Mechanical BullshitScreenwriter Aaron Schnore is suing Johnny Utah’s because he was hurt after that bull’s operator ‘whipped it up into a violent frenzy’ and tossed him.
LeBron James and Anna Wintour Cozy Up at Waverly; Moby Makes Out at R BarWe weren’t surprised to read in “Page Six” today that Anna Wintour dined with LeBron James at the Waverly Inn. We passed their table on Tuesday, and when the ceilings are that low, it’s impossible to miss a six-foot-eight baller extracting himself from the center of a corner booth. James was patiently sitting next to the bathroom when we emerged, causing our waiter to remark, “You made LeBron James wait!” We couldn’t tell whether he was chastising us or congratulating us for no doubt costing the man a Benjamin of his time, but either way we felt a sense of accomplishment unknown since Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand queued up behind us at the Spotted Pig. The rest of this week’s sightings are heavy on the PDA.
The Other Critics
Bruni Finds Bar Stuzzichini Good Enough; Sietsema Worships InsiemeFrank Bruni gives Bar Stuzzichini one star, praising its small plates (which give him his obligatory Zeitgeist paragraphs at the top) and then pointing out that the room and service are basically that of a “midtown mess hall.” The moral? Aim low, price right, and execute, and the critics will give you the guarded praise you need to stay open. [NYT]
Here’s one we never would have predicted in a million years: Insieme getting the panegyric it deserves from Robert “horsehead soup in the Bronx” Sietsema. Interestingly, the one thing he didn’t like was the lasagne, which was the place’s proudest boast when it first opened. [VV]
We predicted recently that it was just a matter of time before someone came down on Wakiya, but we never dreamed it would be Danyelle Freeman. She hits the place hard, mostly for the “dull” and “skimpy” food but, not a killer at heart, gives them credit for service, cocktails, and soup dumplings. But it won’t be long before another, meaner critic really lets it fly. [NYND]
Thor Struck Down on the LES; Bruni Rides the Bull in Midtown West?Clinton Hill: Recent openings: Manee Thai from the owners of Myrtle Thai and Nuevo Latino spot Tamboril. [Clinton Hill Blog]
Coney Island: The world’s largest “lollypop” has been installed by an artist to commemorate Philip’s Candy (1930–2001). [Kinetic Carnival]
Long Island City: LIC Bar at 45-58 Vernon Boulevard is hosting a BBQ and free concert with local bands this Sunday from 4 to 7:30 p.m. [Joey in Astoria]
Lower East Side: Thor gets gutted with no warning. [Eater]
Midtown West: Frank Bruni contemplated riding the bull at Johnny Utah’s. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Prospect Heights: Rye with fresh blackberries, mint, and ginger beer, and gin with peaches and homemade thyme syrup are among cocktails available at Flatbush Farm Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. during a farmer’s-market tasting event. [A Brooklyn Life]
The Other Critics
Monkey Bar Gets Hit; Three Stars for Café BouludPaul Adams liked some things about Monkey Bar, but it’s never a good sign if you hire a famous Chinese chef (Patricia Yeo) and the review includes the words “My neighborhood Chinese takeout does better dumplings.” [NYS]
Café Boulud, in an important rereview, gets three stars — enough to add momentum to Daniel Boulud’s empire building. [NYT]
Insieme looks dull, observes Lauren Collins in The New Yorker, but “profligate flavor and spirited service” show themselves once the food starts coming. [NYer]
More Top-Secret Timberlake: The Menu, the VIP Alley, the Back RoomCrashers like Shaggy and Steve Sands — not to mention token entertainer the Singing Cowboy — may have thought the place to be last night was the opening party for Johnny Utah’s (where the bull overheated halfway through, kicking up a stench that caused us to wonder whether someone’s hair had caught on fire), but as we mentioned earlier, we were more excited about crashing a secret dinner at another barbecue spot, Justin Timberlake’s decidedly lower-key Southern Hospitality.
Lower Eastpacking District Tells Bar, ‘No Bull’When we visited Johnny Utah’s a few days ago, it was a mere construction site with a $25,000 mechanical bull at the center. Granted, in these first interior shots, we still see nothing but the bull, but that’s just because we’re obsessed. And as obsessives, we were a bit concerned when a source told us that Rob Shamlian of Fat Baby had abandoned his plans to install the city’s second bull at 133 Essex Street, the site of the honky-tonk bar and restaurant, at one point called Evan Ford, that Sam Talbot walked away from along with his other project with Shamlian, Spitzer’s.
Video Proof: NYC About to Be the City That Has It All
Earlier this week we lamented that you can’t ride a mechanical bull in these parts without first riding the PATH train. That’s fixin’ to change tomorrow, when subterranean Tex-Mex spot Johnny Utah’s opens with a $25,000 mechanical bull front-and-center in a seventeen-foot-diameter ring (the law requires eight feet on each side). The beast, which will have nonfunctional “grazing” and functional “running-of-the-bulls” hours, was custom-built and trucked in from Idaho by a cowboy-writer named Cody, who the owners (also involved in Gin Lane) say is “the bull guy” (visit mechanicalbulls.com if you want your own). “Our mechanical bull is our mascot,” says Bobby Rossi (the mascot, by the way, costs $10,000 per year to insure). “We’re not an adult Chuck E. Cheese.”
Jersey Still Bucking NYC in the Mechanical-Bull Department
Manhattan’s first two mechanical bulls (one expected at Johnny Utah’s, coming to the Rockefeller Center Hotel; the other rumored to be coming to a bar called Evan Ford in the Lower Eastpacking District) still haven’t sprung from the gate, so where is one to celebrate the Running of the Bulls festival now under way in San Fermin? New Jersey, naturally.