Interborough Burger Contest Heading to QueensThe grilling armies in the city’s burger wars usually hail from Manhattan, but every competition needs new contenders. The Burger Battle of the Boroughs will be on May 20 in Astoria as part of the Cuisine of Queens & Beyond tasting event. Staten Island could not field a team, but representatives from Brooklyn (The Farm on Adderley, 67 Burger), Queens (Harry’s at Water Taxi Beach, Joe’s Bestburger), and the Bronx (Coals) will battle Brgr and Resto — the latter being Rob and Robin’s favorite burger in New York last year.
Terrance Brennan Serves the Spoils of His First Hunt at Picholine
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.”
Coming Soon to Artisanal: Terrance Brennan’s Dream Steak
Despite the sky-high cost of meat and the rarity of aged prime, steaks continue to be a hot investment for today’s restaurateurs. Now even cheese guru Terrance Brennan has joined the bovine gravy train, introducing a whole steak-frites section to the Artisanal menu.
Terrance Brennan Sells Cheese Business, Plans New RestaurantAn 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.”
Picholine Lures Café Boulud Alum to Upper West; Fiesta de Red Hook Vendors!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]
Treats Truck Will Grace the East Village With Its Presence TomorrowAstoria: GoWasabi at 29-11 Ditmars Boulevard will serve sushi with a side of live jazz tonight. [Joey in Astoria]
East Village: The Treats Truck is bringing its freshly baked (in Red Hook) sandwich-cookies, brownies, and crispy confections to Bond Street at Lafayette on Saturday. [The Treats Truck] Are you extremely kind, and do you love the smell of offal in the morning? Prune is looking for someone really nice to be their next hostess. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Hell’s Kitchen: Terrance Brennan’s Artisanal Premium Cheese Center is holding a tasting course on cheeses of the newly trendy Pacific Northwest on Tuesday, June 19. [Artisanal Premium Cheese Center]
Midtown West: Curry craziness has died down at Go!Go!Curry, but should rev back up if Hideki Matsui (its namesake of sorts) hits a homer any time soon. [Gothamist]
Park Slope: The newly opened Hotel Le Bleu will house a restaurant with views of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty; it’s aptly named Vue. [NewYorkology]
New York is Now Fat City; Korean KFC Comes to New YorkFat 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]
Terrance Brennan Gives the TV Dinner Business Another Go
The last time we checked in on Terrance Brennan and his line of ready-to-go FreshDirect meals, the chef was rejiggering one of his recipes after negative feedback from the Grub Street staff. Now that a new line is out, we felt it only right to give The Big Cheese another review, much as Adam Platt revisited Picholine after Brennan revamped it last year. The results of the tasting, as last year, were mixed.
Tonight’s Beard Awards: a Referendum on Haute Cuisine
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.
Beard’s Best Chef Nominees Spill Beans
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.”
The Annotated Dish
Picholine’s ‘Oceanic’ Sea-Urchin Panna Cotta“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.
Back of the House
Terrance Brennan to Make Vegas Just a Little Bit Cheesier?The Sin City restaurant scene is so hot right now that according to a broker who works there, the owners of Tao at the Venetian (here’s our listing for the New York location) are projecting a whopping revenue of $35 million during their first year. So it’s no surprise that Terrance Brennan is apparently looking for a Las Vegas space in which to open a second Artisanal. When he turns his full attention to expansion after the New Year, however, he says he’ll most likely focus first on Chicago rather than Vegas or Boston, another city he’s eyeing. “I love [Chicago], and I’ve been up there a few times and talked to people,” Brennan says. And Vegas? “Eventually … ”
— Daniel Maurer
Back of the House
After a Grub-Drubbing, FreshDirect Rejiggers RecipeIt was with a warm glow of satisfaction that we read the Times’ review of Terrance Brennan’s new FreshDirect line of microwave dinners; not to toot our own horns, but we were on that days ago (toot). We were surprised, though, to see Florence Fabricant praising the paella rice in the shrimp romesco, a dish we singled out as especially vile — and not because of the shrimp. (“The paella rice in another shrimp dish was excellent, but the shrimp were rubbery and medicinal,” she wrote.)
But there’s another facet to this gem of a story, and it has nothing to do with Fabricant. After we smacked down the concoction, chef Brennan actually took it back to the drawing board (toot, toot). “It’s like opening a restaurant,” Brennan told us. “You have to work out all the dishes as you get feedback. The rice was overcooking.” Thanks, Chef.
What to Eat Tonight
How to Make Women More Tender, for Only $2,400 Per Pound
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).
TV Dinner Stages Internet-Era Comeback
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.)