Nish, Felled by Its Own Best Efforts
Sometimes you can’t win for losing. Take Nish: After years of making hay as high-end tablecloth restaurant March, last year Wayne Nish rechristened it Nish and lowered prices. The result? According to Joe Salice, Nish’s partner in the venture, that was the beginning of the end: “What with the location and the price point being lower, we no longer became a destination. And as a ‘just grab a bite to eat’ place, there’s only so much we can get from the local people.” And that wasn’t nearly enough. “We looked at the numbers for the last month, and we were working just to pay the payroll and the vendors … so we had to make a decision.” The decision was to pull the plug. And even though it was a long time coming, the closure still came as a shock, with longtime customers scratching their heads and the staff in disarray. “No restaurant closes gracefully,” Nish tells us.
Earlier: A Double Blow for Wayne Nish: First Varietal, Now Nish Closes
A Double Blow for Wayne Nish: First Varietal, Now Nish ClosesThis will have to go down as one of the worst months a major New York chef ever had: First Wayne Nish’s revamped menu at Varietal was unable to keep the place from shutting down its kitchen operations; now comes word that Nish’s long-running flagship, Nish (formerly March), has given up the ghost. A forwarded e-mail from the restaurant’s former wine director, Joe Scalice, says it all: “After so many years we have shuttered the doors of 405 East 58th Street; NISH (formerly March) is closed.” Scalice is now the GM at Solace, a new Italian restaurant in a refurbished townhouse at 406 East 64th Street. As for what happened, we will have to get that from the man himself. More as this story develops.
Earlier: ‘Speedy’ Wayne Nish Remakes Varietal in One Week Flat
‘Speedy’ Wayne Nish Remakes Varietal in One Week FlatGiven that Wayne Nish transformed March into Nish just three months ago, we were surprised when we learned last week that he’d been assigned the task of creating a new menu at Varietal in the wake of chefs Ed Witt and Jordan Kahn exiting. Capable dude that he is, Nish started serving his dishes over the weekend. He even took some time to hook us up with said menu and explain where Witt and Kahn had gone wrong.
The Other Critics
Ssäm Bar Vindicated; Haute Cuisine Gets No LoveMomofuku Ssäm Bar wins two stars (!) from Bruni and completes a success story that seemed pretty unlikely a few months ago, when the place was selling Asian burritos to a handful of customers. The review is also a watershed in the changing culture of restaurants: Formal is now officially out, casual now officially legit. [NYT]
Related: The I Chang [NYM]
Meanwhile, Randall Lane is a lone dissenter, calling out Ssäm Bar for its unevenness, lack of focus, and the steep prices of some of its main dishes. On the whole, though, he seems to have missed the point — David Chang’s loose, unfettered approach to good cooking. [TONY]
Steve Cuozzo joins in the chorus of approval greeting Wayne Nish’s transformation of the stuffy March into the swinging, fusion-y Nish. The message: Remain formal at your own peril. (See reviews of Dennis Foy and Gordon Ramsay.) [NYP]
Related: Bedeviled [NYM]
Harold Moore of March to Take Over Grange Hall–Blue Mill SpaceA reliable industry source tells us that the long-vacant Grange Hall–Blue Mill space, which our Daniel Maurer reports was recently considered by Milk and Honey owner Sasha Petraske for his new restaurant, has been snapped up by former March chef de cuisine Harold Moore, a Montrachet veteran who has cooked under both Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten. The lease hasn’t been signed yet, and there is no word on when Moore, who has the backing of several partners, intends on opening it or what the food will be. But given his track record, it should be pretty good.
Back of the House
Ed Levine Criticizes Party Food; March ClosingBrett Thorn breaks the news that Frank Bruni is not quitting the Times. [NRN]
N.Y. branch of L.A.’s Patina to open in Lincoln Center; March to close. [NYT]
Chefs spout off about what they want in 2007. [Zagat]
Danny Meyers throws a party, and Ed Levine critiques the food. [Ed Levine Eats]
Russ & Daughters heirs profiled. [Chow]