Downtown Designer Gordon Hull Is a Burger Lover, But at What Price?
Gordon Hull, founder of downtown design collective Surface to Air, proves that “not all hipsters are vegan” (per the headline of a men.style.com video) by riding around in a limo visiting Burger Joint, Rare View, and Corner Bistro. The feel-good video curiously doesn’t mention that about four years ago Hull founded an underground burger club that had its own salute, a screening process that measured a potential recruit’s “burgability” based on questions such as “How many burger joints can you name in ten seconds?,” and a demerit system that resulted in the expulsion of certain members of the club when they failed to show for monthly “meatings.” Sounds cute, right? Except that we’ve heard from disgruntled members that Hull became “drunk with power” and ended up alienating more than one burger lover by enforcing these rules quite stringently and using the club as a vehicle for self-promotion. But, hey, it seems to have worked!
See, Not All Hipsters Are Vegan [Men.Style.com]
In the Magazine
Platt Pans Brasserie 44; Make Your Own Guacamole
Reading this week’s magazine — or at least the food-related parts of it — had its own special rhythm. First came the shock and guilty excitement of reading Adam Platt’s review of Bar Blanc, which he liked, and Brasserie 44, which he didn’t — zero stars. In a week with only one opening (Bridge Vineyards Tasting Room), Rob and Robin taught us how to make guacamole (there’s a video, too!) and turned us on to the rebellious risotto at Dell’anima. They also found local treats that are globally inspired and clued us in on the rabbits multiplying across city menus. Gael Greene managed to get a table in the early days of Chop Suey, and her pre-pre-pre-review is favorable.
Engines of Gastronomy
The Ferrari of Slicers Is Parked at San DomenicoThere’s a lot at San Domenico to attract the eye, like the Italian aristocrats or the celebrities periodically perched at table nine (Johnny Depp and Keith Richards ate there the other night). But the most striking thing in the restaurant remains the immense antique Berkel proscuitto slicer, a gift from Friuli to owner Tony May after September 11. “It’s the Ferrari of slicing machines,” May says. “It’s a simple machine, but it’s a jewel. It was a great gift.” Built in 1941 and powered by hand, it has a razor-sharp slicing edge that turns with the measured pace of a roulette wheel on its final spins.
Sushi Eaters Face Tuna FearsThe Times tested the mercury levels in tuna sushi served at twenty different city stores and restaurants this week. At most of them, mercury levels exceeded those set by the Environmental Protection Agency. On Wednesday, New York’s Tim Murphy set out to see who in the city was still buying tuna sushi, and why.
6 p.m.: Whole Foods, Chelsea
Rebecca, a redheaded Web editor, is picking up salmon sushi. She’d noticed that the Times report found the highest mercury levels in tuna from Blue Ribbon and the lowest levels at Fairway. “People who eat high-class sushi are more at risk for poisoning than people like me who eat ghetto sushi from Whole Foods,” she said with some satisfaction.
No Ssäm at Ssäm Bar; Neighbors Oppose Carroll Gardens RestaurantAstoria: Oleput reopened. But does it have a liquor license? [Joey in Astoria]
Carroll Gardens: Residents are opposed to a bar and grill next to Black Mountain Wine House. [Brooklyn Paper]
East Village: Is ssäm off the menu at Ssäm Bar? [Eater]
Gowanus: Look for a new coffee-and-sandwich shop called the Crooked Tail Café coming soon to Third Avenue and President Street. [Brownstoner]
Greenpoint: One patron at Greenpoint Coffeehouse wants his anti-brunch message heard. [New York Shitty]
Midtown: Combine dinner with people-watching at the food court at Grand Central Station. [Weblicist of Manhattan]
West Village: The panini at ’ino are salty and sweet. [Gothamist]
Meatpacking Mainstay Florent May Close in MayYesterday Eater broke news that Florent’s landlord has been showing the building to potential tenants (Eater originally misidentified the landlord, so take that rumor for what it’s worth). Florent’s future has been tenuous for some time now — a June 2007 Daily News item mentions owner Florent Morellet trying to renegotiate his lease while neighbors closed shop. We’re hearing from one source that Florent’s lease is up in May, after which Florent will close. Another source says that Morellet planned to sell the business because his health is worsening (his T-cell count is displayed on one of the menu boards). So was it the Florent space that Anthony Martignetti was referring to when he told us he was considering opening a restaurant near Pastis? Who knows, it may also have been the old Rhone space, abandoned by Double Seven. Morellet wasn’t available for comment today, but we’ll keep you posted on what may be a double blow (remember, Passerby will soon close) to the meatpacking district.
Update: Asked whether Anthony Martignetti is considering the Florent space, a rep tells us she has no new information at this time. Note: She didn’t say, “No.”
Related: SHOCK CLAIM: Florent Restaurant to Close This Year? [Eater]
Paris Shaped by the Pen [NYDN]
Earlier: Anthony Martignetti Plots a New Restaurant Over Croissants at Pastis
Passerby Hasn’t Quite Passed On
Eighty One Takes the Haute Barnyard, Locavore Thing 81 Steps Further
In what has to be the clearest example yet of Haute Barnyard run amok, Eighty One has sent us a scroll containing a list of “81 people who bring Eighty One to life.” Rob and Robin weren’t kidding when they said the ingredients were meticulously sourced — everyone gets credit from the “mushroom expert” to the frog’s-legs purveyor to exec chef Ed Brown’s body double. There are more shout-outs here than on a Diddy album, but we suppose it’s not the worst idea — Brown wouldn’t want to be accused of making false organic claims.
Little Chitaly Bakery and Bar Is Not As Gentrifying As It SeemsThe transformation of a Broome Street herbal-medicine shop into a twenty-seat daytime café and nighttime wine bar, Oro Bakery and Bar, might strike some as a sign of gentrification — especially with Papabubble across the street — but owner Dorina Yuen is actually a Chinese-American with deep neighborhood roots. She’s showing a commitment to proximity by using locally sourced ingredients for savory quiches and French country-inspired sandwiches including a jumbo shrimp rémoulade tartine, and a baguette of country ham with cornichons, butter, and fresh chive. During nighttime hours, the focus shifts from organic coffee to beers, sparkling sake, and ten wines by the glass. A bar menu coming later this month will soon include charcuterie, cheese plates, and pâté toast points.
Oro Bakery and Bar, 375 Broome St., nr. Mott St.; 212-941-6368.
Red Hook Vendors Bid for Ball FieldsIf Red Hook vendors want to cook at the ball fields, they’ll have to use approved food-preparation carts, according to a report in the Daily News. The city Parks Department is now accepting bids from vendors, but the traditional mom-and-pop stands may not be able to afford the upgrade. Plus, are those carts even suitable for the kind of deliciousness served in Red Hook? One vendor, who requires four grills to make her pupusas, says no: “We’re not just boiling hot dogs.” You said it, lady. The city will award vendor permits at the end of February.
New Rules May Grill Taco Stands [NYDN]
Earlier: Grub Street’s complete coverage of the Red Hook vendors.
Huckabee Skips Sushi; Super Bowl Snacks AboundFinally, the presidential candidates “respond” to the sushi crisis. Mike Huckabee’s stance? “Nowhere does the Bible mention sushi in the Garden of Eden.” [NYT]
If you’ve ever dreamed of being a Michelin Guide inspector, consider first that in a year “each inspector evaluates 240 restaurants, spends 130 nights in hotels, carries out 800 inspections, writes 1,100 reports and drives 18,000 miles.” [Guardian]
The international conservation group Oceana has issued a report saying that it found mercury levels in tuna sushi throughout the United States to be just as high as in New York’s supply. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
The New York Diet
Novelist Joe Weisberg Unlocks the Mystery of ‘Ugli Fruit’ and
Acclaimed author Joe Weisberg’s new novel, An Ordinary Spy, follows a CIA officer serving abroad in an undisclosed country. To preserve the anonymity of the country’s “very spicy” cuisine, the author redacted all references to specific ingredients in the text. Weisberg tells us that when he himself trained to be a CIA officer, he was taught to offer food — or “amenities” — to potential recruits and was graded on his ability to bring pastries to his instructor. Now that he no longer has access to Quantico’s all-you-can-eat buffet of ice creams and pies (he lives and writes in Park Slope and teaches in Jamaica Estates), we asked him how he satisfies his voracious appetite.
The Annotated Dish
Pamplona’s Supersoft Poached Salmon (and Ultracrispy Skin)Alex Ureña made his name as one of the city’s few modern Spanish cooks, but like most so-called “molecular gastronomists” he found little favor with the city’s tastemakers. His recently reconceived restaurant skews more populist, and a popular dish at Pamplona is this poached salmon with blood sausages. “With Spanish food,” Ureña says, “you sometimes have to think whether it’s going to work here or not.” This one does. As always, mouse over the different elements of the dish to hear them described in the chef’s own words.
More and Weirder Trends From Restaurant Guru Michael Whiteman
We recently had occasion to assay the National Restaurant Association’s somewhat dubious restaurant trends piece. Today brings us a far more formidable attempt — that of Michael Whiteman, the restaurant-business guru who, with his late partner Joe Baum, created Windows on the World and the Rainbow Room, and who is now a full-time restaurant consultant. Whiteman’s trends are even more disturbingly freaky than were the NRA’s but seem mostly accurate to us. Here’s how they break down.
The Orange Line
Riding the V Line: Thai Heat and Genius on Elmhurst AvenueWe’re riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants along the way.
It’s not much of a secret anymore, but it would be madness to get off at Elmhurst Avenue and not eat at Chao Thai, a Thai restaurant nearly as good as Woodside’s legendary Sripraphai.
Ring in the New Year With David Chang!We just got a look at the Ssäm Bar New Year’s Eve party, and while we won’t be attending (that $300 is earmarked for a new car), we have to say that it looks pretty impressive. For your three bills, you get open bar (beer, sake and wine only), plus Champagne (but for how long?), and, in the food department, such Ssäm standbys as artisanal-ham plates, aged steak, and a slow-cooked pork butt, d.b.a. Bo Ssäm — usually $180 when you order it on the menu. We still can’t figure out the economics of Ssäm Bar, but given Chang’s resistance to moneymaking (through expansion, cookbooks, etc.), we doubt he’s looking to make much money. And if the “unlimited beer, wine, and sake” really are unlimited, the Soupman could well end up on the red side of the ledger.
David Chang’s New Year’s Party
Misled Socialites Outraged by Tamsin Lonsdale’s Supper ClubIt looks like Tamsin Lonsdale, the London socialite looking to make a splash with her new private dinner club, might just have a flop on her hands. The Observer today chats with a couple of the club’s disgruntled ambassadors, one of whom says, “She’s not offering a service to the boldface names. She’s using these people to bring in the mass.” Shocking! You mean this wasn’t merely a way to get people together to talk about the new Ang Lee flick? It was a marketing gimmick? Hilariously, one member gripes that she paid $100 for a meal at the Spotted Pig that normally would’ve cost her $40, and Londsale defends herself by saying that Jay-Z ended up dancing with everyone. But really — if Gawker types can rub elbows with Jay-Z at the Pig, can’t anyone?
BURP! Sykes Sister Strikes Out! ‘Exclusive’ Brit Supper Club Lays an Egg [NYO]
Earlier Socialite Tamsin Lonsdale’s Supper Club Probably Doesn’t Want You
Gusto Now Going to Look and Taste Like Centro VinotecaChelsea: It doesn’t look good for those who are just getting used to the belly; pig’s ears are the latest trend, and even the version at stellar tapas spot Tía Pol was described by Peter Meehan as “crunchy and sticky with a funky pigskin flavor.” [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]
Financial District: Don’t forget, the trial run for the proposed year-round seasonal market at South Street Seaport starts on December 16 (and Molto Mario will be there). [Grub Street]
Park Slope: Tempo Presto is closing this Friday because the restaurant can’t keep up with the pricey rent. [Gowanus Lounge]
Upper West Side: Dovetail‘s opening next week. [Zagat]
West Village: Sasha Muniak must feel really good about the Centro Vinoteca formula; after tapping chef Anne Burrell to take over for Amanda Freitag, he plans to redesign the Gusto space by next year with help from Centro Vinoteca and Jean Georges designer Thomas Juul-Hansen. [Restaurant Girl] Andrea Strong unveils renderings of Jason Neroni’s new gig, 10 Downing. [Strong Buzz via Eater] Magnolia Bakery will be open regular hours every day this holiday season except for Christmas, and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on December 24, kids can pick up a cupcake that comes with a note to Santa. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]
Williamsburg: A benefit party at Supreme Trading tomorrow night promises an open Bass Ale Beer bar from 7 to 8 p.m. and “one of the most difficult cuisines to find in New York City: Rwandan.” [Cakehead]
Breaking: Hotel to Take Over Good World?
Richie Rich and Jenna Jameson may be opening a yet-to-be-named Chinatown bar in a former brothel, but the true original is rumored to be on its way out. A source close to Good World says the bar has lost its lease and its days are numbered. That source has heard that Ian Schrager is buying the block and will erect a W Hotel there — easily the most disturbing rumor since the one about the Bulgarian Bar being replaced by a Best Western. Good World GM Anna Ahlin firmly denies it, saying, “They sold the building we’re located in, and that has been a big misconception for some people.” Ahlin told us she can’t recall the term of Good World’s lease, but drinkers are safe for the foreseeable future.