If you’d rather wait to experience it in person (assuming you can score an invite to the next launch party), you’ll want to avert your eyes from the centerfold-worthy interior shot of the Box in this week’s magazine. William Van Meter’s profile of its primary owner Simon Hammerstein is also plenty revealing: Turns out the Rogers & Hammerstein progeny is a reformed raver. There won’t be any glow sticks at his dinner theater just a twenty-inch-tall woman named Firefly, a G-stringed Russian gymnast, and (why not?) the “Hammerstein Beauties.” Daniel MaurerWhat’s in the Box? [NYM]
Related: Simon Hammerstein’s Personal Pimpmobile?
Rob and Robin’s new column, "Sides," debuts in this week’s issue. In addition to scouring the city for great food, they’ll now be picking up bits and pieces of food and restaurant news. This week the Underground Gourmet discovers a new food magazine actually worth reading; follows an itinerant, sweatpants-clad chef to his new home; and tells a story of some little pigs and how they’re spending their Chinese New Year celebration (hint: it’s not setting off fireworks).
The Underground Gourmet: Sides [NYM]
Like so many Manhattan kids, children who live on the Upper East Side are accustomed to the high life. Now they even have their own grocery store: KidFresh. As Susan Avery’s article in this week’s magazine suggests, the shop says less about niche marketing than the New York Zeitgeist. Kids are simply asserting their demographic. (They even have their own genre of cookbooks.) Included in the article: a course-by-course review of a KidFresh meal, by critics ages 6 to 10.
My Little Grocery Store [NYM]
In the magazine this week, Rob and Robin unveil three humble new restaurants, each good for the kind of pit-stop nourishment needed to get through the day. The East Village’s Taj-Almoulouk is turning out top-notch falafel, Chelsea’s Café Grumpy is pouring good Counter Culture Coffee, and the West Village’s Yoláto is serving up the “gelato of frozen yogurts.” Read more in this week’s bulletin from the Underground Gourmet.
Where to Eat 2007, Adam Platt’s panoramic look at the New York restaurant scene, is a lot to digest (ahem) — thousands of words on the city’s best foods, high and low, from the big-box extravaganzas that constitute “Vegas on the Hudson” to the fetishized beef slabs that are “Designer Steaks.” As much as we enjoyed the essays, though, it’s the blurby lists, of course, that we went to first. Here are some highlights.
The usual New Year's Eve drill, of course, is to get hammered at a party while noshing away at whatever happens to be put out. This year, why not preface the evening with a real meal, sending out the old with one last act of gluttony? In one of this week's Short Lists —
"Out With a Bang" — Rob and Robin suggest the most extravagant NYE dinner options. For those of us who have made resolutions to spend something less than $650 on holiday meals, there are some other possibilities more likely to fall within your credit limit.
In this week's magazine, Rob and Robin sing the praises of cod milt, also known as shirako, also known as kiku, also known as okay, no getting around it cod sperm. If this gets your mouth watering, you might also be interested to know that Kenka, home to the most coveted 8 p.m. tables among Japanese hipsters, lists bull's penis on its manga-inspired specials menu (turkey testicles are sometimes also available). We've never seen grilled chicken ovaries (or "balls on a string" as Japanese children call the skewered treats) at American yakitori vendors, but let's hope that changes now that izakayas (and cod sperm) are having their moment. Daniel MaurerShirako Season [NYM]
A blizzard of burger openings has recently hit the city: BLT Burger, Royale, the new Goodburger, and Fort Greene's 67 Burger. And there are more on the way: Heritage Burger, the concept for which we recently sketched out, and the still-secret chef-driven East Village place that we announced in late October. This week, Rob and Robin introduce two more newbies — Stand and the convenient-to-text-message brgr — breaking them down by beef, bun, and condiments. It's all practically enough to make you forget the name Shake Shack.
Burger Madness [NYM]
In two neatly paired Short Lists this week, Rob and Robin present you with multiple options for sating the appetites you're sure to work up shopping this month. There's a breakdown of four of the best "in-store canteens," where you can take a food break without going outside. And if you're roaming the streets for more far-flung gifts? The Robs oblige with a West Village– and meatpacking-district-focused guide to the "obligatory between-purchases bite."
Convenience Stores [NYM]
Born to Snack [NYM]
Two Intelligencer items caught our eye this week: a Keystone Kops farce involving truffles, bound for San Domenico, sniffed out by a Homeland Security dog at JFK; and tales of the media elite confronting their likenesses at Cafe Cluny's "demi-celebrity portrait gallery." Both stories have a melancholy note, suggesting as they do the emptiness of wealth and privilege — not that we don't still lust for truffles and fame ourselves.
Truffle Kerfluffle at Border [NYM]
Sketchy Café Society [NYM]
In this week's Openings, Rob and Robin herald the appearance of two very different kinds of southern chicken restaurants: Pardo's, the latest in the burgeoning genre of Peruvian rotisserie places, and Charles' Southern Style Kitchen on Lenox Avenue, a new outpost of Harlem pan virtuoso Charles Gabriel's mini-empire. (Rack & Soul is another; here's our listing for the restaurant on 151st Street.) Both places trace their roots back to southern climes, and though we have yet to sample Pardo's, no one who has ever trekked to Harlem to taste Charles' pan-fried wonders has come back less than awed. (Also opening: Nespresso Boutique Bar, an espresso emporium owned a Nestlé subsidiary.)
Openings: Pardo's, Nespresso Boutique Bar, Charles' Southern Style Kitchen [NYM]
The rib-sticking cuisine of central Europe, with its spaetzles and schnitzels, comes into its own, of course, when the cold weather arrives. This week, Rob and Robin suggest five restaurants that will sustain you over the winter. About Trestle on Tenth, they write: "Start with the pork-shoulder crepinettes, and proceed directly to the roast lamb saddle with bacon sauce." Done and done!
R&R also round up four new restaurants on East 50th Street that are giving midtown some much-needed "multicultural flair": Dos Caminos Third, Gyu-Kaku, I-Chin, and Tunisia Restaurant.
Schlag Is Optional [NYM]
Eats 50th [NYM]
They used to say that you could divide the world into Paul McCartney people and John Lennon people. But you could as easily say that the great divide is between sweet and savory fetishists, the sweet tooth versus the meat tooth. Such is the conceit of Rob and Robin's double-barreled Gift Finder feature this week. For one group, they suggest a bouquet of gorgeous pork products, ranging from Flying Pigs Farm slab bacon to Salumeria Biellese soppressata; and for the other, a nosegay of chocolates from some of the city's most high-powered confectioners, including Bouchon Bakery and Chocolat Michel Cluizel.
For the Chocoholic … [NYM]
… And the Pork Fiend [NYM]
David Edelstein's review of the narrative adaptation of Fast Food Nation, directed by Richard Linklater, makes us want to see the movie — though we're not making any plans for dinner afterward. (We'll probably limit it to a kosher dog outside the theater.) Edelstein says the film "penetrates to the feces-ridden heart of the vile, gruesome abomination of nature that is the average burger-chain burger, [and] … dramatizes the ways in which the industry has permeated, desecrated, and poisoned everything in this culture, from the economy to the environment to the treatment of animals to the health and lives of its workers." Strong stuff! Possessing as we do a body largely built of fast food, we think this will be a major wake-up call, though not one we expect to be especially profound or life-changing — we wake up every morning, after all. Still, we don't think anyone can afford to ignore it.
Fast Food Nation [NYM]
Our Thanksgiving Dining Guide provided a plethora of options for eating out on the big day. But many people who refuse to cook on holidays do so because they like things simple and want to avoid too much decision-making, right? Well, it doesn't get any simpler than Rob and Robin's "Talking Turkey" short list, a look at just five Manhattan restaurants, all very fine, and all with special plans for Thanksgiving. Whether it's Karen DeMasco's pumpkin fritters at Craft or Daniel Boulud's organic bird at DB Bistro Moderne, you can't possibly go wrong with any of these places. Lob a dart at the screen if you have to.
Talking Turkey [NYM]
The Lower East Side, a.k.a. the Lower Eastpacking District, was never exactly a hotbed of haute gastronomy. But as Rob and Robin note in this Short List, it's gotten to the point that just Rivington Street alone has seen everything from pizza to Cambodian noodles appear. Below, a link to four new places worth trying in the "Rivington Street corridor."
Beyond Pickles and Matzo [NYM]
• In openings, Rob and Robin give pride of place to this week's biggie, the British superchef Gordon Ramsay's maiden New York venture, Gordon Ramsay at the London; signal the arrival of Pera Mediterranean Brasserie, a relatively ambitious Turkish restaurant in midtown; and acknowledge a new red-sauce restaurant, Dean's Family Style Restaurant and Pizzeria (801 Second Ave., nr. 43rd St.; 212-878-9600).
New York Restaurant Openings and Buzz
• Gael Greene goes to Metro Marché at the Port Authority and gives what has to be the best review ever received by a restaurant in a bus station: "Amazingly good brasserie dishes at astonishingly gentle prices."
• Given that so much restaurant profit comes from the bar, you have to wonder why it took so long for restaurants to attach lounges. Rob and Robin look at four new ones: the Greek Kava Lounge, EN Shochu Bar (Japanese), and the eclectic Monday Room and Wined Up wine bars. All open over the next couple of weeks.
Rooms With Booze
Maybe you've thought about trying the high-flown recipes dreamed up by chefs David Burke and David Chang for our package on holiday entertaining (which you can check out here): Burke's scrambled eggs with lobster and caviar and Chang's spring rolls. But hey, that would involve reading. Wouldn't you much rather watch the men at work and perhaps follow along at home? If you answered yes, then have we got the thing for you: videos, not much longer than your average pop song, showing the guys throwing together the foods in their kitchens. The camera captures both chefs' personalities: Chang serious as a deacon, Burke gruff but good-natured — and ready with the wry comment on the pain and suffering of lobsters. Great stuff, courtesy of our own culinary editor, Gillian Duffy.
David Chang's shrimp spring rollsDavid Burke's scrambled eggs with caviar and lobster
In an eloquent follow-up to last week's money issue, an Intelligencer item details how a bevy of big shots attended a wine auction last week and spent astronomical sums on bottles — which, in some cases, they actually drank! "Unlike art, which can hang on a wall for years untouched," the piece reads, "wine is a liquid asset that disappears."
Terroir Alert: Burgundy [NYM]
Not that we would know, but apparently major exertions like Sunday's New York Marathon require vast expenditures of energy. The experienced athlete prepares for these with a carbohydrate-heavy meal. In this week's Short List, Rob and Robin give four places to indulge in mass quantities of pasta.
Short List: Carbo Loads