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The In Box

  1. The In-box
    My Name Is Evelyn, and I’m a Chile Relleno AddictDear Grub Street, I just got back from a glorious trip to San Diego, where I managed to develop a minor addiction to chile relleno burritos. Now, in a quest to get this food on the East Coast, I am finding that, well, I can’t find it anywhere! Am I going to have to book a flight back, freeze-wrap a few, and bring them home? Open up my own stand? Help! Evelyn
  2. The In-box
    Excuse Me, But Craft Didn’t Start the FireDear Grub Street, I read what you wrote about Craft’s ingredient-centric influence the other day, and I think you’re way off. Didn’t you ever hear of Chez Panisse, Alice Waters’s hugely influential Berkeley restaurant? Is it gauche for American cuisine to have a history longer than fifteen minutes? Or is this a New York thing? I’m seriously asking, as a former Bay Area resident who feels that some of the food values of that region aren’t fully appreciated here — or, if they are, they get fetishized as new discoveries. Jane
  3. The In-box
    Why Wasn’t I Completely Floored by Craft?Dear Grub Street, I’m hoping someone can explain Craft to me. I was taken there the other night for my birthday dinner and came away completely confused and disappointed. Really, what’s the big deal? What’s with all the glowing reviews? Andrea
  4. The In-box
    Where Do I Party With Pupu Platters? And Strong Drinks? And, Oh, Mirrors? Dear Grub Street, I’m on a quest to find the perfect restaurant venue, so naturally I went straight to the source. A group of fifteen to twenty desperately seeks a Chinese restaurant with over-the-top hokey décor, mirrored walls, and decent food. And strong drinks. Well, the mirrored walls aren’t a requirement, but someplace that will allow semi-raucous, dressed-in-a-theme patrons and hopefully not be more than $25 a head. Does this place exist? Andrew
  5. The In-box
    Reader Has Already Had Valentine’s Day RuinedTurns out you don’t have to be a famed restaurateur like Drew Nieporent to get bad service at the Cafe at Country. A reader saw our post on that debacle the other day and tells us that he became “nervous” — apparently, he’d made a reservation there for a Valentine’s Day breakfast with a “friend.” His fears, it turns out, were not unfounded.
  6. The In-box
    Where Should I Eat on Valentine’s Day — Alone? Grub Street, So how about suggesting places to go on Valentine’s Day when you’re alone and don’t have a valentine? Signed, R Dear R, It just so happens that the Underground Gourmet recommended a “breakup burger” yesterday. But if you’re not simply looking to drown your sorrows in a “ripe slab of Limburger cheese and a pile of chopped raw onion,” may we suggest the following candidates, each perfect, in different ways, for solo dining.
  7. The In-box
    When Vegans AttackDaily Intel has gone and done it. In the course of musing over a Times article on animal-free fashion yesterday, they happened to mention that they think vegans are “kind of stupid.” As it turns out, vegan readers were not pleased. “I double-dare you to tell this fine-ass, highly educated, NYC Jewish girl that I’m stupid in person,” begins one of the responses that they’ve published today. Makes our post on the unifying powers of the burger all the more poignant. We’ve Angered the Vegans [Daily Intel]
  8. The In-box
    How in God’s Name Do I Get a Table at Babbo?Dear Grub Street, I’m trying to make a rez for a two-year-anniversary dinner at Babbo, and the lines are busy. Ought I: Try to make a reservation in person? See if I can shake down anyone for the “special” number? Or enlist the services of a pal who is a concierge? Seriously — it shouldn’t be this hard in January, should it? UGH! Yours, Frustrated
  9. The In-box
    Reader: The City’s Dim Sum Sucks. But Here Are the Places I Like! We recently heard from our friend Francis Lam, a connoisseur of Chinese food who had some intriguing things to say in response to our post on the wooing of Chinatown Brasserie’s Joe Ng by Bensonhurst restaurateurs. “Frankly speaking, the dim sum I know of in the city just doesn’t match up to the best stuff in Hong Kong and Vancouver. What you can get in those and other places is much more in line with Joe Ng’s work at Chinatown Brasserie, which I would definitely call head and shoulders above anything else here. (Secretly, I’m glad he’s being headhunted back to a Chinese community in Brooklyn, where it will be more affordable and the product turnover will be higher.)” Okay, Francis. So where do you get decent dim sum in the city?
  10. The In-box
    Where Do I Feed Texas Tourists? Also: Is There a God?Dear Grub Street, I have some friends coming into town from Texas and want to recommend a great restaurant to them. I think they’d appreciate a Texas theme, but I’m not sure if Lonesome Dove is really the way to go, or if Blue Smoke or Dinosaur are better bets instead. Money doesn’t seem to be much of an issue. Jenni Dear Jenni, The best barbecue in New York is RUB. They have great burnt ends, a beef-brisket treat any meat-eating Texan can appreciate. But they’re not going to get better Texas food here than at home. I would take them to Great N.Y. Noodletown for Chinese spareribs. Or, if money really isn’t an issue, this may be your one chance for a meal at Masa!
  11. The In-box
    My Wife and I Demand to Know What Happened to Fiamma Dear Grub Street, My wife and I dined the other night at Fiamma in Soho. The big surprise was not the empty room but the mediocre food. I asked if Michael White, the chef we’ve followed over the years, was in the kitchen, and the waiter leaned in to say quietly that the chef had actually quit two weeks ago and that he had done so the week his Fiamma cookbook had been delivered. I have not read anything about this move anywhere. Disappointed
  12. The In-box
    ‘Cold, Sweet, Liquid Crack’ Mourned Daniel 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. Elizabeth Spiridakis 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. Mario Haro 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.
  13. The In-box
    Getting Your Goat; What’s Your Problem With the Hawaiian Tropic Zone?Letters, we got letters … Dear Grub Street, I just read your “review” of David Burke at the Hawaiian Tropic Zone … You the writer sound so uptight that you actually need to spend some time at a strip club. According to your article, the place is worse than Hooters. I am shocked at your lack of objectivity. The restaurant is actually a classy concept that mixes beautiful women with great food and drink. Give it a chance before you go for the jugular. I would like to think of New York Magazine as being fair. Not single-minded and judgmental based on your own insecurities! Loosen up! Mark, The item you’re referring to wasn’t a review, but in any case, you’ve got us all wrong. We LOVE the Hawaiian Tropic Zone precisely because it is such a crass idea. David Burke is a great chef, and there is no way the place can fail. Go for the jugular? We would invest in the Hawaiian Tropic Zone if we could! Yours, Grub Street
  14. The In-box
    Owner: You Can’t Buy Jovia, But What Would You Give Us for the Chandelier? Recently we wrote about the possibility of UES favorite Jovia putting its handblown, Murano-glass light fixtures, including the distinctive chandelier, on the chopping block. Here’s a response from Stephen Loffredo, owner of Jovia and Zoë.
  15. The In-box
    There’s Something We Have to Tell You Those tropical fruits: Like us, they’re easily confused. Loyal reader Neil Peterson, of Peterson Pawpaws in Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, writes in to say that we committed a grave mistake in the illustration of our recent post on pawpaws: “That fruit is not a pawpaw (Asimina triloba), the native American fruit, but a papaya (Carica papaya), the tropical fruit of the Caribbean. I understand the confusion because in the tropics many people call papaya pawpaw.” Apples and oranges, folks, apples and oranges. We regret the error.
  16. The In-box
    Birthday Girl: Wooo! I Wanna Party! Grub Street, Any suggestions for a fun place downtown for a birthday dinner for eleven? These days it seems like all the new places are teeny or gargantuan! Thanks, Kerri
  17. The In-box
    Miserly Tim Love Sets Us Straight The other day we wrote about what seemed like the biggest swindle since the sale of Manhattan — Texas chef Tim Love’s paying, according to a newspaper report, over $1 million a year in rent for his new medium-size restaurant on West 21st Street, Lonesome Dove Western Bistro. Mr. Love himself wrote in and told us that we’d been sold a bill of goods: “I was kinda surprised by that figure in the Star Telegram too … There seems to be an extra zero added in there, because that would definitely be a Texas-sized price. I plan on cooking here for a long time, and if my rent were that high, that might make things a little difficult. Oh and by the way, I think my space looks pretty nice! I appreciate your concern!” Maybe you can’t believe everything you read.
  18. The In-box
    Hungry Theatergoer: Please, Good Sir, How Do I Avoid Tourists? You’ve got questions, we’ve got Internet access and fairly good research skills. Send your food and restaurant queries to Grub Street. Grub Street, I’m taking my mom & sister to a Broadway show on a Friday night next month. We’d like to have dinner first, but I’m frightened of the tourist-driven restaurants in the theater district. Where do you recommend for a great meal and atmosphere that allows for conversation and that will be convenient to Broadway? Joanna Harp, West Village