Akhtar Nawab, the talented chef who turned around E.U.’s fortunes, is expecting to leave, Grub Street has learned. “We’re planning something, and we are looking at a space,” Nawab told us. The new restaurant, which Nawab will open with Dani operating partner Noel Cruz, will be on West 8th Street. The menu will reflect casual but sophisticated Mediterranean food “something like the original Craftbar,” Nawab explained. (This style is in contrast to earlier rumors, which aligned the new venture with Nawab’s more upscale Allen and Delancey model before he parted from that project.) Nawab was reluctant to present any sort of timeline; he will leave E.U. “soon,” but the new restaurant likely won’t open until late winter or spring.
UPDATE: We spoke to Nawab yesterday and misunderstood. Though he will open a new restaurant, he plans to stay on at E.U. Grub Street regrets the error, our bad, etc.
Related: Allen and Delancey Tripped at the Finish Line, Won’t Open
Astoria: Anthony Bourdain featured Ali’s Kebab Cafe on No Reservations, and here’s the video of him downing offal. [Joey in Astoria]
Boerum Hill: Workers are renovating the old Independence Bank for Trader Joe’s. The space may even retain its character! [Lost City]
East Village: AvroKO and Public boys Brad and Adam Farmerie hope to score a liquor license for their new place, Superior. B Flat applied for a license at the same Bond Street space a few months back and was denied. [Eater] E.U. will accept euros as payment from August 24 through Labor Day. You can eat 34 cents more on the dollar! [Grub Street]
Financial District: Stonehouse California Olive Oil has moved to the South Street Seaport and refills bottles at $2 off the regular price. [NYT]
Hell’s Kitchen: No free Cuban for you today; unfinished construction indicates the new Sophie’s on 40th between Seventh and Eighth is in no way ready for a grand opening. [Midtown Lunch]
We’re coming into prime-time soft-shell-crab season, and we're about to leave ramps behind us. So tonight’s special at European Union, sautéed soft-shell crabs with pickled ramps ($16), is something not to miss. The crabs coming up from Maryland are bigger and fatter than the ones seen earlier in the season, one reason chef Akhtar Nawab put the dish on the menu. Says Nawab, “The soft-shells are so nice right now, meaty, sweet, and really soft. They’re alive when we get them. The pickled ramps really cut the richness and tenderness of the crab with a nice garlicky and crunchy bite.” Nawab freely offers that he didn’t invent the idea of pairing ramps with crabs, but EU makes the dish their own by also adding pickled red onions, baby leeks, and (for a trace of sweetness) cipollini onions braised in red wine and honey. Be warned, though — even the meatiest soft-shell crab isn’t going to sate you. Be prepared to order a couple, and think twice about sharing them. In another couple of weeks the dish will be a memory.
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.
When it comes to designing bathrooms, the guys at AvroKo are the bomb. We still have the bars of soap we pocketed as souvenirs of our visit to Public. So what about the design firm’s latest spot? As you’ll recall, European Union had to wait a while for its wine and beer license, presumably because residents of 4th Street were afraid that drunken patrons would end up peeing on their stoops. Poppycock! Who would do such a thing with facilities like these in house?
The Sun’s Paul Adams considers the Inn LW12 an out-and-out Canadian restaurant, to a greater extent than anyone else has, and praises the poutine, a Québécois version of disco fries, along with the rest of the menu. [NYS]
Poutine aside, Randall Lane thinks the Inn LW12 is a snobby “poseur sanctuary” still carrying the taint of Lotus, owner Jeffrey Jah’s other place. [TONY]
Esca gets a third star from the Times, moving it even with Babbo, and reminding everybody that David Pasternack is not just Mario’s fish guy, but one of the city’s great chefs. [Esca]
Randall Lane gives Anthos its first full-out rave, granting the restaurant five of six stars and writing about it in adoring terms. It's a rare move for Lane, and a good omen for the more powerful critics still to come. [TONY]
At times, Alan Richman likes the food at Morandi a lot, but when it's late and the place gets busy, he considers it to be a kind of restaurant hell. He won’t be going back after 9 p.m. “any time in my life.” [Bloomberg]
Paul Adams felt much the same about Morandi, calling out its fine fried foods but dissing its heavy pastas, “theme park” atmosphere, and lousy entrées. It’s unanimous: The critics all dislike Morandi. Meanwhile, Keith McNally is crying all the way to the bank. [NYS]
Related: Not So Bene [NYM]
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]
The city, seeking to find out just how badly New Yorkers eat prior to implementing its new calorie-info law, is trading MetroCards for meal receipts. [Nation's Restaurant News]
Akthar Nawab of E.U., Michael Anthony of Gramercy Tavern, and Chris Lee of Gilt all talk about the challenges of taking over an established restaurant (getting reviewed too soon, finding the fuse box, etc.). [NYP]
The Spotted Pig’s April Bloomfield is being named Food & Wine’s Best New Chef. [NYP]
The New Yorker discovers Sripraphai, and though baffled by its vast and uneven menu, admits that the chowhounds were right to glorify the place. [NYer]
Sietsema provides his readers with a major service this week, guiding them through one of the city’s best and most baffling food courts in the Flushing’s J&L Mall [VV]
Rosanjin gets the two-star Bruni treatment in its first review, and seems to only have missed a third star by reason of anticlimactic later courses. Still, an auspicious start. [NYT]
Dear Grub Street,
I’m hoping someone can explain Craft to me. I was taken there the other night for my birthday dinner and came away completely confused and disappointed. Really, what’s the big deal? What’s with all the glowing reviews?
The owner of the Hotel Gansevoort abjectly apologizes for its monstrous sign but says that the lease has been signed and that there’s no way out of it. Whether this satisfies Keith McNally and other opponents remains to be seen. [NYP]
Rachael Ray conquers yet another swath of America, becoming the official “spokes-chef” for Dunkin’ Donuts. She will develop a line of dishes for the chain. [Nation's Restaurant News (registration required)]
The FDA allowing factory farm veterinarians to use cattle antibiotics which may lead to resistant microbes and eventually endanger humans. The Times is not down. [NYT]
Like old, happily married couples, certain sandwich fillings and certain sandwich breads seem made for each other. Consider a Hellmann's-laced lobster salad and the top-loading Pepperidge Farm hot-dog bun, for instance. Where would one component be without the other? For that matter, where would corned beef be without its turtle dove, rye? And who can imagine a sloppy gray blob of greasy chopped beef and fried onions swimming in a sea of Cheez Whiz separated from its squishy but beloved Philly-style roll?