called in the yogurt business, Red Mango claims to have an almost Malthusian population advantage. “To be called yogurt, a typical refrigerated supermarket product needs to have 10 million cultures. Ours has 500,” a Red Mango representative told us. But the big mystery is where Red Mango will land. A Grub Street informant noticed a sign in Flushing announcing a new store. Given the area’s large Korean population, this makes sense. But the company has spoken only of its future Manhattan store, at 723 Eighth Avenue. Just how many Red Mangos are on the way? And why are they called Red Mango when they sell yogurt? When we find out, we’ll let you know.
In what might be the least surprising news of the summer, Will Goldfarb has told Grub Street that Room 4 Dessert, at least in its current location, is kaput. (The place has been closed for months, but Goldfarb has been promising it would reopen.) “We’re officially pulling the plug on 17 Cleveland Place,” the cake whiz tells us. “But we’re going to reopen, bigger and better, six months from today.” Goldfarb, theatrical as ever, refuses to disclose the location of the new place, except to say that it’s downtown “in another high-profile restaurant row.”
It’s time we finally admitted it: Our winding journey with Sam Mason has come to an end. Construction crews told a Grub Street staffer that the Tailor people plan for an August 6 opening. There might be some truth to this: The date’s not all that far off from the official “mid-August” projection we were recently given, and frankly, we’d sooner believe the laborers than publicists nervous over a massively hyped opening day. And so, we present this album of the magical moments we shared with Mason as he chased the dream of Tailor. If nothing else, we’ll have the memories.
Earlier: Sam Mason Has Maybe a Month or So to Visit Fire IslandThe Launch
Bill Corbett, the pastry chef at Anthos (we recently featured his Sesame in Sesame dessert in the Annotated Dish), is riding his wave of acclaim all the way out of town: The fast-rising young chef has been hired to head up the pastry kitchen at Michael Mina in San Francisco. Corbett was attracted, he says, by the chance to work with his old mentor, Lincoln Carson, currently Mina’s corporate pastry chef. Of his short, successful run at Anthos, Corbett says, “I am really proud of what we did at Anthos. It was a really good experience for me to be there.” Corbett designed all the desserts in keeping with Anthos’ haute-Greek mission; the restaurant will be keeping a number of them on the menu, including Sesame in Sesame.
Related: Anthos' 'Most Innovative' Sesame Dessert
One of the bigger upsets in recent food-award history came a couple of weeks ago: Bill Corbett of Anthos came out of nowhere to defeat Room 4 Dessert’s Will Goldfarb and wd-50’s Alex Stupak to win the Golden Scoop Award for Most Innovative Dessert. About his secret weapon, Sesame in Sesame, Corbett says, “I wanted to take a very simple ingredient and take it in as many directions as I could. It took me a long time to get it down, but I definitely feel like it's one of the ones that illustrates what I want to do on a plate.” As always, mouse over the different elements of the dish to see them described in the chef’s own words.
Related:Daniel and Anthos Hit Big at Dessert Awards
A myriad of consultants and experts are surrounding Sirio Maccioni, giving advice on how Le Cirque can recapture its now-departed magic. [Insatiable Critic]
Dessert bars are a hot enough trend right now that some restaurants and bakeries are transforming themselves at certain hours, while others, like P*ONG, are built expressly for the genre. [NYP]
Related: Because Our Desserts Are as Good as Everyone Else’s Entire Meals
Speaking of which, Asian dessert guru Pichet Ong will open a shop devoted to ice cream, pudding, and cookies next door to P*ONG on August 17. [Strong Buzz]
The Golden Scoop Pastry awards held last night had everything you would want from a dessert awards: a victory parade of New York chefs, a dozen world-class desserts, and a seven-foot pastry chef–slash–drag queen named Chocolatina. The ceremony was held at the French Culinary Institute and awarded prizes in five categories, the most important of which, Best Dessert Menu, was won by Dominque Ansel of Daniel. The most intense competition, though, may well have been Most Innovative Dessert, a coveted trophy in today’s go-go world of rock-star experimental dessert chefs.
The city, stared down by the adamant opposition of big restaurant chains, has pushed back implementation of its calorie-info law for three months. [NYP]
The former manager of Dillons, the midtown restaurant to be “rescued” by Gordon Ramsay on his new show, is suing the chef, claiming the program was “a prime example of fake TV” with planted customers, rotten meat put out for dramatic effect, and worse. [NYP]
The city’s best hamburgers are all the product of one great butcher, Pat LaFrieda, whose custom grinds, though secret, are geared to each restaurant’s cooking methods. [Men’s Vogue]
In the heat of the current gelato-and-frozen-yogurt wars, you might not think there was room for another major frozen-dessert concept. But while Grom, Pinkberry, Yolato, and the rest compete in Manhattan, Öko, a greener-than-green business serving two flavors of Greek-style frozen yogurt in a store in which nearly everything is biodegradable, has tailored itself for Park Slope. The walls and counter are made of compressed sunflower seeds; the spoons and straws, from potato starch. Even the plates, though seemingly made of transparent plastic, are actually composed of processed corn. The toppings are also all-natural, mostly fruit — blackberries, mango, kiwi pieces, and the like — along with dry toppings like shaved coconut, sliced almonds, dark-chocolate chips, and dried Turkish apricots. “This is just our first store,” general manager Mateo Braghieri tells us. “We want to open more.” Because, you know, there aren’t enough high-powered frozen-yogurt chains around.
Related: An Interactive Tour of the Country’s Greenest Food Business
Now that star pastry chefs are spinning off their own restaurants (Sam Mason at Tailor, Pichet Ong at P*Ong), it’s high time that some of the less famous names have the chance to do the same on a smaller scale. Hence Emily Isaac’s journey from being the pastry chef at Union Square Cafe to her new place behind the counter of her own bake shop in Park Slope. Trois Pommes Patisserie, which Rob and Robin include in this week’s Openings, has twelve seats and an open kitchen where Isaacs cooks up “greenmarket-inspired fruit pies and ice cream,” not to mention a wide selection of other pastries. The iced coffee is pretty good too.
Restaurant Openings: Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory, Lola, Le Barricou, and Trois Pommes Patisserie [NYM]
The last time we checked in, Will Goldfarb, the Room 4 Dessert chef, had just begun convincing restaurants around town to outsource their dessert program to him. Now the ultracaffeinated cake whiz has colonized Battery Park, beating out some major rivals to develop and operate two lunch kiosks there. The stands won’t be open until late summer, but Goldfarb has typically high-concept plans for both. Former Thor chef Kevin Pomplun will run the kitchen, producing high-end sandwiches (a sous-vide chicken club; an oil-packed Sardinian tuna with tarragon mayo on ciabatta) and Goldfarbian desserts (pistachio panna cotta, hot chocolate mousse).
Michael Chow of Mr. Chow is hit with a $5 million lawsuit for skimming tips, demanding “cult-like attention” from staff, and utilizing “degradation as a management technique.” [NYP]
Cooking-school graduates are being crushed by their student-loan debts: “The story is always the same. The school convinces the student they are going to be the next Julia Child or Wolfgang Puck, and the student will sign anything.” [NYT]
The Smith and Wollensky Restaurant Group finally agrees to be bought out by Patina Restaurant Group [NYT]
Related: The Secrets of Steakhouse Riches [Grub Street]
Dear Grub Street, My cousin is coming in next week from Indiana and wants to see the "hottest" NYC restaurants that he has read about on your Weblog and in New York Magazine. Where do you think I should take him? He likes “edgy” places and doesn't have a lot of money to spend (nor do I). Should we go to the Spotted Pig or Casa Mono?Momofuku Ssäm Bar? Where? Any advice would be great. Gloria