LeBron James and Anna Wintour Cozy Up at Waverly; Moby Makes Out at R BarWe weren’t surprised to read in “Page Six” today that Anna Wintour dined with LeBron James at the Waverly Inn. We passed their table on Tuesday, and when the ceilings are that low, it’s impossible to miss a six-foot-eight baller extracting himself from the center of a corner booth. James was patiently sitting next to the bathroom when we emerged, causing our waiter to remark, “You made LeBron James wait!” We couldn’t tell whether he was chastising us or congratulating us for no doubt costing the man a Benjamin of his time, but either way we felt a sense of accomplishment unknown since Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand queued up behind us at the Spotted Pig. The rest of this week’s sightings are heavy on the PDA.
Bobby Flay a Fan of Chipotle (the Restaurant, Not Just the Sauce)?Earlier today, we pointed to our fashion blog’s outrage that Orlando Bloom was seen with Victoria’s Secret model Miranda Kerr at Max Brenner, of all places. However, our combing of this week’s celebrity sightings reveals it may have been a momentary lapse, since Bloom was also spotted at the much more respectable Bobo. Phew. But what’s this — Bobby Flay filming outside of Chipotle? Is he a spokesman now? Who knows — if Rachael Ray can endorse Dunkin’ Donuts…
Our Valentine’s Day Present to You: Balthazar Chefs in Their Bathrobes
We’ve always dreamed of scoring one of the très elegant jackets that Balthazar waiters wear (hint, hint, guys), but on a recent Martha Stewart Show, Balth chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr modeled an even more stylish item — Balthazar bathrobes! (“We were going to wear teddies, but it would not have been good for ratings,” a handlebar-mustached Lee Hanson quips.) If you want to make your V-Day date a pretty mean breakfast in bed tomorrow, check out the clip in which the boys demonstrate “the French take on breakfast burritos.” Just pretend not to notice the amount of butter that goes into this dish.
The New York Diet
How Mireille Guiliano Doesn’t Get Fat: Breakfast at Balthazar
When Mireille Guiliano first came to America as an exchange student, she gained weight for the first time in her life. Many years later, after becoming a CEO of Veuve Clicquot, she penned the buzzy No. 1 best-seller French Women Don’t Get Fat, now out in paperback. After 25 years of splitting her time between New York and Paris, Guiliano is still amazed by the large portions here, and by the New Yorker’s tendency to eat on the go. “To eat your bagel and your muffin with coffee on the subway is gross,” she says. “How can you do it with the smell and the noise and the moving? I’d rather starve.” She’s also still shocked when she sees people eating on the street or standing up. “For French people, you’re supposed to eat at the table. Besides the bed, it’s the most important piece of furniture in the house.” So what’s she been eating at the table this week?
Starbucks Nixes Breakfast Sandwiches; Kenny Shopsin Ready for Mind-AlteringIn addition to slowing its expansion (finally), Starbucks will halt “sales of hot breakfast sandwiches because their smell interferes with the aroma of coffee.” [WSJ]
If Padma Lakshmi could eat anywhere right now, she’d head to a little taco stand in Mexico for some fish tacos on the beach. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Chelsea hot spot Stereo, which was closed by police earlier this month, will not be reopening at its current location because the landlord bought out the lease. [NYP]
Keith McNally Sued; Huckabee Serves Clam Chowder in New HampshireAccording to a new class-action suit being brought against Keith McNally, servers at Pastis and Balthazar were forced to foot the bill for customers who walked out on their checks, in addition to being denied minimum wage. [NYP]
Frank Bruni, like many other critics, believes a restaurant’s chicken dishes speak volumes about its overall quality. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
E-mails sent by Starbucks Corp. managers reveal their efforts to prevent unionizing among their employees, although labor experts say the activity is not illegal. [WSJ]
Rachael Ray Continues Food Network Domination; New Year’s Day BrunchesWith Batali and Emeril out of her way, “homegrown star” Rachael Ray has just inked a two-year deal for a new prime-time series on the Food Network. [Eater]
It’s nothing he hasn’t said before, but the wordiness of some menus gets on the Bruni’s nerves. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Forget turducken: British chef Phillip Corrick has created a monster that involves at least 48 birds of a dozen different species and feeds 125 people. [Daily Mail]
Ben Stiller Crashes a Party at Fiamma, Penélope Cruz Makes Out at
Every Friday a notable New Yorker tells us where they’ve been eating, but where are the rest of them chowing down? Starting this week we’ll sort through the gossip columns à la Ils Vont (RIP) to tell you who’s been seen where (casual sightings only — boring galas, vodka launches, and pluggy appearances don’t count). We’ll eventually compile a ranking of restaurants most often visited by celebs. Not that you care about that sort of thing! Oh, but if you do, won’t you please leave your own sightings in the comments?
CB Smiles on Triple Crown, Approves Balthazar Barkeep’s BistroLindsey Robertson, wife of Triple Crown owner Myles Tipley, tells us that after a lot of wrestling with the community board, the hip-hop bar’s liquor license has been approved for transfer to Jeff Webber, who Robertson says is a bartender at Balthazar planning to open a lounge/wine bar/café. You’ll recall the diminutive space was at one point going to be sold to gym owner Mike Jaramillo, who’s opening Viñas on December 7.
Related: Neighbors Block Sale of Williamsburg Hip-Hop Bar to Balthazar Bartender
Openings & Buzz: Viñas, Le Lupanar, and Gottino
The New York Diet
Singer-Songwriter Vanessa Carlton Indeed Loves Ruby’s in the Afternoon
In her single “Nolita Fairytale,” Vanessa Carlton sings about her love of “Ruby’s in the afternoon”— a reference to her favorite neighborhood hang. “It’s the best people-watching,” she says of Ruby’s. “Everyone looks like they’re out of an editorial shoot for some hip magazine. But it’s not posey.” Other favorites near the “Nolita flat on rent control” she famously exalts? La Esquina (“I love to get takeout or to just sit at the front taco bar”), Freemans (“I think it wins the devils-on-horseback competition with the Spotted Pig”), and N (“the best chorizo I’ve ever had”). We asked her whether this week found her at any of the above.
Neighbors Block Sale of Williamsburg Hip-Hop Bar to Balthazar BartenderWe’ve heard plenty about bars being shot down by the community when they try to open, but what about when they’re trying to close? Lindsey Caldwell sent us a desperate e-mail on behalf of her husband Myles Tipley, a co-owner of the artsy Williamsburg hip-hop bar Triple Crown, saying that “the community board refuses to allow [the owners] to sell the place.” The bar has been closed for eight months (with events here and there) after the burden of addressing noise complaints proved too much. But in the meantime, rent and bills have cost the owners $135,000, plus an average of about $7,000 per week in lost revenue, Caldwell says.
Bourdain Showing ‘Iron Chef’ Some Love; Dévi Back in ActionThe worst thing Tony Bourdain can say about the new Top Iron Chef is “that Ruhlman’s hair is the scariest and most offensive aspect of the show … In every other respect, the damn thing is pretty impeccable.” [Ruhlman]
Related: Who Will Be Cut Next on ‘The Next Iron Chef’?
Enterprising chefs Suvir Saran and Hemant Mathur will have their recently acquired restaurant Dévi reopen by Monday. [Eater]
Related: Debriefing Dévi: Suvir Saran’s Suspected Side Projects
Jessica Seinfeld’s Deceptively Delicious cookbook is uncomfortably similar to another cookbook published a few months before it, which also encourages moms to put spinach in brownies. [NYT]
Related: Hey Jessica Seinfeld! What Up? [Daily Intel]
McNally Unites With the Workers of the WorldKeith McNally can appreciate the effectiveness of a good rally — you’ll recall he personally protested the billboard that’s going up atop the Gansevoort Hotel. So when workers rallied outside of Pastis over the restaurant’s use of provisions from Wild Edibles (which has been sued over allegations of unpaid overtime), you can bet McNally listened. Brandworkers International announced today that Balthazar, Schiller’s, Morandi, Pravda, and Lucky Strike will no longer use products from the company until the dispute is resolved. Comrade McNally, we’re heading to Pravda right now to toast you with a horseradish-and-poached-egg martini.
Earlier: Wild Edibles Gets Caught in the Net of the Law
Back of the House
‘Forbes Traveler’ Bungles Best BrunchesThe view of New York from Dubuque and Ho-Ho-Kus is a laughable one, but we could never understand the reason why. Don’t the editors of Forbes Traveler, author of this ridiculous “America’s Best Brunches” feature live in New York? It’s as if Vogue were to get its New York fashion sense from watching Sex and the City. The four brunches called out — Balthazar, Prune, Cookshop, and Norma’s — are places nobody we know would touch if they were giving away bottomless mimosas. Not because they aren’t good. But they’re all wildly crowded, and in neighborhoods where no one would ever want to be on a hung-over weekend day. (Despite Forbes’ assurance that West Chelsea is “the trendiest of neighborhoods.”)
Crispy Pig’s Ears Land at Spotted PigClinton Hill: Bittersweet has tasty coffee and Balthazar pastries, but there’s no guarantee you’ll pass Keri Russell while you’re there. [Clinton Hill Blog]
East Village: Gemma to diners: no I.D., no liquor. [Down by the Hipster]
Flushing: Aramark denies that Shake Shack is in the works for Citi Field. [Food Writer’s Diary] We stand by our story.
Upper East Side: Greek diner Gardenia Cafe has been open since 1977, but the lure of real-estate cash-money has finally led its owners to close. [NYT]
West Village: Crispy Pig’s Ears! Blueberry & Banana French Toast with Crème Fraîche! We have Spotted Pig’s new menus. [Grub Street]
Williamsburg: Kitchen Delight on North 8th Street offers the standard burgers and fries alongside a questionable menu item: “Lap Dances.” [Newyorkshitty]
Prepare to Pose With Dumplings in the East VillageEast Village: Pose with your favorite dumpling! The Rickshaw Dumpling Bar opening on East 8th Street will feature a black-and-white photo booth. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Hell’s Kitchen: Burgers and Cupcakes has opened Mitchel London Pizza next door. [Eater]
Lower East Side: Sam Mason may have plans to serve brown-butter whiskey at Tailor. [Down by the Hipster]
Soho: Yes, that is a yo-yo in the pocket of Balthazar executive chef Riad Nasr, and he plays with it between platings. [Downtown Express]
West Village: Pinkberry accused of seeking world domination for plans to open not just a new location on Sixth Avenue, but two others in the city in addition its four already thriving stores. [Gothamist]
The New York Diet
In DJ Cassidy’s Mix: Cookie Crisp, Fruity Pebbles, and Balthazar
As the go-to party spinner for the likes of Jay-Z, Diddy, and Russell Simmons, DJ Cassidy, who recently cut tracks with J-Lo and Jessica Simpson, has seen some lavish food spreads in his 25 years. For instance, the time he was flown to Naomi Campbell’s birthday bash in Dubai. “It was in the middle of the Arabian dessert,” he remembers. “It was a never-ending buffet with the most amazing stations — every kind of meat being carved for you, every dessert you could think of, every kind of seafood at the raw bar. I don’t like to work with a heavy stomach, but I couldn’t resist. I stuffed my face.” We asked him what he caved into this week.
City Council Might Tackle Labor Violations; Drunks Abound at High-EndCustomers get drunk, carry on, and throw up even at the finest restaurants. Especially at the finest restaurants: “More people throw up in the dining room of Per Se than your average college bar.” [NYT]
The City Council is considering a law that would put labor violations on par with health violations, in an effort to protect vulnerable immigrant workers. [NPR]
Mocktails are on the rise, thanks to “the whole rehab thing,” and nowhere more successfully than at Indochine. [NYP]
The Other Critics
Perilla Found to be Basically Okay; Richman Loves Balthazar Even More Than ThePerilla tried to be sober and sane, and what was the result? One star from Frank Bruni. But that’s still pretty good for a first-time effort, even by a ‘Top Chef.’ [NYT]
It’s no surprise Alan Richman approves of Balthazar, given his fondness for insouciance in restaurants. He all but opens the floodgates of his enthusiasm for Keith McNally’s flagship. [Bloomberg]
Related: Why Is Alan Richman So in Love With Brooklyn?
In an apparent effort to differentiate the two once and for all, Andrea Thompson considers both the Farm on Adderley and Flatbush Farm in one column. But read closer, and only one entrée is mentioned at each place, a disservice to both. [NYer]
Pastis Atop Zagat Nightlife Ratings; City Trans-Fat Seminar FlopsPastis sits atop Zagat’s just-released nightlife rankings, with Buddha Bar, Balthazar, and Spice Market following close behind. [NYDN]
The city invited 33,000 restaurant and food-supply workers to attend their trans-fat seminar, and only 20 showed up. Half of them were city employees. [NYP]
Maybe Tony Bourdain doesn’t hate The Next Food Network Star as much as he makes out. Today brings another suspiciously obsessive-sounding post by the acerbic chef-author. [Ruhlman]
Keith McNally: A Restro-spective
As we noted when we toured the restrooms at Morandi, Keith McNally has pissed away a great deal of money to make his restaurant lavatories the gold standard. When Morandi failed to hit the mark, we were truly bummed, so to restore our faith in the master (and to make sure we weren’t remembering his previous works through Clorox-colored glasses), we decided to embark on an epic stall crawl of McNally’s previous loos, from Pravda’s Commie commodes to (pardon our French) the shitters at Schiller’s. Come flush with us.
Ask a Waiter
Lovers, Allow Pravda’s Rania Haditirto to Show You to Table 69
Nathan Frye, our first Ask a Waiter, sat out Balthazar’s tenth-anniversary last night, but it was a grand ole time — much Champagne was spilled and a total stranger tried to crawl onto our table. Of course, Balthazar wasn’t the first of Keith McNally’s restaurants to turn ten — last year Pravda had an equally boisterous birthday celebration. To be fair we thought we’d get the straight propaganda from Rania Haditirto, bass player for the rock band the Kelly Affair, who has been a server at the vodka den for half of its life span.
McNally Loves Balthazar and Maria Bello; Imus Types Prank Chinese RestaurantKeith McNally talks about Balthazar, where the breakfast service is “absurdly busy” and his last meal would be “on the navel of the actress Maria Bello.” [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
More radio morons in hot water: CBS suspends Elvis and JV for pranking a Chinese restaurant, asking for “shrimp flied lice,” making dumb egg-roll jokes, and other old-time, racist vulgarities. [CBS News]
Spain’s El Bulli named top restaurant in the world again. No. 2? The Fat Duck in London. It’s a proud day for molecular gastronomy. [CNN]
Green Nightclub Attempts to Save Chelsea From Being So OverBrooklyn Heights: Montague Street poised for burger wars as the chain Five Guys Famous enters the fray. [The Brooklyn Paper]
Central Park: The Boathouse is open. [Eater]
Chelsea: Jon B. will open the first green nightclub, trading the B crowds for the untapped alcoholic, occasional recycler market. [Down by the Hipster]
Dumbo: A snapshot of La Bagel Delight makes a statement for Franco-American diplomacy. [Dumbo NYC]
East Village: At Thai Me Up, a new revisionist báhn mì shop, sautéed vegetables and various sauces sub in for sriracha and the usual cold toppings. [The Strong Buzz]
Red Hook: Vendors discover the “soft opening” at the ball fields; next weekend the full array of pupusas and meat on sticks should be available. [Brooklyn Record]
Soho: Bon Anniversaire! Balthazar celebrates ten years of beautiful design and hot babes today and tonight with free Champagne. [House and Garden]
West Village: Red-velvet cupcakes from Harlem’s Make My Cake now commuting to the new Southern Gourmet Pantry at 529 Hudson. [Blog Chelsea] Department of Health shutters Fedora; a sign claims the restaurant’s fixing its sink. [Grub Street]
Is There a Warrant Out on Jason Neroni?The owner of Porchetta claims that not only was Jason Neroni fired but that the termination was for misappropriation of funds — and there’s a warrant out for his arrest. (If so, the Desperate Chef is hiding in plain sight, as we just saw him last night at the TONY awards.) [Eater]
Nearly everyone got an award at last night’s Time Out New York food awards, including Per Se for Best Splurge and A Voce for New Restaurant of the Year. But the Russian Tea Room for Best Reopening? Those manipulated blurbs must be working. [TONY]
Talk about gross dereliction: The Department of Health, it turns out, ignored complaints about that KFC–Taco Bell for two months before sending an inspector — who did such a bad job that she would have been fired had she not just quit. [NYP]
Late-Night LES Kimchee Cart Accepting ApplicationsBedford-Stuyvesant: In addition to Belgian waffles and couches for weary churchgoers, Common Grounds café will now offer homemade ice cream! [Brooklyn Record]
Brooklyn Heights: Moxie Spot, planned for 81 Atlantic Avenue, wants a liquor license, says they’ll be family-friendly. [Brooklyn Heights Blog]
Carroll Gardens: The new farmers’ market won’t launch until July 8. Meanwhile, they’ve hit the ground running in Union Square. [Brooklyn Record]
Clinton Hill: Cadmen Congregational Church will host a Good Friday fish fry fund-raiser — plates will go for a miraculous $7. [Clinton Hill Blog]
Lower East Side: Unless you’re willing to run it (seriously), the late-night kimchee cart may become a thing of the past. [Gridskipper]
Midwood: DiFara reopens today. Dom DeMarco: 1; rat excreta: 0. [Slice]
Soho: Balthazar challenger FR.OG, set to open on Spring Street Friday the 13th, brings mild ethnic slur to the fight. [Gawker]
West Village: Department of Health nabs Kobma Thai; neighborhood resident unfazed. [Eater] The battle to rename part of Greenwich Avenue “Little Britain” rests with a man named Rupert. [Englishman in New York]
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About the Restaurant BusinessDid you know that Daniel has closed-circuit cameras watching every plate? That’s one of ten dark secrets of the restaurant business [SmartMoney]
How good can a pizza delivered to New York from Oregon be? Pretty damn good, apparently. [Serious Eats]
Balthazar’s not all that — and not just because it’s busy, either. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Click and Save
Finally, a Restaurant Guide That Makes It Okay to Look Like a TouristYou may remember that not so long ago our friend the Gobbler presented his case against the Michelin guide. Among his objections: “Lofty opinions are fine, but what New Yorkers really want in a restaurant guide is facility and ease of use. In other words, they want the goddamn address and phone number right now.” Ken Shepps knows the feeling. His new green guidebook not only includes the goddamn address and phone number but also comes in the form of an accordion-style map. One side shows the island from Battery Park to 121st Street, plotted with subway stops and 117 numbered squares. Each number corresponds to a restaurant listing in one of eight fold-out panels. (No. 51 on the map, for instance, goes with Balthazar, a “superlative brasserie and next door patisserie.”) On the other side, there are mini-maps with neighborhood descriptions and specialty stores, like Lady M Cake Boutique on the Upper East Side and Sullivan St. Bakery in Soho. Is this the perfect portable NYC restaurant guide? Well, you’ll definitely look like tourist if you consult it in public, and we’ve got our own opinions on where to eat. But this is definitely a step in the right direction. — Lori Fradkin
Mappetite [Official site]
Mon Dieu! Hell’s Kitchen Finally Gets Its BistroThe stretch of Ninth Avenue between 50th Street and 56th Streets teems with affordable restaurants serving Vietnamese, Puerto Rican, Italian, and diner food. But there are no contemporary, Balthazar-style French brasseries. Until tomorrow. Brasserie 52 is small but polished, the menu packed with standards like escargot with garlic butter, foie gras mousse, and steak au poivre. The relatively expansive bar and vaguely Continental brunch fare (eggs Florentine, spinach salad with warm bacon dressing) might just make it a local standby.
Brasserie 52, 772 Ninth Ave., nr. 52nd St.; 212-586-5005.
Welcome to Grub StreetGrub Street was an eighteenth-century London avenue populated by hungry writers. Those long-dead litterateurs never rested, and neither will New York Magazine’s food blog. Grub Street will be updated hourly, covering everything from the cult street vendor, nameless yet venerated, to the latest temple of gastronomy, awash in renown. You’ll find out which in-demand tables are available each night, where you might discover an overlooked lunch spot, what’s worth reading elsewhere on the Web, and what Matthew Barney orders at Balthazar.