Eating Out With Tim Zagat; the Littlest FeinschmeckersWhat’s it like to eat dinner with Tim Zagat? Something akin to eating with royalty. [Slate]
As Texas and New Haven fight it out for the title of who invented the hamburger, Grub Street’s editor weighs in. [LAT]
How did eating and diet get so complicated? Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, and one of the guys who helped make it so complicated, sorts it all out. [NYT]
Dishwashers, Culinary Elite Being Allowed Into Peter Luger’s KitchenUsually, an outfit with a name like Culinary Insiders is bound to be just the opposite. And yet a group calling itself exactly that has some of the city’s most promising restaurant events scheduled, starting with a behind-the-scenes tour of Peter Luger on Sunday the 21st. Also upcoming*: a truffle party at Alain Ducasse, a trip to Stone Barns with Dan Barber, and in February, a Chinese New Year extravaganza at 66. And though membership may have its privileges, accredited Insiders get only $25 off the $150 Luger tour ticket. And, yes, that does come with a steak meal.
Behind-the-Scenes at Peter Luger [Culinary Insiders]
* Correction, Jan. 5: The Stone Barns and Alain Ducasse events have already taken place.
The Nine Steakhouse CommandmentsIn recent weeks, the Gobbler has found himself sitting night after night in a succession of new steakhouses, staring glumly at the mounting platters of T-bone and porterhouse along with thrombotic servings of greasy hash browns and au gratin potato. The Gobbler has nothing against these restaurants per se. He enjoys a good sizzling hunk of cow as much as the next fellow. But the presence of so many high-profile new ones on the landscape is an unsettling sign. Steakhouses don’t perish in times of trouble; they propagate. This fall, the city’s superstar chefs are away opening spinoffs in places like Vegas and Shanghai, and the buzz, to the extent there is any, is being created by aged revivals (like the Russian Tea Room), and new ventures by venerable out-of-towners (like L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon). Into this vacuum, invariably, rush more steakhouses. The recipe for the successful New York chophouse is precise, however, and you tinker with it at your peril. So here is the Gobbler’s list of random, highly subjective Steakhouse Commandments.
Back of the House
Lick Your Lips for Headcheese and Foie Gras CupcakesKFC may lose trans fats, giving health nuts a reason to rejoice. But then there are new cupcakes made with duck fat …
• Boulud brings headcheese to Lincoln Center. [Snack]
• Sam Mason brings foie gras cupcakes to Soho. [Snack]
• The West End turns into a Havana Central; Kerouac turns over in his grave. [Eater]
• Bruni on Michelin. [NYT]
• Another Luger chef defects. [TONY]
• Colonel’s secret recipe to lose trans fats? [NYS]
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.
Click and Save
New ‘Tenderloin District’; the Thai’s Bitchin’ in Hell’s KitchenThis week in the news you can use, you’ll find guides to everything from sports grub to beets, plus an argument for why size matters.
• On the heels of Planet Thailand’s move to Chelsea, a roundup of chili-deploying joints in Hell’s Kitchen. [NYT]
• Ravioli and pierogies with beets sexify the “sturdiest of root vegetables.” [NYDN]
• Swear off Peter Luger after Alan Richman’s thrashing? Check out the new “tenderloin district” around Penn Station. [AMNY]
• Grub for sports fans, including all-you-can-eat wings at Blondies. That’s right — they went there. [AMNY]
• Size does matter: gems like the Little Owl versus trendy juggernauts (hello, Hawaiian Tropic Zone). [MUG]
• We’re also psyched about Ruby Tuesday: Chains like Japan’s grill-it-yourself-joint Gyu-Kaku and tofu-cheesecake purveyor Kyotofu to take Manhattan. [TONY]
The Other Critics
Bruni and Richman Beat Down Old-TimersThis week, the big boys decided to tip some sacred cows.
• Alan Richman, battling Peter Luger, delivers what might be the most damning takedown of a major New York restaurant since his famous indictment of Jean Georges in GQ. Sundry are the crimes of this tavern: It has “lost touch with the concept of restaurant hospitality”; deploys cheap flatware and snarling waiters; serves inconsistent steak, mundane sides, and a “hostile burger.” [Bloomberg]