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Varietal – Bruni Aftershocks

Posted on Mar 29, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

A week later and Varietal is still feeling the aftershocks of Frank Bruni’s rather salty review.  Even before that, Adam Platt had knocked Chelsea’s wine-centric restaurant for being overly fussy and self-conscious.  But it seems Bruni’s New York Times piece was the last straw: pastry chef Jordan Kahn (French Laundry & Alinea), known for his whimsical and often bizarre creations, has decided to depart to pursue other offers.  Most recently, chef Ed Witt (Il Buco) broke by way of Eater that he would also be moving on to open a restaurant in Long Island.   “I think it would be silly to say that [the reviews] didn’t play a part,” Hockenberry later explained to Grub Street. What now?  What will become of Varietal?  Owner Greg Hockenberry seems more enthusiastic than ever about Varietal’s future.  In an interesting turn of events, chef...

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Posted on Mar 24, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 226 W. 50th St., btwn. Broadway & 8th Aves. Phone: 212.258.2988 Cuisine: Japanese-Italian fusion Vibe: Typical modern Asian Scene: Times Square escapees Hours: Sun – Mon, 11:30am – 11pm, Tue – Fri, 11:30am-11:30pm. Sat, 12pm-12am. Scoop: Separate bar & lounge with sushi-slanted lounge menu. Price: Appetizers, $2.50-$15.  Entrees, $16-38. Reservations: Reservations accepted. Times Square’s a tricky stretch to open an ambitious restaurant.  The late 7Square, a modern chophouse with Lespinasse-trained chef Shane McBride, quickly comes to mind.  With Ruby Foo’s, Carmine’s & the relentless bowl of pasta at the Olive Garden, tourists & theater-goers are pretty much covered.  But with numerous successes under their belt, restaurateurs Barbara Matsumura & Haru Konagaya seem to know how to please the public at large.  Inspired by a recent trip to Italy, their newest gig is a bold move: a Japanese-Italian...

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Le Cirque's Lunch Box

Posted on Mar 22, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

It seems New Yorkers no longer have to take out a second mortgage to dine at Sirio Maccioni’s Le Cirque.  That is, for lunch anyway.  This week Le Cirque’s launching their cafe "Lunch Box", a three-course meal for $25.  To hell with that $8 sandwich from Mangia, which apparently arrives with a complementary grasshopper (see Eater for complete details).  If only mom had packed my Charlie’s Angels lunch box with red snapper and creme brulee.   Of course it doesn’t really come in a box, it’s Le Cirque.  A do-it-yourself menu, guests can choose from an array of savories – veal meatballs, spagetthi chittara and fava bean & pecorino sadly – then cap off the feast with tiramisu.  While not really a bargain, it’s also not such a bad deal for those who’ve never dined Maccioni-style or glimpsed the lionized...

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Q & A With Wayne Nish

Posted on Mar 21, 2007 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Par for the course for veterans on the restaurant battlefield these days, Wayne Nish has reshaped his menu to appeal to a hipper palate and clientele.  What was March (New American) has morphed into modern fusion at the now casual Nish, still located in the same serene Sutton Place townhouse.  Deemed one of the “founding fathers” of fusion, Wayne Nish plays with global flavors with a strong inclination toward all things Asian.  With a menu that requires a glossary, Nish isn’t meant for the impatient dining set.   But I quickly determined that patience is a virtue over a dinner that which included a delicate sashimi of hirame, sweet lobster and silky bay scallops.  The top-notch cheese service from an elusive and a charming outdoor terrace make Nish irresistible come spring.  What did you want to be when you...

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World Water Day

Posted on Mar 20, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

3.22.07 Celebrate World Water Day on Thursday at one of 290 participating restaurants by paying just $1 for a glass of tap water (refills included).  All proceeds go to Unicef’s Tap Project, which provides safe water supplies to over 90 countries worldwide.  Besides, NYC’s tap water tastes far better than designer water...

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The Inn LW12

Posted on Mar 17, 2007 in Best Of

Address: 7 Ninth Ave., at Little W. 12th St. Phone: 212.206.0300 Cuisine: Canadian-British gastropub Vibe: Ski lodge meets hunting inn Scene: Buzzing. Hours: Seven days a week, Dinner, 5:30 pm-12 am; Lunch, 11:30 am – 3 pm; Late night, 12 am – 3 am. Price: Appetizers, $9-$15.  Entrees, $18-$36. Reservations: Same day reservations. Highly Recommend: Poutine (cheese fries with gravy) Official Website   The Inn LW12th (short for Little West 12th) is technically trendy.  First, it’s in the Meatpacking District.  Second, it rides the gastropub wave.  Third, it fronts the sign of the former occupant (Rio Mar), very fashionable and even more confusing than having no signage at all.  And yet surprisingly, this Canadian-British gastropub feels like a charming escape from the harrowing hipster zone that envelopes it.  This charming three-story townhouse is part ski lodge, part hunting inn. ...

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Q & A With Chris Santos

Posted on Mar 15, 2007 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

It’s not easy to stay fashionable in such a fussy city, but The Stanton Social opened with a bang and has been going strong ever since.  Chef Chris Santos has succeeded in luring the young & hungry to the Lower East Side for a multi-cultural menu of shared plates for almost two years. (That’s like ten in restaurant years.)  Chris has even managed to make french onion soup a social experience with an inspired dumpling version.  And let’s not overlook the fact that Chris was doing sliders – barbecued pulled-pork & kobe – before it was even in trendy.  Just who is this tattooed chef behind these savory bites? What did you want to be when you grew up? Initially a rock ‘n’ roll drummer. I grew up in the hair metal 80’s and boy you should have seen...

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Craftsteak Exclusive

Posted on Mar 13, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

85 Tenth Ave., at 15th St. (212)400-6699 In an interesting turn of events, it seems that Shane McBride has curiously emerged from the kitchen at Tom Colicchio’s Craftsteak.  That’s right, ladies and gentlemen.  Chef de cuisine Chris Albrecht has left the building (a month ago).  After opening the original Vegas Crafsteak, Chris Albrecht brought the king-size steakhouse concept to New York City’s Meatpacking District. Even with the recent onslaught of couture cuts available to mostly expense account clientele, few designer steakhouses could boast a steak sommelier and a menu that changes daily.  Still, Craftsteak has suffered a string of disappointing reviews, the cessation of lunch service, and even acquired a new stove in hopes of turning their luck around.  After suffering loss himself with the sudden closing of 7Square due to financial woes, Chef Shane McBride was a chef...

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Posted on Mar 12, 2007 in Reviews

204 West 55th St., btwn. 7th & Broadway Aves. 212-245-1234 TYPE: Mediterranean-American VIBE: Whimsical opulence OCCASION: Chichi date or group gathering DON’T MISS DISH: Roasted sea bass with rock shrimp DON’T BOTHER DISH: Stuffed ribeye steak DRINK SPECIALTY: Aperitifs & global wine list PRICE: $55 & up HOURS: Dinner, Sun – Mon, 5 PM-10 PM; Tue – Thu, 5PM-11PM, Fri & Sat, 5 PM – 12 AM.  Lunch daily, 11 AM – 3 PM (Start date TBD). INSIDE SCOOP: Lounge open with a separate 55th St. entrance, Sun – Wed, 5PM – 2AM, Thu-Sat, 5PM- 4AM (Start date TBD). RESERVATIONS: Reservations accepted. RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: 5.5 on food, 8 on atmosphere FINAL WORD: While undeniably posh, this well-heeled newcomer leans on style over substance: the cuisine slightly falters.  When in midtown, drop into Amalia for exotic desserts & handcrafted...

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Posted on Mar 12, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

45 Bond St., btwn. Lafayette & Broadway 212-529-8600 DELAYED OPENING (Opens March 21st) Who better to open a Spanish tapas joint than a native Barcelonian?  Owner Jaime Reixach has set out to do just that in a sleek Noho space on Bond Street, serving spanish small plates with a Catalan-bent (pasta, cod & fish stew).  With the not so shabby resumes of chefs David Seigal (Bouley) & Ryan Lowder (Jean Georges), Mercat has the potential to make waves in the vogue pursuit of tapas.  Don’t get me wrong: Mercat’s serious about its patatas bravas, hams, tortilla espanola, all-Spanish wine list and homemade sangrias. But while Mercat’s teasingly deemed open by many a media outlet, it remains closed due to a gas issue with the city.  Alas, we’ll just have to wait until March 21st to sample their wares. Until...

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Q & A With Bill Telepan

Posted on Mar 6, 2007 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Before opening his eponymous seasonal American restaurant on NYC’s Upper West Side, chef-owner Bill Telepan put his time in at kitchens like Gotham Bar & Grill, Le Bernardin and Judson Grill.  At Telepan, he brings elegance to coddled eggs, dishing them out at dinner atop scrapple.  Bill was a Greenmarketeer before it was even cool.  He’s somehow managed to lure downtowners north of 42nd Street and simultaneously please the impossibly fickle Upper West Sider. What did you want to be when you grew up? An electrical engineer or a rock guitar player How did you get into food? I worked in various restaurants while in high school and really liked it. So I decided on it as a career. Oh, and I liked to eat What was your first job in food? At the County Sweet Shoppe in my...

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Posted on Mar 4, 2007 in Sneak Peek

52nd Street, btwn. 5th & 6th Aves.212-582-6900 TYPE: New GreekVIBE: Sleek midtownerOCCASION: A serious date, business lunch or family gatheringDON’T MISS DISH: Trio of tuna, scallop & yellowtail crudoDRINK SPECIALTY: Eclectic wine listPRICE: $65 & upHOURS: Dinner, Mon – Thu, 5-10:30 pm, Friday & Saturday, 5-11 pm; Lunch, Mon – Fri, 12 – 2:45 pm.  RESERVATIONS: Reservations recommended, especially on weekends.RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: N/A for preview It had all the makings of a Greek tragedy: A gifted young chef, having just received pivotal acclaim for his Italian-Greek fusion at Dona, prematurely brought down by a greedy real estate developer.  So chef Michael Psilakis returned to his Upper West Side roots where he aptly reconceived his Modern Greek (Onera) into more rustic home-cooking with Kefi.       Less than two months since the closing of Dona, Psilakis has re-emerged with...

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Candela, Candela – The Restaurant formerly Known as Poetessa

Posted on Mar 1, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

92 Second Ave., btwn. 5th & 6th Sts. No phone number listed yet OPEN FOR BUSINESS Poetessa – back from the dead?  Well, not exactly but this East Village Italian has been reconceived as a Cuban/Italian fusion joint. While the signage reads “Cucina & Mojito Bar”, the technical name given to this new spot is Candela, Candela (named after a song in Buena Vista Social Club).  A strange brew, but owner Laura Germak assures us it’s an organic fit.  Croquetas jamon & tropical salads appear curiously adjacent to gnocchi & ravioli on the menu.  Now all they need is a guy who rolls cigar and pasta. Until we eat again, Restaurant Girl **Don’t forget to subscribe for Restaurant Girl’s Weekly...

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