The Last Days of Café Gray?Café Gray’s days at the Time Warner Center may be numbered, sources tell us. It’s not clear whether the move, if it comes, stems from the building’s sky-high rent (which doomed Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s V Steakhouse) or because the chef has something else planned. Kunz, for his part, denies that he is going anywhere. “This rumor is completely unfounded,” he says, “and business has been brisk.” So if Café Gray does vacate, who can handle the tower? We hear a prominent Italian restaurant will fill the Café Gray space. You’ll know more when we do.
Joe Chirico Allegedly Served As Mob Extortionist; Femme Fatale’s Clubhouse to BeBrooklyn Restaurant Association president Joe Chirico, indicted last week along with the Gambino clan, allegedly lived a secret life in which he served as an extortionist for the mob. [NYP]
Related: New York Restaurant Association Big Netted in Gambino Roundup
Foodies all over the country are willing to drop serious money to sit at chefs’ tables, but is it worth the hefty price tag at a place like Café Gray? [WSJ]
If insects aren’t dirty or disease-ridden and they are packed with protein, then why aren’t we eating them? [NYT]
Related: What’s It Take to Get a Decent Grasshopper Around Here?
Momofuku, Freemans, Spotted Pig Honchos Break Bread With Stephen Starr
Our favorite celebrity sighting of the week was, of course, Lindsay Lohan at Peter Luger on Tuesday night — that’s because we saw her with our own eyes. Of course, we can’t be everywhere and see everyone, so as usual we’ve combed the gossip columns for other stop-ins. We’re sorry we missed Tracy Morgan at the Plumm, shirtless and offering to father babies as usual, and boy do we wish we were a fly on the wall when partners Ken Friedman and Taavo Somer, along with David Chang, dined with Stephen Starr at Buddakan. Is there a Spotted Buddafuku in the works?
The Annotated Dish
A Quartet of High-End Bar Treats at GrayzGray Kunz is one of the giants of New York gastronomy; his pioneering work in fusing global flavors made Lespinasse one of the world’s great restaurants. Today, Café Gray carries his flag in New York. His newest venture, Grayz, is a bar and lounge with a finger-food menu that emulates its Time Warner cousin in some dishes and goes its own way with others. Here are four dishes from the Grayz menu: As always, mouse over the anchor arrows to see the dish described in the chef’s own words.
Does the Name Chef Really Work in the Kitchen Anymore?Dear Grub Street,
I’m in New York on business for a little while and will have the opportunity to try a handful of restaurants while I’m here. What are some of the top spots in the city where the chef whose name is on the door is still in the kitchen? I’ve eaten at both Lupa and Otto, but I imagine Mr. Batali’s clogs haven’t graced either kitchen in some time (though the food and service at both were excellent, especially Frank behind the bar at Otto). It’s not that I need to see a celebrity chef in person … I just want to try good food from good chefs who are still plying their trade. For example, my understanding is that Wylie Dufresne actually still works at wd-50 every day, and, as you recently mentioned in one post, Eric Ripert is always in the kitchen at Le Bernardin. Anywhere else?
Meet the Chef
Café Gray Back in the Lunch Game on the Upper West SideCarroll Gardens: Carniceria, the attempted replacement for Porchetta, has gone down for the dirt nap. [Eater]
Meatpacking District: Paradou will kick off its fall menu on October 10. [Grub Street]
Tribeca: Ceci-Cela on Chambers Street will close up shop near the end of December because their landlord tried to impose an “unacceptable” rent increase. [Grub Street]
Upper East Side: Saucy on York Avenue at 75th Street will offer a (what else?) sauce-driven tasting menu from October 8 through 14. [Grub Street]
Upper West Side: Gray Kunz has reinstated lunch at Café Gray with an Indian-Summer Prix Fixe that includes dishes like sweet-corn ravioli and skate schnitzel with fingerlings and brown butter. [Grub Street]
Back of the House
Sorry, Ladies: ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner Tre Wilcox Will Not Seek Last night’s Top Chef claimed Tre Wilcox, the affable Texas chef and audience favorite. Acting as executive chef for Restaurant April, three of his dishes bombed and the judges reluctantly singled him out as the night’s loser. He spoke with us about his new female fans and why he thinks Hung will become this season’s Top Chef.
Ask a Waiter
Ania Zawieja of Robuchon Drinks Wine for Work, Beer for FunHow does Ania Zawieja describe her job as a sommelier? “I drink a lot and try to remember.” Rather than attending sommelier school, Zaweija got her start at a Philadelphia wine bar that rotated its 120 glasses every week. She eventually went on to help open Café Gray, then the Modern, and finally — after the food-and-beverage director of Joël Robuchon’s then-soon-to-open New York outpost dined at the Modern and succeeded in luring her away — she ended up at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. Since female sommeliers have lately been a subject of some controversy, we asked her to uncork the particulars of her job.
Perfect Waiting Weather: Shake Shack Open Late TonightDumbo: Bubby’s owner not going down like that, fights rumors of imminent demise. [Brooklyn Record]
Flatiron: To celebrate early spring (or is it already summer?), the Shake Shack will stay open till 8 p.m. tonight. [Grub Street]
Kensington–Ditmas Park: Tongue-and-cheek torta rumored in Brooklyn. Tongue-in-cheek “Grows in Brooklyn” headline deployed. [Gothamist]
Midtown: New finger-food menu at Café Gray a harbinger of things to come at Grayz. Whenever Grayz comes. [Eater]
Williamsburg: Amazon Café opens. Rest assured: “The lighting is a little more subdued than the Smith Street branch.” [Gowanus Lounge]
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.
Café Gray Loses Its LunchHow do you usually spend your lunches? If you’re anything like us, it’s hunched over your desk, scarfing down scrapple you brought from home in a Tupperware tub. Gone, in other words, are the glory days of the leisurely workweek lunch. And so this slow change has claimed another victim: Café Gray. After March 5, you’ll no longer be able to flex your expense account during the midday hours at what Platt calls “probably the most fun” of the “self-important” food-court establishments at Time Warner Center.
Ssäm’s Ssecret Chef’s TableVisitors to Ssäm Bar, David Chang’s sleek new “Asian burrito” emporium, may have noticed a big, unused kitchen that runs the length of the room. Chang fires it up tonight for the first time, rolling out a late-night menu of multiple-element small plates prepared by the chef and a rotating team of ambitious cooks — including his co-chef at Momofuku, Joaquin Baca; Cafe Gray and Cafe Boulud veteran Tien Ho; and several other classically trained Momofuku alumni.