Bernard Patten of Peter Luger Has a Strict ‘No Touching’ Rule (Even
Last night at Peter Luger, around 9 p.m., Lindsay Lohan dined with a large party, sporting black patent-leather quilted ankle boots with black semi-opaque tights and a black crushed velvet jacket that came to mid-thigh. One man who wasn’t fazed by this? Waiter Bernard Patten. Since moving from his native Dublin in 1985, he’s seen it all, first at the Waldorf-Astoria and then, for the past eighteen years, at Luger. The Williamsburg bastion of dependability has been going through some changes lately — a new steak on the menu, an expanded kitchen, and a new dining room (seen here) that Patten tells us has eased waiting times. In about six months, there will also be an upstairs lounge and bar with an adjoining private-party space. We asked Patten how he’s been weathering the changes.
Back of the House
Green Bay Is Getting Off Easy in This Year’s Food Bet
The unavoidable wager between the mayors of Green Bay and New York has been made, and AP has dutifully reported it. But as usual, New York is getting the worse of the deal. Green Bay mayor, Jim Schmitt, is betting a basket of cheese, some spread, and some New York strip steaks (New York strips! Imagine!), with some candy — a pair of cheese-wedge sunglasses. That’s if we win. If they win, the self-appointed “Titletown” gets twenty pounds of Peter Luger porterhouses, a case of Brooklyn Lager, and a cheesecake (take that, cheese heads!) from Carnegie Deli. Green Bay is getting the much better deal here. We suggest Bloomberg match Schmitt’s bet with a gristly steak from Tad’s and a black-and-white cookie from a random deli.
Bloomberg places bet on Giants-Packers game [Newsday]
Bruni Interviews the Bros. Bromberg; Can Diner’s Steak Compete WithEast Village: BondSt has made its West Coast debut in the new Thompson Hotel in Beverly Hills. [Snack]
Hell’s Kitchen: Sietsema doesn’t think Metro Marché feels enough like a real bistro; maybe stepping out into Port Authority to view a homeless man peeing into a Dunkin’ Donuts cup just takes away the mystique. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Lower East Side: ‘inoteca is back, with new and improved wine storage. [Eater]
Soho: Bruni uncovers the history of Blue Ribbon (which began in 1992 with a fancy French restaurant on Sullivan Street between Prince and Spring) and finds it interesting. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Williamsburg: Diner has “begun doing Porterhouses for two, four, sometimes six, along with bone-in rib-eyes and T-Bones, cooked to order and slathered with marrow butter,” right across from Peter Luger. Has anyone been to both to compare? [Brooklyn Based]
Back of the House
Morton’s Arrives to Destroy the Last Bit of Brooklyn’s SoulNow that Morton’s has announced that it’s opening a steakhouse in Brooklyn, the borough has lost its claim to a culinary soul. Morton’s — a chain steakhouse that presents its meat to customers under plastic wrap — is the culinary equivalent of the banks and drugstores that have pushed out mom-and-pop businesses all over town.
Nello Pissed at Model for Taking His Umbrella; Winner of ‘Next IronOh, Nello! Fiesty Mr. Balan is in his latest rage because he lent a model his $1,000 leather umbrella “because it was raining because I am a gentleman … Stop behaving like a boulevardier [street person] and a petite voleuse [petty thief]. You don’t give me the umbrella, I sue you,” which he is now doing because she returned it broken in two. [NYP]
Related: A Model Breaks Nello’s Heart, Umbrella
The newest Iron Chef is … Cleveland’s Michael Symon. [Serious Eats]
Laurent Tourondel tells Bruni he enjoys dining most in Vietnam, but the influence in the recipes for his Thanksgiving spread is all French. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Back of the House
Batali, Bastianich Dip From the Same Cookie Jar for Different CandidatesAfter Nino Selimaj was ordered to take down his photo of Chelsea Clinton at Osso Buco (it’s still hanging), we got to wondering where other restaurateurs fall on the political spectrum. All we had to do was run some names through the Huffington Post’s FundRace 2008 search engine to find out, for starters, that Mario Batali gave $1,000 to John Edwards while his business partner Joe Bastianich gave $2,300 to Rudy Giuliani (this could get ugly). So who are other restaurant honchos like Drew Nieporent, Danny Meyer, Siro Maccioni, et al backing?
In Other Magazines
‘Esquire’ to New York: Drop DeadAre you kidding us? Only a trio of New York spots made Esquire’s “best new restaurants” list. And while the places described all sound good, if the likes of Rialto in Cambridge have all but three New York restaurants beat, then Pace is the new Harvard. The fact is this list represents a kind of trans-Hudson affirmative action for the restaurant world. Food columnist John Mariani picks good restaurants located outside New York in place of the more deserving restaurants inside the city limits, such as Insieme, Sfoglia, Ssäm Bar, Suba, Hill Country, and many others. It’s not their fault that New York has more good places than the rest of the country put together!
Primehouse Opening in Flatiron; Trabocchi Siphoned Former Staff to SohoCarroll Gardens: New wine bar Black Mountain Wine House on Union Street is filled to the brim with lovely sipping ladies. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Flatiron: Diddy has closed Justin’s because it’s not big enough. [NYP] Stephen Hanson’s steakhouse, Primehouse, opens Monday. [Zagat]
Harlem: Fall registration is open for free proper-dining lessons at “New York City’s only tuition-free etiquette school for children,” the Development and Finishing Institute. [Uptown Flavor]
Soho: New Fiamma chef Fabio Trabocchi “brought with him 12 members of the staff of Maestro, in McLean, Va., his previous employer” in order to ease his New York transition. [NYT]
Upper East Side: David Burke’s Hudson Valley Foie Gras ‘PB&J’ Tourchon is pushing it. [NYO]
Williamsburg: The best way to be sure your beef is prime is to eat at a top steakhouse, and lucky for you, according to “Amy Rubenstein, whose family owns Peter Luger, the shortage is over.” [NYP]
Grant Achatz Getting Better; Bourdain Spreads Blood and Holiday CheerGrant Achatz writes Ruhlman that the tumor on the great chef’s tongue has been diminished by about 75 percent, thanks to aggressive chemo. [Ruhlman].
In his upcoming No Reservations holiday special, Tony Bourdain cooks a Thanksgiving dinner with L.A. rockers Queens of the Stone Age and spends “a fair amount of time spraying stage blood onto [his] niece and nephew’s face.” [The Grinder/Chow]
Rickshaw Dumpling has officially opened. [Eater]
Food Writers Continue to Be Confounded by SteakDetails recently put out a list of “The Best New Steak Houses in America,” and it was not inaccurate. Most of the places across the country that delight enlightened meatheads made the cut: Cut in LA, Michael Mina’s butter-crazed Stripsteak in Vegas, and Robert’s (ill-served by an unrepresentative piece of choice beef in the picture) are indeed among the best going. But writers and diners alike are too happy to be served a big steak to gauge it accurately, which makes all steakhouse features unreliable at best.
The Other Critics
Bruni Maintains Luger’s Middling Reputation; Bar Fry’s Tempura More Varied ThanFrank Bruni complains about the steak, the service, the sides, and the salad at Peter Luger but caves and hands it two stars. [NYT]
Restaurant Girl gives Elio’s two and a half stars, citing its “charming lure of old-world” Italian, code for a menu that has barely changed in 26 years. [NYDN]
Alan Richman visits Il Mulino and in crushing it strikes a blow against “this style of oversized, oversauced, overcooked cuisine” with all the force he can muster. [Bloomberg]
In the Magazine
This Week’s Issue Is All About Simplicity
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.
Mario Batali, Food Network Split; Vermin at Da Silvano and Peter LugerThe Food Network dumps Mario Batali, and he dumps Iron Chef America in return. [NYP]
Da Silvano‘s media connections won’t keep rat spottings out of the news as Inside Edition will air footage of the vermin tonight alongside similarly damning video of both Peter Luger and Blue Ribbon. [Eater]
“Nobody at the Bryant Park tents has to starve, sleep or stay sober” during fashion week thanks to sponsorships including Eleni’s cookies, Nespresso, and most importantly the entire Spanish wine region of Rioja. [NYDN]
Sam Mason Needs More Money; Hawaiian Tropic Zone Looking for Studly Men WithIn an effort to change its image as an “upscale Hooters,” Hawaiian Tropic Zone is hiring a beefy male staff “with personality.” [NYDN]
Does Sam Mason need a new financial backer to open Tailor? Those delays cost major cash. [Down by the Hipster]
China has formed a cabinet-level committee to monitor food safety but still calls the national coverage of tainted exports “viciously sensationalized.” [NYT]
The Upper West Side Arrives; Clone Restaurants FlourishThe Upper West Side is “Manhattan’s hottest restaurant neighborhood” with a confluence of good places from name chefs and anonymous but high-quality local eateries. The addition of Daniel Boulud’s new wine bar is just the icing on the cake. [NYP]
If you like Peter Luger, Magnolia Bakery, or Pearl Oyster Bar, know that there are clones all over town. [TONY]
The glories of hidden Queens range from an Argentine steakhouse with “insane” portions to an ancient ice-cream parlor in Jackson Heights. [NYP]
Pegu Club Shaking More Than Just Cocktails in SohoForest Hills: The layout for Trader Joe’s coming to 90-30 Metropolitan Avenue. [Forest Hills 72]
Midtown West: Sample cuisine from more than 50 restaurants including Aquavit, Buddakan, and Eleven Madison Park at tonight’s Taste of the Nation at Roseland Ballroom; tickets are $200 and benefit the fight against childhood hunger. [Cakehead]
Soho: Pegu Club accused of shaking down its customers by pouring drinks that haven’t been ordered. [Majikthise]
South Hampton: Dune should pick up the slack where Cain left off. [Down by the Hipster]
Upper West Side: The lobby lounge of the Mandarin Oriental now has a cart offering $75 flutes of Dom Perignon, but at least the price includes dried fruit. [NYS] Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe hopes to see a bidding war over Warner LeRoy’s Tavern on the Green between top “concessionaires” including Dean Poll of the Boathouse and Danny Meyer. [NYO]
West Village: Awkward zoning prevents Camaje bistro on Macdougal Street from setting up outdoor seating, though it’s allowed for virtually all its dining neighbors. [NYP]
Back of the House
Eating Out With Tim Zagat; the Littlest FeinschmeckersWhat’s it like to eat dinner with Tim Zagat? Something akin to eating with royalty. [Slate]
As Texas and New Haven fight it out for the title of who invented the hamburger, Grub Street’s editor weighs in. [LAT]
How did eating and diet get so complicated? Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and one of the guys who helped make it so complicated, sorts it all out. [NYT]
Dishwashers, Culinary Elite Being Allowed Into Peter Luger’s KitchenUsually, an outfit with a name like Culinary Insiders is bound to be just the opposite. And yet a group calling itself exactly that has some of the city’s most promising restaurant events scheduled, starting with a behind-the-scenes tour of Peter Luger on Sunday the 21st. Also upcoming*: a truffle party at Alain Ducasse, a trip to Stone Barns with Dan Barber, and in February, a Chinese New Year extravaganza at 66. And though membership may have its privileges, accredited Insiders get only $25 off the $150 Luger tour ticket. And, yes, that does come with a steak meal.
Behind-the-Scenes at Peter Luger [Culinary Insiders]
* Correction, Jan. 5: The Stone Barns and Alain Ducasse events have already taken place.
The Nine Steakhouse CommandmentsIn recent weeks, the Gobbler has found himself sitting night after night in a succession of new steakhouses, staring glumly at the mounting platters of T-bone and porterhouse along with thrombotic servings of greasy hash browns and au gratin potato. The Gobbler has nothing against these restaurants per se. He enjoys a good sizzling hunk of cow as much as the next fellow. But the presence of so many high-profile new ones on the landscape is an unsettling sign. Steakhouses don’t perish in times of trouble; they propagate. This fall, the city’s superstar chefs are away opening spinoffs in places like Vegas and Shanghai, and the buzz, to the extent there is any, is being created by aged revivals (like the Russian Tea Room), and new ventures by venerable out-of-towners (like L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon). Into this vacuum, invariably, rush more steakhouses. The recipe for the successful New York chophouse is precise, however, and you tinker with it at your peril. So here is the Gobbler’s list of random, highly subjective Steakhouse Commandments.