Chefs Love What Mom Used to MakeWe asked a handful of chefs which childhood dishes they remember most fondly and which ones, if any, they’ve reinvented as their own.
Analyzing the Counter at Pichet Ong’s BakeryNext door to his sleek dessert bar P*ONG, pastry chef Pichet Ong has opened a small, sunlit bakery called Batch. The treats here — little cupcakes, chewy cookies, and cupped puddings — are far more familiar. But the tastes may not be.
Schnitzel Moving Into the West Village; Recession Makes Gael Greene Crave SweetsAstoria: You think $12.95 is good for an all-inclusive brunch deal? Michael’s has a weekday three-course dinner deal for the same price. “This neighborhood never ceases to amaze.” [Joey in Astoria]
East Village: Pichet Ong is teaching a class at Astor Center tomorrow on sweets and science. [Zagat] A new stuffed-potato bar is coming to town, but there’s already one on East Houston Street near Avenue A called NY Stuffed Idaho. [Eater]
Midtown West: Moylvos celebrates Greek Easter with “Breaking the Fast.” At midnight on April 27 they’ll host a parade to the local Greek church and offer a tasting menu that includes slow-roasted lamb with yogurt-Feta dumplings. [Restaurant Girl]
Upper West Side: The Insatiable Critic samples the new sweetshops in town. [Insatiable Critic]
West Village: 14th Street near Fifth Avenue is getting a schnitzel shop. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]
What Can’t Pichet Ong Do With Foie Gras?We checked in with dessertologist Pichet Ong recently and found him inordinately pleased with one of his newest creations: a foie gras Chantilly “taco,” created for the Valentine’s Day tasting menu and now served every day at P*ONG. The shell is made of chocolate and hazelnut, the filling foie gras Chantilly, with a little bit of red-chile jam for heat. “It has that creamy, melt-in-your-mouth feel that people want from foie gras, with the crunch from the taco. Everyone loves it.” So says Ong. And there’s more foie in the future!
The Hidden History of Starbucks; Café Carlyle Still Bumpin’Astor Place: The building that houses Starbucks has such interesting history (saw a bloody theater riot in 1849 at what was once the Astor Place Opera House; held a barber shop where mobster Albert Anastasia got slaughtered while sitting in his chair) that Lost City has decided to target “kudzu-like chains” around town and attempt to uncover their past incarnations. [Lost City]
Chinatown: Dumpling House has reopened and the renovations include tables and chairs! [Eater]
East Village: Bar Veloce is returning to the space it once occupied before transforming into now deceased Room 4 Dessert. [Eater]
Tribeca: Harrison Tavern has already closed after a July opening. Clearly, offering ranch-chicken pizza did not bring in herds. [Grub Street]
Upper East Side: Café Carlyle has added a D.J.-hosted soirée Thursday through Saturday from midnight to 3 a.m. to its cabaret-night repertoire, and a new cocktail menu comes from the mixologist at Bemelmans Bar. [Zagat]
West Village: Pichet Ong is renaming his dessert bar P*ong & Batch at the end of the month when he’ll be expanding the space to include a retail bakery. [Zagat]
Williamsburg: Breakfast mecca egg (it’s too cool to have a capital letter) deigns to open for dinner. [TONY]
Danny Meyer Appoints Female Sommelier at the Modern; Pichet Ong Will Show YouBrighton Beach: Brooklyn firefighter Jeffrey Scotto won the sixth-annual World Cares Center Iron Skillet Cook Off this week with this recipe for boneless rib-eye braciola and escarole salad. [NYDN]
Chinatown: Zagat might recommend the soup dumplings at Goodies, but you’re in for a treat if you opt for something the staff is eating like “winter melon soup and a plate of stir-fried pork liver and stomach.” [VV]
Midtown West: Danny Meyer has appointed a new executive sommelier, Belinda Chang, to oversee the wine program at the Modern and his restaurants in the Met. [NYS]
Tribeca: Apparently Craig Béro has opened a Tribeca Time Machine called the Cosmopolitan Cafe around the corner from his other restaurant, the Soda Shop. [NYT]
Union Square: From Quattro’s Game Farm’s stand at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturdays, “you can place an order, leave a deposit, and pick up your fresh bird on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.” [NYS]
Upper West Side: Danny Abrams’s second outlet of the East Village’s Mermaid Inn has opened on 568 Amsterdam Avenue near 88th Street, and you get a free cup of puddin’ with dinner. [NYT]
West Village: Pichet Ong will give a demonstration at the next 4foodies, tasting on November 19. [4foodies]
Celebrity-Chef ‘Pop-Up’ Café Open in Midtown; Halloween RecipeAstoria: Freeze Peach is hosting a costume party Saturday at 8 p.m. and it’s BYO. [Joey in Astoria]
Boerum Hill: Balsamic vinegar is available as a topping at the new ecofriendly ice-cream parlor Blue Marble, on Atlantic Avenue near Bond Street. [Bergen Carroll]
Chelsea: Tekserv is hosting a Mac OS X Leopard release party tonight with free food and live jazz, and the winner of the leopard-themed costume contest gets an iPod. [Blog Chelsea]
Clinton Hill: New restaurant Mariam at 975 Fulton Street features cuisine from Senegal, Kenya, and Guinea, but even though okra was “cooked down to an indiscernible sludge,” it doesn’t feel overextended; the spot will soon add Jamaican food to the menu. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Flatiron: The Manhattan branch of Boerum Hill restaurant Lunetta opens Monday on Broadway at 21st Street. [Grub Street]
Lower East Side: Essex Street’s newest Shamalian bar may have opened for a night this week, but it’s closed now. [Eater] Just in time for Halloween house parties, the Stanton Social has provided a simple recipe for pumpkin croquettes. [Restaurant Girl]
Meatpacking District: The communal table at Los Dados is supposedly a hot singles scene. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]
Midtown West: Bon Appétit’s “Pop-Up” café opened yesterday and features sandwiches and salads designed by Emeril, Giada, Govind, and Pichet Ong, plus desserts from Will Goldfarb. [Midtown Lunch]
Related: Celebrity Chefs Flock to Former Home of Cheesy Celebrity Restaurant
Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens: Papas & Sons market was busted Wednesday. “Word on the street is that someone in there was running numbers,” but no one’s talking. [Across the Park]
Engines of Gastronomy
If It’s a Frozen Dessert at P*ong, Blame the PacojetIt takes more than skilled hands, sharp knives, and a creative mind to power New York’s restaurants. There’s also some heavy equipment that deserves periodic recognition.
Today’s dessert alchemists draw from a considerable arsenal in their battle against conventional cake and ice cream. But the real secret weapon for many of these artisans is the Pacojet, a kind of high-tech blender. Pichet Ong was one of the earliest adopters of the Pacojet and uses a customized one at P*ong for all of his ice creams, sorbets, and ices.
Celebrity Chefs Flock to Former Home of Cheesy Celebrity Restaurant
The building that was the Hard Rock Café at 221 West 57th Street, having committed so many affronts to gastronomy over the years, is about to atone, temporarily. Bon Appétit is turning it into a “pop-up supper club and café” where, from October 25 to November 3, a series of celebrity chefs will do demos and book signings during lunchtime. The names should be familiar ones, ranging from TV chefs like Cat Cora and Giada De Laurentiis to established New York stars like Claudia Fleming and Will Goldfarb. Every day, the café area will feature a different signature dish from that day’s chef. Bon Appétit promises affordability, too: All the dishes at lunch will cost $10 or less.
The roster of chefs is after the jump.
In the Magazine
A ‘Top Chef’ Surprise and Other Summer Treats
The lull of midsummer is already over, and new growths sprout everywhere. A young chef gives his first restaurant a go, a veteran gets his own place for the first time, and an established star gets a fresh start. We have restaurant openings, new and better lemonades, and even a baked squash blossom. Summer is starting to tire, but the food stays sharp.
The State of the Deli Is Not Good; ‘Secret’ Spots RevealedA panel of Jewish food luminaries gathered recently to discuss the state of the deli. They didn’t paint a very sunny picture. [Serious Eats]
Related: Mother of Mercy! Is This the End of Katz’s?
Don’t blame the government for not letting great Chinese chefs into the country: It’s our fault for not wanting better Chinese cuisine. [NYT]
Manhattan’s secret spots range from sushi in a midtown basement to the bar across the street from the Corner Bistro. [NYP]
Room 4 Dessert Is Dead, Long Live Room 4 Dessert
In what might be the least surprising news of the summer, Will Goldfarb has told Grub Street that Room 4 Dessert, at least in its current location, is kaput. (The place has been closed for months, but Goldfarb has been promising it would reopen.) “We’re officially pulling the plug on 17 Cleveland Place,” the cake whiz tells us. “But we’re going to reopen, bigger and better, six months from today.” Goldfarb, theatrical as ever, refuses to disclose the location of the new place, except to say that it’s downtown “in another high-profile restaurant row.”
‘Top Chef’ Auditions This Sunday; Patricia Yeo Doesn’t BuyDo you watch Top Chef and wish it were you getting abused by Padma? Here’s your chance: Auditions are being held Sunday at Craftsteak. [Gothamist]
Related: ‘Top Chef’ Non-Winner Lia on What Went Wrong
‘Top Chef’ Biases Finally Out on the Table
Believe it or not, Patricia Yeo doesn’t buy the kitchen material in No Reservations, especially Catherine Zeta-Jones’s spotless whites: “She was so perfect. There was no way she could have a worked a real service.” [NYDN]
Is this curtains for the Hamburglar? McDonald’s announces that they won’t market unhealthy foods to kids under 12. [NRN]
The Other Critics
P*ONG Found to Be Small and Uneven; Monkey Bar Gets HammeredFrank Bruni appreciates Pichet Ong’s skill and creativity but finds his restaurant, P*ONG, in what will probably be a defining review, unequal to his talent: “Mr. Ong is an enterprising cook, but he doesn’t seem to be a seasoned restaurateur, and P*ong points out the difference.” [NYT]
Similarly, Paul Adams grants that FR.OG chef Didier Virot has “has a virtuosic ability with flavors,” but was less than thrilled with the restaurant. That’s about in keeping with most other reviews the place has had, which call out a few dishes but give it an “eh” otherwise. [NYS]
Randall Lane disliked the Monkey Bar so much that it’s amazing that he gave it two stars (out of six). “More often, though, the dishes were so unsuccessful that I had difficulty finishing them.” Eek. Not what you want to hear after a huge, expensive relaunch.[TONY]
Provence Chef Pink-Slipped; Pichet Ong to Open Cupcake ShopChef Lynn McNeely has been handed a pink slip after mixed reviews at the new Provence; no word on who the next chef might be. [Eater]
Related: Provence Redux [NYM]
Pichet Ong is opening a cupcake store next to P*ONG. “Vanilla, chocolate, yuzu and cinnamon will be my staples,” he says. “I want to add a little salt & spice to my take on them.” [Restaurant Girl]
A tale of two bakeries under Health Department scrutiny: one, Magnolia, plays nice; the other, Delices de Paris in Park Slope, kicks back. Guess which one ends up closing. [NYO]
The Annotated Dish
P*ONG’s Elegant, Unlikely Trio of Chamomile, Scallops, and Soba
Pichet Ong first attracted notice as Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s No. 1 dessert man, and the complex, subtle, and painterly desserts he created at 66 and Spice Market helped bring him to national attention. Now he has opened up his first solo restaurant, P*ONG, and released an Asian dessert cookbook, The Sweet Spot. Still, though known as a dessert chef, Ong is stretching out with savory dishes like this one, an original pairing of scallops, soba noodles, and chamomile ice that tastes hot, cold, salty, sweet, and acidic, all at the same time and in perfect equilibrium. As always, mouse over the different elements of the dish to see them described in the chef’s own words.
The Other Critics
Insieme Just Misses; One Big Up and One ‘Eh’ for P*ONGInsieme’s bid for a third star went about the same way as Anthos’: two stars from Platt, then two stars from Bruni. [NYT]
Related: Italian, Old and New [NYM]
Randall Lane gives five of Time Out New York’s six stars to P*ONG. It’s the first major review the place has gotten, and more than enough to make up for getting dissed by the Sun. [TONY]
Paul Adams, in the Sun, finds Pichet Ong’s creations irritatingly twee and precious, except for the desserts upon which the chef’s reputation is built. Adams puts his finger on the problem: “The same creativity that in the earlier courses gives rise to confusing, unsatisfying combinations is more successful when the unifying power of sugar is involved.” [NYS]
In the Magazine
Summer Brings Hot Dogs, Barbecue, and Department-Store Salads
Summer is upon us at last, and with it come the inevitable summer foods: hot dogs, barbecue, snap peas, salad … and pappardelle with truffles and butter. Well, not every food consumed in the hot months is inevitable. But this issue comes packed with hot-weather options. The Underground Gourmet reviews Willie’s Dawgs and PDT, the new chic cocktail lounge attached to Crif Dogs (you’ll have to read to understand). The city’s most ambitious barbecue opening yet happens this week; Gael Greene is very taken with Aurora Soho’s reverse commute; Pichet Ong takes off from the dessert business to create a killer sugar-snap-pea recipe; and Rob and Robin offer both a guide to the city’s top department-store salads and a quiz to determine your green-eats quotient, a test which only the most narrowly focused carnivore could possibly fail.
In the Magazine
Pichet Ong Is Ready for His Close-up
P*Ong’s Roquefort soufflé, walnuts, and arugula ice cream Photo courtesy P*OngPichet Ong’s reputation as a dessert and small-plates master has made P*Ong one of the season’s most awaited openings, as Rob and Robin relate in this week’s issue. For his solo debut, the former Vongerichten lieutenant, who rose to stardom at 66 and Spice Market, has whipped up a menu filled with the kind of complex savory-sweet, Asian-inflected dishes that he helped make so au courant. And, as the Robs point out, there’s a ten-course tasting menu if you want more than just a bite and an exotic cocktail. P*Ong opens Friday and is taking reservations now.
Openings: Insieme, Tiffin Wallah, P*Ong
Earlier: Look for P*Ong in April, Okay? These Things Take Time
In the Magazine
Chefs Try to Take It to the Next Level in This Week’s Issue
Five established chefs take center stage in this week’s issue – or six, if you count Kurt Gutenbrunner, who, per In Season, has a way with white asparagus. The others? Michael Anthony, the Blue Hill Haute Barnyard prodigy who stepped into Tom Colicchio’s shoes at Gramercy Tavern; Christopher Lee, a major rising talent who filled big shoes at Gilt; Kerry Simon, a Las Vegas–based Vongerichten lieutenant who is now doing the food for a giant karaoke bar; and finally Marco Canora and Asian dessert master Pichet Ong, whose long-awaited debuts, Insieme and P*Ong, respectively, open this week. All this star power, along with two short lists that couldn’t be more different, awaits in this week’s magazine.
Back of the House
Look for P*Ong in April, Okay? These Things Take TimeP*Ong, the long-awaited all-dessert restaurant from former Spice Market pastry chef Pichet Ong, has been delayed yet again. Previously we had heard that the date was set for this week. Now, Ong tells us, he’s looking at mid-April. There’s final painting to be done, juicers and dehydrators still to come in, a sanitation inspection yet to be passed, and other typically troublesome details. “I’m doing all this by myself,” says the chef, who studied design at Berkeley and is laying out the restaurant. “But I kind of wanted to so that next time I’ll really know how to open a restaurant. The Department of Buildings has been my worry. So many restaurants have opened illegally, either applying for permits afterward or being grandfathered in; we want everything to be just right from the first day.”
Back of the House
Inside the Troubled Russian Tea Room; Meyer and Others on Media ScrutinyThe fullest account yet of the debacle that is the new Russian Tea Room. Gary Robins comes out looking far more sinned against than sinning, and the owner comes out looking like a jerk. [NYP]
A blue-ribbon panel including Mario Batali, Bill Telepan, and Danny Meyer study the question of whether it’s possible to open a restaurant under the radar. The near unanimous answer is no. Will Goldfarb suggests one way: “Do it in Queens.” [Snack]
Pichet Ong formerly of Spice Market is the first of the hot pastry chefs to open his own restaurant, the eponymous P*ong. Rivals Sam Mason and Jehangir Mehta (formerly of Aix) are close behind. [NYS]
Related: The Launch [Grub Street]
Nicole Kaplan Ditching Eleven Madison ParkOne of the city’s top pastry chefs is on the move: Nicole Kaplan, who served under two chefs at Eleven Madison Park and helped create the custard at Shake Shack, has given her notice. “I’m leaving sometime before the end of the year,” she tells us. “I’m looking at pastry-chef positions at several good restaurants and hotels.” Is there any temptation, we asked, to go the way of Will Goldfarb, Pichet Ong, and Francois Payard, and open her own dessert restaurant? “I’m not quite there yet,” Kaplan says. “I wish I was. But my husband” — Sea Grill chef de cuisine Jawn Chasteen — “and I have two kids and a big mortgage!” Kaplan says that wherever she goes, she plans on sticking to her style, which she describes as “three- or four-star comfort food.” “Dessert tastes don’t really change over time. Nobody is looking to eat a dessert they have to think about,” she says.