If you thought David Pasternack transporting plastic garbage bags of freshly caught fish on the Long Island Railroad was badass, Terrance Brennan informs us that at Picholine this week he’ll be cooking pheasants and wild mallard ducks that he personally shot. Brennan says he joined Andrew Hamilton of his longtime game provider, Scottish Wild Harvest, in hours of hunting on the Birkhill Castle estate in the Fife region of Scotland. (Federal law prohibits restaurants from selling truly wild game that is caught in the U.S.) “I didn’t find it hard at all,” Brennan says of his virgin hunt. “In fact, the first time I shot, I was two for two.”
An interesting rumor came our way the other day: that none other than our reputed doppelgänger, Terrance Brennan of Artisanal and Picholine, was looking to sell his restaurants and get out of the day-to-day chef business. We checked in with the Blessed Cheesemonger, and it turns out the rumor is exactly wrong: Brennan has sold his Artisanal cheese company to American Home Foods for the express purpose of getting back into the kitchen. “It’s a lot more complex business than I thought,” he tells us. “There’s e-commerce and customs and all these moving parts. It took four years of my life I’m done with it.” Brennan also says he’s planning a new New York restaurant, a different concept from Artisanal or Picholine. But that’s all he’ll say until the time is ripe — “as ripe,” he adds, “as a pungent Roquefort.”
Astoria: Soleil Coffee Shop and a 7-Eleven are opening soon. [Joey in Astoria]
Clinton Hill: Heineken is filming a commercial today at 313 Clinton Avenue. [Clinton Hill Blog]
Corona: Enjoy a pirated DVD with your dinner on Roosevelt Avenue. [NYT]
East Village: Support Willie’s cause while getting buzzed this Saturday at Counter’s organic beer tasting. [Grub Street]
Lower East Side: The beer room at Whole Foods even sells PBR with a pitch to keep hipster interest alive. [East Village Idiot]
Midtown West: Daniel and Oceana alum Scott Ekstrom has been tapped to run the kitchen at Brasserie Forty Four, the restaurant destined for the redesigned Royalton hotel. [Eater]
Randall’s Island: The concessions at Farm Aid were stocked with local, organic, or family-farm-raised fare, but nothing really tasted that great. [Diner’s Journal/ NYT]
Red Hook: The vendors are celebrating their season’s extension with a “livelier than usual weekend event — more soccer games, piñatas, music, and a two-day art exhibit featuring photographs taken by the food vendors.” [Eat for Victory/VV]
Upper West Side: Terrence Brennen has overhauled his culinary team at Picholine appointing Scott Quis formerly of Café Boulud as Chef de Cuisine and Jason Hua from Jean Georges as executive sous-chef. [Grub Street]
Meatopia, the Woodstock of edible animals, has captured the imagination of Grub Street readers. Suggestions for next year’s theme have flooded in, nearly overwhelming both the Grub Street in-box and our wildest expectations. Send your idea to firstname.lastname@example.org by 6 p.m., and we might see you tomorrow. Among the contenders:
Frogs’ legs tend to be associated with the French and Vietnamese, but according to Craig Hopson, the chef de cuisine at Picholine, the frogs in Florida have the imported ones beaten on all counts. “They’re a lot bigger and cleaner,” he says, and tonight, he’ll be serving them (for $19) as a special at the restaurant. “Frogs’ legs don’t have much flavor on their own,” Hopson tells us, so he ups the ante by filling them with a mixture of ground frogs’ legs, bacon, and foie gras, leaving a small bone protruding to hold them with, and frying them up in tempura batter as crispy frog lollipops. The dish is served with celery kimchee, considerably cooled down from the fiery Korean kind, and a spiced aïoli. But it’s the legs themselves that really jump off the plate.
This season, we’re planning on kibitzing about the show every week with a variety of fellow viewers, all of whom will help us to dissect that episode’s round of flashy dishes and behind-the-scenes treachery.
Fat is where it’s at in New York today, thanks to the efforts of what Adam Platt would call the “refined meathead” school of chefs like David Chang and Zak Pelaccio. [NYT]
Related: You Know You’re a Meathead When… [NYM]
Kyochon Chicken, the Korean chain behind the current wave of Korean fried-chicken restaurants, has opened in Flushing. Two more locations are planned for Bayside. [NYT]
Ilan Hall defeated Sam Talbot in their outdoor Top Chef rematch yesterday, Hall’s soft-shell crab salad triumphing over Talbot's grilled quail and potatoes. [NYDN]
Clinton Hill: A former porn shop on Myrtle Avenue will become a European-style cafe, a term open to interpretation. The only notable physical change to the space is an exterior paint job. [Clinton Hill Blog]
East Village: Ramen Setagaya at 141 First Avenue will be ready to open when Con Edison turns the gas on. [VV] Former captain at Gramercy Tavern and Picholine Rob Ziser has opened his own restaurant out of a subleased kitchen at Company bar. [The Strong Buzz]
Gramercy: Delayed high-end Asian restaurant Wakiya in the Gramercy Park Hotel is coming and hiring. [Eater]
Harlem: A Coldstone Creamery on 125th Street could give Mister Softee an ice-cream headache. [Uptown Flavor]
Park Slope: Michael Hearst recorded Songs for Ice Cream Trucks in his converted one-bedroom, but it looks like his jingles won’t make it to the big time. [Brooklyn Record]
Tribeca: Brandy Library is hosting a free cognac tasting tonight from 6 to 8 p.m. And afterward begin the piano stylings of Joel Forrester. [Brandy Library]
Times are changing in the restaurant world – but just how fast? Tonight’s James Beard Awards will help answer the question of whether the traditional tablecloth restaurants, which seem to be on the way out, still wield their old clout in the gastronomic Establishment.
The Beard nominees for New York City’s Best Chef know that there’s more to the award than who makes the best plate of spaghetti. Looking back at previous years in which he was nominated, Picholine’s Terrance Brennan says, “Our customers were always loyal, but because I wasn’t playing the game, we were under the foodie radar. Being friends with the [Beard] committee helps I imagine if you know some people, your odds are probably better.”
After much speculation, the 2007 nominees for the James Beard Awards, the Oscars of the restaurant world, are in. Adam Platt, Rob Patronite, Robin Raisfeld, and Grub Street all filled out Beard brackets (or at least revealed whom we’d like to see win) on Friday. Here's how the academy's coming down.
“I have a personal interest in this dish,” he says, “and I wouldn’t let it go.” That’s Picholine chef Terrance Brennan on his sea-urchin panna cotta, one of only two items from the restaurant’s previous incarnation that he continues to serve today. The dish, which the chef describes as “all about the taste of the ocean, and nothing else” is the first course of an $80 three-course prix fixe menu, and one of his signatures. As always, simply scroll over the arrows on the large image to see quotes from the chef.
Ramsay strikes a chord with Ryan Sutton: "This is artful food that makes you ponder the meaning of life, but it's also accessible, gutsy fare that excites the senses and fills the tummy." [Bloomberg]
Bruni does the ever popular steak two-fer (witness Platt's double-up on STK and Lonesome Dove), declares Porter House New York "an M.B.A. program for beef eaters who did undergraduate work at Outback," turning out "well-sourced, well-prepared flesh" though getting into trouble elsewhere. Despite the limo-like seats, he's not grooving to the beat (or the meat) at the other spot: "STK might want to think about buying some soundproofing, along with a vowel." [NYT]
Richman isn't convinced Porter House New York is a steakhouse, or at least as good of one as its predecessor V. Instead it's "an accessible, sensible eating establishment with decent prices and classy, comprehensible food." [Bloomberg]
Bruni has his birthday party at "reinvigorated" Picholine and, to the tune of three stars, declares it "arguably the nicest restaurant surprise of this disappointing season." [NYT]
Meehan has mixed feelings about Lunetta but concedes: "Mr. Shepard can cook." [NYT]
Alan Richman goes slumming at the Port Authority Bus Terminal and finds signs of promise at best. "Metro Marche is not a great restaurant. Unless Escoffier takes over the kitchen, it will never be a fashionable one. It could become quite respectable, though." [Bloomberg]
With Halloween around the corner, pumpkins are everywhere — on stoops, in soups, and, of course, at the Greenmarket. (Zoe Singer tells us which ones to buy this week in At the Greenmarket.) Some of the better restaurants around town are getting into the spirit and serving up pumpkin in its many forms. Here are a few we can get behind.
Alexandre Dumas reckoned that white truffles can, "on certain occasions, make women more tender and men more lovable." We would hope so — the 'shrooms, imported from Piemonte, Italy, were selling last week for as much as $2,400 per pound. If you're going to throw down for some, you best leave their preparation to the city's top Italian chefs. (Or, better yet, go straight to the source — here's our five-point Piemonte Weekend Escape Plan.)
Wait until you hear what these cooks are doing with truffles (hint: it doesn't involve pizza).
Picholine and Artisanal chef Terrance Brennan, working with FreshDirect, has reinvented the microwave meal. Or so we were told earlier this week. Apparently, the ingredients in his glorified TV dinners come raw or semi-cooked, and a release valve in the box allows the container to work as a pressure cooker, making the meal from scratch in about three minutes. Skeptical but intrigued — and inspired by a similar experiment by the Gobbler — we opted out of having lunch delivered to our desk yesterday and instead joined other Grub Street staffers in the kitchenette to sample six of the eight varieties. The best were better than many restaurant dishes; the average ones were an order of magnitude more enjoyable than any "frozen dinners" we'd ever eaten before; and the worst were terrible. (FreshDirect plans to develop more lines with other high-profile New York chefs.)
This week, the big boys decided to tip some sacred cows.
• Alan Richman, battling Peter Luger, delivers what might be the most damning takedown of a major New York restaurant since his famous indictment of Jean Georges in GQ. Sundry are the crimes of this tavern: It has "lost touch with the concept of restaurant hospitality"; deploys cheap flatware and snarling waiters; serves inconsistent steak, mundane sides, and a "hostile burger." [Bloomberg]