City Restaurant School in Session; Pickle Day a Big HitWant to open a restaurant? The city is still happy to show you how. [Newsday]
Visitors to International Pickle Day on Orchard Street yesterday consumed an estimated 50,000 pickles. [amNY]
The GM for the Lever House Restaurant Group married freelance writer at Blue Hill at Stone Barns this weekend. [NYT]
Back of the House
Nello Said to Teach Artist a Thing or Two About Overcharging Connoisseurs of bad art and worse restaurants will get a charge from a story in today’s Post about Nello Balan and his run-in with artist Jerome Lucani. There are so many levels of absurdity to this that it would take Nathaniel West to do it justice, but let’s start with the basics: Balan, who owns restaurants catering to stodgy plutocrats, allegedly agreed to front the money for Lucani to produce hideous celebrity photomontages in exchange for a 40 percent cut on sales. Lucani claims that Balan is “keeping [his] paintings hostage” and demanded a $500,000 fee plus a 50-50 split on sales. Now that’s how you do business!
The Annotated Dish
Le Bernardin’s Too Popular Surf and TurfAlthough he denies it, Eric Ripert must occasionally regret the invention of his “surf and turf,” the Kobe steak and grilled escolar he serves at Le Bernardin. As the winner (along with Masa) of one of the only five-star ratings Adam Platt has ever bestowed, “The Ripper” has created a meat dish that has threatened to upstage the fish cookery for which Le Bernardin is known. Still: “I think we’ll keep the item on the menu, for sure. It’s a strong sell,” the chef says. “Something like 50 orders a night. But we’ll see [if we keep it] in the fall.” As always, mouse over the different elements of the dish to see them described in the chef’s own words.
The Other Critics
Money Can’t Buy You a Great SteakSteve Cuozzo takes Kobe Club and Quality Meats to task in today’s Post, complaining that they should serve more 28-day dry-aged Prime steaks, “the gold standard.” There’s a reason those restaurants’ steaks aren’t stellar, but their grade and how long they’ve been aged has nothing to do with it.
How a $750 Entrée Will Fill the Aching Void in Your LifeUpper East Side grandees are fond of each other’s company and eat at restaurants like Nello to make sure they get it. Why else would anyone pay $22 for a celery heart or $38 for spaghetti with clam sauce? But we thought that even the lonely and ultrarich might balk at the new $750 Kobe steak that, according to “Page Six,” the restaurant is now serving. Given that the best of these steaks seldom top $125 in town, how can Nello justify the price? “It’s a small quantity of product that’s available,” owner Nello Balan tells us, as if that justified anything more than the going rate. “They distribute it all over from Moscow to Paris to New York. It’s a novelty.” A novelty it may be to Balan’s crowd, but the rest of New York has pretty much gotten the whole Kobe thing by now. And yet, there’s no arguing with Nello’s results: “We sell ten or fifteen a day.” At least the rich aren’t always getting richer.
Steer Heaven [NYP]
BLT Empire Storms Burgerland
When Laurent Tourondel opened BLT Steak — the flagship of his burgeoning BLT empire — food snobs took one look at the glorified meat-and-potatoes menu and winced. What’s a fine French chef doing serving stacks of onion rings and hunks of unadulterated USDA Prime? Giving the people what they want, bien sur. And Tourondel, who made his name at the French seafood specialist Cello, has built a booming industry doing just that, with variations on a crowd-pleasing theme at BLT Fish, BLT Prime, and as of yesterday’s surreptitious opening, BLT Burger.