The desks at Grub Street are covered with high-heeled shoes, empty gift bags, and other detritus from Fashion Week, and only a laserlike focus could allow us to catch the disparate restaurant intelligence floating around in this week’s issue. Adam Platt visits Wakiya, the much-hyped Chinese restaurant in the Gramercy Hotel, and hands them a bagel in his restaurant review. The crown jewel of the B.R. Guest restaurant empire, Fiamma, has reopened with one of the most celebrated Italian chefs you’ve never heard of. Baby cucumbers and tomatillos get a close appreciation from Rob and Robin. Add in Gray Kunz’s secret ingredient, and you can see why the latest lines from Milan had but little effect on us.
The food news in this week’s issue concerns the simple, the elegant, and the obvious. A guy in Brooklyn tries to raise his food in his backyard. Adam Platt respondes to locavore earnestness by battening down with a box of Oreos. Two Italian restaurants have opened with unambitious, utterly familiar menus, and he likes one of them, Bar Stuzzichini, more than the other, Gemma, which was lucky to escape with a single star. Another Italian restaurant, Accademia di Vino, specializes in grilled pizza, good pasta, and lots of wine, which pleases the Insatiable Critic. In this week's Openings, Alex Ureña gives up on foam, and another guy in Brooklyn opens a sandwich shop highlighted by a turkey sandwich with potato chips in it. Resto chef Ryan Skeen enjoyed the onion and tomato app at Peter Luger, and the bacon too, so he thought to make a recipe out of all three for In Season. And finally, the city gets three new choices for the age-old conundrum “coffee, tea, or milk.” It’s that kind of week at New York.
Forget Openings. Forget Openings. Forget reviews. Forget the Short List (more or less). The summer and its indolent desolation is over at last. The restaurant world prepares for its yearly rebirth, and its nocturnal flower is set to blossom. Fall Preview is here. And any New Yorker not currently in an intensive care unit should hasten to read every word.
The recent episode of Top Chef starring Rocco DiSpirito touted the profitability of the frozen-dinner business, but apparently it’s not that profitable after all, if Rocco were looking to wow a pair of models like Le Call and Ciara Christensen (who according to this week’s Look Book, “do everything together. Everything.”), you’d think he’d treat them to something better than the Schwinn bikes he seems to have given them a day after meeting them, no? Not that a limited-edition Pea Picker reissue is anything to scoff at, retailing for $350 but why didn’t Rocco splurge for a couple of sexy Vespas like his own? Clearly he should have. “We said we’d take him out to dinner,” admits Le Call, “but I don’t know.” Girls, a word of advice: Use those long legs to pedal away fast.
The Look Book: Le Call and Ciara Christensen [NYM]
This week brings together some disparate threads of the great suffocating quilt that is the New York food world. Modern Spanish and Latin food have almost nothing in common, other than, in the form of Suba and Rayuela, getting one star each from Adam Platt. Uptown Gael Greene rocks out Southern Hospitality. Downtown, Rob and Robin find a chef that knows all there is to know about the frying game and discover what’s happened to restaurant matchbooks in these days of the smoking ban. Plus, Kirby cucumbers are in season this week.
The lull of midsummer is already over, and new growths sprout everywhere. A young chef gives his first restaurant a go, a veteran gets his own place for the first time, and an established star gets a fresh start. We have restaurant openings, new and better lemonades, and even a baked squash blossom. Summer is starting to tire, but the food stays sharp.
So let’s say you somehow make it on to Top Chef or Project Runway, elbowing past the thousands of other rivals seeking to fertilize the egg of an upcoming reality-TV-show season. And let’s say you even win the contest, getting crowned Top Chef or No. 1 designer: Shouldn’t that be enough to launch a career? You would think it would be, but as Jennifer Senior’s article from this week’s issue reveals, it often isn’t — a fact we hope our own Top Chef non-winners, like our friends Joey and Lia, will remember as they return to the kitchens they knew before fame came calling.
The Near-Fame Experience [NYM]
Related: Joey, Latest ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner, on Why Rocco Is a Douche Bag‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner Lia on What Went Wrong
Between dodging trucks and potholes, risking robberies, working endless hours for slave wages in the rain and cold, and having to buy their own bikes and food, the city’s delivery workers have one of the rawest deals in all of New York City. But thanks to suits filed against Saigon Grill, Flor de Mayo, and several other restaurants around town, solidarity and an able use of the American legal system might turn things around. The takeaway quote from this week's piece by noted reporter and author Jennifer Gonnerman? “If we win this case, every restaurant is going to change.” Of course, there are no guarantees in any labor battle. Read on for the New York take.
The Deliverymen’s Uprising [NYM]
Related: Pols Come Out to Support Saigon Grill Workers; Delivery Service Still Suspended [Daily Intel]
It’s August, cheap-eats time, when you should be gobbling down raw artichokes, Cuban sandwiches, tapas, and pasta. It’s time to chill out, in other words. And that’s the idea behind this week’s food coverage.
The annual Cheap Eats issue arrives this week and represents, as usual, a massive compendium of low-end gastronomic wisdom. The Underground Gourmet round up some of the city’s very best cheap eats in the main section, but Adam Platt also weighs in on what passes for cheap in the city’s high-end places, some top chefs give their own picks, and three of the city’s greenmarket specialists vie to outdo each other not just in locavorism but also in “cheapavorism.” Add to that laser-focused profiles on burgers, barbecue, and Korean fried chicken, and you have a Cheap Eats supplement to put all others to shame.
Summer's end is already in sight: The All-Star Game is in the books, and another Fourth of July has passed without America being challenged by either the British or savage conquerors from another planet. All that remains are the most basic elements of summer eating: barbecue, ice cream, and fresh vegetables. And that happy trinity constitutes this week’s food section. Adam Platt finally finds barbecue happiness at Hill Country, so much so that the loquacious critic was reduced to declaring the ribs “really, really good.” Also on the subject of barbecue, Rob and Robin announce the debut of three more places, from a New Hampshire Yankee, a former boy-band star, and two ex–Blue Smoke cooks. The Robs also give the world their definitive list of the city’s top four ice-cream places (the best one rhymes with “Tom”). Finally, there's a conspicuously healthy recipe for zucchini with mint and scallions via the Slow Food haven Franny’s, in (where else?) Park Slope.
With July 4 behind us and a heat wave upon us, the magazine kicks into full summer mode this week. Adam Platt sips rosé in the garden room of the retooled Provence, the Insatiable Critic goes for gazpacho julienne at Park Avenue Summer, and the Robs introduce us to a trio of brand-new summer spots — a barbecue joint, a fish restaurant, and a beer bar — along with the offerings of the new Essex Street Market. Also, there’s news of a pizza boomlet — because some food is season-proof.
Our interest was piqued when we read the last line of Jada Yuan’s piece about Lily Allen’s two weeks in New York. “‘Don’t worry,’ she says, cheerily chomping on chicken satay at Cafe Gitane, a few hours before double-fisting pizza slices at Joe’s. ‘I’m still eating like a fucking pig.’” Vulture, our entertainment blog, has some choice outtakes from the interview, but none of them clear up our curiosity about Lily’s New York diet — here, then, are some food-related kernels that didn’t make it into the magazine piece.
You might be interested to know that your morning coffee was marked up 1,000 percent by the street vendor who just sold it to you. It’s just one of many fascinating tidbits in “Cartography,” a complete road map to New York City street food. Though Grub Street has previously selected its top five favorite carts, this week’s issue goes all out, not only ranking the city’s best twenty carts but also offering a glimpse into the daily experiences of street vendors. If the feature doesn’t sell you on the guts and glory of sidewalk cuisine, well, fine then — Rob and Robin have singled out several more conventional restaurants to look forward to this summer.
There are four restaurant-related stories in this week’s issue, and they ask you to take a side. Are you a New Yorker who glories in the freshness of newly arrived strawberries and seasonal cooking in general? Or are you an atavistic who prefers to sit in air-conditioned steakhouses, consuming red meat in 90-degree weather? This week, at least, Adam Platt is clearly the latter, dining in the Freon fortress that is Landmarc and finding only the heaviest, most beef- and bacon-laden foods worthy of (faint) praise. Those of us who have fathers like him are enjoined, in one of this week’s Short Lists, to visit various steakhouses with our dads. On the side, there is more cool, natural frozen yogurt than ever to be had, enumerated in another Short List, and this week’s In Season features a recipe for delicate pasta with strawberries from Sfoglia.
Summer is upon us at last, and with it come the inevitable summer foods: hot dogs, barbecue, snap peas, salad … and pappardelle with truffles and butter. Well, not every food consumed in the hot months is inevitable. But this issue comes packed with hot-weather options. The Underground Gourmet reviews Willie’s Dawgs and PDT, the new chic cocktail lounge attached to Crif Dogs (you’ll have to read to understand). The city’s most ambitious barbecue opening yet happens this week; Gael Greene is very taken with Aurora Soho’s reverse commute; Pichet Ong takes off from the dessert business to create a killer sugar-snap-pea recipe; and Rob and Robin offer both a guide to the city’s top department-store salads and a quiz to determine your green-eats quotient, a test which only the most narrowly focused carnivore could possibly fail.
The attentions of New York’s food staff are divided between modernity and tradition. Gael Greene is vexed with Provence, a reopened French restaurant which was faithfully conventional even in its former incarnation. Rob and Robin, apart from their usual announcements of new places in Openings, extract from Anthos chef Michael Psilakis a comparatively novel recipe for mature dandelion greens. And Adam Platt finds himself caught in the middle of Marco Canora’s half-modern, half-classical menu at Insieme.
The typical New York diner (to say nothing of the typical New York reader) will generally get around to all the major food groups in the course of a week. There is the fish group, represented this week by Adam Platt’s one-star review of Wild Salmon, and the southern Italian sea bounty of Bar Stuzzichini, Rob and Robin’s lead opening. The meat group is well served by Prime Burger, the Insatiable Critic assures. The vegetable tribe appears courtesy of Mark Ladner’s spring-onion flan in In Season. Finally, after all this eating, all most of us would want is a bed to lie down in, and Rob and Robin provide some tips for that as well.
A trio of food events, some stinging nettles, and two very serious Japanese restaurants make up this week’s food news. Though the items may be few in number, the magazine’s contents carry a significant freight of good tidings. Adam Platt visits a modern sushi restaurant and an intimate Japanese kaiseki establishment, and finds both pleasingly stark and traditional, a welcome change from the big-box Asian behemoths of recent years. Sara Jenkins, formerly of Bread Tribeca, provides a similarly plain but elegant recipe for one of the spring’s most welcome greens, wild stinging nettles, which adorn a simple Tuscan bucatini dish. Last, this week’s Short List features three events which have nothing in common except all sounding absolutely delicious.
When spring comes, branches and leaves appear in the most unexpected places. This week’s food coverage is like that: There are no huge openings, analogous to maples or firs springing up overnight, but rather a rich carpet of new sprouts and saplings. Rob and Robin glory in the pig-out that is Resto, the new Belgian restaurant on Park Avenue South; Gael Greene stops in to enjoy the immense, spanking-new Landmarc in the Time Warner Center; David Chang knows just what to do with the long-awaited, precious ramps in In Season; and other unexpected treats, from a waterside barbecue in one of the Short Lists to a slew of spring Openings fill out the foliage.