Trump Denies Tip; Martha Stewart BlogsDonald Trump denies leaving a $10,000 tip for a waiter in a Santa Monica restaurant on Monday. [NYP]
No surprises, here: Masa tops the list of pricey U.S. restaurants. [Forbes]
It’s the holidays, so it’s time for the old chestnut about the popularity of fondue. [NYDN]
Chef Cliques Revealed; More T-Day Dining OptionsFrank Bruni tries to put the chef network together and finds that Jimmy Bradley hangs out with Joey Campanaro of little owl and Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto. David Chang opts to stick with the “WD-50 gang.” [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Theater-district restaurants, including Barbetta and Kyotofu , are offering 15 percent off their menus this week (except on Thanksgiving) in light of the Broadway-strike breakdown. [NYC Visit via Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]
Related: Theater Strike Could Drop Curtain on Midtown Restaurants
Masa may be one of the most expensive restaurants in New York, but it’s almost chump change in the rest of the world, considering Tokyo’s Aragawa “an eight-ounce piece of Kobe steak from a sake-fed Wagyu cow” for $400. [Forbes]
Breaking: Another Freakish White Truffle Comes to TownWe are so, so torn on the matter of the white truffle. Late last week, we professed our unconditional love for the fungi (and also learned that Alterna offers white-truffle haircare products) but, given that the Waverly Inn just raised their truffle macaroni and cheese to $85 and Le Cirque’s massive truffle acquisition and the truffle shortage and the $1,000 truffle bagel and, you know, just the general deluge of “truffles are expensive and awesome”-related media as of late, we wondered if this whole white-truffle business had gotten a little bit out of control. Then our very own magazine came out on Monday, complete with more truffle talk, and we knew that there was no point in fighting. There’s nothing we can do but accept the darling ‘shroom, regardless of whether we could ever afford it in our lifetimes.
And it’s a good thing we’ve come to terms with the situation, because it just got a lot more intense.
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
Tailor Open; Marcus Samuelsson in Cahoots With StarbucksPut down your roman à clef! Tailor had its soft opening last night. [Down by the Hipster]
Related: What to Read While You Wait for Tailor to Open — Sam Mason: The Novel
Five recipes from Marcus Samuelsson’s cookbook Discovery of a Continent: Foods, Flavors and Inspirations from Africa were developed by a team from Starbucks as part of a deal that also includes the introduction of baked items and coffee blends sold under the chef’s name. [Eat for Victory/VV]
The closing of Dévi makes Frank Bruni sad, and in his elegy to the restaurant, he ponders our take on Suvir Saran’s motives. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Related: Debriefing Dévi: Suvir Saran’s Suspected Side Projects
This Is Why New York’s Not HotThe question the Gobbler gets asked more than any other is “What’s hot?” And for a several months now, the Gobbler has answered, with tedious regularity, “Nothing.” People are still clawing their way into Waverly Inn, and if you enjoy offal products done up in an elegant, Asian-fusion style, Momofuku Ssäm Bar is the place for you. But the grandiose cycle of openings which began with the arrival of Masa and Per Se at the Time Warner Center four years ago and reached a crescendo early last year with the giant Meat District extravaganzas like Buddakan and Del Posto has more or less petered out. Sure, there have a been a few tepid revivals (the Russian Tea Room), and bigfoot out-of-town chefs like Joël Robuchon and Gordon Ramsay have opened franchise outlets. There are plenty of restaurants in town, and plenty of them are busy. But this most recent boom may have run its course. Here are some possible reasons why.
Will Landmarc’s Downtown Cool Play Alongside Its Ritzy New Neighbors?
The restaurants at the Time-Warner Center were conceived as a kind of dining Valhalla: a food court of the Gods, with prices to match. But now Per Se, Masa, Café Gray, and Porter House New York are getting a downscale casual neighbor with Landmarc, which opens today. Of course, it isn’t quite accurate to cast Landmarc’s arrival as a snobs-vs.-slobs sitcom; Landmarc is both well-liked and well-respected for chef Marc Murphy’s eclectic, hearty, well-executed American dishes. And both the wine and dessert programs were always a big hit downtown. Will that translate to filling the 300 seats of the new place? Hard to say. But it won’t be for lack of accessibility: the new Landmarc will be open from 7 am to 2 am every day, and will be delivering as well. We’d like to see you get that from Per Se.
The New York Diet
‘MySpace Queen’ Tila Tequila Drinks Sprite With her Fugu, Likes HerTila “Tequila” Nguyen, the “Madonna of MySpace” per Time magazine, met at least some of her 1.7 million virtual friends when she lived in New York City and “experimented with drugs and a hardcore lifestyle,” according to her bio. She eventually moved to Hollywood to start her career as an Internet celebrity, model, and singer, and by the time she was returning here weekly to host VH1’s Pants Off Dance Off she had moved on to vices like dirty-water hot dogs, mozzarella sticks, and mushroom pizzas. This week Tila flew in once again to promote her new self-released single and to pose for the cover of yet another magazine (“It’s the Baddass issue,” she explained). We asked her what she noshed on to get through the grind.
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.”
Back of the House
Landmarc in the Time Warner Center May Already Be DoomedIs it really possible that Marc Murphy’s new Landmarc restaurant in the Time Warner Center will have to support a rent of $72,000 per month? (That’s a figure we were given by a well-place member of the food media, although he says he also heard, through less dependable sources, figures as low as $65,000 and as high as $80,000.) “It’s a special space,” Realtor Alex Picken told us, referring to the Center. “$82 a foot isn’t even the highest [rent] in town.” Okay. But can another modest Landmarc really pull down the kind of income that Time Warner wealth magnets Per Se and Masa see?