Momofuku Ko Hoping to Open in Two Weeks; No Malice Palace PrevailsDuring last night’s CB3 meeting, partner Andrew Salmon would reveal only that Momofuku Ko will hit capacity at fourteen, with no waiters and with fixed menus changing daily. “You sit directly across from the cook,” Salmon told the board. He kept the “vaguely Asian” food quiet, conceding only that it would include “all local ingredients … all sustainable development.” Unfortunately, he didn’t take the time to make sure a petition was including in the application, so no motion could be passed. Projected opening date: two weeks’ time!
Kobe Dines on Kobe at Kobe; Nobu Gives Manning a Standing OFashion Week brought the usual celebrity infestation to town last week for glitzy after-parties, but we’ve already covered those. The real question is, where did the “normals” catch a bite? And of course by normals we mean billionaires, Nobel Prize winners, and Super Bowl champs, all of whom made the scene this week.
Stark Cuts the Cord With Amalia; Betting on the Next Iron ChefIvy Stark has quit as executive chef at Amalia and may, in fact, return to the B.R. Guest group to spearhead plans for a Dos Caminos Las Vegas. [Foodservice Blog/Nation’s Restaurant News]
Related: Will Ivy Stark Return to B.R. Guest?
Tom Colicchio doesn’t mind that people come to his restaurants for his celebrity, plus he ponders a showdown with Harold Dieterle and Ilan Hall in this Q&A. [Radar]
Caesars Palace is setting the odds to see who will be the Next Iron Chef. Our money’s on Aaron Sanchez. [CNN]
Will Ivy Stark Return to B.R. Guest? We hear from an impeccable source deep inside B.R. Guest that Ivy Stark is returning to Steve Hanson’s corporate embrace, to cook at Dos Caminos. Stark, for her part, only denies half of it. “First of all, I’ve been made an offer but haven’t accepted it,” the Amalia chef says. “It’s not Dos Caminos. It might be some projects with B.R. Guest, but I wouldn’t necessarily be leaving Amalia.”
Women Chefs Come Out in Force for Benefit
It’s often remarked, and with some justice, that the New York restaurant business is a man’s world, with women having to claw and scratch for every bit of recognition. (At least, that was Keith McNally’s view.) A Second Helping of Life, though, a big benefit event for breast-and ovarian-cancer survivors, boasts a pretty heady lineup of stars, and all of the female persuasion: Prune’s Gabrielle Hamilton, Del Posto’s Nicole Kaplan, Butter’s Alexandra Guarnaschelli, Amalia’s Ivy Stark, and Rebecca Charles, inventor of the lobster roll, will all be present and accounted for, along with such founding mothers of the New York food scene as Gourmet’s Ruth Reichl, and the formidable Ariane Daguin of D’Artagnan. Tickets are $300 for the event, to be held on September 17 on Chelsea Piers. Visit sharecancersupport.org for more information.
Whole Foods Plot Still Grimy in Gowanus; Tony Bourdain on Ina GartenWhole Foods has only one more building to demolish to clear out its plot by the Gowanus Canal for its 2008 opening, but there are still no signs of environmental cleanup. [Brownstoner]
Related: Has the Benevolent Whole Foods Betrayed Its Health-Obsessed Customers?
Anthony Bourdain didn’t waste much time agonizing over the expulsion of Tre from Top Chef before laying into Casey, who slices slower the “Ina Garten on Thorazine.” [Bravo]
Related: The Gay Side of ‘Top Chef’ Comes Out
Amalia chef Ivy Stark hates chicken. So why is there chorizo-stuffed crispy chicken on Amalia’s menu? [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
The Other Critics
Wild Salmon Saved by Salmon; Borough Food and Drink Gets Bronx CheerAs it has in so many other reviews, Wild Salmon’s raison d’être saves it from getting hammered. The excellence of the title fish is no longer in question. [NYT]
Related: Salmon Cured? [NYM]
Borough Food and Drink meets the world of criticism with a three- (of six) star review from Randall Lane, who finds its tribute to New York’s foods redundant and “leaden.” [TONY]
On Avenue Z (where else would you expect to find him?), Sietsema alights upon Temada, one of the city’s few Georgian restaurants, and is entranced by their turnovers, kebabs, and French fries. [VV]
Kobayashi May Not Defend His Hot-Dog Title; Oyster Bar Has Best Year EverKobayashi is suffering from arthritis in his jaw and may not be able to compete in the Hot Dog Battle of the Century on the Fourth of July. [Gothamist]
Related: New York Hot-Dog Eaters Take It to the Next Level
Chefs debate what Paris Hilton’s first post-release meal should be: Amalia’s Ivy Stark says salmon, but Wolfgang Puck says pasta. [E!]
Grand Central Oyster Bar had the best year in its history, raking in $14.2 million. A post-fire renovation in 1997 helped a lot. [NYP]
The Other Critics
Insieme Lauded (Except for Lasagne); Landmarc Squeaks ByThe Times finds Provence beautiful, romantic, and well-intentioned, but barely worthy of a single star. A major disappointment for the Marc Meyer/Vicki Freeman team, who had been on a roll with Five Points and Cookshop. [NYT]
In the Post, Steve Cuozzo — judiciously taking the long-term view as usual — makes the case that Amalia, FR.OG, and Insieme, “the best new Italian restaurant since L’Impero,” have overcome weak starts to become some of the city’s strongest places. [NYP]
Paul Adams gives yet another admiring review to Insieme, though he found the much-praised lasagne underflavored and disappointing. His favorite dish: a chamomile farfalle. [NYS]
Yes, You Are Too Old, and I Don’t Want You in My KitchenWe recently got a letter from Keith, a 45-year-old reader who hated his job and asked us, “Am I just too old” to become a chef? A number of letters have come in, encouraging the guy in his dream: “On my 62nd birthday,” wrote one, “I retired from a long-time corporate career in risk management to follow my daydream of becoming a cook … and now, three years later, work as a prep cook at Amalia.” But lest Keith get the idea that the cooking world as a whole is filled with love and understanding, here’s a wake-up call from chef Dawn Fornear of Vessel restaurant in Seattle. Fornear writes:
The Other Critics
Fette Sau and 15 East Get Strong Endorsements From the ExpertsPeter Meehan gives a highly thought-out, admiring review (probably the most knowledgeable one so far) of Fette Sau, taking pain to mention the place’s few but significant shortcomings. [NYT]
Related: Fette Sau’s Weird Williamsburg Barbecue Palace [Grub Street]
Alan Richman, a person with highly developed opinions about sushi, thinks 15 East a great find: “If you have pricey seafood cravings without the wherewithal to finance them, I don’t believe you can do better than 15 East,” he says. [Bloomberg]
Frank Bruni inexplicably reviews Max Brenner: Chocolates by the Bald Man, a place that no one would ever expect to be good. Unsurprisingly, he hands them a bagel. [NYT]
Related: Milking It [NYM]
What to Eat Tonight
A Seasonal Summit of Tilefish, Fava Purée, and Rhubarb Salad at Amalia
At Amalia tonight, chef Ivy Stark has reeled in a fish seldom seen in New York dining circles – which is too bad, because golden tilefish is one of our favorites. Meaty, dense, and full of oily goodness, it’s similar to mackerel in taste, but much, much bigger, typically weighing about twenty pounds. Since it can’t be done whole, Stark serves a pan-seared, skin-on filet of the fleshy creature, with a very springlike purée of fava beans and pineapple-mint leaves (the latter being one of the latest designer hybrid herbs on the market). “It’s really very Egyptian,” Stark says. “I was looking through my cookbooks, and I came across it and decided it would be perfect.” The dish is also served with an Iranian-style salad of raw salted rhubarb with whole mint leaves, spring chives, lime, and garlic. “I saw people eating raw rhubarb on the street in Iran,” Stark says, “and the salt completely takes away the sourness and bitterness … I love not having to cook it. It’s so much more refreshing this way.”
The Other Critics
Morandi Takes Another Hit; a Haute Barnyard SpreeThe Four Seasons gets perhaps the most negative two-star review in the history of the Times; Bruni seems to think the stars were grandfathered in. A telling example of how reputation floats reviews. [NYT]
Meehan, meanwhile, visits a chowhound’s paradise, a Hindu temple in Flushing. [NYT]
Morandi takes another blow, this time from Time Out’s Randall Lane, who like our own Adam Platt, finds it overdesigned and unimpressive, albeit with a few decent dishes. [TONY]
Related: Not So Bene [NYM]
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.
Owner of D’Or, Opening Tonight, Also Plotting Rooftops to Rival 230 FifthTonight’s launch of D’Or (pictured above), the lounge underneath the Dream Hotel’s newly opened Amalia, isn’t the most exciting thing owner Greg Brier has going. He tells us that on July 1 he’ll open a 4,000 sq. ft. rooftop on the 16th floor of the Hilton Gardens hotel on 48th Street and Eighth Avenue — a space he believes will trump 230 Fifth in size. A two-minute walk through a utility corridor and a high-speed elevator trip will lead visitors to an enclosed fifteenth-floor lounge with a glass fireplace. And the roof? “It’s going to have a Japanese garden-type feel,” Brier says, “with teak decking and little plots so people can break away from the crowd.” More than likely, he’ll ask Amalia chef Ivy Stark to consult on a menu of “real American barbecue.”
The Other Critics
Anthos Broadsided, Gramercy Tavern HammeredBruni sympathetically reviews Nish, handing down two stars, but he seems less impressed than other critics (with the exception of Randall Lane). [NYT]
Peter Meehan enjoys the tapas at Ostia, but suggests that the trend may have played itself out. [NYT]
Alan Richman gives what may be the first totally negative write-up of Gramercy Tavern: Apparently the food is complicated and bland, the service undersupervised, and the room lacking in personality. A major blow to new chef Michael Anthony. [Bloomberg]
Related: Everything Topsy-Turvy at Gramercy Tavern
Bathrooms at Dream Hotel’s Amalia: Not for PETA Members to Pee InA few months ago we sneaked you a peek of the renderings for Amalia, printing Über-designer Steve Lewis’s shopping list along with them. The Dream Hotel’s newly opened restaurant sticks pretty much to plan. Silk chinoiserie wallpaper? Check. Wall of walnut pirolettes? Check. What the list didn’t shed light on, though, was the restroom, so after ordering some rosemary-lemon thyme “eau de vie” (French for “$12 shot of vodka”) off the dinner and drinks menu, we descended the “floating staircase” into the raw brick area that opens March 22 as the D’Or lounge.
5th Ninth’s Chef de Cuisine Makes a Girl-Power MoveMary Ellen Heavner, the chef de cuisine who ran the 5 Ninth kitchen during executive chef Zak Pelaccio’s extended absences, has left the restaurant. Oddly, for a chef of Heavner’s reputation, it’s to take a lesser position, that of sous-chef to Ivy Stark at Amalia, the new restaurant opening next month in the Dream Hotel. (We originally wrote about Amalia last month.) Why take the step down? Heavner attributes it to girl power. “I thought it would be kind of cool to work for a woman,” she says, “and to see how she’s managed her career as a female chef. She opened Dos Caminos, she was the executive at Rosa Mexicana, and she did great cooking at Lespinasse and Lutece. And I really like her food.” It also cannot have escaped Heavner’s notice that the Dream Hotel is owned by Vikram Chatwal, one of the wealthiest hoteliers in the world. Chatwal won’t have to look far the next time he wants to open a big restaurant in one of his luxury hotels.
Earlier: Dream Hotel’s Restaurant Still a Dream, But Opening in January
Dream Hotel’s Restaurant Still a Dream, But Opening in JanuaryCancel your Outlook reminder about the opening of Amalia, the swank restaurant and lounge that Greg Brier of Jet East was supposed to bring to the Dream Hotel a couple of weeks ago: Perhaps because Brier is also managing the opening of Lan-Beijing in China, it’ll be late January before the bi-level space (88-person dining room upstairs, 200-person downstairs lounge) will be ready for Ivy Stark’s American-Mediterranean dishes. To tide you over, we’ve got exclusive renderings of what the space will look like — one’s above; the other’s after the jump — paired with designer Steve Lewis’s shopping list (lifted more or less intact, we should note, from a press release. Quotations around “‘enchanted forest’” ours).