Momofuku Ko Hoping to Open in Two Weeks; No Malice Palace PrevailsDuring last night’s CB3 meeting, partner Andrew Salmon would reveal only that Momofuku Ko will hit capacity at fourteen, with no waiters and with fixed menus changing daily. “You sit directly across from the cook,” Salmon told the board. He kept the “vaguely Asian” food quiet, conceding only that it would include “all local ingredients … all sustainable development.” Unfortunately, he didn’t take the time to make sure a petition was including in the application, so no motion could be passed. Projected opening date: two weeks’ time!
Kobe Dines on Kobe at Kobe; Nobu Gives Manning a Standing OFashion Week brought the usual celebrity infestation to town last week for glitzy after-parties, but we’ve already covered those. The real question is, where did the “normals” catch a bite? And of course by normals we mean billionaires, Nobel Prize winners, and Super Bowl champs, all of whom made the scene this week.
Jennifer Garner Likes the Food at Fiamma More than Padma Did
The week’s most exciting celebrity sighting was that of beer-sippin’ McLovin at Diner. No other celebs were busted getting their underage drink on, but there were other surprises: Rachael Ray rolled into the Orchard with a posse bigger than Diddy’s, and Jennifer Garner liked the food at Fiamma so much she slipped into the kitchen to beg Fabio Trabocchi for recipes. We figure that makes up for supposedly getting dissed by Padma Lakshmi a couple weeks ago. (And yes, there a Padma sighting this week, too…)
Tom and Gisele Lock Lips at Nobu, ‘Full House’ Cast and the B-52sEarlier this week we linked to a Daily News item claiming Padma Lakshmi rudely refused complimentary dishes from Fiamma’s chef. A commenter wrote, “I was at Fiamma the night Padma was dining there and it absolutely did NOT go down that way. When the dishes arrived at the table, she thanked them profusely and apologized for being too full to eat any of them!” Whatever happened, Padma was just one of many celebs to chow down (or at least show up) at local restaurants this week, and here’s our gossip-column compendium of just who went where.
Socialite Tamsin Lonsdale’s Supper Club Probably Doesn’t Want YouWhile the Post ran a story yesterday focusing on Homeslice West’s secret dinners in Upper West Side apartments, the dinner-club scene is going to get a lot glitzier when Brit socialite Tamsin Lonsdale brings her London “supper club” to New York. Ahead of a launch party later this month, Lonsdale has already held recruiting dinners at Indochine, La Esquina, and Gemma — with more planned at Palma and the new Cantina. At the dinners, current members have entertained friends who might be willing to pay a $750 fee to be invited to what a spokesman (yes, a dinner club has hired a PR firm) tells us will eventually be twelve events a month (some of them requiring purchase of additional tickets).
The Other Critics
Wakiya Earns a Second Bagel; Meehan Mistreated at BarFryWakiya’s brief flirtation with the possibility of success seems to be over, now that Frank Bruni has concurred with Adam Platt by handing the restaurant what seems to be a well-deserved bagel. How long before it goes down for the dirt nap is anybody’s guess. [NYT]
Alan Richman, by the way, hates the place even worse. You don’t even have to look beyond his subheads: “Preening.” “Small Portions.” “Incomprehensible Menu.” The bottom line? The place is wildly expensive and “Wakiya suffers from an absence of delights.” To say the least. [Bloomberg]
Peter Meehan, though taking care to praise Josh DeChellis’s cold dishes, had what sounds like a series of awful experiences at BarFry, with terrible service issues. Talk about picking the wrong guy to leave stranded with bottles in his hands! [NYT]
The New York Diet
Kristina Klebe of ‘Halloween’ Likes Her Yogurt With Pumpkin Seeds
If you’re one of the many who saw Rob Zombie’s Halloween during its record-setting opening weekend, you last saw Kristina Klebe playing trash-talking cheerleader Lynda. You’ll probably next see her alongside Uma Thurman in Griffin Dunne’s comedy The Accidental Husband, in which she plays Isabelle Rossellini’s (fully dressed and much more conservative) daughter. In the meantime, she’s jetting between her hometown, New York (she used to bartend at Serafina), and her adopted city, L.A.“I love that I can walk back to a place after dinner,” she says of New York. “If you go out in L.A., you’re full and you just go out to your car and go home.” So where did she dine and dash during this week of auditions and director meetings?
In the Magazine
This Week’s Issue Is All About Simplicity
The food news in this week’s issue concerns the simple, the elegant, and the obvious. A guy in Brooklyn tries to raise his food in his backyard. Adam Platt respondes to locavore earnestness by battening down with a box of Oreos. Two Italian restaurants have opened with unambitious, utterly familiar menus, and he likes one of them, Bar Stuzzichini, more than the other, Gemma, which was lucky to escape with a single star. Another Italian restaurant, Accademia di Vino, specializes in grilled pizza, good pasta, and lots of wine, which pleases the Insatiable Critic. In this week’s Openings, Alex Ureña gives up on foam, and another guy in Brooklyn opens a sandwich shop highlighted by a turkey sandwich with potato chips in it. Resto chef Ryan Skeen enjoyed the onion and tomato app at Peter Luger, and the bacon too, so he thought to make a recipe out of all three for In Season. And finally, the city gets three new choices for the age-old conundrum “coffee, tea, or milk.” It’s that kind of week at New York.
The Other Critics
Franny’s Gets the All-Purpose Two Stars; Southern Hospitality Praised forFranny’s is the recipient of one of Frank Bruni’s periodic low-end caprices, and gets awarded an absurd two stars as a result. [NYT]
Paul Lukas, a pretty serious student of barbecue, delivers the verdict on the new barbecues, and the surprise is that Southern Hospitality has some pretty damn good Memphis ribs. Hill Country, it goes without saying, gets lauded as the best BBQ in town. [NYS]
Related: Insatiable Critic: Southern Hospitality
“Rivulets of delicious grease are a common theme” is the key note to Paul Adams’s review of Borough Food and Drink. Mmmm…grease…. [NYS]
The Other Critics
Cuozzo Likes Wakiya; Bruni, Platt Agree on RayuelaSteve Cuozzo bucks the early bad buzz on Wakiya, praising the place but cautioning that the chef will only be around one week a month. [NYP]
Related: We Catch Wakiya’s First Guests on the Street
Alan Richman submits a rare rave review for Soto, saying of its hot dishes “not one was less than wonderful. This is cooked food on a par with the most ingenious in New York.” Soto-san has to be pretty happy with that. [Bloomberg]
Restaurant Girl’s debut in the Daily News takes the form of a mixed review on Gemma: She liked the branzino and the atmosphere, the other dishes not so much. Nothing in the write-up suggests that they were unduly influenced by knowing who she was. [NYDN]
Related: Restaurant Girl Has a Face For Reviewing
Restaurant Girl Has a Face for Reviewing
Ooh, boy! Danyelle Freeman, a “new breed of restaurant critic, a maverick whose face accompanies her weekly reviews,” was introduced to the city this morning in the Daily News. And not only is her face front and center, but she comes complete with glamour shots! Freeman gave Gemma 1.5 stars in her debut review, but the real gem is the News’ accompanying article explaining Restaurant Girl’s need to show the face behind the reviews. “I’ve felt like the ‘Dear Abby’ of food for years,” Freeman said, noting that she has been blogging since January 2006. Grub Street, for one, welcomes our new recognizable critics. With pics like those, how couldn’t we?
New Food Critic Faces Her Public [NYDN]
Gemma’s Cuisine Takes a Backseat to Hip Downtown Scene [NYDN]
Soho’s Jerry’s May Be Reincarnated in a New SpaceAstoria: The owners of Sai Organics health-food store have opened an organic restaurant in the old Keystone Diner spot on 30th Avenue near 31st Street. [Joey in Astoria]
East Village: The prices of Gemma’s rustic fare are shocking “and not in a Kobe/Gilt kind of way.” [Gastro Chic]
Meatpacking District: PM may lose its liquor license soon if complaining neighbors sway the community board. [Down by the Hipster]
Midtown East: Menchanko-Tei has been closed by the Department of Health. [Midtown Lunch]
Soho: Jerry’s diner has closed, but the owner may be looking for a new space. [Eater]
Tribeca: Peat Week at Brandy Library starts August 20 bringing a series of public “peated” Scotch tastings and special menu offerings. [Brandy Library] Pomodoro’s II on West Broadway at Murray Street will soon share its space with a Cheesesteak Factory Express. [Grub Street]
West Village: Reservations by phone are required if you want to eat the last of the Chianina steak at Maremma only on offer through next Friday. [Grub Street]
Crispy Pig’s Ears Land at Spotted PigClinton Hill: Bittersweet has tasty coffee and Balthazar pastries, but there’s no guarantee you’ll pass Keri Russell while you’re there. [Clinton Hill Blog]
East Village: Gemma to diners: no I.D., no liquor. [Down by the Hipster]
Flushing: Aramark denies that Shake Shack is in the works for Citi Field. [Food Writer’s Diary] We stand by our story.
Upper East Side: Greek diner Gardenia Cafe has been open since 1977, but the lure of real-estate cash-money has finally led its owners to close. [NYT]
West Village: Crispy Pig’s Ears! Blueberry & Banana French Toast with Crème Fraîche! We have Spotted Pig’s new menus. [Grub Street]
Williamsburg: Kitchen Delight on North 8th Street offers the standard burgers and fries alongside a questionable menu item: “Lap Dances.” [Newyorkshitty]
Vongerichten Sued Once Again; East Village Cooks Nab PervJean-Georges Vongerichten is being sued by employees from eight of his restaurants, who claim he underpaid them, cheated them of overtime, and made them share tips with bosses. This is the chef’s third suit of the year. [NYDN]
Two East Village cooks spot the serial groper they had previously saved a woman from. [NYP]
Millions of cans of food are literally bursting with botulism, and New York is among the states where the germ bombs have turned up. [Fox News]
The New York Diet
Designer Cynthia Rowley Indulges in Super-Cheesy ‘Afternoon
Cynthia Rowley may be one of the most recognizable names in fashion (this week she returned to Design Star as a judge, and next month she’ll launch Avon’s first designer colors line), but that doesn’t stop her from surreptitiously approaching restaurant diners when she spots them wearing her clothes. “It’s exciting,” she says. “I tell them, ‘Wow, that dress looks great on you.’” So what does she eat when she’s out on the town? And during hectic preparations for Fashion Week, how hard does she try to live up to her childhood nickname, Slim (the title of her recently published “fantasy memoir”)? We were relieved to discover she’s actually a voracious eater.
The Other Critics
P*ONG Found to Be Small and Uneven; Monkey Bar Gets HammeredFrank Bruni appreciates Pichet Ong’s skill and creativity but finds his restaurant, P*ONG, in what will probably be a defining review, unequal to his talent: “Mr. Ong is an enterprising cook, but he doesn’t seem to be a seasoned restaurateur, and P*ong points out the difference.” [NYT]
Similarly, Paul Adams grants that FR.OG chef Didier Virot has “has a virtuosic ability with flavors,” but was less than thrilled with the restaurant. That’s about in keeping with most other reviews the place has had, which call out a few dishes but give it an “eh” otherwise. [NYS]
Randall Lane disliked the Monkey Bar so much that it’s amazing that he gave it two stars (out of six). “More often, though, the dishes were so unsuccessful that I had difficulty finishing them.” Eek. Not what you want to hear after a huge, expensive relaunch.[TONY]
Gemma Pulse Check: It’s No WaverlyPlanning to go to Gemma, the Bowery Hotel’s restaurant tonight? Though we’ve been told by the publicist that, until its grand opening on July 9, the restaurant is open only to guests as well as friends and family of Sean MacPherson, Eric Goode, John DeLucie, and designer Taavo Somer, the hotel’s receptionist must’ve reckoned us a friend, because she invited us to walk right in anytime between 7 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. For the moment, this is no Waverly Inn, despite the shared players; in fact, as long as you’re wearing shoes and a shirt, you shouldn’t have any trouble scoring a table tonight.
Five Guys and ‘Lovely Ladies’ Now Serving Burgers in BrooklynBrooklyn Heights: Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries is open, staffed with “lovely ladies” and other employees responsible for an especially pleasant experience. [Brooklyn Heights Blog]
Fort Greene: Coffee plus muffins from Choice are available at new café Bidonville on Willoughby near Adelphi. [Clinton Hill Blog]
East Village: The Bowery Hotel’s Italian restaurant Gemma opened Friday night and, though similar, is “800 times classier“ than Morandi inside. [Eater]
Soho: Moondance Diner has closed to make way for condos, but rather than be demolished, the building will travel to Pennsylvania and become an exhibit. [NY1]
Park Slope: Revered pizza haven franny’s has started serving pasta; recent specials have been dappled with house-made sausages and zucchini and herbs. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Tribeca: The Department of Health has tagged Gigino’s on Greenwich Street, though the Wagner Park location remains open. [Grub Street]
SushiSamba Manager Opening His Own Restaurant in Midtown WestClinton Hill: A walk-through of the mysterious chocolate bar. [Clinton Hill Blog]
East Village: Gemma in the Bowery Hotel looks set to open but will probably launch with private parties. [Down by the Hipster]
Flatiron: Porky’s nabbed for selling alcohol to minors. [Blog Chelsea]
Gowanus: Whole Foods spearheads construction on contaminated site. [Gowanus Lounge]
Harlem: Manna’s, trying to become the Starbucks of soul food, opens its fourth location. [Uptown Flavor]
Midtown East: Aquavit’s weeklong herring buffet to celebrate the fish’s migration starts June 11. [Grub Street]
Midtown West: A former manager and the chef of SushiSamba on Park will open their own Japanese restaurant near the Ed Sullivan Theater. [Restaurant Girl] The kosher falafel joint House of Pita is opening “another location” two blocks from the original; it’s not clear if this means they’re moving or expanding. [Midtown Lunch]
Soho: The opening of Lola Is Soul restaurant may be further delayed now that the owners have ousted weepy Top Chef alum Dave Martin. [Eater]
A Voce’s Alfresco Slurpees Come to FlatironBrooklyn Heights: Mike’s Knife Sharpener, operating out of a truck, is back, spotted on Willow Street. [Brooklyn Heights Blog]
Dumbo: South Beach Wine & Food Festival may be re-created in this hood by next year, with help from the Food Network and Food & Wine. [Dumbo NYC]
East Village: Gnocco’s fine Roman-style pizza will now be available by the slice from noon to 4 p.m. [Grub Street] And the Italian restaurant Gemma, coming to the Bowery Hotel, looks to be on its way to an opening. [Down by the Hipster] Le Souk loses its liquor license, albeit temporarily. [Eater]
Financial District: Gold St. debuts a menu of original cocktails including herbaceous recipes like a Lavender Martini and the Rosemary Cream. [Grub Street]
Flatiron: A Voce to debut its new alfresco section, where you can repose in the sun and drink alcoholic Italian slurpees, among other things. [The Strong Buzz]
Fort Greene: A new batch of local Devil’s Doodad organic hot sauce is now available at the farmer’s market. [Clinton Hill Blog]
Harlem: Citarella’s 125th Street branch now accepting food stamps. [NYM] Tickets now available for A Taste of Harlem held at City College’s Great Hall on Wednesday, May 16. [Uptown Flavor]
Park Slope: Unnamed market selling $22 chickens. [Dope on the Slope]
Soho: To celebrate the arrival of new chef Wen Chen, Lucky Strike is offering a bizarre lottery that incorporates a Champagne bucket filled with table numbers, praying, and free meals for your entire party. [Gawker] Lure Fishbar will open for lunch and brunch starting Mother’s Day weekend. [Grub Street]