Citywide Truffle Shortage; A New Eastside Fro-Yo FoeA citywide truffle shortage can explain why “the Waverly Inn jacked up the price of its infamous truffle-topped mac & cheese from $55 to $85. The dish was an amusing punch line at $55; at $85, it’s just obscene.” [NYP]
Related: Le Cirque Bids High for Monster Truffle
Bruni eschews all the courtesies one suffers at the dinner table, which he refers to as restaurantspeak: “Would I ‘enjoy coffee with dessert?’ I don’t know; it depends how good the coffee is. I’ll have some, yes, then we’ll see.” [NYT]
FR.OG has now lost Jean Georges alum chef Didier Virot to the Plaza’s new restaurant-to-be, the Palm Court, set to open later this year. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
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.”)
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]
In the Magazine
Provence Opens Its Petals for Spring
Among other things, this week’s Openings brings news of the return, under Cookshop and Five Points owners Marc Meyer and Vicki Freeman, of Provence, the casual French restaurant that was a West Village institution for many years. The menu (part of our immense database) is long on southern French specialties like soupe de poissons and lamb daube. Throw in an emphasis on local ingredients and it’s likely the new incarnation will be just as popular as the old one.
Openings: Provence, Resto, Gold St., Zipper Tavern
In the Magazine
This Week: Contents Under PressureThis week’s food section is all about pressure: A pastry chef has to cook every night for a president who hates pineapples and will send him packing at the first hint of progressive dessert-making; Vinh Nguyen, a first generation Vietnamese-American, rolls the dice with his Williamsburg restaurant Silent H, and, as far as Rob and Robin are concerned, comes up lucky seven; Jeffrey Chodorow, fresh off his battle with Frank Bruni and Adam Platt, opens a big new restaurant and hopes for the best; and four new restaurants open, surely hoping for the best as well. Even this week’s In Season is rife with tension, calling as it does for a delicate filleting operation that could easily destroy a beautifully roasted flounder. The New York food world is not for the faint of heart.
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]
The New York Diet
Sandra Bernhard Nibbles on Vegan Hors D’Oeuvre and Chows Down on Cheese GritsAs an actress, comedian, political activist, and singer-songwriter who’s slated to perform six nights at Joe’s Pub leading up to this New Year’s Eve, Sandra Bernhard is a versatile woman. We wondered if her diet was equally wide-ranging. She drew a cup of one of her favorite teas — Kukicha; “it’s made from twigs” — and told us about her obsession with omega-3 eggs, her occasional kosher-steak splurge, and how many sips she’ll take from a vodka tonic.
Five Points Owners to Transform Provence (But Still Serve Bouillabaisse)It’s always a sad day for Francophiles and nostalgists when yet another beloved old-school French restaurant shutters its doors, but in the case of Provence — which served its last bowl of bouillabaisse on Saturday — it could be a lot worse.
Vicki Freeman and Marc Meyer, the owners of Cookshop and Five Points, have taken over the space with plans to completely gut the kitchen, redo the dining room, put in a raw bar, and reopen by January as — guess what? — a nice French restaurant called Provence.
The Haute Barnyard Hall of FameNew York magazine restaurant critic Adam Platt files periodic musings for Grub Street, under the pseudonym the Gobbler.
Haute Barnyard restaurants like the Tasting Room have been around for a while now, but the phrase is new — so new, in fact, that the Gobbler is the only one using it. Therefore it requires a little elaboration. All Haute Barnyard restaurants are Greenmarket establishments, of course, their menus more or less dictated by the rhythms of the season. New York’s versions of the genre, however, have evolved their own highly self-conscious style.