A Respite From Gluttony in This Week’s Magazine
So you enjoyed your immense Thanksgiving meal and then indulged in logy reveries the next few days — standing in front of the refrigerator eating stuffing with a serving spoon, building turkey BLTs to watch the game with on Saturday. By now you’re thinking, Enough with the big meals already! We’re here to accommodate. In this week’s issue, the Underground Gourmet determines what makes a quality coffee bar (tapas and no wi-fi, for starters) and then introduces us to a new wine bar in the West Village and a new entry in Mike Jaramillo’s Williamsburg empire. Also: 5 Ninth’s Daniel “Chino” Parilla provides a highly digestible turnip recipe and a panel of star sommeliers make mincemeat out of the advice given by wine-store clerks. It’s all easy going down, and just what you need after the exertions of the past few days.
The Other Critics
Bruni Closes the Book on Tailor; Allen & Delancey Gets Good, Not Great, NoticesBruni waited to be the last one to pronounce on Tailor, and his review pretty much recapitulates, albeit in wittier prose and with some much-appreciated Grub Street love, what everyone else has said: erratic brilliance, wee portions, and a killer cocktail program. The result: one star. [NYT]
Allen & Delancey keeps impressing the critics, at least with chef Neil Ferguson’s meat mastery. His fish, though, is strictly from hunger, according to Restaurant Girl. [NYDN]
Randall Lane offers one of his most thoughtful and precise reviews of Allen & Delancey, finding fault only in flavor balances and the fact that the place has to close up at midnight. [TONY]
The New York Diet
Actor Josh Hamilton Plays a Clam Digger, Doesn’t Eat Shellfish
Josh Hamilton has appeared in everything from indie classics such as Noah Baumbach’s Kicking and Screaming to studio flicks such as The Bourne Supremacy to TV shows such as Sex and the City. In Diggers, out today, he plays a Long Island clam harvester. Ironically, Hamilton wasn’t eating any shellfish at the premiere party, since he’s a “don’t-ask-don’t-tell vegetarian”: “I’m sure I eat chicken stock sometimes,” he says, “because I just don’t bother to ask. I know that must sound wildly hedonistic.” As it turns out, Hamilton’s latest week of eating was rather indulgent — even as he was performing in Tom Stoppard’s Coast of Utopia, he somehow found time to hit more restaurants than most of us do in a month.
5 Ninth’s Interim Chef de Cuisine Just Wasn’t Management Material5 Ninth’s interim chef de cuisine Richard Sterling is now 5 Ninth’s former interim chef de cuisine. The cook, previously of SushiSamba, took over from Mary Ellen Heavner on an extended trial when Heavner headed uptown to Amalia. He apparently did some brilliant work in his short time there, but executive chef Zak Pelaccio tells us that Sterling’s problem wasn’t behind the stove: Chef de cuisines have to do a lot more than cook, and it seems he wasn’t up to the administrative duties. Pelaccio’s back from London and running the kitchen until a permanent replacement is hired. That lucky person will then implement a revamped menu, which we’re told will have less of an emphasis on Asian ingredients and techniques.
Back of the House
Time to Fill Out Our James Beard BracketsThe nominations for the James Beard Foundation Awards, the Oscars of the restaurant industry, will be announced Monday morning. We’ll report on that as it happens, but for now, here are picks for the main categories from Adam Platt, Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld, and Josh Ozersky. Our choices are admittedly New York–centric (the awards go to restaurants across the country), but the ceremony is held here, and the city always looms large in the proceedings.
Back of the House
The Great Chef CrisisRecently, apropos nothing much, a prominent young chef we were chatting with launched into a tirade about the restaurant world’s “labor problem.” “None of us can get enough good cooks!” he exclaimed, by way of explanation. Between 2000 and 2006, only a handful of high-end restaurants — Lespinasse, Meigas, Quilty’s — have closed, and there has been an avalanche of major openings: Robuchon, Ramsay, Per Se, Masa, Craft, Del Posto, Morimoto, A Voce, the Modern, Lever House, Buddakan, Cafe Gray, Alto — the list goes on and on. “And it’s not just the massive boom of restaurants,” Adam Platt tells us. “They also have to be either bigger, or chefs have to open multiple places, so that they can enjoy the economies of scale they need to compete.”
Pelaccio Opens in London; Hotel Gansevoort BoycottedZak Pelaccio’s new London restaurant (first announced here) finally opens and issues a press release with a menu. [Snack]
In a recent post, we called Michael Ruhlman a mandarin and critiqued his hauteur. Count us wrong on both counts: This response, titled “Grub Street Wankers,” and the vitriol that follows in the comment section, isn’t exactly high-minded. [Ruhlman]
Related: In Defense of Rachael Ray and the Food Network [Grub Street]
The big billboards erected on Hudson Street by the Hotel Gansevoort are so ugly that Pastis’ Keith McNally and 5 Ninth’s Joel Michel are refusing to take hotel reservations in protest. [NYP]
How Not to Have a Soul-Crushing Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day is typically the busiest restaurant night of the year, so of course it sucks. But the food, rendered an afterthought, suffers most of all: The restaurateurs are busy counting their money, not watching the kitchen, and the couples, well, they’re wondering why they’re participating in this charade in the first place, seeing as how the flame flickered out years ago, and … what were we saying? Oh, right. We understand why Valentine’s dates might not seem to be worth the trouble, so we thought long and hard about which holiday recommendations to make.
Feisty, Ambitious Will Goldfarb: “Fire Your Pastry Chef!”Will Goldfarb, whose high-concept creations have made Room 4 Dessert a big hit with city gourmands, is now taking over the dessert program at Zak Pelaccio’s meatpacking mecca 5 Ninth. Although Goldfarb is the first of the rock-star pastry chefs to provide outsourcing, it could be the wave of the future. “I just can’t do it,” Pelaccio says of having in-house desserts. “We don’t have the space, and it’s not economically sound, anyway. We can’t afford to pay a full-time pastry chef sixty or seventy thousand dollars a year.” (The new treats include a hot-chocolate martini with Calvados gelato, topped with saffron crumbs and Ligurian olive oil; a coconut parfait with lime sorbet and smoked-tea meringue; and Nutella over kabocha-squash cake, served with whole-milk ice cream.) Outside the world of composed sweets, the trend is already in full swing: Il Labatorio del Gelato owner Jon Snyder estimates that around one in five New York restaurants that serve gelato is getting it directly from his company. “We just did a sake kasu gelato for EN Japanese Brasserie,” he tells us. As far as Goldfarb is concerned, 5 Ninth is just the start; he has deals under way with two other restaurants and preliminary plans to service several more. “Fire your pastry chef,” the cake whiz says. “We’re your Bangladesh.”
Another New Orleans Event, You Say? Why, Yes, I’d Love to Attend!In case you missed last month’s New Orleans tribute party at 5 Ninth and can’t be bothered to experience it secondhand here, fret not. Jimmy’s, one of the cooler bar-cum-gastropubs in the city, will be having its very own N.O. bash this Saturday. It’s called Up All Night, and it’s a food-and-music shindig benefiting the reconstruction of New Orleans. From one o’clock through six o’clock, a $20 donation will get you Abita beer, red wine, Rick’s Picks pickles, Louisiana “triple creme” cheese, five different kinds of gumbo, jambalaya, and vegetarian red beans and rice. After six, there will be an eclectic mix of live music including New Orleans blues band Underpaid Robbie-Say and cult power-pop dude Mike Viola.
Up All Night, Jimmy’s, 43 E. 7th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-982-3006.
Sat., Nov. 18, starting at 1 p.m.
Cesare Casella Invents a New Pig!A lot of chefs — particularly of the Haute Barnyard breed — advertise their love of farms. But how many actually mastermind a breeding program, and then invite other chefs to the country to see the results? Cesare Casella, the Tuscan cook behind Maremma, has been breeding two types of pigs (and snow-white Chianina cattle) at Stonewall Preserve upstate. On Monday, he invited Mark Ladner of Del Posto, April Bloomfield of the Spotted Pig, Zak Pelaccio of Fatty Crab, Kevin Garcia of ‘Cesca, and Mary Ellen Heavner of 5 Ninth to come up and sample the Stonewall pig.
Back of the House
Living Large at a Big Apple Big Easy PartyThe crowd at last night’s “The New Orleans Table: Return and Recollect” at 5 Ninth had their hands full — literally. The restaurant, which is spread out over three floors of an ancient townhouse, was packed to the rafters with food players and New Orleans culture heroes.
New Orleans, New York, New RestaurantNew Orleans, New York: They both start with the word “new.” But recently, there seems to an even greater affinity between the cities. Earlier this week, we mentioned the (now booked) Southern Foodways Alliance party happening Thursday night at 5 Ninth, where N.O. chefs will team up with our own Zak Pelaccio for a free-that’s-right-free culinary blowout. Last night, meanwhile, Brooklyn welcomed a new Louisiana-themed restaurant, NoNO Kitchen, to Park Slope. Greg Tatis, a veteran of Paul Prudhomme’s kitchen, opened the place just blocks down from the N.O.-themed Two Boots on Seventh Avenue — close enough for the untethered tots that crowd the latter to wander on down and check out former before their parents even look up from their bloody Marys. But we digress. NoNo will serve a limited menu until Monday, when they roll out the gumbo, jambalaya, étouffée, and other bayou standards.
NoNO Kitchen, 293 Seventh Ave., nr. 7th St.; 718-369-8348
Free Food at 5 Ninth!
Drop what you’re doing, run to the phone, and reserve a spot at the Southern Foodways Alliance’s “The New Orleans Table: Return and Recollect” Friday-night event at 5 Ninth. A New Orleans culinary supergroup will bless the party with some of their signature dishes, including Anthony Uglesich’s famous BBQ oysters and Leah Chase’s gumbo z’herbs (green gumbo). The cocktails will include Colonial-era Sazeracs and Ramos gin fizzes made just the way Huey Long specified (a tape loop will show rediscovered footage of “The Kingfish” giving a mixology lesson). Gumbo man Lionel Key Jr. will pound sassafras leaves in an immense mortar and pestle made from a 150-pound cyprus tree, and N.O. chef John Besh will collaborate with our own Zak Pelaccio on a New Orleans–tribute menu. Call 212-679-660, extension 201, for reservations.
And, oh, did we mention that it’s free? (Other than in the headline?)