Downey’s: Was It Worth Rescue–ing?; McDonald’sPlus: Paperwork and Minnesota’s government shutdown could make MillerCoors beers illegal; and wheat, corn, meat and dairy prices are expected to continue rising, all in our morning news roundup.
Johnny Iuzzini Is the Badass You Want Him to Be; Bloomfield vs. an Iron ChefIn true badass-with-a-softer-side form, the latest rock-star pastry chef Johnny Zs reveals he dreamed of becoming a stuntman before discovering his love for baking. [Restaurant Girl]
The Spotted Pig’s April Bloomfield is stepping into the ring this morning to battle an undisclosed Iron Chef. [Down by the Hipster]
True top chef André Soltner formerly of Lutece goes on about the pros and cons of food TV. [Newsday]
Health Department Takes Out China GrillWhile we can’t wait for the Health Department’s regulatory rampage to end, let it at least be said that it treats the great and the obscure alike. Jeffrey Chodorow’s flagship restaurant, China Grill, was closed this afternoon by the DOH for the walk-in refrigerator being warmer than rules permit and a few other ticky-tacky offenses (according to a hastily issued press release). China Grill Management, Chodorow’s corporation, will no doubt pour out some money and have the place up and running in a couple of days, if not sooner. But Chodo, like everyone else who has felt the whip of the city’s clipboard-wielding inspectors, knows who’s boss now.
BREAKING: China Grill Shuttered by Dept. of Health [Eater]
The Inhouse Nosh Café Fights City Hall—and WinsWhat if Don Quixote had knocked over the windmill or Sisyphus had gotten over the hump? It wouldn’t be more inspiring than the news that Andy Spitz, owner of the New York Magazine building’s luncheonette, the Inhouse Nosh Café, has won his fight against City Hall. According to Spitz, he made such a powerful case before the Department of Health that they reversed themselves and let the Nosh Café reopen just days after being given 110 points.
Waverly Inn Dodges Health Department’s Bullet, Fedora Takes a Hit
Today the Times tells us that the Waverly Inn failed a recent health inspection. Presumably something to do with celebrity infestation. As far as we’re concerned, the more compelling story lies nearby at 239 West 4th Street, the address of another subterranean eatery, Fedora. On the night of Friday the 13th, a health inspector informed the former speakeasy’s proprietress of 55 years, 87-year-old Fedora Dorado, that he was shutting her down for 129 points worth of violations ranging from not having a sink behind the bar to evidence of mice (the restaurant has a garden). We reached her at her restaurant to hear a tale as woeful as the Inhouse Nosh saga.
Shuttered Mom-and-Pop Spot Pleads to Powers That Be
The heart-wrenching saga of the Inhouse Nosh Café, the Reason to Love New York that was shuttered by the Department of Health this week, got immeasurably more poignant the other day when we were given a copy of owner Andrew Spitz’s letter to Mayor Bloomberg. Having written a few hopeless missives in our own day, we read on with growing admiration.
Restaurant I.D.-Theft Ring Exposed; Ted Nugent–Influenced CuisineWaiters in 40 restaurants formed a huge identity-theft ring, recording credit-card numbers and making $3 million in purchases. [Fox NY]
Donald Trump gets a sweetheart deal from the state to build Trump on the Ocean, a huge restaurant and banquet hall, on Jones Beach. [Newsday]
Chef J.J. Rachou is still feeling the sting from his Department of Health closure and can’t bring himself to reopen Brasserie LCB yet. “If you lift every can, you find a cockroach,” he says. [NYT]
The Health Department Rampage Hits Grub Street Close to Home
We’ve taken a lighthearted attitude to Department of Health closures in the past, but no more: Today, our own beloved Inhouse Nosh Café, immortalized in last year’s Reasons to Love New York issue and a daily source of bialys and good wishes, has been shut down after an inspector found a whopping 110 points’ worth of violations in the tiny canteen.
Jason Neroni Arrested, Taken Into CustodyJason Neroni, as we suggested might happen, has been arrested and charged. At last word, he was cooling his heels in the 76th Precinct. [Gawker]
Earlier: Neroni Is Indeed Free — for a Few Days, Anyway
The Department of Health’s crackdowns have cost the industry millions, claims the New York Restaurant Association. [NYP]
The Shake Shack was only the beginning: The New York hamburger now has to be natural, ethical, and very, very good to compete in a crowded landscape. [NYDN]
Restaurant High Trains Chefs of the Future; Les Halles Takes a BeatingWelcome to Food and Finance High, which trains New York’s future chefs and restaurateurs. They diligently study the work of Dave Thomas, the origins of pizza, and read Fast Food Nation in preparation for the job market. [NYT]
Les Halles is taking a beating: They’ve got a Department of Health closure uptown and construction troubles downtown . [NYP]
The Red Hook ball fields, home to one of the city’s greatest gatherings of Central and South American food vendors, may finally see the trucks roll in this Sunday. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Is There a Warrant Out on Jason Neroni?The owner of Porchetta claims that not only was Jason Neroni fired but that the termination was for misappropriation of funds — and there’s a warrant out for his arrest. (If so, the Desperate Chef is hiding in plain sight, as we just saw him last night at the TONY awards.) [Eater]
Nearly everyone got an award at last night’s Time Out New York food awards, including Per Se for Best Splurge and A Voce for New Restaurant of the Year. But the Russian Tea Room for Best Reopening? Those manipulated blurbs must be working. [TONY]
Talk about gross dereliction: The Department of Health, it turns out, ignored complaints about that KFC–Taco Bell for two months before sending an inspector — who did such a bad job that she would have been fired had she not just quit. [NYP]
Neroni Leaves Porchetta; City Hates Big Pink CupcakeChef Jason Neroni leaves Porchetta, citing “irreconcilable differences,” and claiming that pastry chef Mandy Brown and “most of the kitchen staff” are leaving with him. We don’t know the details (yet), but this seems pretty harsh: The restaurant gave him absolute creative license, as far as we can tell, for as long as it’s been open. [Eater]
Related: Chef’s Desperate Plea: Nominate Me for an Award! [Grub Street]
New Yorkers aren’t really spooked by health violations: “If you take the subway, you know what’s down there.” [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
The city wants Burgers and Cupcakes to take down its huge, incandescent pink cupcake sign because it’s too close to a hydrant, saying, “This isn’t a campaign against cupcakes.” [NYP]
Gordon Ramsay’s Dark Side Revealed; Staten Island Pizza Conquers the WorldAccording to a revealing new profile by Heat author Bill Buford, Gordon Ramsay isn’t a bad guy, “but he does get angry, helplessly and uncontrollably angry — not an earthly anger but something darker — and has trouble knowing how to stop.” [NYer]
State legislator proposes an A through F system of grading restaurant hygiene, but the Department of Health is against it. [amNY]
A Staten Island pizzeria beats out a field of 65 from six countries to win the 23rd International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas. It’s Denino’s, right? Joe and Pat’s? No. It’s Goodfella’s Brick Oven Pizza. [NYDN]
Were You Aware That Chinese Takeout Is High in Salt and Fat?Shocking health news of the day: Chinese food, at least the kind we eat in New York, is outrageously salty and fatty. [NYP]
Meanwhile, Chinese buns are only getting more popular in the city’s better restaurants. [NYDN]
Bret Thorn, Nation’s Restaurant News’ restaurant blogger and a longtime observer of the scene, gives his Beard Award picks. [Foodservice Blog/Nation’s Restaurant News]
DiFara Closed By DOH; Kosher Coke Is the Real ThingThe Department of Health closes beloved DiFara (temporarily!) because pizza maestro Dom DeMarco wasn’t using gloves or wearing a hat. [Serious Eats]
And the much more tragic story for the family continues to develop: The De Marco’s shooter saw himself, as so many trigger-happy madmen do, as slow to anger. [NYT]
So much food is being imported into America that the FDA can’t possibly inspect it all. [USA Today]
Williamsburg: Subway Out, Silent H InConey Island : Having evicted and demolished the neighboring mini-golf course, Thor Equities neglects to renew the lease for beachside fave the Grill House. Where else are we supposed to get pretzels on hot dogs? [Gowanus Lounge]
East Village: Just in time for the 50-plus-degree weather, a Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory alum has opened a haute creamery on Avenue B near 14th Street. [DailyCandy]
Harlem: Gospel jazz comes to the Harlem Tea Room Friday night. Sure to be a wild evening. [Uptown Flavor]
Midtown East: Local prisons and the United Nations share a controversial food supplier, Aramark. Also, you’re allowed to smoke in the U.N. dining room. [Gridskipper]
West Village: Locals find a creative outlet to cope with fears of rat infestation: unchecked pun-making. [NewYorkology]
Williamsburg: Controversial Subway franchise on Bedford now up for sale. Comes with free trapper hat. [Curbed] Vinh Nguyen fulfills his dream of bringing good Vietnamese to New York, helping people pronounce his name with the opening of Silent H. (His dream of serving alcohol, on the other hand … ) [i’m not sayin, i’m just sayin]
Kitchen Abuse Exposed; Health Department Shutdowns TripleApparently, abuse of every kind is rampant in kitchens. Herewith, complaints leveled against Daniel, Jean Georges, Megu, Babbo, and more. [NYP]
Post–KFC–Taco Bell scandal, New York restaurant closures triple. [NYP]
Morandi is, like every other Keith McNally venture, a smashing success, and likely to remain so. [NYP]
John’s Is Back, If Not Better Than Ever; Colors in the RedDon’t worry about Lonesome Dove’s Tim Love. He’s doing fine back in Texas. [Fort Worth Star-Telegram]
John’s reopens, none the worse for wear after their brief run-in with the Health Department. [amNY]
Colors, the cooperative founded by former Windows on the World workers, continues to struggle with the economic realities of opening and running a Manhattan restaurant. [NYT]
Brian Young Storms Tavern on the Green; Chipotle Challenger Comes to TownColumbus Circle–Lincoln Center: Brian Young, formerly of Le Bernardin and now-closed Mainland, has been named executive chef of Tavern on the Green. [NYT]
East Village: Sorry, no video: The Department of Health shuts down Blue 9 Burger, citing them for mice. [east village idiot]
Midtown East: Colorado-based burrito chain Qdoba Mexican Grill opens its first NYC location on East 34th Street between Second and Third Avenues. Chipotle unphased. [NYS]
Williamsburg: Too soon to start that Saint Patrick’s Day bender? Brooklyn Brewery debuts new Belgian-style ale, Brooklyn Local 1, that packs 9 percent alcohol. [The Food Section]
Preemie Martini, Perfect for Baby Showers; Boston Market Versus NYC HealthChelsea: 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.
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]
Bloomberg Boasts of Many Health Department Closures; Rachael Ray BittenBloomberg doesn’t want you thinking the Health Department is slacking off. As a matter of fact, they’re boasting of closing places left and right. [NYP]
The B.R. Guest sale finally goes through. [NYP]
Related: Does David Burke Come With That Steakhouse? [Grub Street]
Mars 2112’s landlord is ready to give them the boot for hosting hip-hop parties. [NYS]
Paul Liebrandt Back in Play; Rat Chief Vows to Exterminate the BrutesThe city’s rat-patrol chief vows that “the rats will not win.” [NYT]
In Vogue, Jeffrey Steingarten reveals that New York’s top unemployed chef, Paul Liebrandt, is doing a restaurant with Drew Nieporent. Snack asserts it’s Montrachet. [Snack]
Amusing slam of Bruni’s Robert’s Steakhouse review from conservative mainstay National Review. Need we say more? [National Review Online]
Back of the House
Rats Stop in Au Bon Pain for Dessert
As we said yesterday (and as everyone knows), as much as rats love fried chicken and tacos, they pretty much eat all over town. This new video of the frisky creatures running rampant at an Au Bon Pain on Third Avenue simply serves as a disturbing reminder. (Would it kill WNBC to tell us which Au Bon Pain, by the way? There is more than one Third Avenue location.) The rodents are much more common in food establishments of every kind than most people like to believe, and in ratty neighborhoods like the East Village, they frequently have the run of even some good restaurants. Still, there’s something especially horrible about this video, which features one of the little guys doing what looks like pull-ups on some kind of valve handle. It’s as if they’re in training to take over the whole of Manhattan.
Update: Au Bon Pain would like to point out that the rats pictured above, as well as the rats doing pull-ups, belong to Taco Bell. (The WNBC piece devotes time to both restaurants.) We regret the error.
Rats Caught on Video at Another New York Restaurant [KSDK]
Back of the House
You’ve Got Vermin!As you have almost certainly read, the Department of Health has suspended the inspector who passed the KFC–Taco Bell the day before it was exposed on television as being staffed and patronized exclusively by rats. (Or something along those lines. We were half-watching.) So does that mean, we wonder, that when the department actually flags a restaurant, the place must be overrun by vermin gangs snitching on each other? Either way, we thought it worth taking a look at the name restaurants that have been recently cited.
Back of the House
Waiter, There’s a Fly in My $750 SteakChecking the Health Department’s Website for violations is a melancholy enterprise. It can make you wish for a rain to come and wash all the taco stand and no-name diner scum away. But it can also serve as a reminder of the rottenness of the upper crust.