Oak Room Gets New Operators; Illegal Fish Trade GrowsNight Sky Holdings, which formerly operated Windows on the World at the World Trade Center as well as the Rainbow Room, has signed a contract to run the Oak Room and the Oak Bar at the Plaza Hotel. Also, Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s former sous-chef Didier Virot will be helming the kitchen at the hotel’s other eatery, the Palm Court. [NYP]
Sushi chef Hiroshi Nakahara has left New York’s BondSt to run the kitchen at a new outpost in Beverly Hills. [PR Newswire]
Chipotle will be serving 200 million meals using naturally raised meat this year, a 40 percent increase from 2007. [The Grinder/Chow]
Engines of Gastronomy
Jean Georges’ CVap Oven Is ‘Better Than the Bag’
Jean Georges isn’t a restaurant known for its attachment to experimental cuisine; if anything, J-G Vongerichten’s highly formal flagship is considered a bastion of old-school tablecloth dining. But Vongerichten has always been in the gastronomic vanguard, and he and chef de cuisine Mark Lapico are among the city’s most ardent admirers of the CVap oven, a controlled-humidity technology they use so much that there’s three of them in the kitchen.
Back of the House
Steven Rinella Dons Locavore CamouflageSteven Rinella’s op-ed piece in today’s Times, in which the Scavenger’s Guide to Haute Cuisine author makes the case that hunters are not really hobbyists who enjoy killing animals, but rather proto-locavores, struck us as disingenuous on so many levels that we had to respond to it. First, Rinella wraps himself in green language as if it were a Thinsulate camo parka. “Hunters are the original locavores,” Rinella writes, bragging that his family used to eat three or four deer a year, along with various other unlucky birds and squirrels, and that he “carried that subsistence aesthetic into adulthood.” Subsistence aesthetic! Rinella’s from Twin Lake, Michigan! We would bet the closest he got to subsistence culture was running out of Pop-Tarts.
New Kosher Bistro Drops in Midtown West; Gribene Lovers Wanted on the East SideChelsea: Ellisa Cooper returns to Bottlerocket on January 8 to kick off her Tuesday-night Explore Wine Series. [Bottlerocket]
East Village: Pyramid Club might become the city’s first “drag landmark.” [Villager]
Midtown West: The owner of Le Marais and “Bourdain’s former boss at Les Halles,” Jose Meireilles, has transformed his Spanish joint Tintol into a kosher bistro called the Clubhouse Cafe. (Tapas lovers can expect Tintol to make a comeback at an undisclosed downtown location.) [Eater]
Murray Hill/Kips Bay: 2nd Avenue Deli is hiring! So lovers of gribenes may have found their dream job. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Lower East Side: Two thieves stole $50,000 from a safe in the Hotel Rivington but were later apprehended. [NYP]
A Sneak Preview of the 2nd Avenue Deli
There’s been plenty of coverage of the new 2nd Avenue Deli, but our feeling on Grub Street is that there just can’t be enough. Into the Box TV, a real-estate video site, has an advanced tour of the deli. We like the finished interior, especially a mural depicting the old restaurant in its heyday that’s an instant classic. And while there’s a good video of owner Jeremy Lebewhol, we suggest reading Rob and Robin’s more detailed one in this week’s magazine.
Having Seconds at The Second Avenue Deli [Into The Box]
Related: You Can Take the Deli Out of Second Avenue [NYM]
Cha Cha, Maker of World’s No. 1 Cannoli, in Juicing ShockerWe’ve been known to stop into Cha Cha’s In Bocca Al Lupo for a Leonardo DiCaprio Frozen Titanic in a souvenir glass, though we’ve never actually seen Leo as the Website says we might. We do often see proprietor Cha Cha — friend of the Sopranos, former promoter of Tony Danza’s boxing career, and the “Unofficial Mayor of Little Italy.” In addition to the “#1 cannoli in the world” (natch), Cha Cha peddles gutbusters like a Mt. Vesuvius Tort consisting of three layers of brownies, cheesecake, and chocolate mousse — which is why we were shocked to hear, on WOR’s Joey Reynolds Show, that Cha Cha has become a health nut and a juicing fanatic and takes most of his meals through a straw. Basta! This is way more disheartening than yesterday’s revelations that Clemens juiced — Cha Cha, say it ain’t so!
Cha Cha’s In Bocca Al Lupo [Official site]
Read Poe on the Pot at Zucco: Le French Diner
With just twenty seats (most wedged between the bar and a wall), Zucco: Le French Diner is one of the most lilliputian eateries in the city. Once we located the bathroom jammed in the back corner next to a prep table — and tapped on the cook’s shoulder so he could make room for us to open the door — we weren’t surprised to find that it’s also tres petite. Thankfully, what the loo lacks in size, it makes up for with Godardian flair.
Click and Save
A Proud Tradition of Being Plucked, Stuffed, and Eaten: Heritage TurkeysWe’re fans of heritage breeds of turkey, those long-established birds that taste much like the ones our great-grandparents ate. Last year’s comprehensive turkey guide handily sketches out the basics about these guys, but the more in-depth writing we’ve seen on them usually descends into slow-food sanctimony — how evil factory farms are and the rest. That’s where Regina Schrambling, of Gastropoda, comes in. The acerbic critic offers a relaxed but no-B.S. guide to heritage turkeys, which we recommend to anyone thinking he might dump the Butterball this year. “An American Bronze turkey,” she tells us, “could not be more unlike the bloated birds hoisted out of so many ovens in November.”
Meanwhile, for a takedown of the entire turkey tradition, read what this crank had to say in Slashfood.
Talkin’ Turkey [Gastropoda]
Back of the House
Fort Greene Says ‘Hola’ to Bonita; Dinner Theater Gets Show on RoadFrank Bruni and Danny Meyer mouth off about Bruni’s review of Eleven Madison Park. [NYP]
Who’s the critic Mr. Hospitality “hosted” to the tune of a two-star review? [Eater]
Simon Hammerstein’s the Box preopens for business. [Eater]
The West End reopens as a Havana Central; Brooklyn gets another hipster golf-course bar, this one also a playhouse. [TONY]
The guys behind Diner and Williamsburg’s Bonita open an outpost of the latter in Fort Greene. [Eater]
The Great Pickle War rages on. [NYT]
Gothamist hits the Chocolate Show. [Gothamist]
Gordon Ramsay: Two hours and you’re out. [Diner’s Journal]
McDonald’s to cut trans fats but only in Europe. [NYDN]
More club violence in Chelsea. [NYP]
New rules may bring sweet silence to the Lower Eastpacking District. [NYT]
Ecofriendly Bakery Suddenly Bent on World DominationCity Bakery’s Maury Rubin employed CIA-worthy stealth tactics last winter to open Birdbath, his environmentally friendly, sustainably built organic bakery where the staff wears hemp and the walls are made from sunflower-seed husks. Now, though, with two new branches under way and more on the horizon, an expansionist-mode Rubin dispenses with the cloak-and-dagger routine. By January, he expects to open Birdbath No. 2 in a highly visible West Village location across McCarthy Square from Keith McNally’s impending Morandi, at the corner of Seventh Avenue South and Charles Street, and next fall, the third outpost should materialize at the megagreen Riverhouse luxury-condominium project in Battery Park City. Besides keeping Manhattan well supplied with oversize chocolate-chip cookies and raspberry bran muffins, Rubin aims to align the organic ingredients in his food with the renewable, ecofriendly construction materials used to build the stores where it’s sold. Learn more at buildagreenbakery.com.
— Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld
Mystery Muffins [NYM]
Zak Pelaccio Opening New Restaurant — in LondonWe were as surprised as all get-out to hear via Eater that Zak Pelaccio and Jeffrey Chodorow are planning to take Fatty Crab national. So we called Pelaccio: “It’s simply inaccurate,” the chef tells us. “I don’t know where Eater gets their info, but it’s not from me nor any of my business partners.” Fine — we Web types sometimes get the wrong information. But then, Pelaccio delivered a real bit of news: He’ll be taking over Alain Ducasse’s Spoon (owned by Jeffrey Chodorow) in the Sanderson Hotel in London and launching a Malaysian restaurant as consulting chef. “But that has nothing to do with Fatty Crab or even America,” he adds. But it has everything to do with a local guy making good.
EaterWire: Ramsay Lands, Drops Two-Hour Time Limit, Boxer’s Loses Their Lease, Fatty Crab Goes National! [Eater]