For Ilan Hall, a Taco Shack of One’s OwnIt’s a far cry from helming a Ken Friedman restaurant, as he was previously rumored to be doing, but now the word, via the Gluttoness, is that former Top Chef Ilan Hall is said to be opening a taco shack in Los Angeles. We suspect, as the Gluttoness does as well, that the hire is a way to buy cheap publicity for the taco shack in question. Still, is this what being a Top Chef has come to? Somewhere, Sam Talbot must be sniggering.
Rumor Mill [Gluttoness]
Related: Will Ken Friedman Open a Restaurant With Ilan Hall?
Back of the House
The New Face of ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ Not So Hellish AnymoreGordon Ramsay is a cruel, profane, rampaging jerk — which is why the world loves him. (It can’t be his food, which most critics consider by-the-book classic French.) So how can you replace a guy like that? That’s the problem the producers of Hell’s Kitchen faced, and they solved it by bringing in Marco Pierre White, Ramsay’s former mentor, then enemy. The problem is that, by all reports, White is a changed man, calm and peaceful in his middle age. Even in his prime, he was never as outrageously abusive as Ramsay. We don’t think he’ll be nearly as entertaining.
Hell’s Kitchen (Review) [Sydney Morning Herald]
Gimmicky Drink Names Reach New Nadir With the ‘Striketini’We get pitches for preposterously named cocktails all the time, but this???
Just a quick note to let you know about a new signature cocktail being served up at the W Times Square to help tourists (and weary picketers) cope with the Broadway Strike. Available at the hotel’s Living Room Lounge and Whiskey Bar, it is made with bourbon, Grand Marnier and white cranberry juice and is dark in color as a result of the dark lights on Broadway.
This is ridiculous enough to make us pound a Gisele, made with CABANA CACHACA and being served at D’Or (are you happy Nike Communications — we finally got an excuse to mention it!).
Essex House and St. Regis Restaurants: Maybe Next Year!A Times restaurant preview had Alain Ducasse’s latest, Adour, opening at the St. Regis Hotel in late November. Also slated to open its doors this month was the restaurant that’s replacing Ducasse’s old joint in the Essex House: 154 South Gate, helmed by former 11 Madison Park chef Kerry Heffernan. In the spirit of competition, we were curious to see if Ducasse could open Ardour before his Essex House replacement—but folks on the inside have informed us that everyone will be waiting ‘til at least next year to see either place cross the finish line. Adour is poised to open late January; no official date is set for 154 South Gate, though hotel sources said it’s also looking more like January. For now, we regretfully release our sweaty grip on our stopwatches.
This concludes your Future Fine Dining update.
Related: Here Come the Chefs
Back of the House
Inside the Topsy-Turvy World of New York BarbecueHas the cold weather got you nostalgic for barbecue? We’ve got good and bad news, plus fallout from an ugly incident upstate. First, the good: Pitmaster Scotty Smith is now serving two weekly specials at RUB. Mondays it’s full-beef short rib; Tuesdays there’s spicy Asian pork belly, marinated for a week in a brew of chiles, garlic, ginger, fish sauce, and the sweet soy sauce called kecap manis. then smoked for hours before being flash-finished in a hot oven.
Back of the House
Zagat Fails to Number-Close Milk and HoneyThough we agree that table-scoring strategy is important (we winced when we recently overheard a woman pleading with a French gatekeeper, “I speak French, does that matter?”), Zagat’s recent tips of the trade aren’t exactly that useful: As the authors admit, all you really have to do to score a table these days at La Esquina is call, and their advice on clinching the perennial prize of every Moscow Mule worshipper (Milk and Honey’s secret number) doesn’t quite ring true. Per Google, the new number is nowhere on the Internet (owner Sasha scolds sites that post it, and he disconnected the old one 212-625-3897 not long ago), so don’t waste time on the recommended Web search. Next time the digits change, simply ask sister bar Little Branch for them. In the meantime, call two, one, two, eight, one, zero, seven, six, five, four. —Daniel Maurer
‘Cold, Sweet, Liquid Crack’ MournedDaniel Maurer recently wrote about the fact that El Sombrero is no longer offering their margaritas (or, as we like to call them, “crackaritas”) to go.
Dear Grub Street,
The crackdown at the Hat is the biggest heartbreaker. I am totally convinced that those margaritas were filled with crack. Cold, sweet, delicious, barely detectable crack. The guy gave me a wink and said they would be back, just give them time. So my fingers are crossed.
Dear Grub Street,
FYI: The secret ingredient of the “crackarita” was not tequila at all but Everclear. I used to live across the street in the apartment above the wine store and saw them pour a bottle of Everclear into every batch.
Elizabeth and Mario,
The restaurant says it uses Tortilla Tequila Silver, an obscure favorite of fratire author Tucker Max that’s pretty much the cheapest tequila money can buy.