Ringside Seats at the Chef’s CounterChef’s tables used to be the final word on special treatment: the one table in a good restaurant to which the chef paid personal attention. But as the entertainment ante is upped each year — blurring the line between gastronomy and theater — chef’s tables have given way to the even more intimate chef’s counters. There, the lucky diner sits only a few feet of burnished wood away from the action. From the high-end bar at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon to the counter-only option at Momofuku Ko, diners are eager to see the sausage being made. Here are a few of our favorite counters, each an example of the narrow border between feeder and fed.
Terroir Video Reveals the Depth of Paul Grieco’s MadnessAnyone who knows Paul Grieco will tell you that he is patently insane. Final proof, if any were needed, lies in this video promoting his new wine bar, Terroir. Grieco, the co-owner, manager, and wine director of both Hearth and Insieme, is the mad genius of the city’s wine corps, and Terroir is his padded cell and laboratory. The teaser site gives some hint of the white-knuckle wine-geek intensity that courses through Grieco’s veins: Among the vitriolic mottos that flash are “Our wine world is now dominated by over-manipulated, oak-chip-flavored, micro-oxygenated wines that have nothing to do with what Mother Nature, God, or the Cistercian Fathers had in mind” and “To go to Friuli for red wine is like going to Las Vegas and expecting to catch Arthur Miller’s The Crucible.” But to really get a measure of his madness, watch this video. You won’t be sorry.
Related: Wine-Geek Heaven on the Way to the East Village
Jordan Frosolone Tends Hearth Every NightEach week, we’ll be highlighting one of the great but obscure young chefs who are actually running one of the city’s major restaurants. .
Name: Jordan Frosolone
Background: Forsolone, a native Chicagoan, put in time at Coco Pazzo, Blackbird, and Nomi, before hitting Italy for a year of heavy duty in Florence and Umbria. He then started in as a line cook for the famously demanding Marco Canora, at Hearth. When Canora went uptown to open Insieme, Forsolone was promoted to chef de cuisine and given the keys to Hearth.
Style: “I’m definitely in love with the greenmarket. Focused and balanced Italian and southern French.”
Wine-Geek Heaven on the Way to the East VillageIt’s been a while since we first got wind of it, but the Hearth’s long-awaited spinoff wine bar, Terroir, is finally close to becoming a reality. The space, known in its former life as Bikes by George, will begin its transformation right after Thanksgiving, and co-owners Paul Grieco and Marco Canora hope to open the place by New Year’s. Grieco, the wine director, is a wine geek’s wine geek, which means he’s got some lofty plans.
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
Two Chefs (and One Good Eater) Take a Trip to the Bronx
If there’s something you can think of better than going up to Arthur Avenue in the Bronx in a big white Buick, for the express purpose of eating sandwiches with your two favorite Italian chefs, then we would like to know what it is. We heeded our lust for salumi and mozzarella and recorded the results for Grub Street posterity. .
Roving Chef: Arthur Avenue [Video]
Hearth’s New Wine Bar to Be a Very Low-key AffairWord of Terroir, Hearth’s new spin-off wine bar, got out faster than owners Marco Canora and Paul Grieco wanted, but with the genie now out of the bottle, Canora tells us he’s ready to talk about it. “We wanted to keep it low-key, because we’re low-key guys,” he explains. The place is only 500 square feet, the chef says, and they don’t even plan to pipe in gas. There will be eight seats at the bar, a communal table with twelve to sixteen chairs, and a “very minimal” menu created by Canora, who with Grieco just recently opened Insieme in midtown.
Hearth Spawns a Wine Bar in the East VillageEast Village: It looks like Hearth may spawn a wine bar. [Eater] A date with Momofuku’s David Chang is only worth $1000 at auction (Jean-Georges Vongerichten brought in $6100) but that’s not too bad for a night at a dive bar. [Snack]
Greenwich Village: NYU is hosting a panel on Building a Food Professional Pedigree from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. this Thursday, with speakers including Michael Lomanaco and Florence Fabricant. [NYU]
Long Island City: The Food Film Festival at Water Taxi Beach kicks off tomorrow. [The Food Section]
Midtown West: Brasserie 8 1/2 will join the dessert-bar fray starting tonight by repackaging its lounge as After 8.5, and serving desserts after 8:30 p.m. — get it? [NYT]
Times Square: Insieme is starting weekday lunch service between noon and 2 p.m. [NYS]
Tribeca: Fresh Pie has been taken over by Ruben’s Empanadas at 149 Church Street. [Grub Street]
Marco Canora Does His Thing at Insieme, Aw Yeah
As Rob and Robin announce in this week’s Openings, Marco Canora has finally opened up a second restaurant. As its just-published menu shows, Insieme represents Canora’s efforts to do two things at once. On the one hand, dishes like lesso misto con condimenti tipici (mixed boil) or bistecca fiorentina (grilled steak) represent his take on ultratraditional Italian food; the “contemporary” side, with offerings like sea-urchin risotto, allows him to assert the thoughtful but restrained style he showed as the original chef at Craft and in his own, still-popular Hearth.
Why Wasn’t I Completely Floored by Craft?Dear Grub Street,
I’m hoping someone can explain Craft to me. I was taken there the other night for my birthday dinner and came away completely confused and disappointed. Really, what’s the big deal? What’s with all the glowing reviews?
Back of the House
The Great Chef CrisisRecently, apropos nothing much, a prominent young chef we were chatting with launched into a tirade about the restaurant world’s “labor problem.” “None of us can get enough good cooks!” he exclaimed, by way of explanation. Between 2000 and 2006, only a handful of high-end restaurants — Lespinasse, Meigas, Quilty’s — have closed, and there has been an avalanche of major openings: Robuchon, Ramsay, Per Se, Masa, Craft, Del Posto, Morimoto, A Voce, the Modern, Lever House, Buddakan, Cafe Gray, Alto — the list goes on and on. “And it’s not just the massive boom of restaurants,” Adam Platt tells us. “They also have to be either bigger, or chefs have to open multiple places, so that they can enjoy the economies of scale they need to compete.”