Thor Loses Third Chef; Tribeca Can Thank Girl Scouts for the Completion of AgoChelsea: The old Bright Food Shop space will be replaced by Tommy’s Mexican Grill, seemingly from the owners of Tello’s, Mare, and Casa Havana, the latter of which is set to replace Havana Chelsea. [Blog Chelsea]
Clinton Hill: Gnarly Vines boutique wine store has opened and is offering a promotional discount of 15 percent off full and mixed cases. [Clinton Hill Blog]
Lower East Side: Thor’s third executive chef (after Kurt Gutenbrunner and Kevin Pomplun), Mark Spangenthal, has now abandoned the restaurant after realizing “that this marriage wasn’t going to work.” [Eater]
Tribeca: One conjecture on De Niro’s source for the thousands of corks that protrude from Ago’s ceiling: They were acquired “from a branch of the Canadian girls scouts that collected and sold them for charity.” [Down by the Hipster]
Upper East Side: The French Institute will host a Beaujolais Nouveau tasting party on November 15 in their new skyroom at 22 East 60th Street. [Zagat] The Pierre hotel will close at the end of December for an entire year during a $100 million renovation that includes revamping Cafe Pierre and its bar. [NewYorkology]
Porta-Café Touching Down in Columbus Circle; La Marmite Back in HarlemAstoria: Sorriso’s Italian Salumeriaa at 44-16 30th Avenue makes a serious Rosino Panino. “It may look like chicken, but those thick white slabs in the middle of the sandwich are actually house-made slices of fresh mozzarella (made three times a day) piled atop a generous helping of prosciutto cotto.” [Serious Eats]
Chelsea: P.S. 11’s fall festival this Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. features a ten-piece salsa band, free food, and a bake sale, plus it’s open to the public. [Blog Chelsea]
East Village: Back Forty from Savoy chef Peter Hoffman is opening October 17. [Grub Street]
Harlem: La Marmite restaurant has finally opened in its new location. [Uptown Flavor]
Lower East Side: Now’s your chance to be the next Sam Mason: Thor is looking for its own rock-star pastry chef. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Tribeca: The new home for Steak Frites will be the same space that was temporarily the doomed Charolais. [Eater]
Upper West Side: From November 28 to December 29, Illy coffee will maintain a “Push Button House” in the Time Warner Center; the installation is basically a large shipping crate that opens to reveal a full-service café that premiered at the 52nd Venice Biennale. [NotCot]
Exclusive: Thor Gets Third Chef, Rivington Street Gets Third Stripper Pole Changes are afoot at the Hotel on Rivington. First Kevin Pomplun replaced Kurt Gutenbrunner at Thor, and now we’ve discovered that Mark Spangenthal, formerly of Dining Room and the Screening Room, is the new head toque. His dishes are expected to roll out in the next few weeks, and if they’re as good as Hal Rubenstein thought the ones at Dining Room were, we’ll be in luck.
Back of the House
Take Off Your Toque: Partying With Daniel Boulud
There have been a flurry of Chef Q&As in the blogosphere lately, but Gothamist’s sit-down with Daniel Humm of Eleven Madison Park really stood out for us. Part of it was the chef’s unabashed enthusiasm for three-star European chefs nobody has ever heard of. (Nobody, that is, who reads blogs.) Then there was this tidbit, which interviewer Hugh Merwin saved for last: After this year’s James Beard Awards, Humm threw an informal party at Eleven Madison. The highlight was 80 drunken guests pouring into the kitchen, where Daniel Boulud made scrambled eggs with truffles. This just highlights an important food rule: Always follow Boulud. Last year, the highlight of the after-party at Thor was Boulud jumping up on the bar and spraying everyone with champagne at three in the morning. If you can’t hang out with the man, at least read about it in Gothamist.
Daniel Humm, Chef [Gothamist]
Thor Struck Down on the LES; Bruni Rides the Bull in Midtown West?Clinton Hill: Recent openings: Manee Thai from the owners of Myrtle Thai and Nuevo Latino spot Tamboril. [Clinton Hill Blog]
Coney Island: The world’s largest “lollypop” has been installed by an artist to commemorate Philip’s Candy (1930–2001). [Kinetic Carnival]
Long Island City: LIC Bar at 45-58 Vernon Boulevard is hosting a BBQ and free concert with local bands this Sunday from 4 to 7:30 p.m. [Joey in Astoria]
Lower East Side: Thor gets gutted with no warning. [Eater]
Midtown West: Frank Bruni contemplated riding the bull at Johnny Utah’s. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]
Prospect Heights: Rye with fresh blackberries, mint, and ginger beer, and gin with peaches and homemade thyme syrup are among cocktails available at Flatbush Farm Sunday from 4 to 6 p.m. during a farmer’s-market tasting event. [A Brooklyn Life]
Brothers Bromberg Bringing Japanese Barbecue to Columbus CircleAstoria: Bistro 33 on Ditmars at 21st Street has opened its outdoor seating and launched a weekend brunch featuring apple-Brie omelettes and blueberry pancakes. [Joey in Astoria]
Battery Park City: Former Thor chef Kevin Pomplun is the director of operations for Will Goldfarb’s kiosk, Picnick, and there are more details about what will be on offer. [Gothamist]
Columbus Circle: The Blue Ribbon coming to new hotel Six Columbus will transcend sushi by offering both a raw bar and Japanese barbecue. [Down by the Hipster]
Harlem: Legendary soul-food destination Copeland’s Restaurant will close on Monday after 50 years and one last Sunday brunch. [NYT]
Lower East Side: The herring at Russ & Daughters builds “manly strength.” [Eat for Victory/VV]
Red Hook: DeFonte’s owner can’t go on vacation without spurring concern that the mom-and-pop sandwich shop has closed for good. [Lost City]
Sagaponack: Townline BBQ is up and running as of Monday, hoping to succeed where four other restaurants have failed. [NYT]
Will Goldfarb Is Changing the World, One Kiosk at a Time
The last time we checked in, Will Goldfarb, the Room 4 Dessert chef, had just begun convincing restaurants around town to outsource their dessert program to him. Now the ultracaffeinated cake whiz has colonized Battery Park, beating out some major rivals to develop and operate two lunch kiosks there. The stands won’t be open until late summer, but Goldfarb has typically high-concept plans for both. Former Thor chef Kevin Pomplun will run the kitchen, producing high-end sandwiches (a sous-vide chicken club; an oil-packed Sardinian tuna with tarragon mayo on ciabatta) and Goldfarbian desserts (pistachio panna cotta, hot chocolate mousse).
Kevin Pomplun, New Chef at Thor, Now the Old Chef at Thor
Thor’s hammer has come down on Kevin Pomplun, the young chef who was hired last fall to replace Kurt Guttenbrunner at the swanky restaurant at the Hotel on Rivington. Thor’s GM, Herve Rossano, tells us that Pomplun packed his knives and left and that the restaurant is currently looking for a new chef. We suspect the unexplained departure has something to do with the absolute lack of buzz or interest in Pomplun’s modern American menu. Given that the eyes of the restaurant world will be on Thor when the James Beard Awards after-party is again thrown there, the pressure is on to find someone to mind the store.
Earlier: Thor’s New Chef: I Just Want to Fit In!
Back of the House
Casual Is the New Snooty — But Chefs Are Still Better Than YouChefs are imperious demigods who impose endless indignities on diners, Bruni says; also admits the possibility that critics may be partially to blame. [NYT]
What’s life like for big-shot chefs, anyway? How much money do they make, and where does it come from? Flay, Batali, and a number of lesser beings spill the beans. [NYT]
According to annonymous sources, Rachel Ray apparently had a few racially insensitive words to say about her new patron Oprah Winfrey two years ago. [TMZ]
Thor’s New Chef: I Just Want to Fit In!
Thor, the posh Germanic restaurant in the Rivington Hotel, was never really true to the spirit of the Lower Eastpacking District. But now that Kevin Pomplun is replacing Kurt Gutenbrunner and reimagining the place as an American bistro, that’s all about to change.
“We’re totally revamping,” the young chef tells us. “I don’t want Thor to be this huge steel and glass structure that’s too intimidating to come to. I’m not trying to be more than the neighborhood. I want to fit in.” It goes without saying that this means that between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m. and Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, there will be a late-night menu, bottle service, and — you guessed it — D.J.’s. The food will be lighter and more fun than under Herr Gutenbrunner; think fish sticks served with malt-vinegar foam, and a steamed black bass over sautéed pea shoots with lemon-marinated chanterelles. “We’re trying to get the word out there that there’s a switch at Thor,” Pomplun said. We’ll be sure tell all our friends who would otherwise be at 205.
A Pot in the Dark: Deep Down in Thor
After some duck ravioli and cod fritters at the sleek Thor, inside the Hotel Rivington, we located what appears to be a sentry box between the bar and cheery-bright, glass-ceilinged dining room that actually cloaks stairs leading down to a gloomy bathroom lair.
Back of the House
Mario Slammed for His Crocs; Zagat’s Dinner Prices a Crock?Plenty of new chefs and openings to report, but the real hubbub is over the persistence of Batali’s orange shoes and a certain skinny red book.
• Per the Flo chart, Boulud opens a wine bar, Tourondel opens a burger joint, and Neiporent teams up with Bao 111’s Michael Huyn for a Vietnamese venture. [NYT]
• Batali wears the Crocs for a movie premiere and our friends the Fug Girls declare him “the poster child for this crime against global retinas.” Meanwhile Radar reports he dishwashes his 30 pairs. [Chow]
• New chefs attempt to breathe life into Gilt (Chris Lee; lobster sliders), Thor (Kevin Pomplun; oxtail fettuccini), and tapas bar Marbella (Fernando Echeverri, squid-stuffed chorizo). [Strong Buzz]
• Zagat drops, and Jennifer Leuzzi asks the usual chefs how they feel about landing the usual spots. [NYS]
• Meanwhile, Steve Cuozzo complains that Tim and Nina are still lowballing meal costs, which have climbed 14.5 percent at top spots: “Many figures given as the ‘average estimate of the price of a dinner with one drink and tip’ at specific restaurants still seem more like cheapest-case scenarios than averages.” [NYP]
• Finally, last call for the chipotle-gorgonzola-black-bean-lasagne at Williamsburg’s eatery-cum-screening-room Monkey Town. [Eater]