Breaking: Beard Nominees Sent to JudgesJames Beard Award judges just received their “long lists” — the nominees from which the five finalists in all nineteen categories are drawn. So if you’re not on this list, you’re out. We got a copy as well, so look for your name after the jump.
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.
Back of the House
The $4 Di Fara Slice: We Break It Down
Dom De Marco raised the price of a Di Fara’s slice to $4, and Chowhounders are aghast, reports Slice’s Adam Kuban. But do the accusations of making a quick buck lobbed against the Saint of Avenue J have any merit? We did a little research into the cost of ingredients at Di Fara and confirmed our suspicion that De Marco doesn’t make much money.
Rosé-Sparkler Tastings in Clinton Hill; Eat Cake, Not Dinner forChelsea: The former Daniele’s Piadina space on 22nd Street east of Sixth Avenue sat empty for two years, but it will reopen as a sandwich shop called Ashby’s on Monday. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Clinton Hill: Gnarly Vines is hosting a rosé-sparkler tasting tonight, tomorrow, and Wednesday evening from 6 to 9 p.m., and bottles of those sample selections are 10 percent off. [Clinton Hill Blog]
Dumbo: The ‘D’ Space Restaurant at Jay and Front streets serves Indian buffet, but will it raise the bar on local delivery options? [Dumbo NYC]
Flatiron: Shaffer City Oyster Bar & Grill will close February 23 and reopen in March as Flatiron Joe’s with cheaper American fare and a jukebox. [Zagat]
Fort Greene: In her list of last-minute Valentine’s Day options, Danyelle Freeman recommends Cake Man Raven if you want to “just forget dinner and grab a few whopping slices of the decadent red velvet cake that made this bakery famous.” [Restaurant Girl]
Soho: In honor of this romantic week, it’s only right that bananas (and resulting desserts around town) are celebrated for being “not only insanely phallic but also brimming with potassium and B vitamins, which are necessary for keeping your sex drive going.” But you don’t have to tell your date that after deciding to share Blue Ribbon Brasserie’s top-rated banana split. [Gridskipper]
West Village: Pig’s-feet and collagen temple Hakata TonTon has been closed by the Department of Health. [Eater]
Batali Calls Out Bloggers, Gordon Ramsay
Gawker unearths a choice quote from Guardian critic Jay Rayner’s forthcoming book The Man Who Ate the World. Excoriating bloggers, Mario Batali tells Rayner:
“It’s just people who hate things. But you know what? If they don’t like my beef cheek ravioli and the rock-and-roll we play on the sound system at Babbo, they can suck my dick. I don’t care.”
Except for the fellatio part, this pretty much jives with what he has told us in the past. Upon reading the book, we found it even more interesting that Batali, immediately before criticizing blogger/haters, decided to call out Gordon Ramsay.
Fort Greene Restaurant Scene’s Crescendo; De Niro Hotel So Close You Can Book ItAstoria: The Southwest restaurant that’s been under construction near the Ditmars stop on 31st Street is named Mojave and opens tonight. [Joey in Astoria via Astorians]
East Village: The Mermaid Inn reopens tomorrow after a one-week renovation, which may have been inspired by Time Out‘s mouse sightings. [Eater]
Fort Greene: New restaurants the Smoke Joint and 67 Burger have joined older favorites like iCi and Thomas Beisl to build a thriving restaurant scene near the Brooklyn Academy of Music. [NYT]
Tribeca: De Niro’s Greenwich Hotel is now taking reservations for the spring. [NewYorkology via Eater]
Back of the House
The Chef Comic We’ve Been Waiting For!
Grub Street’s with-it brother Vulture introduces us to new comics every week, but it’s taken almost a year to discover a manga that has to do with mangia. Vulture describes Wonton Soup as “a manga–meets–Gahan Wilson–meets–Iron Chef space-trucker opera,” which sounds pretty fantastic to us. Plus, this comic speaks truth! “My cooking is all about passion and fun,” laments the chef who trained at a ten-star restaurant. “Once all that gets taken away, it’s just food.” Click over to Vulture to read an excerpt.
Stewart O’Nan Writes the Great American Red Lobster NovelAcclaimed writer Stewart O’Nan’s latest novel, Last Night at the Lobster, isn’t about a couple who hits the motel after one too many gargantuan Lobsteritas — instead it follows a hard-working general manager, Manny DeLeon, through his last night at a Red Lobster in New Briton, Connecticut, that has been closed by parent corporation Darden Restaurants. O’Nan got the idea after a Red Lobster near his home in Avon suffered a similar fate. “I knew how it fit into the community and started thinking about how every restaurant is a world onto itself,” he tells us. “I thought of that suddenly going away.” We asked him what he learned about the chain while doing research so obsessive that it involved poaching the Lob’s menus and coasters.
Rat-Infested Taco Bell to Become T-Mobile StoreAnd here’s the Taco Bell on Sixth Avenue that spurred the Department of Health to strap on its boots and go to war. When we peeked in this morning, it looked rodent-free; according to construction workers, it will soon be a T-Mobile store. Meanwhile, down the block, the Beard Papa store, which was supposed to reopen in mid-October, is still closed for renovations. We have a call in to Papa himself to see what’s up, though his side project, Santa Claus, might be keeping him a little busy these days.
Related: Beard Papa Returning Downtown, May Hit the Slope
Bradley and Freitag Planning a ‘Lusty’ Menu for the Harrison; HotAstoria: Bar 36 at 36-05 30th Avenue hosts Martini Thursdays, where it’s “$2 off every martini on their menu (or create your own). Can’t beat the free snacks, too!” [Joey in Astoria]
East Village: You’d be hard-pressed find a better, more satisfying “fantastic when it was hot but … made for a mean late night snack as well” deal than bär-bo-ne’s nightly five-course fresh pasta tasting menu. [Gluttoness]
Flatiron: Eisenberg’s has been serving tater tots as latkes, but “the owner talked about getting in some big latkes soon. Let’s hope so … A place like Eisenberg’s deserves to have the best latkes.” [Lost City]
Midtown West: Norma’s has added new breakfast items to its menu, including hot chestnut pancakes and a chocolate waffle with peanut-butter-toffee-crunch filling, but don’t expect to get in and try them until the tourist exodus in January. [Eater]
Tribeca: With chef Amanda Freitag at the helm, Jimmy Bradley plans to strive “for a bold, lusty, soulful menu at the Harrison.” Saucy! [Restaurant Girl]
Upper East Side: On weekdays through December, Zoë Townhouse at 135 East 62nd Street is offering a 15 percent discount off bottles of wine from noon to 7 p.m. [Grub Street]
Williamsburg: From these pictures, the opening of the Peter Luger annex, which would significantly expand the restaurant, seems imminent. [Eater]
Jenna Jameson Does Chinatown; Nobu’s Fish Not That ExclusiveJenna “ex-porn honey-turned-businesswoman” Jameson and Heatherette designer Richie Rich plan to open a nightclub/clothing shop in Chinatown next year called the General Store. [NYP]
Part-owner of the Waverly Inn and Maritime Hotel Eric Goode enjoys retreating to small-town Ojai in California. [NYT]
Nobu executive chef Mark Edwards reveals not only that the restaurant’s infamous black cod is actually sablefish (which is so not endangered), but also that he can’t stand the dish anymore after tasting it day after day. [Bloomberg]
Red Mango to Open December 6 With a Veritable ‘Free-Fro-All’Official word has come that Red Mango’s first NYC location at 182 Bleecker — long a source of fascination — will open at 4 p.m. on December 6 with “FREE FROZEN YOGURT, GIFT CARDS, GIFT BAGS, MUSIC PRIZES” (emphasis theirs). Obviously they’re trying to trump Yolato which promised free fro-yo at their recent opening only to dole out sample sizes. So will Red Mango be fudging it, too? The publicist assures us “free frozen yogurt” means an honest-to-God half-cup (small-size) serving. We have this on tape (kidding). Gifts, meanwhile, will go to the first 50 people in line and will also be given to people throughout the day, especially people who can answer trivia questions like, “How many calories are in Red Mango?” That we’re not kidding about — so study up!
Earlier: Cold War: Yolato Now, Red Mango in December, and MySpace Forever
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.
In Other Magazines
The Salty Wit and Wisdom of Padma LakshmiThe latest issue of Vanity Fair features a profile of none other than Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, who’s promoting her new cookbook, Tangy Tart Hot & Sweet. Amid all the foodie talk, Padma actually reveals quite a lot about herself. A sampling:
• On the Top Chef Emmy nomination: “[It] was a big fucking deal.”
• On life without her ex-husband, Salman Rushdie: “I’m really fucking sad.”
• On her new cookbook: “Finishing the fucking book was like being in labor for two years!”
• On hosting dinner party: “I pulled this out of my ass.”
• On an AIDS charity she supports: “…we’re doing a campaign and an event and you should buy a fucking table.”
• On telling the press if she had a boyfriend: “My husband would call fucking Reuters.”
• On a tabloid’s coverage of her bra size: “…they said it was 36C. I said, 34C, motherfucker!”
• On her current living situation: “Now I’m staying in a fucking hotel with all my shit in storage.”
A Taste of Fame [VF]
The New York Diet
Model Catherine McNeil Finds Comfort in Chicken Burgers
Earlier this year Times fashion writer Guy Trebay declared 17-year-old Catherine McNeil to be “fashion’s latest crush,” citing her photo shoots for Mario Testino, her campaigns for Hugo Boss and Dolce & Gabbana, and her sudden status as the sought-after runway model. McNeil has lived on the Lower East Side since moving from Australia in February and can often be found at expat hangout Ruby’s wolfing chicken burgers like her mom used to make. “It’s chicken breast, and you can put lettuce and sweet chili sauce and stuff on it,” she explains. Not that she did much eating out this week between shoots for Another magazine and Versace. We caught her on the way to the airport (she was flying to Paris for a Gaultier shoot) and asked her what she noshed on.
In Other Magazines
Escaping the Obligatory Turkey FeatureIt’s November in the food-magazine business, so expect feature after endless feature about Thanksgiving, and every imaginable variation on recipes for turkey and stuffing. Gourmet gives a pretty complete account, including big Turkey Day features on the fancy version, the Asian version, the Italian version, and even the vegetarian version. Bon Appétit is about the same, taking the big-name approach: Bruce Aidells on turkey, and Michael Lamonaco on potatoes, among others. A profile of Aidells and his meat-minded kitchen is in November’s Food & Wine, as well as such year-round delights as domestic cheeses and a new brand of whiskey out of Oregon. Saveur, thankfully, limits itself to a nice article about a West Virginia farm, and then dips in on such disparate topics as kale, heritage chickens, prosciutto from Iowa, and other Saveur-like topics. We’re grateful for the respite; Thanksgiving is early this year but not that early.
In the Magazine
It’s a Haute Barnyard Type of Week in New York
“The doctrine of seasonal correctness is as ingrained in the collective restaurant psyche, these day, as linen napkins, pre-dinner cocktails, and superfluous baskets of bread,” Adam Platt writes in his review of Park Avenue Autumn, and who are we to argue? The combined efforts of Platt, the Robs, and Gael Greene all point to the triumph of the seasonal aesthetic. But that’s not to say they aren’t fun. Platt gives two stars to Park Avenue Autumn, Gael seems fairly pleased with Irving Mill, and the Robs introduce three restaurants (Lunetta, Bacaro, and Smith’s) that are all about fresh ingredients, as well as a recipe for Bosc pears that is, of course, in season. Meanwhile, back at the Greenmarket, a long-overdue crusade against plastic bags is at work. And, though not an expression of the Haute Barnyard mystique, it’s very much a sign of the times: PDT has named a hot dog for David Chang — proof that the Original Soupman has made it to the big time at last.
Yonkers Chef Presents City’s ‘First Authentic Southern
Not only does the Shamlian brothers’ new Essex Street bar not yet have a name (James Killing is the current front-runner), but the place’s mechanical bull (the second in the city after Johnny Utah’s) is also still anonymous. And though Rob Shamlian says rumors on Eater that the bull doesn’t have padding are incorrect (quote: “Nine out of ten things you read on blogs are total bullshit”), it won’t be fully operational when the bar, built from salvaged redwood, opens to the public tonight. Still, take a look at the beast. Word is, rides will cost around $20 when it’s working (“soon”) and a chalkboard will list the top riders. Meanwhile, this isn’t just the first mechanical bull on the LES, but — according to Andrew Robertson, a former sous-chef at Town and Country and a pitmaster at Hill Country — it’ll be the first “genuine southern” restaurant in the city.
‘Top Chef’ Winner Hung Shows Off His Knife Skills
Do you grip a knife like a baton? Do your tomato wedges fall apart in seedy clumps? Recent Top Chef winner Hung Huynh visited with Grub Street at Dani yesterday to demonstrate his famous knife skills. The quicksilver cook showed how to julienne squash and a speedy way to slice meat. Definitely try this at home. But first, watch the video.
How to Chop Like a Top Chef [Video]
A Trip to Tailor, Camera in Hand
Having documented nearly every stage of Tailor’s much-delayed development, we couldn’t very well pass up experiencing its promised joys. We attended last night’s soft opening, camera in one hand and Eben Freeman cocktail in the other. The official opening is tonight and more photos are after the jump.
Neighbors Aren’t Feeling Sting and Bowie’s Burlesque ClubIn a bit of dog-bites-man news, it seems certain neighbors aren’t digging the idea of Forty Deuce, the burlesque club that’s due to replace Little Charlie’s Clam Bar at 19 Kenmare Street. Screams this flyer we found on Grand and Mott today: “OUR LITTLE ITALY / CHINATOWN / BOWERY / NOLITA COMMUNITY IS NOT GOING TO BE THE NEW ‘TIMES SQUARE’ FOR UPSCALE TRENDY LATE-NIGHT PARTY-GOERS.” Are these the same citizens-on-patrol who are trying to get the Box closed because it wasn’t the “cultural institution” it promised to be? We advise them to tune in here, because we hear something big — bigger even than Double Happiness’ upscale trendy makeover, maybe — is coming to the LitItChiBoNo neighborhood soon.
Earlier: Bowie’s Burlesque Club to Give the Box a Run for Its Money
Double Happiness to Get $1 Million Makeover, Reopen to Privileged Few
‘Top Chef”s Howie Tastes the Big Time, Briefly, at Gotham Bar andWhen Howie Kleinberg, after twice coming to the brink of elimination, returned last week to win a Quickfire Challenge on Top Chef, he was rewarded with a one-week internship at Gotham Bar and Grill, courtesy of the guest judge, Alfred Portale. Kleinberg, whose unremitting hostility originally endeared him to us, has gotten on swimmingly with the chef, we hear. “He’s a very likable guy,” Portale tells us. “He’s a big guy, kinda cuts a pretty wide path through the kitchen, but he shows a lot of respect and poise.”
Jock Bait Coming to Heart of Lower Eastpacking DistrictRumors that Libation was going to become an outpost of 40/40 Club haven’t come to fruition, but now Natasha Navidad, a former manager-barkeep from Bull’s Head Tavern and the Black Bear Lodge is bringing 72 high-definition TVs to the space that was formerly Tenement— an ESPNcroachment the likes of which haven’t been seen since Bounce Deuce put its plasmas all up in the East Village’s face. The sports bar will be called the Blue Seats, after the seats in Madison Square Garden, but the food should be a step up from concession-stand grub: raw oysters and Philly-cheesesteak sliders for dinner (with a “twilight menu” served till 4 a.m.) and French toast for brunch. Have there been liquor-license delays? Yes, of course, but the place expects to open, serving blueberry mojitos, on July 30.
The Blue Seats menu
The Blue Seats, 157 Ludlow St., nr. Stanton St.; 212-614-1494.