Daniel’s Bernard Vrod Serves Presidents, Gets Wife Free Meals
An ex-pat of gloomy Brittany like so many classic French waiters, Bernard Vrod has been working under fellow farmboy Daniel Boulud for sixteen years, first as a waiter at Le Cirque and, these days, as a maitre d’ at Daniel. We asked him to take us into the latter’s hallowed halls and got tales of Secret Service shakedowns, fowl on the floor, and marriage proposals nearly gone awry.
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A Japanese Gastropub and Other Openings; KFC’s New Recipe Tastes Like Chicken• More on “Japanese gastropub” Zenkichi, Lower East Side brick-oven pizzeria Cronkite, and others; Antoine Bouterin packs it in. [NYT]
• Taste-testers prefer trans-fat-free KFC. [NYDN]
• Cuozzo presses Michael Lomonaco for 9/11 memories, likes the drapes at his new place. [NYP]
• Guss’s in a legal pickle. [NYP]
• Patsy’s, too, fights for its name. [NYS]
• Park Slope sandwich and gelato spot Tempo Presto’s latest locale. [NYS]
• Vendy victor is doing brisk business. [NYDN]
• Emily Sprissler blows the whistle on “rat-trap” conditions (and Padma’s cellulite) on the “Top Chef” set. [Chow]
Daniel Under Attack! (Again)You may remember this Intelligencer item, from earlier this summer, about the face-off between Daniel Boulud and an activist group called the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York. (Coincidentally, we just responded to an article quoting an ROC spokesperson.) Well, the advocacy group is once again on the attack: The group protested Daniel’s allegedly discriminatory employment practices outside the restaurant Tuesday night. A well-groomed Johnnie acting on behalf of the restaurant handed out flyers printed with, “Two, four, six, eight, Daniel does NOT discriminate!” and other lines defending the restaurant. It was signed by Daniel De La Rosa, a captain who has been with the restaurant for ten years. “This is all over four busboys who make over 50,000 a year,” Brett Traussi, the restaurant’s director of operations told us. “For the ROC to pick on a high-profile restaurant like Daniel to increase their exposure is regrettable.”
No doubt. But watching the parade of aged grandees walking in between the Scylla and Charybdis of a ROC representative and De La Rosa was a spectacle we wouldn’t have missed.
The Ham That Drives Men MadNew York Magazine has gone Spain-crazy this week. Adam Platt sates his bottomless hunger at Boqueria, and Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld interview Spain’s most illustrious chef, Ferran Adrià of El Bulli. Let Grub Street pile on, then, with talk of the secret society of Spanish pork.
This society may be unofficial, but we belong to it. It is made of men and women who have tasted the meat of the celebrated pata negra, or black-foot pig, and will do anything for more. “Once you taste ibérico, you can’t compare it to anything else,” Bar Jamón chef Andy Nusser has said. The society’s holy grail, though, remains tantalizingly out of reach for Americans — even ones with a deep affinity for Spain.
Doctors and Lawyers Look Beyond Burgers Around 72nd and SecondStrollers crisscross with lawyers and Lenox Hill Hospital workers in the micro-micro-neighborhood centered around 72nd Street and Second Avenue. Indian and Mexican food are noticeably underrepresented, but you can still find damn good diner eats, tasty burgers, and above-average Chinese takeout.
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Mr. Nasty Throws Open the Phone Lines; Mr. Hospitality Throws PunchesIn today’s dining dirt, Spain comes to Manhattan, barbecue comes to Fort Greene, and Mr. Hospitality brings the pain.
• Danny “Mr. Hospitality” Meyer ponders hugs, serves up a knuckle sandwich. [Esquire]
• Gordon “Mr. Nasty” Ramsay opens up the lines; a feeding frenzy ensues. [Eater]
• Pushcart-prize finalists announced. [Street Vendor Project]
• Picholine buddies open up a Fort Greene smoke joint serving up “real NYC barbecue.” Whatever that is, exactly. [Strong Buzz]
• On a sobering note, Michael Pollan forecasts the dangers of centralized food production and the specter of increased regulation in the veggie world: “Food poisoning has always been with us, but not until we started processing all our food in such a small number of ‘kitchens’ did the potential for nationwide outbreaks exist.” [NYT]
‘Izakaya’ Boom Hits Chelsea; Japanese Chains Plant Flags Uptown
If you still don’t know what an izakaya is (or haven’t lately been to St. Marks Place, where most of them are clustered), enlighten yourself at Izakaya Ten, the latest iteration of the space that was the French-Korean D’or Ahn, and then, for a nanosecond, the sushi restaurant Anzu. Owner Lannie Ahn has hired a veteran of Morimoto and Nobu to supplement the raw fish with a selection of small plates of the home-style Japanese fare one finds in a sake bar or pub — not your basic mozzarella sticks or buffalo wings but more exotic tidbits like natto omelettes, ginger pork belly, pan-seared rice balls, and the ever-popular chicken-meatball skewer.
What to Eat Tonight
How to Make Women More Tender, for Only $2,400 Per Pound
Alexandre Dumas reckoned that white truffles can, “on certain occasions, make women more tender and men more lovable.” We would hope so — the ‘shrooms, imported from Piemonte, Italy, were selling last week for as much as $2,400 per pound. If you’re going to throw down for some, you best leave their preparation to the city’s top Italian chefs. (Or, better yet, go straight to the source — here’s our five-point Piemonte Weekend Escape Plan.)
Wait until you hear what these cooks are doing with truffles (hint: it doesn’t involve pizza).
Back of the House
Owner’s Existential Rage as He Discovers Zagat SnubWe happened to be present when the owner and senior management of a critically acclaimed, major new Manhattan restaurant got their mitts on the spanking-new Zagat guide and discovered that they’d been left off the all-important “most popular” list (which once again featured Gramercy Tavern and Union Square Cafe in the number one and two positions, respectively).