Bondage and Brownies Together at Last in Soho on SundayAstoria: Time Cafe at 44-18 Broadway will have a jazz brunch Sunday. [Joey in Astoria]
Midtown East: In line with its plans for a New York expansion of immense proportions, Pret A Manger is opening a store on Madison at 49th Street. [Grub Street]
Soho: Use up all your indulgences on Mercer Street this Sunday when the Treats Truck sidles up next to Babeland. [The Treats Truck]
Southampton: You might consider dropping the name of Dune nightclub co-owner and cheesemonger Matt Schendell if you want to get in. [Down by the Hipster]
Tribeca: The grand opening of the new pub and restaurant Harrison Tavern on Chambers Street at West Broadway has revealed drab lighting, green-checked tablecloths, and a extensive menu of bar food that includes a ranch-chicken pizza. [Grub Street]
The Annotated Dish
Le Bernardin’s Too Popular Surf and TurfAlthough he denies it, Eric Ripert must occasionally regret the invention of his “surf and turf,” the Kobe steak and grilled escolar he serves at Le Bernardin. As the winner (along with Masa) of one of the only five-star ratings Adam Platt has ever bestowed, “The Ripper” has created a meat dish that has threatened to upstage the fish cookery for which Le Bernardin is known. Still: “I think we’ll keep the item on the menu, for sure. It’s a strong sell,” the chef says. “Something like 50 orders a night. But we’ll see [if we keep it] in the fall.” As always, mouse over the different elements of the dish to see them described in the chef’s own words.
We’ll Have Your Finest Bottle of Water…
“Bottled or tap?” is an annoying enough question (we love our local H2O, critics be damned), but come August, when Evian’s “luxury bottle” graces restaurants like Daniel, Le Bernardin, and L’Atelier, the question will be “tap, bottled, or really pretentiously bottled?” As elaborated in a training video (that’s right — Daniel Vrod, server of presidents, will soon learn how to pour water), the swanky Palace bottle is presented as if it were a bottle of champers and delivered to your glass using custom coasters and a ceremonial pourer. Question is, will there be a sexy delivery device for the suggested $5 to $8 that will flow out of your wallet for this?
City Gears Up to Better Police Labor Violations; Beef Threatens Fish at LeCity Council to introduce a bill giving authorities more power to crack down on restaurant labor violations like the alleged ones at Saigon Grill. [MetroNY]
Related: 100 Students to Protest Saigon Grill [Grub Street]
Kobe beef, having once appeared on Le Bernardin’s menu, is taking over and chasing the fish away – a fact chef Eric Ripert is less than thrilled about. [NYP]
Bizarre details of Mr. Chow’s abuse emerge from the lawsuit, including information about one employee who was forced to lie on the floor and be menaced and even kicked by the diminutive restaurateur. [Gawker]
Le Bernardin Lands the ‘Best Sommelier in America’
When Wallsé’s Aldo Sohm won the American Sommelier Association’s competition last month, we suspected he’d soon be in charge of a bigger wine program. Now we hear that he is taking over as wine director of Le Bernardin.
Eric Ripert Introduces ‘Free-Range’ WaterIf you’ve seen the Tap Project ad in this week’s issue of the magazine, you already know that for today only, you can pay one buck for your glass of tap water (participating restaurants listed here) to help support UNICEF’s efforts on behalf of Third World children without access to a decent drinking source. We got a note promoting the project co-written by Le Bernardin’s Eric Ripert, who playfully called New York City tap water “a special, which will be presented in the free-range unfiltered form [that is] admired worldwide for its freshness, [and] traditionally served chilled, but equally delightful at room temperature.” So whether you’ve got a heart of gold or just plain cottonmouth, now’s your chance to make a difference — before you break into the liquor, that is.
Brian Young Storms Tavern on the Green; Chipotle Challenger Comes to TownColumbus Circle–Lincoln Center: Brian Young, formerly of Le Bernardin and now-closed Mainland, has been named executive chef of Tavern on the Green. [NYT]
East Village: Sorry, no video: The Department of Health shuts down Blue 9 Burger, citing them for mice. [east village idiot]
Midtown East: Colorado-based burrito chain Qdoba Mexican Grill opens its first NYC location on East 34th Street between Second and Third Avenues. Chipotle unphased. [NYS]
Williamsburg: Too soon to start that Saint Patrick’s Day bender? Brooklyn Brewery debuts new Belgian-style ale, Brooklyn Local 1, that packs 9 percent alcohol. [The Food Section]
More Chodogate Fallout; KFC Seeks Papal BlessingBruni has but a few baffled words about Chodogate. [NYP]
Related: We Ask Jeffrey Chodorow If He’s Been Feeling Well Lately
The Gobbler Responds to Mr. Chodorow’s Broadside
KFC seeks a papal blessing for its Fish Snacker sandwich. For real. [Nation’s Restaurant News]
Le Bernardin’s Eric Ripert apparently has a huge Latin following, and he will be hailed as a hero when he arrives in Miami this weekend for the South Beach Wine & Food Festival. [Miami Herald]
Back of the House
Yau Already Replaced at Gramercy Park; Everybody’s BloggingIan Schrager has already found a star chef to replace Allen Yau at the Gramercy Park Hotel: The Japanese-born nouvelle-Chinese star Yuji Wakiya, who almost came here two years ago to do a restaurant at the Bryant Park Hotel. [NYP]
Related: Restaurant Happenings: Sirio’s New Address? [NYM]
Bruni won’t have to bear the Diner’s Journal load alone anymore; we can now also look forward to the musings of Julia Moskin, Kim Seversen, and other contemplative food writers. [NYT]
Meanwhile, Le Bernardin’s Eric Ripert and the Food & Wine staff have launched their own blogs. (The Ripper’s requires a subscription to The Wine Spectator.) [Snack]
Back of the House
Dinner Roll, Please: ‘08 SOBE Honorees Already LeakedRestaurant Girl has dug up the 2008 South Beach Food & Wine Festival honorees. Next year’s special food people will be … Jean-Georges Vongerichten and Jamie Oliver! The ‘07 fest, which won’t even be held until the end of this month, will give props to Maguy Le Coze and Le Bernardin’s Eric Ripert; Martha Stewart gets her own tribute brunch. Widely attended by the restaurant elite, if only because it’s an excuse to party in South Beach during the dead of winter, the SOBE event will likely be even more crowded this February — new sponsor the Food Network will be taping its first annual Food Network Awards there.
SOBE’s 2008 Nominees Are… [Restaurant Girl]
Children: Can’t Live With ‘Em, Can’t Not Take ‘Em toRestaurant critics suffer all kinds of afflictions as a result of their curious jobs, but solitude isn’t one of them. The Gobbler’s 3-year-old daughter, Penelope, is just beginning to terrorize waiters around town, and we recently included an abbreviated list of our 7-year-old daughter Jane’s favorite dessert joints in the magazine’s roundup of the best places to eat in 2007. Since then we have been barraged with requests for tips — okay, one person wanted to know — on how to dine out in restaurants with young children. The short answer is that it’s easy, sort of. In the Gobbler’s experience, most restaurants in the city, including many of the very expensive ones like Le Bernardin and Le Cirque, will go out of their way to accommodate young children. All you need as a parent is experience, endurance, and a high capacity for shame. And the Gobbler’s rules for dining with kids.
Ask a Waiter
Ben Chekroun on How to Get the Best Seat at Le BernardinMoroccan-born Ben Chekroun was a maître d’ at the Inn at Bay Ridge when a friend asked him if he was interested in a job at Le Bernardin. He had to start as a waiter, but after thirteen years, he’s worked his way up to maître d’ and doesn’t plan on going anywhere else. We asked him what makes the service at Le Bernardin the best in the city, what makes the fish so fresh, and whether anyone has ever stolen one of the house jackets.
City Harvest Guide Helps Justify Craziest Kind of Roman ExcessThere has been a blizzard of charitable food events lately, many of them exercises in full-out sybaritism, blowouts marked by the craziest kind of Roman excess. (Or at least decent eats.) But it’s okay, because they benefit charities like City Harvest, which collects leftover food and distributes it to the hungry. That organization, which feeds 260,000 New Yorkers each week, is now releasing Great Food, Good Hearts, a guide listing all the restaurants that partner with them, from H&H Bagels to Le Bernardin. So do your part: Eat out more!
To get a copy of Great Food, Good Hearts, send a self-addressed envelope with a 87-cent stamp to City Harvest Restaurant Guide, 575 Eighth Avenue, Fourth Floor, New York, N.Y. 10018, or call 917-351-8700.
Earlier: Cans of Food Made Into Art? Impossible! [Grub Street]
The Other Critics
New Mobil Ratings: Quixotic Attempt at Scientific ObjectivityGiven how much hubbub there was over the Michelin ratings, and how bad the guide actually was (as we recently noted here), we’re surprised we haven’t heard more reactions to Mobil’s quasi-scientific restaurant guide, the latest edition of which was just released. “We have created a very objective process of evaluating restaurants,” Shane O’Flaherty, Mobil’s vice-president of quality assurance and the man in charge of the restaurant ratings, tells us. “From that standpoint, we believe that it’s as accurate as you can get, anywhere you go.”
Only four New York restaurants received the top rank of five stars in the ratings released last week: Alain Ducasse, Per Se, Masa, and Jean Georges. (Le Bernardin, which won three Michelin stars, is conspicuously absent.) What separates a five-star restaurant from a four? O’Flaherty cited some startlingly specific examples from Mobil’s checklist.
The Other Critics
Michelin: Gastronomic Bible Reads Like In-Flight AdvertorialWhen we saw the new Michelin ratings on the Web, before getting ahold of the actual book, we were left scratching our heads. (Read our complaints and suggestions here.) Now that we’re reading the thing, we’re becoming even more confused. This is supposed to be a guidebook? The descriptions are all breezy, self-contained little blurbs which seem more like something you would read in an airplane magazine’s advertorial insert than in the American edition of the oldest and most powerful restaurant guide in the world.
Chefs Curse, Bless New Michelin Guide
At last night’s Bid Against Hunger, a benefit for restaurant charity group City Harvest, the champagne was flowing and the food was off the hook. But much of the event’s energy seemed to emanate from the chefs, who were abuzz over the announcement yesterday of the Michelin Guide’s new ratings. “Who knows what their inspectors are like?” asked one chef, who, fearing their wrath, refused to be quoted. “I don’t think they really get American restaurants.” The cooks who got some love from the red book were happy to talk. Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin, one of the city’s three three-star restaurants (Jean Georges and Per Se are the others), was visibly psyched. “It was great news! We were a little bit worried, you know? But we’re definitely going to celebrate later, at the restaurant. Definitely.” (Later, a dinner from Ripert was auctioned off for $24,000.) We asked Lever House chef Dan Silverman, an especially clear-eyed observer of the restaurant scene, what he thought about the ratings. Were they fair? “I’m good with them, obviously,” he said. “We kept our star.”
The Other Critics
Michelin’s Explosive New Red BookMichelin dropped its ratings bomb today, and it’s safe to say that the New York restaurant world is, as usual, reeling. Though not as consequential as a Zagat snub, business-wise, the Michelin ratings are closer to the hearts of top chefs. (French chef Bernard Loiseau was widely believed to have killed himself over a Michelin downgrade.) The book is supposed to be in stores tomorrow (though our local Barnes & Noble says it’s not even at the distributor yet). We do, however, know of some surprises. Messrs. Boulud, Bouley, and Takahama are no doubt having lousy afternoons.
The New York Diet
‘Page Six’ Editor Richard Johnson Eats on His Feet, Showers After
As the editor of “Page Six,” Richard Johnson knows that shock lurks everywhere, even in hors d’oeuvre: “Some of them are designed as if they’re booby-trapped to explode.” Suspecting that the city’s most popular gossip columnist can’t survive on raw-bar caviar alone, we asked him what else he wrestled into his mouth between Saturday, October 7, and Thursday, October 12.