Ethan Hawke Hits Qdoba; ‘Beverly Hills 90210’ Reunion at D’OrLast week Todd Barry told us he was a Chipotle man and we noted that a couple of respected chefs were too — but it seems Ethan Hawke, for one, prefers naked burritos to burrito bols, if a recent sighting at Qdoba Mexican Grill is any indicator. Are notable New Yorkers embracing casual dining chains? Lizzie Grubman did take her client Tailor Made to, um, the Olive Garden…
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…)
Back of the House
Jeffrey Chodorow Still in the Steak Game With Latest RestaurantThe Observer has the dope on Jeffrey Chodorow’s latest restaurant in the Empire Hotel: It’s to be a “classic American steakhouse.” Not a surprising choice, given how hassle-free, popular, and profitable steakhouses are — when they’re not Kobe Club, anyway. Jay-C is in Italy for a week, but as soon as we can get ahold of him, we’ll have the details. Given the ambition of his latest ventures, we’d be surprised if this is just another meatery.
Chodorow to Open ‘Classic Steakhouse’ in Empire Hotel [NYO]
Lady Chefs Reign Over on Flatiron; East Village Pizza Csar on Finding theBoerum Hill: The Brooklyn Inn owner hates bloggers and if you want to know what he’s doing with his legend of a bar you should go ask him yourself. [Lost City]
East Village: Una Pizza Napoletana czar Anthony Mangierei on finding the perfect pizza: “The place should smell slightly smoky (that’s from the oven) and like a really good bakery (that’s the dough cooking). But you don’t want to smell grease. I know a lot of people associate that aroma with a slice, but trust me, it’s not the sign of an amazing pizza.” [Slice]
Flatiron: Patti Jackson, Anne Burrell, and Gramercy Tavern pastry chef Nancy Olsen will take part in a five-course dinner held at Prince George Ballroom on 27th Street at Fifth Avenue to support culinary education for women. [Restaurant Girl]
Midtown West: Chodorow insists that “not only is Kobe Club not closing, but we’re opening more of them, first in Miami.” [Eater]
Times Square: Mandler’s Sausage Co. is closed. Union Square location remains open to satisfy all your sausage needs. [Midtown Lunch]
The Other Critics
Cuozzo Hammers the Shake Shack; Much Hodgson Love for InsiemeSteve Cuozzo uses his bully pulpit in the Post to come down hard on the Shake Shack, calling the place out for insanely long lines and “a hamburger that’s an also-ran at best.”
Related: Kyle Dureau Wants Shake Shack to Be Open 24/7 As Much As You Do [Grub Street]
Having weathered a major two-star review by Adam Platt, Insieme finally gets its first three-star one, from Moira Hodgson, who is impressed by how perfectly executed every dish is, lavishing special praise on one of the place’s more overlooked features, co-owner Paul Grieco’s wine list. [NYO]
Related: Italian, Old and New [NYM]
The Times gives Katz’s the full Frank Bruni treatment, and the place comes out of it with one star, much loving description, and an eerie semi-confirmation of our earlier report that the place might be sold. [NYT]
Related: Mother of Mercy! Is This the End of Katz’s? [Grub Street]
Bathroom Beef: Quality Meats vs. Kobe Club
On limo-lined 58th Street, two nouveau steakhouses face each other in a bizarre game of Spy vs. Spy. The white spy: bright, cheery Quality Meats of the Wollensky empire, designed by the whiz kids at AvroKO. The black spy: Chodorow’s infamous Kobe Club, a noirish trip that resembles a Tarantino stage set. Each has its bag of trick s— QM’s meat-hook chandeliers! KC’s samurai swords!— but the nukes in their arsenals are, of course, the restrooms. After you’ve finished a 64-ounce growler of Quality beer or a $225 bowl of Kobe punch, you’re going to need to use ‘em. So let’s take a look.
Wild Salmon Swims Into View. Yes, ‘Pun Intended’We wouldn’t pull your leg: Jeffrey Chodorow’s newest restaurant, Wild Salmon, opens tomorrow. Will it be a Kobe Club of the sea, leading the restaurateur to further screeds? Or will it redeem his reputation as a hit maker? Judging from this image and the place’s menu — that’s right, menu — we’re inclined to say that he’s headed in the right direction.
Chodorow Makes Bold Claim on ‘Today’; Central Park BoathouseThe Central Park Boathouse has allegedly been scamming the city — hiding money and giving away meals. [NYP]
Ollie’s Grill workers, claiming they are paid only $1.44 an hour, bring a federal lawsuit against the place. [NYS]
Jeffrey Chodorow is back to business, promoting Kobe Club on the Today show. The highlight? “This beef actually lowers your cholesterol.” [MSNBC]
We Ask Jeffrey Chodorow If He’s Been Feeling Well LatelyThe food world has been abuzz over Jeffrey Chodorow’s paid full-page rant in the New York Times. The restaurateur claimed that Frank Bruni wasn’t qualified to be a food critic and declared that from now on he intends to hold Bruni and Adam Platt accountable on his blog by reviewing the same restaurants. Not wanting to risk a pummeling by meeting him in person, we got Mr. Chodorow on the phone.
The Gobbler Responds to Mr. Chodorow’s BroadsideThe Gobbler’s first reaction upon opening today’s dining section of the Times (after wiping his bleary eyes and buttering his morning English muffin) was a mild though not unpleasant twinge of envy. There, in a huge full-page ad, was Jeffrey Chodorow’s measured, slightly apoplectic broadside against the Gobbler’s esteemed colleague Frank Bruni. (Here’s the PDF.)
Josh DeChellis Dodges a Bullet, and Hits a BullseyeWhen Josh DeChellis parted ways with Jeffrey Chodorow’s Kobe Club in November (as you may remember reading here), it seemed like the Sumile Sushi chef had missed a major opportunity. But now, with Kobe Club battered by the critics (with one notable exception), DeChellis smells rosier by the minute.
Signs You’re About to Have an Awful MealThe Gobbler has often expounded on the role that subjective tastes play in the enjoyment of a particular meal or restaurant. Mrs. Gobbler, for instance, likes to dine in sushi bars and tiny English tea parlors, while the Gobbler prefers giant, smoke-filled barbecue establishments and unruly burger joints. During our time wandering the sprawling landscape that is New York City fine dining, however, we have noticed that not very good restaurants, like Kobe Club (reviewed this week, and which of course, not everybody thought was so bad), tend to have certain characteristics in common. So here are a few of the Gobbler’s tips for anticipating when your dinner might really suck.
The Other Critics
Money Can’t Buy You a Great SteakSteve Cuozzo takes Kobe Club and Quality Meats to task in today’s Post, complaining that they should serve more 28-day dry-aged Prime steaks, “the gold standard.” There’s a reason those restaurants’ steaks aren’t stellar, but their grade and how long they’ve been aged has nothing to do with it.
The Other Critics
Yet Another Bagel for Kobe Club; Sietsema Visits American Restaurants!Bruni hands Kobe Club the dreaded bagel, for many of the same reasons Adam Platt did: a tacky interior, wildly overpriced food, and an ill-conceived menu that doesn’t include great steak. [NYT]
Peter Meehan, meanwhile, discovers the joys of the diamond district’s kosher kebab house Taam Tov. [NYT]
Sietsema takes a break from celebrating Haitian hot pots to survey and grade the new burger joints: The result is detailed, thoughtful, and moderate. None score higher than a B+. [VV]
In the Magazine
Kobe Club Gets the Bagel, and Foie Gras Foes’ Last StandThis week’s issue of New York is crammed with food news, including an Adam Platt slam, a Gael Greene discovery, and a very odd story about people who hate foie gras.
• Foie Gras foes, rebuffed in their efforts to get the delicacy banned in New York, converge on Fairway, much to the store’s delight. [Intelligencer]
• Adam Platt hands Jeffrey Chodorow’s new Kobe Club a bagel, faulting the restaurant as “less like a steakhouse than a bizarre agglomeration of restaurant fashions and trends, most of them bad.” And that was one of the nicer things he had to say. [Food]
The Other Critics
Kobe Club Nadir of the Genre; Pera’s Kebabs as Good as Street Meat!Bruni gives the Waverly Inn one star in a review that parodies a high-powered editor’s blathering about how cool the place is. But like most everyone else, he seemed to enjoy the food. [NYT]
Meehan, meanwhile, finds a barbecue trailer parked in front of an auto body shop in the Bronx. This even beats his review of that taco stand in a garage. [NYT]
Paul Adams likes the new Turkish restaurant Pera well enough, but in a Meehan-esque twist, suggests street kebabs are just as good. The place is big and elegant, but the Turkish specialties are largely “watered down for non-Turkish tastes.” [NYS]
Back of the House
Sex Apparently Always on the Menu at New York RestaurantsUpon reading the jaw-dropping news this weekend of rampant sexual abuse at Jean Georges, we started scratching our heads. Just what has gotten into the restaurant business these days? When did the revels pass from frat-house frolics to full-blown Roman debauchery? Here’s a time line to help you understand.
Back of the House
Lohan’s Mom Defiles Kobe Club; Brooklyn Goat Escapes SlaughterhouseKenny Shopsin still a long way from opening at Essex Market. [Eater]
Lindsay Lohan’s mom gets tableside service, of a very special kind, at Kobe Club. [Page Six]
Goat found wandering around Brooklyn, apparently after escaping a slaughterhouse. [Brooklyn Vegan]
Crobar and Sol are back in business. [WINS]
Soy making kids gay, Christian pundit claims. [WorldNet]
New Restaurants? Why, Yes, I’d Like to Hear About Those
Rob and Robin round up an intriguing set of openings this week: Rosanjin, the Kyoto-themed sushi restaurant whose delivery service we wrote up in October; Kobe Club, the steakhouse that wound up not hiring Josh DeChellis, as we reported a couple weeks back; and wine-centric Varietal, tony Dennis Foy, and Gus’s Place, which just has a new location, as well as two others we’ll let you discover.
Restaurant Openings: Rosanjin, Varietal, Dennis Foy, Kobe Club, Gus’s Place, Fireside, and Brooklyn Label [NYM]
Jeffrey Chodorow: I Am Not a Cheapskate
We recently speculated as to why Jeffrey Chodorow decided against hiring Sumile chef Josh DeChellis to head up the imminent Kobe Club. Could the decision, we suggested, have to do with food costs? DeChellis is a high-concept aesthete, and Chodorow a famously thrifty businessman. But we had it all wrong, the China Grill mogul tells us. “The fact that I’m efficient doesn’t mean I skimp on ingredients. The reason we ended up not going with Josh was that he wanted to do something that was avant-garde Japanese, and we wanted to go more mainstream. We’re sparing no expense with our ingredients; given how much we’re spending on meat, it would be silly to skimp on anything else.”
Earlier: Josh DeChellis, Kobe Club Break Up But Are Still Friends
Josh DeChellis, Kobe Club Break Up But Are Still FriendsJeffrey Chodorow’s imminent, elite-meat Kobe Club is out one chef: Josh DeChellis of Sumile will not be helming the kitchen when the restaurant opens in December. “Jeffrey Chodorow and company wanted to take their concept in more mainstream direction. We still maintain a good relationship,” DeChellis tells us. (Given how committed DeChellis is to using the very best ingredients and Chodorow’s reputation as a supremely efficient businessman, we’re guessing things might’ve broken down over the question of food costs.) Meanwhile, the chef, whose high-powered fusion cooking is still wowing them at Sumile, has plenty of other sashimi to slice: “I’m installing a sushi bar at Sumile [in mid-December], and I’m opening Sumile Tokyo next week.”