The Case of the Accused Prostitutes at Maze
We make no judgments on Grub Street. We got this e-mail earlier today and read it with raised eyebrows and no great credulousness:
My husband and I were at the New York restaurant, Maze @ the London Hotel tonight 12-18-07. We were so upset. He had four clients he was taking out. At one point one of the clients noticed that there were two prostitutes at the bar, trying to pick up men. When my husband’s guest complained to the staff, they became hostile and asked us to leave. When we talked to the hotel staff, they informed us that, “This happens all the time, You need to talk to the management of Gordon Ramsey.” We were very upset — how could they let that go on? It’s almost like they were getting a cut of their action. We will never dine at a Gordon Ramsey Rest. We spend $800, and had to watch a common prostitute pick up her johns. It was very ugly, shame on Gordon Ramsey and Shame on the London.
Shame indeed! But we have no idea if it was even true. We can never tell prostitutes in hotel bars even when we’re talking to them, let alone from at a table faraway. So we asked the restaurant’s PR agency, who got back to us with this response.
Peter Hoffman Served a Rubber Band to His Mentor; Bloomberg to the Veggie RescueAstoria: La Flor de Puebla on Astoria Boulevard between Steinway and 38th Street makes a mean carnitas taco. [Joey in Astoria]
East Village: Peter Hoffman of Back Forty (and Savoy) reveals to Frank Bruni that he “once served a watercress salad to Richard Olney, my mentor and culinary hero, only to discover upon going to his table to see how he liked it that we had also served him a rubber band.” [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Harlem: Only 3 percent of bodegas in the nabe carry leafy green vegetables, so Mayor Bloomberg’s coming to the rescue. No wonder Mizrahi loves him. [NYS via Uptown Flavor]
Park Slope: The end of Donuts Coffee Shop on Fifth Avenue is near; Associated Supermarket is about to swallow up the landmark diner. [The Gowanus Lounge]
West Village: It’s a Q&A kind of day: Centro Vinoteca and newly anointed Gusto chef Anne Burrell says her trademark “cowgirl skirts are a good luck charm when we do Iron Chef … I figure if all the old ladies in Italy wear dresses in the kitchen, why can’t I wear a skirt in NYC?” Though she may not have seen our kitchen fashions for the preening chef. [Restaurant Girl] Gusto is also hosting a Feast of the Seven Fishes on Christmas Eve, which includes this recipe for zuppa di pesce. [Eat for Victory/VV]
The Orange Line
Riding the V Line: Ben’s Best, the Pride of Rego ParkWe’re riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants along the way.
Katz’s, the Carnegie, and the 2nd Avenue Deli are the pride of Manhattan, but Ben’s Best still belongs to Rego Park. Get off the V at 63rd Drive, walk past Wiggles strip club, and there you are.
Ask a Waiter
Frankie Marshall of Wakiya Wouldn’t Dare Replace Anna Wintour’s Napkin
Frankie Marshall was a bartender (and a singer) for years before she became a server at Wakiya in the Gramercy Park Hotel. And what a place to serve! She waited on Adam Platt before he panned the restaurant in New York, and Frank Bruni, who hit it off with her and quoted her making a racy “tung” joke in his takedown of the restaurant. Now that the reviewers have moved on, she’s left to serve folks like Ron Wood of the Stones, who let her feel his cashmere sweater. “Jimmy Fallon kissed me [good-bye],” she says. “I was hoping for tongue, but he wouldn’t deliver.” Anna Wintour, on the other hand? Not quite as friendly.
Serendipity: Images From the Battlefield
So they’re not the best pictures—but did you really want to see close-ups of mice poo? (Don’t answer that.) Nevertheless, a sad scene. Between the Broadway strike and this latest development, the holidays are headed towards a touristy triage.
Earlier: Breaking: Serendipity 3 Closed by DOH
Back of the House
Jennifer 8. Lee Tackles Fortune CookiesThe galleys for the The Fortune Cookie Chronicles, Times reporter Jennifer 8. Lee’s forthcoming book about Chinese food and restaurants, have flooded the city, and people are getting hungry. Since the mysterious, crowded world of Chinese food is something about which we can never get enough intel, a quick chat with Jennifer was in order.
Adam Platt Defends His RatingsAfter seeing that our good friend Adam Platt awarded Allen & Delancey, a restaurant we especially admire, a measly two stars, we decided to confront him with his misjudgment, and request – nay, demand! – that he explain and even justify his method of awarding stars to us. We knew it was an argument we couldn’t win, and what’s more that we shouldn’t win, given the fact that Platt is arguably the city’s top critic, but we also know he would respond to us like the big baited bear that he is. The debate played out via our favorite medium, Instant Messenger.
Restaurant Insiders Launch Secret-ish Industry NightLet’s say you’re a hard-partying cook, a leggy hostess, a put-upon waiter — whatever. You want to rock out after work in a chill environment surrounded by your friends in the business. You want what is typically known as an Industry Night, right? But where do you go? This was the question Anthos chef de cuisine Jason Hall asked himself. “We need a place where we can all go and relax without dealing with a bunch of 20-year-olds from Jersey throwing up,” he explained. Don’t we all want that? Anyway, cue the birth of a regular industry party that’s invite-only, and, in these nascent stages, relatively on the DL, as they say. NB to fellow food bloggers: This might be the one you want to crash.
IN, as it’s called, will be held on Wednesdays; the gathering will feature no cover and food cooked by the guests themselves (think freestyle, improv offerings). If you’re in the business and want more intel, drop us a line and we might be able to help you out (no promises).
Lotus Changing Hands; Pedigreed Smoked Fish Now Served in TribecaMeatpacking District: Tenjune’s Eugene Remm and Mark Birnbaum are reportedly poised to take over Lotus from David Rabin after eyeing the space back in September, but we’re not sure of the fate the waitress who dubbed the club a “tourist attraction.” [Down by the Hipster]
Midtown East: Café St. Bart’s may change its name to Inside Park at St. Bart’s by early 2008 when the restaurant reopens to show off its new renovations. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]
Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens: Lime, the new bar opening on Flatbush, has hoisted a sign, which has been described, possibly with sarcasm, as “pretty damn spiffy.” [Across the Park]
South Bronx: The produce is speaking for itself at the smallest food co-op in the city, which began operations in September and now has 30 members. Who wouldn’t want better-priced tomatoes whose “juices just burst in your mouth and you have that sensation of loveliness growing in your mouth”? [NYT]
Tribeca: Murray’s sibling Zucker’s Bagels & Smoked Fish, on Chambers near West Broadway, had its grand opening this weekend. [Grub Street]
In the Magazine
The Truffle Madness Continues for Another Week
It’s truffle time at New York — a three-part celebration of the original Magic Mushroom (and you know how we feel about that). Moving beyond the fabulous fungi, Adam Platt made his way down to Allen & Delancey and was so impressed with the place that he almost gave it three stars — before remembering that he was Adam Platt.
Until 1OAK Opens, Look for Richie Akiva at Scores
1OAK is a little behind schedule, but that isn’t stopping its investors from throwing a Halloween bash — at Scores?!? A friend of Grub received this e-mail (sent “by Jeffrey Jah, Lyman Carter, Richie Akiva, Scott Sartiano, & Ronnie Madra / 1OAK, 453 West 17th Street”) inviting him to throw down with strippers. Hey, Scores is a classy enough substitution for the venue that will “change the face of nightlife in New York,” but why didn’t the boys just have their party at the 10AK construction site? Now that would’ve been spooky.
Related: Richie Akiva’s and Scott Sartiano’s 1OAK Will Not Open Friday
N.Y. Diet: Butter’s Richie Akiva Dines With Puffy, Cooks for the ‘Wifey’
Dom De Marco’s Hands of Steel; Smith’s Opens Tonight in the South VillageAstoria: The Sparrow’s pain perdu dessert is “basically a grilled chocolate croissant with homemade butterscotch syrup on it, with a dollop of real whipped cream on the side.” [Joey in Astoria]
Harlem: Doug E.’s Fresh Chicken and Waffles still isn’t ready to open. [Uptown Flavor]
Gramercy: Blue Smoke takes top honors in this roundup of the city’s best sweet-potato fries. [Gridskipper]
Greenwich Village: Smith’s from this week’s Openings starts serving tonight. [Eater]
Midwood: Yes, Dom De Marco’s pies at Di Fara’s are impressive, but what’s really cause for amazement is “his asbestos hands. That man can pull a square pie out of the oven, which must be about 800 degrees, with his bare hands.” [Eat for Victory/VV]
Nolita: Public’s butternut-squash soup with spiced marshmallows, crispy chickpeas, and pumpkin-seed oil is just one example in this list of fall dishes showing up all over town. [Restaurant Girl]
Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens: Meytex Lounge is now calling itself Meytex Cafe, but their tasty fried chicken hasn’t changed. [Across the Park]
Taco Wars: Rockers Open New Front in WilliamsburgEarlier we brought your attention to Pinche, the new taco joint that placed neighbor La Esquina on notice for its inauthentic tacos. Now comes a stunning development on the eastern front: in about two weeks a taco truck will be parking on (get ready for it) North 7th Street and Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. It will be manned by comedian (and front man of the Jewish) Jeffrey Jensen and Bad Wizard singer Curtis Brown, who conducted research at the trucks on Roosevelt Avenue.
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
Pinkberry Domination Continues Apace; Chumley’s in Trouble AgainPinkberry’s quest for world domination becomes more tangible: Its founders have raised $27.5 million in the company’s first round of venture capital. [NYT]
Related: The New Cold War: The Battle for Bleecker Street
Hear the Pinkberry Jingle, Attempt to Get it Out of Your Head
Chumley’s prospective opening date of October 1 has come and gone, possibly because of certain “surprises” the engineers have found, including asbestos and an eroding foundation. [NYP]
Back of the House
We’re on the Pavement, Thinking ’Bout the Restaurants…
The cri de coeur a reader sent in last week in the form of a Ginsbergian ‘Howl’ has inspired us. What would the likes of Ginsberg, the Beats, and their admirers think of today’s restaurant world and its absurd come-ons? What would Bob Dylan circa 1965 think of it? Well, owing to the magic of aggressive marketing, the new Website for the Dylan boxed set allows us to see for ourselves. Just click here.
Gastronomic Homesick Blues [Dylan07.com]
Related: A Restaurant World ‘Howl’
Olives the Nightclub? Bring On an International BoxTodd English may want to get in on the hip parade surrounding La Esquina by opening his own Kenmare spot with nightlife guru Joe Vicari. [NYP]
There’s a rumor that Simon Hammerstein wants to open an international Box and bring his gross anthems to London. [Down by the Hipster]
Related: Narcissistic and Highly Intoxicated Box Patrons Want Totally Gross Anthems, Says Owner
Could Kyotofu and its killer cupcake be expanding with a space downtown? [Eater]
Related: Best Cupcake 2007 [NYM]
Kinder, Gentler Palm Wants Your Gay Business
Since 1926, the Palm restaurant chain has been feeding its mostly male clientele big steaks, big lobsters, and the big heads of famous people with those scribbly caricatures on the wall. But with the current steakhouse boom — and more competition — the owners of the Palm are trying to move the restaurant away from being an “old boys’ club.” On August 27, the Palm plans to introduce a multi-pronged marketing strategy to freshen up its image: That means targeting women (via salads with enticing, exotic-sounding names like Tequila Shrimp or Raspberry Lobster Tempura) and a younger set (look for bigger bars and ads on VH1).
BBQ Brethren Speaks!
Now here we thought that the Barbecue Brethren were a bunch of byzantine schemers, taking potshots at their enemies and vice versa, while the world looked on in indifference. But it turns out that we were wrong! Eric Devlin, an articulate fellow who happens to belong to that group, set us straight in a missive as notable for its refined tone and polished eloquence as for the fact that it is totally insane. Further proof of the Brethren’s non-omnipotence can be found in the fact that none of their members won last weekend’s Ribfest; the laurels went to Boston’s I Que.
Whole Foods Plot Still Grimy in Gowanus; Tony Bourdain on Ina GartenWhole Foods has only one more building to demolish to clear out its plot by the Gowanus Canal for its 2008 opening, but there are still no signs of environmental cleanup. [Brownstoner]
Related: Has the Benevolent Whole Foods Betrayed Its Health-Obsessed Customers?
Anthony Bourdain didn’t waste much time agonizing over the expulsion of Tre from Top Chef before laying into Casey, who slices slower the “Ina Garten on Thorazine.” [Bravo]
Related: The Gay Side of ‘Top Chef’ Comes Out
Amalia chef Ivy Stark hates chicken. So why is there chorizo-stuffed crispy chicken on Amalia’s menu? [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Soho’s Jerry’s May Be Reincarnated in a New SpaceAstoria: The owners of Sai Organics health-food store have opened an organic restaurant in the old Keystone Diner spot on 30th Avenue near 31st Street. [Joey in Astoria]
East Village: The prices of Gemma’s rustic fare are shocking “and not in a Kobe/Gilt kind of way.” [Gastro Chic]
Meatpacking District: PM may lose its liquor license soon if complaining neighbors sway the community board. [Down by the Hipster]
Midtown East: Menchanko-Tei has been closed by the Department of Health. [Midtown Lunch]
Soho: Jerry’s diner has closed, but the owner may be looking for a new space. [Eater]
Tribeca: Peat Week at Brandy Library starts August 20 bringing a series of public “peated” Scotch tastings and special menu offerings. [Brandy Library] Pomodoro’s II on West Broadway at Murray Street will soon share its space with a Cheesesteak Factory Express. [Grub Street]
West Village: Reservations by phone are required if you want to eat the last of the Chianina steak at Maremma only on offer through next Friday. [Grub Street]
Vegetables Suggest Liebrandt’s New Restaurant Is a RealityThe mystery and excitement surrounding Paul Liebrandt’s new venture is a testament to … what? Boredom? Curiosity? The shaggy dog story? The cutting-edge chef has never been a big favorite with the public; he’s more of a cook’s cook, much in the same way that A.J. Liebling was a writer’s writer, or Mark Jackson, a point guard’s point guard. But there’s a hint that his long-rumored restaurant might actually be more than just a rumor, thanks to Bret Thorn from Nation’s Restaurant News, who happened to receive a press kit for the Culinary Vegetable Institute. (What, like you’ve never been to a vegetable institute? Just stay with us here.) Liebrandt is named as having taken part in a chefs summit at the institute; more important, he’s actually listed as “Chef Paul Liebrandt, of his signature Restaurant Liebrandt, opening Fall 2007, New York City.” What? Thorn is on the case, and so are we. More as this develops.
Restaurant Liebrandt? [Foodservice Blog/Nation’s Restaurant News]
Related: Liebrandt and Nieporent, Sitting in a Tree…
The Orange Line
Riding the B Line: Our Favorite Brighton Beach SpotSomewhere in the world there may be a train line that covers more gastronomic territory than the B and V subway lines, which start in southernmost Brooklyn and end deep in Queens, but if there is, we don’t know about it. For the next twenty-odd weeks, we’ll be riding the B and V from Coney Island all the way to Forest Hills, jumping off frequently to rave about our favorite restaurants and food stores near the subway.
This week, the Brighton Beach / Brighton 6 Street B stop
Whole Foods CEO’s Online High Jinks Unmasked; Magnolia Bakery ReopeningJohn Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods, has been going online anonymously on Yahoo Finance bulletin boards for seven years to blast rival Wild Oats and talk up Whole Foods stock. [NYT]
Related: Did Michael Pollan Throw the Whole Foods Debate? (Just Asking)
Magnolia Bakery, closed for less than a day for having only one sink, has now been reopened after promising to install another one. [Eater]
Related: A Sad Day for Overhyped Pastries: Magnolia Shuttered [Daily Intel]
Anthony Bourdain is warming up to The Next Food Network Star. As a matter of fact, you could say that he’s become a devoted fan: “Whether it’s the butterfly mobiles dangling from my ceiling, the onset of early dementia, or long delayed side effects of past drug use drawing me to the tube Sunday nights, I’ll be watching.” [Ruhlman]
Double Happiness to Get $1 Million Makeover, Reopen to Privileged Few
Club promoter, artist, and former model Emma Cleary has purchased the bi-level space that currently houses Double Happiness and plans to reopen it, by New Year’s, only to those who can get onto the list. Her partner in the sale, brokered by Karma McDermett of Stevens & Co., is a managing director at JP Morgan. Cleary tells us the upstairs, which currently houses Palais Royale, will revert to its former incarnation as a restaurant (remember Wyanoka?) with Ulrich Sterling of 5 Ninth and SushiSamba turning out a ten-item menu of gourmet bar food. “Places like the Box and 205 are catering to the Lower East Side crowd,” Cleary says. “I’m going for more of the models, investment bankers, and celebrities.” Just how that will sit with the neighbors remains to be seen: At yesterday’s CB2 meeting, there were cries that the area outside of Double Happiness had become “party central,” causing Cleary to pen a missive, reprinted here for anyone who cares, laying out her plans for a $1 million swankification.
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?
Gold St. Enters the Ramen Wars Without a Care in the World
The ramen wars are raging as never before, as Momofuku and Setagaya go against each other hammer and tongs, and Minca and Rai Rai Ken clean up the remains. But Gold St. tells us that their new ramen rollout is completely unrelated. From the look of their soup, they may be right.
Chris Cheung Leaves Almond Flower, Unbowed
Chinatown’s Almond Flower is an unusual restaurant, and its young chef, Chris Cheung — who just left the restaurant on Sunday — was the main reason. The bistro was the reverse of places which serve Western food with Asian accents to a largely Caucasian clientele; Almond Flower served fusion food from a Chinese perspective to an overwhelmingly Asian crowd. But Cheung kept pushing the envelope with luxe ingredients that chefs sometimes like more than customers: roast pork buns filled with foie gras, say, or truffled congee soup with abalone wontons. And now that he’s done with Almond Flower, he’s unrepentant.
Back of the House
How Much Thomas Keller Is Really in ‘Ratatouille’’s Remy?
Pixar’s Ratatouille owned the nation’s box offices this past weekend, a tribute both to its makers and the country’s seemingly inexhaustible appetite for shows about cooks and cooking. Ratatouille’s pedigree on this score is as impeccable as Pixar money could make it: The studio hired Thomas Keller of the French Laundry and Per Se as a consultant. The title dish which the movie’s rat hero Remy and his human assistant Linguini make is actually one that was served in the French Laundry. And, according to somebody who should know, Remy as a chef was wholly Keller-esque.
At the Greenmarket
Huge Gooseberries Are Here; Callaloo Promises ImmortalityAfter sighting the season’s first apricots at the Greenmarket last Saturday, we figure the dog days can’t be far behind. Gather your dinner-party guests while the weather is still cool enough for cooking, and be prepared to switch to a raw-food (or ice-cream) diet any day now.
Andrew Carmellini Wants to Stir the Melting PotConsidering how successful Andrew Carmellini’s A Voce has been, we were hardly surprised to hear he was looking at new projects. But Carmellini tells us that, although “I’d like to open another [A Voce] in a good urban market,” he has other, more intriguing (to us, anyway) plans in store too. Carmellini wants to create a multi-ethnic American restaurant at some point in the near future. Given that he made his name at Café Boulud cooking from a wide range of traditions, the idea seems a natural for him.
‘Wichcraft Awarded Top NYC Honors; Shake Shack DefendedRegional-food gurus Jane and Michael Stern say that their favorite New York sandwich is … the bacon, egg, and gorgonzola from ‘wichcraft. [NYDN]
One of New York’s top burger experts evaluates Steve Cuozzo’s takedown of Shake Shack in the Post, taking issue with key points in the article. [AHT]
Chef Michael Schulson is said, in an unconfirmed report, to be leaving Buddakan. [Eater]
In the Magazine
The Food War Between Old and New ContinuesThe attentions of New York’s food staff are divided between modernity and tradition. Gael Greene is vexed with Provence, a reopened French restaurant which was faithfully conventional even in its former incarnation. Rob and Robin, apart from their usual announcements of new places in Openings, extract from Anthos chef Michael Psilakis a comparatively novel recipe for mature dandelion greens. And Adam Platt finds himself caught in the middle of Marco Canora’s half-modern, half-classical menu at Insieme.
Ono, I Really Have to Go!Now that we’ve brought you the steaming poop on Keith McNally’s loos, we can’t help but wonder — who are the other restroom-auteurs? The titans who dream up a new restaurant and imagine themselves walking into its grand opening on a red carpet of double-ply? There is one such man: Mr. Jeffrey Chodorow. When we praised his Kobe Club restrooms last week, we thought the tiles looked familiar — indeed they’re a holdover from Ono, also designed by “Chodobro” Jeffrey Beers. Shall we visit what may be their finest crossing of creative swords?
Chodorow and Tom Valenti Team Up; Rum RenaissanceJeffrey Chodorow is opening a restaurant with Tom Valenti right next to his new restaurant with Zak Pelaccio; also, a new Rickshaw will open in the Village. [Eater]
Related: Chodorow and Pelaccio Planning a ‘Malaysian Coffeehouse’ [Grub Street]
We’re in the middle of a rum renaissance, with “heavy, thick and funky” British varieties and “smooth and sugary” Spanish-Caribbean ones. [NYDN]
Jay-Z’s 40/40 Club defends itself against charges of unfair labor practices: “Everyone makes the minimum wage at the club.” [NYDN]
The Skinny on Fat Tuesday: The DrinksAfter you’ve loosened the Fat Tuesday feed bag, it’s time for bands, beads, and of course, booze. Though New Orleans’ favorite fruity rum concoction, the Hurricane, won’t be served in go-cups in these parts, plenty of local establishments are providing incentives to drink on-site.
Mariachis Take to the Bar at La Esquina’s Late Christmas Party
It must’ve seemed strange attending a Christmas party when, earlier this week, the last of the Christmas trees sat on the city’s curbs. But it must’ve seemed stranger still when a mariachi band mounted the bar at said party and began to perform. And that was before the purple haze descended … — Daniel Maurer
Keller Cops to Using — No! — Frozen Fries
In his cookbook Bouchon, Thomas Keller explains how to make the perfect French fries, instructing readers to hand-cut and then refrigerate russet potatoes submerged in water for several hours. As it turns out, Keller isn’t going to quite so much trouble at his Bouchon Bistros: A tipster told us he uses Sysco fries, and though a rep from the restaurant didn’t offer the brand name, she did confirm, after speaking with Keller, that he favors frozens.
Back of the House
Wall Street Loves Agribiz; Did the ‘Times’ Dig for Dirt on a HaplessDid the Times send a private eye after a chef sued them for having suggested he was a druggie? [NYP]
Restaurant Week is the “Woodstock of the culinary world,” a wondrous opportunity that no one should let slip by. So says Drew Nieporent’s brother, anyway. [NYDN]
Wall Street investors are stampeding each other to invest in agribusiness commodities. And that is making some corn and cattle producers very, very nervous. [NYT]
Fatty Crab Wants to Know If You’re Interested in Getting BrunchA new dish has been appearing at the tables of regular customers at Fatty Crab recently. Referred to simply as “bacon and eggs” by its creator, chef de cuisine (and Zak Pelaccio chief lieutenant) Corwin Kave, the off-the-menu special is one of the season’s standout pork dishes — and it heralds the restaurant’s plans to begin serving brunch. It consists of a whole Bobo Farm egg, lightly spiced and wok-fried in hot oil, topped with a thick, tender piece of pork belly braised in lime, chiles, black vinegar, fish sauce, and a mélange of Malaysian spices. The Blue Ribbon Pullman bread just barely manages to hold it all together. “It’s just something we’re messing around with,” Kave tells us. Don’t expect to get it when the place is slammed, but if you’re there on an off hour, and maybe a little hung-over, tell them that Grub Street sent you.
Patsy Grimaldi’s Fall From Grace
Such is our reverence for Patsy Grimaldi, the pizza patriarch behind Grimaldi’s, that when we heard word, via Slice, that he had come out of retirement to cook slices at the Aviator Sports Complex at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, we immediately began saving gas money to make the trip. The place is so remote — all the way down Flatbush Avenue, just before the Marine Parkway Bridge — that you practically need to be Hernando de Soto to find it. It’s a kid’s paradise, with two NHL-size ice rinks, indoor soccer, basketball courts, and the rest. But for the unathletic children, of course, the real draw is the food court, where you can find Schnäck burgers, cheesecake from Junior’s, Brooklyn Ice Cream Factory desserts, and, yes, Patsy’s pizza. Are those slices worth the epic journey?
The Underground Gourmet
Charlie Rose, Chicken Thief
There are those who think the life of the Underground Gourmet is one endless, lavish feast, all swanky press dinners and unbidden “gifts from the chef.” Nothing could be further from the truth. We get the bad tables, the slipshod service, and the gristly cuts as often as our fellow diners. This past Monday night was a good example.
Click and Save
Ah, to Quaff Eggnog Fireside in Long IslandFor an entire year, this thread on Mouthfuls has been tracking the best of the Upper West Side. It’s all wrapped up in this year-end post. [Mouthfuls]
A quick roundup of new West Chelsea eateries. [NYT]
Hankering for a meal by a roaring fireplace? [NYP]
Related: Have Dinner With an Old Flame
If you do wind up sitting by a fire, you’re going to want some eggnog. [NYDN]
New cookbooks that make fine gifts. [NYDN]
Related: New Cookbooks You Might Actually Open
Even in Long Island, people like to eat Christmas dinner out. [Newsday]
At the Greenmarket
Concord Grapes Ripen, Summer Corn Lingers On
Thanks to the cool weather, the produce at Union Square looks perky this morning, as hardier lettuces and winter squash replace their delicate summer counterparts. Even late-afternoon visitors will find the stands looking fresh.
What to Look For
Purple-black Concord grapes are a flavor-packed fall phenomenon. Their sweet-tart intensity is easiest to appreciate once the seeds have been separated from the aromatic flesh. Try them in sorbets and gelées, or make them into Concord-grape ketchup (recipe) ($5 per quart at Cheerful Cherry Farm, available Friday and Saturday).
In the Magazine
This Week, Your Cup Runneth OverSay what you want about the Smith & Wollensky Group — that their restaurants (Smith & Wollensky, Quality Meats, the Post House, et al) are sometimes hard to tell apart, or that their steaks are less than life-changing. But no one claims that the company doesn’t deliver the goods when it comes to nicely priced wine. The $69 prix-fixe dinner at Cité, for example, comes with a bottomless glass of four different types. And this week, Rob and Robin tell us, all the Wollensky restaurants are offering $10 tastings of ten good wines at lunch. The selections change each day, so the committed oenophile can end up trying 50 different wines over the course of the week. [100 Bottles of Wine on the Wall]
Executive Chef Assaulted at Chinatown BrasserieWe’ve heard of people having it out with management, but this is ridiculous. Around midnight on Wednesday, an exchange of words between three men who had just had an hours-long dinner at Chinatown Brasserie and maître d’ Robert Banat devolved into the trio yelling at Banat and shoving him. Executive chef Tyson Wong Ophaso tells us that when he stepped in to separate the men from his maître d’, the biggest and youngest of the three threw Ophaso on his back. (Ophaso is five foot, six inches, 130 pounds.) Cursing loudly, the man then dragged the hapless chef by his feet onto the sidewalk and proceeded to beat him up, despite the best efforts of Brasserie staff — but no other onlookers — to protect him.
The men fled before police arrived, but one of them left behind his credit-card information, and all three were captured on the restaurant’s cameras. They’ve all been identified, and Ophaso is pressing charges. Meanwhile, what kind of town is this that a chef is beaten by three goons, and no strangers come to his aid? Any man that cooks orange beef like Ophaso deserves the utmost protection against bruisers.