‘Food & Wine’ Big-Ups New York on Best-Restaurants ListNew York may have gotten short shrift on San Pallegrino’s list of the world’s best restaurants, but on the just-released ‘Food & Wine’ “Go List” of the World’s Best Places to Eat, we rank number three, behind Tokyo and Paris.
Pelaccio Focusing on Fatty ‘Cue; Bruni Gets the Fiamma MemoAstoria: Leng Thai’s brown rice is delicious; they mix in red grains. [Joey in Astoria]
Clinton Hill: A new bakery is supposed to open around June on Fulton near the Met. Baker: “When I was young, we’d go to the bakery every Sunday after church for a fresh loaf of French bread, soft and still warm from the oven. I’d love to re-create that here.” Blogger: “OMGYAY!” [Clinton Hill Blog]
Murray Hill/Kips Bay: A former Sapa chef will head the kitchen at a new Pan-Asian restaurant called Prana, set to open in June in the old Scopa space. [Zagat]
Soho: Fabio Trabocchi has written a personal note to Bruni and has worked with B.R. Guest to lower prices across the board at Fiamma (including dropping the price of the seven-course menu from $138 to $125). Sorry to those who ate at Fiamma last week. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Williamsburg: Zak Pelaccio’s project with Robbie Richter might be called Fatty ‘Cue. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]
Related: Breaking: Zak Pelaccio and Robbie Richter to Collaborate on Asian Barbecue in Williamsburg
West Village: If you want to celebrate the Irish all next week, August will be “toasting the Irish” through March 21 by serving Guinness Extra Stout and specials like house-made corned beef and cabbage. [Strong Buzz]
Fiamma Says the Luxe Ingredients Never Went AwayFiamma got a fair amount of heat last week, from Grub Street and other food sites, about a reduced menu. But B.R. Guest — which did not respond to Grub Street’s requests for comments on the menu until yesterday — vehemently disagrees. “No one had updated the Website,” says owner Steve Hanson. “They just got lazy.” We’d hate to be in their shoes now! Fiamma chef Fabio Trabocchi, meanwhile, explains that the confusion also lay in the fact that the Website wasn’t showing his daily specials or updating the tasting menu. “If you came in and ordered here, it’s the same amount of selections; you can choose from any part of the menu. It’s the same amount of dishes, just listed in a different way,” Trabocchi says. And those luxe ingredients we thought were missing from the menu? Not so, says Trabocchi. “We are using foie gras, truffles, Wagyu beef, ossabaw pig, and Grimaud Farm duck.” (The langoustines, which we also mentioned as having gone missing, are out of season, Trabocchi explains.) Unfortunately for Fiamma, even a full menu can’t sate complaining diners like Nick Paumgarten of The New Yorker.
Earlier: Fiamma’s Menu a Fraction of Its Former Self
Fiamma’s Menu a Fraction of Its Former SelfWe’re told that Fiamma has sprung into action, using all the powers of the B.R. Guest machine, to try to ferret out what went so catastrophically wrong with Nick Paumgarten’s meal. “We are all disappointed in the service. We take this very seriously and have everyone looking into the problems,” B.R. Guest chieftain Steve Hanson tells us. But all the negative attention Fiamma has gotten over the last day or so obscures a larger, thornier question about the restaurant: What has happened to the sprawling, lavish, ambitious menu that Fabio Trabocchi launched his administration with?
‘The New Yorker’ Hits Fiamma HardThe New Yorker’s “Tables for Two” reviews have generally been mordant little affairs, short on criticism and long on wry descriptions of restaurant culture. Not this week. Nick Paumgarten comes down hard on Fiamma, describing “FEMA-like” service, cold food, a martini made without vermouth, and, in general, the very picture of a major ripoff operation, subsisting on “a strong euro and the proximity of the Soho Grand hotel.” It’s a wild departure from the usual “Tables for Two” mold, and though it may or may not be reflective of Fiamma (practically all of the reviews have been very positive, including Adam Platt’s two-star job), it’s certainly a lot more fun to read. Something tells us Paumgarten had a lot of fun writing it.
Tables for Two: Fiamma [NYer]
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]
The Other Critics
Barbuto Saved by a Chicken; Fiamma Comes Up ShortThe wildly uneven Barbuto earns a single star from Frank Bruni, almost entirely on the strength of a well-roasted Bell & Evans chicken. To quote Winston Churchill, “Some chicken!” [NYT]
Alan Richman was appalled by how small the portions were at Grayz, how much they cost, and how shady most of them were, except for the magnificent, world-beating short rib: “In complexity and satisfaction, this dish reminded me most of the Gray Kunz of Lespinasse, the chef we miss so much.” [Bloomberg]
Randall Lane gets that Fiamma’s Fabio Trachocchi is cooking in a grand, Continental style and doesn’t hold that against him, but the food is too rich and the service too sloppy to give him the five or six stars the place would have liked And so they have to settle for four. [TONY]
Shake Shack Reopens Today; Fabio Trabocchi’s Last MealSweet glory, Shake Shack reopens today at 11:30! You can call ahead to place your order, but you won’t be enjoying the new heaters until next week. [Eater]
The British agree: Adam Platt’s term “haute barnyard” defines the prevailing dining trend. [Guardian]
Related: The Haute Barnyard Hall of Fame
The manager of Sarabeth’s on Central Park South caught a 50-year-old thief taking $27 from her pocketbook over the weekend. [NYP]
Padma Lakshmi Now Refusing FoodA juicy item in today’s Daily News has Grub Street stoner-goddess Padma Lakshmi acting like quite the diva at Fiamma. According to the report, chef Fabio Trabocchi created several dishes for her perusal, which the lanky Top Chef judge sent back in a huff. Fiamma denies it went down like that, and we admit it’s hard to imagine Padma being roused to scream about anything, but given her willingness to eat the swill served by her Top Chef contestants, a few plates of Trabocchian improvisation doesn’t seem like too much to ask.
Tart Words From the ‘Chef’ Host [NYDN]
Related: The Salty Wit and Wisdom of Padma Lakshmi
Kate Moss Digs Le Royale; FreshDirect Fires 85 WorkersApparently the opening-night party at Le Royale was a success, drawing the likes of Kate Moss, who made out with the D.J.[Imbible/Citysearch]
Related: Le Royale Might Just Bring Nightlife Out of the Doldrums
Frank Bruni applauds restaurants seeking out new forms of hospitality, but is wary of the WiFi availability: “Will the glow of laptop screens and the percussion of typing become pervasive visual and aural backdrops for our meals?” [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
A former Scores cocktail waitress is suing the owners for being told to act more like a stripper. [NYP]
Back of the House
Platt Sees Only Disaster and Peril for Out-of-Town Chefs
With the recent news that the celebrated Charlie Trotter might be opening up an outpost here in New York, our thoughts turned to the whole phenomenon of out-of-town chefs and their usually disastrous forays to New York. We thought to contact our dour friend Adam Platt to see what kind of world-weary wisdom he might dispense on the subject. As expected, the big man had deep thoughts at the ready, and we transcribed our exchange for posterity, in case Charlie Trotter wants something to put on his refrigerator.
Back of the House
New York to Charlie Trotter: Bring It On!
So Charlie Trotter is coming to New York at long last. (Or so the New York Times says today, reporting that the celebrated Chicago chef has plans for a restaurant on East 22nd Street, at One Madison Park.) Our question is, what took him so long? Trotter has been considered one of the top chefs in America for years, but big names in second-rate food cities rarely make a big splash here. Paul Prudhomme, the pride of New Orleans, had only mixed success here, and in recent years Charles Ramseyer of Seattle (at Wild Salmon), and Fabio Trabocchi of Virginia (at Fiamma), both the toasts of their former towns, have received tepid responses here. (Tim Love, the pride of Texas, washed out completely with Lonesome Dove.)
In the Magazine
Fiamma, Tailor, and Turkey Carry the Weight This Week
This week’s issue carries a lot of freight, and there isn’t much room for consideration of the gluttonous arts. So the food content is slim — but potent! Adam Platt reviews two of the most anticipated debuts in recent years, those of genius dessert chef Sam Mason’s Tailor and Beard Award–winning chef Fabio Trabocchi’s New York debut at Fiamma. But that’s not all: There’s an In Season recipe for turkey-salad sandwiches, excuse us, tramezzini di tacchino, courtesy of ’inoteca’s Eric Kleinman; a guide to four very excellent Thanksgiving alternatives courtesy of Rob and Robin; and four new hotel restaurants likewise. We figured that with all the eating and cooking that’s going on this week, that should be plenty of food writing to get you by.
Virginia Pig Farmer Is the Toast of the New York Pork WorldIt sounds like a fairy tale: Some Spanish hogs, brought over by Spanish colonists in the sixteenth century, take over an island off the coast of Georgia and run wild there for hundreds of years. Feral and boarlike, they are also about the best tasting pork imaginable, and cousins to the world’s most celebrated ham. Is it a fable, conjured by the heated imagination of foodies? Or an eye-opening truth, as irrefutable as a piece of gamey and rich roast pork? We’re happy to say that it’s the latter. Bev Eggleston, of Eco-Friendly Foods in Virginia, has started selling his amazing pork to a handful of New York restaurants, and soon he may be giving the Spanish a run for their money in the ham business.
The Annotated Dish
Trabocchi Reinvents Porchetta at FiammaFabio Trabocchi gained fame, and a James Beard award, for his modern Italian food at Maestro in Virginia. Now, he’s Michael White’s replacement at Fiamma, and his contemporary take on porchetta, the most intensely rural and down-market of dishes, is a fair example of Trabocchi’s style: “In Italy, porchetta is a pig on a spit with wild fennel. It’s either boned and stuffed in a meat-loaf shape or opened up, like a book, on a spit. It’s something we tried to reinvent with a modern version without losing the original flavors.” As always, mouse over the different elements to see them described in the chef’s own words.
Primehouse Opening in Flatiron; Trabocchi Siphoned Former Staff to SohoCarroll Gardens: New wine bar Black Mountain Wine House on Union Street is filled to the brim with lovely sipping ladies. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Flatiron: Diddy has closed Justin’s because it’s not big enough. [NYP] Stephen Hanson’s steakhouse, Primehouse, opens Monday. [Zagat]
Harlem: Fall registration is open for free proper-dining lessons at “New York City’s only tuition-free etiquette school for children,” the Development and Finishing Institute. [Uptown Flavor]
Soho: New Fiamma chef Fabio Trabocchi “brought with him 12 members of the staff of Maestro, in McLean, Va., his previous employer” in order to ease his New York transition. [NYT]
Upper East Side: David Burke’s Hudson Valley Foie Gras ‘PB&J’ Tourchon is pushing it. [NYO]
Williamsburg: The best way to be sure your beef is prime is to eat at a top steakhouse, and lucky for you, according to “Amy Rubenstein, whose family owns Peter Luger, the shortage is over.” [NYP]
Colors Workers Rebel; Whole Foods Getting Into Craft BeerThe workers of Colors, originally envisioned as a co-op for orphaned Windows on the World employees, have sued the restaurant and the advocacy group that runs it, claiming that in fact none of them actually own any part of it. [NYP]
Related: Marxist Meals Served at Co-op Eateries
Whole Foods will be opening up a craft-beer bar with tap brews sold in carryout growlers — in September. [NYS]
Animal activism has come of age, which is good news for calves, old hogs, and other unlucky beings that might otherwise be facing unspeakable fates. [NYT]