Charlie Trotter Details Emerge; Frank Bruni’s Cross-Country TripThe first details on Charlie Trotter’s still-unnamed restaurant on Madison Square Park emerge: It will have 80 seats as well as a bar and lounge. [NYT]
Merkato 55 may be turning New Yorkers on to African cuisine, but there have been plenty of excellent, albeit under-the-radar, restaurants offering the continent’s cuisine for years. [TONY]
Related: Merkato 55’s Most Popular Dish: Doro Wat
The Modern’s new wine director, Belinda Chang, is the kind of sommelier we want to be someday: “I’m definitely obsessed with magnums. They’re so fun to pour!” [NYS]
David Lee Roth Is a Shitty Tipper; Alan Richman Out at BloombergThe Shitty Tipper Database on bitterwaitress.com keeps track of people like David Lee Roth, who recently left a $20 tip for a $200 lunch. [NYP]
Alan Richman is out as Bloomberg’s food critic. [Eater]
The bhut jolokia chile pepper is 200 times hotter than a jalapeño and could potentially be used in pepper sprays, but people like eating it and U.S. sales are projected to increase 500 percent this year. [WSJ]
The Annotated Dish
The Roasted Lobster at Gotham Is Still Standing TallAlfred Portale of Gotham Bar and Grill is one of the pioneers of what used to be called the New American cooking. His style, a combination of dramatic vertical presentations, French technique, and urban pizzazz, perfectly encapsulated the energy of the movement in the eighties and nineties. All these years later, Portale is still at Gotham, and still turning out some of the city’s best food, minus the towering drama of old. “As for all that verticality, once it became very trendy and talked about, that’s when I began to back away from it,” Portale says. “My style has changed and evolved.” At least one dish still reaches for the stars: Portale’s roasted lobster, a constant on Gotham’s menu. Scroll over the different parts of the dish to see it described in the chef’s own words.
No Plaza for Graydon; Mr. Rachael Ray Drops $35K for LunchboxGraydon Carter won’t be taking over the Plaza’s Oak Room, so you’ll still have to head downtown to the Waverly Inn for that truffled macaroni and cheese. [NYP]
Jean-Georges Vongerichten seeks the elusive fifth taste by serving “umami bombs” at his restaurants. [WSJ]
Related: Waiter, There’s a Fifth Element in My Soup
It’s possible that locally grown products have a comparable or even greater carbon footprint than food that travels long distances, so you can stop patting yourself on the back for being a greenmarket fanatic. [NYT]
Related: Local Schmocal [NYM]
Opera-House Restaurant Reopens With Burbella in Leading RoleAs you might expect from a high-class operation like Grub Street, we’re frequently out at the opera, taking in Roméo et Juliette, and getting hungry during the second act. Naturally, our thoughts drift toward the Grand Tier, the tall restaurant in Lincoln Center whose vast Chagall murals overlook the fountain. It’s been closed for a while, but the place is now reopening under chef Michael Burbella, an alum of Gramercy Tavern and Gotham Bar and Grill. The score Burbella will be arranging has a tonic note of modern Mediterranean cooking, with a leitmotif of autumn flavors. The place, formerly open just to operagoers, is now open to anyone with tickets to Avery Fisher Hall or the New York State Theater.
‘Top Chef”s Howie Tastes the Big Time, Briefly, at Gotham Bar andWhen Howie Kleinberg, after twice coming to the brink of elimination, returned last week to win a Quickfire Challenge on Top Chef, he was rewarded with a one-week internship at Gotham Bar and Grill, courtesy of the guest judge, Alfred Portale. Kleinberg, whose unremitting hostility originally endeared him to us, has gotten on swimmingly with the chef, we hear. “He’s a very likable guy,” Portale tells us. “He’s a big guy, kinda cuts a pretty wide path through the kitchen, but he shows a lot of respect and poise.”
More Than Just a Taste of New York
Last night’s A Taste of New York, a major culinary gala presented by New York Magazine at the Puck Building and benefiting City Harvest, was an orgy of food and mirth. Over 30 of the city’s best restaurants, from Alain Ducasse to wd-50, set up tables with a signature dish, and a boisterous crowd of well-heeled foodies circulated around, trying the food and chatting up the chefs.
The Other Critics
Critics Hone In on the Bone-InSteak and ssäms continue to rule the reviews — with a white truffle thrown in for good measure.
• Saving Lonesome Dove for the blog, Bruni checks into another meatery, Harry’s Steak. The bone-in steak “spoke to the timeless glories of aged prime beef,” but the menu’s saddled with “clever tweaks.” [NYT]
• Andrea Strong checks in on Lonesome Dove (again) and is way more impressed with the kangaroo nachos than her boy at the Post was. [Strong Buzz]
• At STK, Alan Richman eyes the hotties “who look like they’re barely past puberty” and shares in our fascination with the restrooms. “If only the food — admittedly great-looking — were as flavorsome as the customers.” [Bloomberg]
• Dana Bowen visits Momofuku Ssäm Bar, and after raving about the late-night menu we first reported, hints that it may see the light of day. [NYT]
• As if Danny Meyer was starving for publicity, Moira Hodgson reassures us that Tabla is “one of the city’s great restaurants.” Something to do with chef Floyd Cardoz’s new cookbook? [NYO]
• Paul Adams schools upwardly mobile I-Chin: “Going upscale involves more than buying buff-colored cloth napkins and hiring servers to assiduously refold them at every opportunity.” [NYS]
• Augie splurges on a white truffle at Gotham — presumably not as pricey as Morimoto’s $10,500 highbrow-despicable truffle. [Augieland]
Best Seats in the House: Where to Eat at the Bar
Even before the arrival of Joël Robuchon and his bar-centric L’Atelier, the ancient urban tradition of bar dining was undergoing a great renaissance. And why not? Eating while seated on a stool is a uniquely New York experience. It’s convivial, expedient, and communal, but in a solitary way. The Gobbler has met Wall Street kingpins, ex–CIA agents, and loquacious bookies from Queens at restaurant bars. You don’t have to deal with sniveling waiters or go overboard on tips, and it’s often a convenient excuse for getting really, really drunk. Here are a few of the Gobbler’s favorite barfly destinations.