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Q & A with Seamus Mullen

Posted on May 31, 2007 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Chef Seamus Mullen, who cooked at NYC’s Brasserie 8 1/2, Crudo and some of Spain’s best kitchens, brought a uniquely seasonal and ingredient-driven approach to the authentic Spanish cuisine at Boqueria. The perpetual wait at the sleek new Flatiron eatery suggests he must be doing something right – so does the two stars he received from the New York Times.  Perhaps, it’s the simply prepared quail eggs with chorizo or a delightful snarl of cuttlefish seasoned with apple, plump peas, garlic and mint. Riding the recent success at Boqueria, Rochefort decided to revamp the space at his Lower East Side “other half”, Suba, enlisting Mullen to do the same with the menu.   Think refined sharing as the chef ventures a sophisticated spin on Spanish cuisine.  Boqueria’s cuttlefish special in tote, Mullen’s also conceived crispy frog legs with pickled cucumber...

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Scott Conant Summers in Tutto Il Giorno

Posted on May 30, 2007 in Reviews

New York City’s loss tastes a lot like Sag Harbor’s gain as Scott Conant resurfaces at the beach.  After his recent split with partner Chris Cannon, Conant made an exit from the kitchens of L’Impero & Alto.  But before parting, he left his mark as a capable Italian chef with a clientele so loyal they followed him all the way to a quaint new eatery overlooking the Sag Harbor Marina.  Co-owners Larry Baum & retired Conde Nast CEO Steve Florio brilliantly wrangled Conant to consult on the straightforward Italian menu.  “I’m not reinventing the wheel,” Scott explains as he details the bold, but simple flavors in an asparagus & mussel soup or fritto misto. The cozy, yellow-tinted setting offers 30 thirty already very precious seats.  Only the Thursday before Memorial Day Weekend and there was already a 45 minute...

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Sugar-Coated Inflation

Posted on May 28, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Never mind the price of gas, has anyone else noticed the cost of honey-roasted peanuts has recently doubled from $1 to $2.  Call it Central Park inflation, the increase only effects vendors around or in Central Park.  “Do you know how much it costs to rent this cart?” a disgruntled cart Nuts 4 Nuts owner grumbles at me.  “$75,000 a year.” Apparently, this leaves Central Park vendors no choice but to raise the price of peanuts.  Curiously enough, almonds & cashews have remained at a steady $2, coconut $3. Thus, I’m offically proposing an official citywide boycott of all $2 honey-roasted peanuts on two accounts.  I ask you: how much could it possibly cost to roast nuts in sugar syrup?  My second point of contention: the glaring deception that these second-class legumes are coated in honey, when they actually...

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Q & A With Jeffrey Chodorow

Posted on May 23, 2007 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Jeffrey Chodorow goes on record, following Adam Platt’s one-star New York Magazine review of the controversial restaurateur’s most recent project: Wild Salmon.  After calling it a wrap on English is Italian, Jeffrey flew in chef Charles Ramseyer from Seattle and a boundless supply of Pacific Northwest salmon, transforming the sizeable midtown space into a copper-gilded seafood temple. Let’s rewind a few months to Jeffrey’s Kobe Club venture.  And let’s be candid: Bruni, Platt, & Cuozzo’s collective pan of the samurai sword-sleek steakhouse, all read more like personal slights against Chodorow & his entire CGM empire, than a gastronomic exposition of the menu itself.  Swanky and overpriced?  Yes, but I could make a naughty habit out of chef Russel Titland’s flavorful bacon sprinkled with black truffles. Jeffrey retaliated by taking out a full-page ad in the New York Times to...

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The Juice

Posted on May 22, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

It just so happens that Restaurant Girl has a sister.  While I’m usually indulging in something deliciously unhealthy, she may be indulging in the latest exercise trend, gyrotonics (no, that’s not a drink).  My sister and her partner – let’s call them the Juice Girls – have created Vital Juice Daily, a health & wellness daily email.  They’ve just returned from Chicago’s Fancy Food Show with the skinny on the latest food fashions…the healthy ones anyway. It seems cocktail menus may be getting a makeover from two unlikely sources…more commonly found in your beach bag or grandmother’s garden: Aloe Vera, a go-to summer sun mistake combatant, is not only being marketed as a juice, but is also making its way into cocktails around the city.  Case in point: Geisha’s aloe vera martini.   Its healing properties might just neutralize the...

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Gourmet Gripes

Posted on May 20, 2007 in Gourmet Gripes

Though it was hard to choose from the many grievances I’ve received this past week – apparently there are quite a few unhappy diners in NYC – this beef’s particularly close to my heart: I can’t stand when a restaurant’s host lies about how long the wait is.  I don’t know how many times a week I have to go through this.  The worst was when I went to Norma’s and they quoted me thirty minutes.  I must’ve asked ten times and they ended up seating us almost two hours later.  I would’ve left, but I was starving and couldn’t bear the thought of going to another restaurant and having to wait all over again.  But for god’s sake, just call a spade a spade.  If it’s going to be thirty minutes, tell me thirty minutes!  If you don’t...

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Q & A With Floyd Cardoz

Posted on May 17, 2007 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

When Mayor Danny Meyer appointed Floyd Cardoz to be executive chef of his fourth restaurant pursuits, he valiantly redefined New Yorker’s perception of Indian cooking.  A native of Bombay, Cardoz has managed to elevate Indian to a refined plane, seamlessly marrying local produce with exotic Indian spices.  Spice-crusted beef loin is vibrantly weaved together with pickled ramps, sweet corn, chanterelles and star anise jus.  Seared stripe bass glistens in maple-tamarind.  But Cardoz’ deft technique is not merely a fluke, but a product of culinary studies in Switzerland and time spent in Lespinasse’s kitchen with Gray Kunz. What did you want to be when you grew up? A doctor or marine biologist How did you get into food? I’m from Goa, a community of food and beverage loving people. My family’s conversations regularly revolved around food and cooking, and we...

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Seeing Double at Perilla

Posted on May 16, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Dinner was nearly ethereal at Top Chef winner Harold Dieterle’s Perilla last night, but I’ll get to that a little later in the week.  While the handsome chef remained behind closed kitchen doors, another attractive Top Chef alumni made an appearance in the front of the house.  Sam Talbot, who coincidentally parted ways with Wil & Rob Shamlian of Spitzer’s Corner that very same day as first reported by Eater, spent the evening running in and out of the kitchen.   Perhaps he was seeking counsel from the Season One veteran, who was busy feeding a packed house.  It was a television star-studded evening at Greenwich Village’s newest hot spot, where Sarah Jessica Parker dined in a nearby booth. Until we eat again, Restaurant Girl **Don’t forget to subscribe for Restaurant Girl’s Weekly...

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Posted on May 15, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 71 Spring St., btwn. Crosby & Lafayette Sts. Phone: 212.966.5050 Cuisine: French-bent global Vibe: Modern swank Scene: Euro crowd Hours: Dinner, Mon – Thu, 5:30pm – 10:30pm; Fri & Sat, 5:30pm – 11pm; Lunch, Friday, 12pm-2:30pm. First Bite Impressions: Lost in translation Price: Appetizers, $14; Entrees, $30. Reservations: Reservations recommended. Chef Didier Virot & his partner Philip Kirsh are testing their luck at NYC’s restaurant roulette again.  While Virot’s first venture notably brought refined French to the Upper West Side, he’s decided this time to tempt fate in Soho with a mixed bag of nearly every cuisine under the “French sun” (Lebanon, Morocco, Vietnam, & Africa to name a few).  The two-level space also happens to be in throwing distance from Balthazar, which makes it nearly impossible to avoid side-by-side comparisons to McNally’s French tour de force. ...

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Posted on May 12, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 357 Sixth Ave., at Washington Place Phone: 212.414.3088 Cuisine: Japanese/sushi Vibe: Unadorned serenity Scene: Serious sushi endeavors Hours: Dinner, Mon – Sat, 5:45pm – 11:45pm.  Closed Sundays. First Bite Impressions:  Transcendent tryst Inside Scoop: Omakase service begins later this month Note to Self: BYOB (If you forget, Waverly Liquors is nearby) Don’t Miss Dish: Steamed lobster with uni mousse Price: Appetizers, $10-20; Entrees, $20-30. Reservations: Reservations recommended. After eleven years of sushi service in an Atlanta strip mall, chef Sotohiro Kosugi has shut his doors and set off for the big city.  The notoriously temperamental, “sushi nazi” wrangled a Food & Wine Best New Chef in 1997 for his masterful way with creatures of the sea.  But after one too many tantrums, the chef wanted to start with a clean slate.  And that’s exactly what designer Hiro Tsuruta...

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Restaurant Buzz

Posted on May 11, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

There’s no end in sight to the continuous barrage of burger joints, designer steaks and kobe clubs.  It’s a carnivore’s dilemma…and no, I’m not speaking of ethics.  Oh no.  I’ve had many a fling with foie gras and my way with veal, so I’m most certainly game for another chop shop.  First things first: Angelo & Maxie’s has taken over the kitchen store next door with plans for a July, Angelo & Maxie’s Grill.  Of course, this means August.  Not unlike Smith & Wollensky’s Grill, the menu will offer burgers & a host of other casual, less expensive grub.  But the real coup, will be the endless procession of flat screens and late-night hours.  Might there finally be a sports bar with decent food – why has this concept not caught on yet?  But wait, there’s more… The Scotto...

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Gourmet Gripe

Posted on May 9, 2007 in Gourmet Gripes

Dear Restaurant Girl, “Hi, can I make a reservation for 2 for dinner please?  Sure, we can offer you 4:30pm or 12:15am.”  What planet are these people from??  That is earlier than the early bird special for Ethel and Ira in Miami Beach.  And who sits down for dinner at 12:15am?  Seriously. How about they just say we are booked and do away with these wasteland time offerings.  It is so silly and obnoxious.  Normally when they offer me these times I say I will take both….. G DAWG Isn’t it fun to get things off your chest?  Complaining can be very fulfilling, so keep ’em coming. Until we eat again, Restaurant Girl **Don’t forget to subscribe for Restaurant Girl’s Weekly...

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UES Gets Sauced

Posted on May 8, 2007 in Sneak Peek

The newest addition to the gimmicky food set has me recalling Meg Ryan (When Harry Met Sally) demanding, "I want the sauce, but only if it’s on the side."  A restaurant that actually wants to put up with New York City’s most high maintenance.  God bless him: Saucy’s chef, Simon Mann, plans to lure fickle ladies with a build-it-yourself, mix & match menu. Well, there’s certainly no better neighborhood to open this type of joint than on the Upper East Side.  Post-pilates or the exercise class du jour, starved females can retreat to the 75-seat space, outfitted with a mirror & burlap-bag festooned ceiling and black-leather banquettes, to graze on organic chicken, filet mignon or pasta with a choice of fifty globally-inspired sauces: anchovy, tandoori, calamari and a French grenadine sauce.  But the most curious offering is a garlic,...

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Devin Tavern’s Spring Cleaning

Posted on May 7, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

For Devin Tavern, spring cleaning apparently means more than just cleaning out a closet or seasonally updating the menu.  Chef Christoper Dunn has officially been “let go”: gone is the “rustic” American menu and sadly those chocolate-covered potato chips I did so adore.  Alas, hopefuly chef Derrick Styczek (River Cafe) will cushion the blow with his modern american cooking.  Not one single dish has made the cut onto the new menu, which features the likes of short rib ragu and king crab flat iron steak – apparently a NYC first.  Out with the old and in with new pastry chef James Distefano, who’s doing the retro thing: double chocolate cake, mixed berry cobbler and a slow-roasted pineapple upside down cake.  It seems the slow-roasting trend has snuck its way into desserts.  Whether the new menu’s worth a trip to...

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Q & A With The Insatiable Gael Greene

Posted on May 5, 2007 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Gael Greene began her career in food even before New York was a city worthy of culinary reckoning.  Finding her way onto the dining scene by way of New York Magazine, she launched her column, “Insatiable Critic”, and simultaneously pioneered the very notion of a foodie.  From her infamous sexual encounter with Elvis and a fried egg sandwich to the imminent 21st century launch of, Gael’s witnessed over four decades of food history.  Unabashedly mixing business with pleasure, Gael’s pretty much seen, done and eaten it all… What did you want to be when you grew up? A novelist. My heroes were Scott Fitzgerald, D.H. Lawrence, Katherine Anne Porter. Carson McCullers. Hemingway.   I wanted to sit at the Deux Magots Cafe in Paris writing and feel the earth move. An accidental critic of sorts, you curiously pioneered the...

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Posted on May 3, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 137 MacDougal St., btwn. Prince & Spring Sts. Phone: 212.475.7500 Cuisine: Provencal French Vibe: Country charm Scene: An unassuming romantic Hours: Dinner, Mon – Sat, 5:30pm – 11:30pm. Inside Scoop: May 1st, Sunday night dinner begins.  Come mid-May, lunch 7 days a week. Don’t Miss Dish: Salt cod fritters First Bite Impressions: Neighborhood gem Price: Appetizers, $10; Entrees, $23. Reservations: Reservations recommended. In this freakishly fast-paced dining climate, restaurateurs often resort to convoluted fusion tactics & garish gimmicks to garner attention.  It’s easy for diners to get caught up in the rat race, too busy sampling the latest in foie gras powder or Italian-Japanese fusion to revisit our neighborhood favorites.  We take steadfast spots like Provence for granted.  And then one day, owner Jean Michael & his restaurant shutter after nearly twenty years. But Marc Meyer and...

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Pizza Paired

Posted on May 2, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Fancy this…it seems a beer isn’t worthy of the almighty slice these days.  Then again, what do you expect when you enlist Gourmet Magazine’s wine aficionado to tweak the wine list at a pizza joint?  While obsessed oenephiles have been scientifically pairing pizza & wine for decades, it’s only in the past few years that restaurants like Batali-Bastianich’s Otto & Vincent Scotto’s Gonzo have come along to introduce aggressive wine programs.  Michael Ayoub’s Cronkite Pizzeria & Wine Bar, a LES subterranean pizza place with inventively topped pies, has just launched a new wine menu and with it, a wine flight.  Wine expert Michael Green has apparently taken his cue from the pizza menu, which is uniquely organized according to generation: classic, regional & modern.  Essentially – the older the pie, the less trappings.  For example, a margherita pizza would...

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Debut Gripe

Posted on May 1, 2007 in Gourmet Gripes

It has recently come to my attention that too many a restaurant grievance goes unaired: an all too apathetic server, a half-thawed hen, a mortgage-your-meal check.  After my inbox reached capacity for the 11th time, I have finally decided to make two changes. First, I finally purchased more email space, so feel free to gripe away.  But more importantly, hereon forward I will now post the most noteworthy or glaring offenses in a weekly column, deemed Gourmet Gripes.  It’s official.  Thus, you stand warned that when you beef, it will go public. Seeing as I only enacted the new policy this week, I’ll happily be the first to throw an objection into the mix.  Behold, my greatest dining displeasure – the unisex bathroom.  While I prayed this trend would die out, it seems all too alive and well.  Case...

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