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Q & A With Amanda Freitag

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

Anything but your boilerplate neighborhood Italian, Gusto’s outfitted in sleek black and white decor with Missoni striped barstools & vintage Viennese chandeliers.  Owner Sasha Muniak (Mangia & Centro Vinoteca) not only has an eye for design, but also talented chefs to implement this West Village spot’s seasonally-determined menu.  While Gusto debuted with Jody Williams, Amanda Freitag has skillfully stepped in, bringing her Mediterranean sensibilities to the table.  With a CIA education and considerable experience in some of New York’s most prominent kitchens (Vong, Cesca & Il Buco), she ably spices up the rustic cuisine with parmesan & prosciutto beignets, artichoke & pig’s feet-stuffed pork chop, and a roasted goat special on Wednesdays. Status: Single/Married/Divorced Single What did you want to be when you grew up? A dancer, I guess.  I still went for a high endurance career! What was...

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Dish of the Week

Posted on Jul 30, 2007 in Sneak Peek

As I plow through the perpetual blizzard of new eateries, I’ve discovered many a dish that aught be devoured immediately.  Thus, I’m officially kicking off my newly inducted weekly edition of “Dish of the Week”, or in this particular case…dessert.  Seeing that summer’s in full and much of the New York dining set have, for better or worse, made the Hamptons their weekend escape, I’ve sifted through the lot and happened upon a dessert so divinely dreamy it’s just wrong.  That’s right…dreamy.  While the parking lot mayhem at dining fixture Nick & Toni’s may compel you to continue farther East to The Clam Bar in Amangansett (a worthwhile & laid back alternative), the peach & walnut tarte is inarguably worth clamoring for a parking spot.  As we sunk our spoons into the gooey depths of this blissfully warm nibble...

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Revel’s Garden

Posted on Jul 25, 2007 in Al Fresco Dining, Best Of, Reviews

I’ll admit: The Meatpacking District has most recently evoked unfortunate memories of emasculated steaks at STK, inebriated hordes swarming Tenjune and many a wintry night battling for a taxi.  Revel has revived my hope for sanctuary in the midst of the madness.  Once known only as the “Bar With No Name”, this spot has recently gotten an actual name, a menu and a phone number to boot. Call me old-fashioned, but personally I’m partial to the reservation system and food.  A girl’s gotta eat.  Owner Paolo Secondo (Barolo & I Tre Merli) has implemented an international menu with delicate Mediterranean undertones.  With a backyard garden that seats 80 and dishes, the likes of spaghetti with lobster and bay scallops with chestnut honey & bacon, the Meatpacking District suddenly doesn’t seem so daunting.  That is, until you try to hail...

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Q & A With Alex Guarnaschelli

Posted on Jul 24, 2007 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

Although Butter is no doubt better known for its swanky downstairs lounge, a nocturnal playground for the glitterati & New York’s trendiest, but if you venture above ground, you’ll happen upon a serene, forested landscape with an accomplished chef, modestly dazzling diners with her New American menu.  Since 2005, Alex Guarnaschelli has put a unique spin on the driven, green market cuisine at this East Village spot.  As the daughter of successful cookbook author, Maria Guarnaschelli, food seems to run in the family.  With a culinary education from La Varenne in France, Alex has traipsed through many a prominent kitchen: the likes of three star Michelin-rated Guy Savoy, Daniel and LA’s Patina.  Now at home in NYC and Butter’s kitchen, she churns out such signatures as cavatappi pasta with spicy colorado lamb sausage & yellow tomatoes and autumn mushroom...

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Chefs & Champagne Does the Hamptons

Posted on Jul 23, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Some of Manhattan’s finest chefs jetsetted to the Hamptons for the weekend to partake in James Beard Foundation’s illustrious Chefs & Champagne 2007.  There was double cause to pop the bubbly as this year’s festivities toasted both Charlie Trotter and the 20th Anniversary of The James Beard Foundation. As the sun set over Wolffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, foodies, socialites and the restaurant elite – Joe Bastianich, Steve Hanson & Martha Stewart – feasted on a lush spread of chilled corn soup, salads of sugar snap peas & peaches, oysters and a hefty bounty from the sea.  If you weren’t there to sample the first-rate fare, I won’t dangle dishes now past, but highlights did include Ben Pollinger’s (Oceana) delicate citrus-tinged oyster ceviche and local Hamptons celebrity chef, Michael Rozzi’s (Della Femina) refined riff on lobster salad delightfully peppered...

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Thai Select

Posted on Jul 22, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 472 9th Ave., at 36th Street Phone: 212-695-9920 Cuisine: Modern Thai Vibe: Buddhist-Zen Hours: Sun-Thu: 11:30am-11pm, Fri-Sat: 11:30am-12am First Bite Impressions: Unexpected delight Note to Self: Order the mojito Don’t Miss Dish: Tamarind Duck- Crispy duck served with smoked tamarind soy sauce over a bed of baby bok choy Price: Appetizers, $5-10; Entrees, $9-18. Reservations: Reservations recommended. A diamond in the rough you might say, at 36th Street & 9th Avenue there lives a quaint and nondescript new Thai restaurant that is anything but mundane Woks abound with jumbo shrimp – plump & delicious – glass noodle pad thai’s and the duck I dare contend is as crispy on the outside & juicy on the inside as any you’ll find in Chinatown. Pad Thai spring rolls are double-rolled for an extra crunchy effect and even gimmicky pork poppers with...

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Posted on Jul 20, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 406 E. 64th Street, at 1st Ave. Phone: 212.750.0434 Cuisine: American Nouveau Scene: Upper Eastsiders Hours: Dinner, Mon-Sun, 5:30pm-11pm; Lunch, Mon-Fri, 11am-3pm; Brunch, Sun 11am-3pm. First Bite Impressions: Simply inconsistent Don’t Miss Dish: Salt Cod and Gnocchi Ragout Don’t Bother Dish: Bay Shrimp and Chorizo Risotto, Proscuitto Wrapped Pork Tenderloin Price: Appetizers, $11; Entrees, $25. Restaurant Girl Rates: 6 for food, 6 for atmosphere Reservations: Accepted & recommended for prime-time. Tucked into a quiet railroad-style nook on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, modestly emerges the modern American Solace.  Unlike most restaurants that razzle dazzle us to garner attention, husband-and-wife duo, David & Mary Regueiro have instead set out to lull their “suburban” clientele.    Decor The space is simple, perhaps to a fault: creamy leather banquettes wind their way around the edges of the dark wood beam-accented minimalistic dining room,...

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Spitzer’s Corner Elects a Chef…Finally

Posted on Jul 19, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Though Top Chef heartthrob Sam Talbot was initially slated to oversee the kitchen at the soon-to-be Spitzer’s Corner, that die was shortly uncast after supposed diva-like behavior from the TV celebrity chef. Enter Chef Michael Cooperman (formerly of Le Bernadin glory), to finesse the American gastropub fare with a destination-worthy raw bar.  Things are looking good for Will & Rob Shamlian’s imminent eatery, pleasingly outfitted with zinc countertops, retractable glass awnings & plenty of outdoor seating. Spitzer’s Corner intends to keep things casual in the front bar room with 40-plus beers on tap and tricked-out bar snacks- the likes of pork fat popcorn.  Seeing as an alumnus of the Le Bernadin school of cooking now holds court in the kitchen, I’d say they’re in good hands.  But judgment day won’t officially come until the first week of August… Until...

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Q & A With Pichet Ong

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

On the eve of P*ONG’s official New York Times review, we thought it supremely apropos to check in with Pichet Ong, the owner & executive chef of NYC’s newest dessert bar.  Who knows how many stars Bruni’s willing to stamp on this sleek Chelsea nook, but the zealous pastry set have already given Ong an overwhelming nod of approval.  Unlike other pastry bandwagoners, Ong doesn’t rest on his sweet creations, but instead does an impressive job with the savory bites: stilton souffle, escarole green goddess salad & wagyu carpaccio with shiso pesto.  But to deny yourself dessert at P*ONG would be downright senseless; Especially when the offerings are as exotically sinful as chevre cheesecake croquette, miso ice cream and an extra virgin olive oil cake sandwich with wasabi candy and strawberries. What did you want to be when you...

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Dylan’s Candy Bar Heads to East Hampton

Posted on Jul 13, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Summer just got sweeter as Dylan’s Candy Bar launches the first in a series of mini candy bars on Main Street in East Hampton.  What was Nuts About Chocolate – a long-standing candy store in the chic village of East Hampton – is officially set to morph into Dylan’s premiere candy bar on August 4th.  Dylan, the candy girl herself, tells us, “there will be more to boutique venues to come in the imminent future: Miami, Austin, resort towns and many more cities across America”.  The Hamptons store will deal in what else, but candy, of course.  Candy bins, homemade ice creams, fudge, cotton candy, pre-packaged gift baskets and other private label goods will stock the shelves of this cozy nook.  And for the toniest of folks, they’ll conveniently be “candy-to-go” to cap off the haughtiest of clam bakes. ...

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Townline BBQ in Previews

Posted on Jul 13, 2007 in Sneak Peek

The moment has finally arrived; well, almost.  While Townline BBQ doesn’t officially open to the public until July 19th, we’ve managed to get our hands on the menu.  But first, let’s do a little background check: Owner Mark Smith & executive chef Joe Realmuto (of Nick & Toni’s Hamptons fame) set out on an extensive roadtrip across Texas to sample the Lone Star State’s best barbecue joints. After doing their proper due diligence – pitmaster Joe Realmuto completed an intensive bbq class, properly mastering the artistry of low & slow cooking – the two have returned to the beach to peddle their newfound ‘cue cooking.  They even picked up a few already christened smokers to get the job done right.    While Alison’s by the Beach is all but a memory, what’s emerged in its place is a down...

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Q & A With April Bloomfield

Posted on Jul 12, 2007 in Chef Q&A, Chef Q&A Recipes

There’s been much ado about The Spotted Pig, the West Village’s perpetually packed gastropub, that spawned a trend in militantly seasonal comfort food spots.  With a massive spread of all things offal, masterful ricotta gnudi and a greatly sought-after Roquefort burger, Ken Friedman & Chef April Bloomfield has indeed taken New York City by storm. (Not an easy feat).  Bloomfield seamlessly mingles Italian cooking with simple bar food techniques, resulting in anything from a slow-roasted beef shin with polenta to a simple, but exquisite salad of roasted pumpkin & shaved pecorinio.  It’s no wonder people will wait over two hours to snag a table at The Spotted Pig: Bloomfield’s resume reads such classic establishments as River Café, Chez Panisse and Kensington Place. Status: Single/Married/Divorced Single What did you want to be when you grew up? A police woman.  I...

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Fancy Food Show: Part Two

Posted on Jul 11, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Not to sound ungrateful for thousands of free samples – nearly every girl’s dream – but after awhile, olives & energy drinks just don’t mix.  The circus has officially left town: after sorting through the goodies, I suppose it’s time to ponder the future of food: 1)  Vegetarians may no longer give caviar the cold shoulder; Sea Gem Caviar has unveiled an entirely seaweed-based line of kelp caviar.  Sure, we’d prefer beluga to salmon-flavored eggs, but seeing as we’ve got no black market connections at this time, salmon, wasabi or beluga flavor might just do the trick.  And there’s that one little edge Sea Gem’s got over tried-and-true caviar: seaweed’s one of the world’s healthiest foods – lowers cholesterol, strengthens the immune system, blah, blah. 2) While we’re not above brown bagging our chardonnay, Wine By The Glass just...

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Saju Attempts To Downplay a Chef Switcheroo

Posted on Jul 10, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Midtown’s Hotel Mela hopes to lure midtowners to upscale French-inflected Vietnamese at newly-minted restaurant Saju.  Co-owner & restaurateur Phillippe Bernard plays up the cuisine’s traditional emphasis: green papaya & shrimp salad, pho bo and lemongrass tiger shrimp.  What used to be headline-worthy is now just par for the course as Saju waits with countless others for the city’s approval to wheel & deal in alcohol.  However, this may prove quite NEWSWORTHY: insider intelligence reveals debut strife as the original chef, Thao Nguyen (formerly the chef at Bao 111 & Bao Noodles, and interestingly also the wife of Mai House’s Michael Bao Huynh) who devised Saju’s menu, has abruptly exited stage left.  Thao Nguyen has been conveniently replaced by Hung Nguyen (any relation?).  As Eater deftly observed, it’s all very “curious“. A source writes in: “The new chef is Hung...

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Fancy Food Show: Part One

Posted on Jul 10, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

The 53rd Summer Fancy Food Show was nothing less than utter madness, but really, what do you expect when you combine food, free samples and thousands of people?  After sifting through the newest wreckage in gourmet junk foods, olive oils and chocolates, we managed to stumble upon quite a few notables that just may change the face of food as we know it: 1) Artisanal Chips – The British are coming…one potato chip at a time.  Tyrrell’s home-grown & home-fried potato chips are damn tasty and while not healthy (at all), they do boast 20% less fat & all-natural ingredients.  But the real clincher here are this endearingly small Herefordshire farm’s seasonal flavors: asparagus-seasoned chips in celebration of summer and game chips for autumn/winter, of course. Yep.  Duck, orange & ginger-tweaked chips apparently serve as the perfect cold weather...

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Summer’s Best: The Simple Things in Life

Posted on Jul 9, 2007 in Best Of, Holiday Eats

As I basked in one of summer’s simplest pleasures – Carvel’s soft serve vanilla ice cream with rainbow sprinkles while staring into a store freezer filled with Fudgie The Whale cakes – I realized we sometimes forget the edible warhorses that have transcended the very notion of food fads.  And before I descend into the chaos that is the Fancy Food Show at the Jacob Javits Center to uncover the latest fashions, I thought it only appropriate to honor the classics and reflect on summer’s greatest hits: 1) Carvel’s Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream – Top it with rainbow sprinkles or those divinely addictive chocolate crunchies, even the most devout chocolate snobs are hard-pressed to turn their nose up at this custardy creation. 2) The Lobster Roll – While it’s become a somewhat controversial of late, no one can...

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Omido on the Rise

Posted on Jul 5, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

It’s about time someone step up and open a nonchain restaurant in the gastronomically-challenged desert that is Midtown West.  Amidst a blizzard of Starbucks & Cosi types, a new sushi spot will soon grace the forlorn area with its raw wares.  Owner Udi, former manager of Sushi Samba on Park, has migrated uptown to launch Omido, a sushi house of his very own.  A departure from their usual industrial chic design, AvroKo has stepped in to transform the former electronics store into a sophisticated spot with warm, wood-paneled accents and a sushi bar.  Udi has stolen chef Taka away from Sushi Samba to run the kitchen, which will dish out traditional Japanese cooked fare as well as sushi.   The only catch: diners will have to maneuver their way through the “Late Show with David Letterman” masses that line up...

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Park Avenue Summer

Posted on Jul 2, 2007 in Reviews

Address: 100 E. 63rd. St., at Park Ave. Phone: 212.644.1900 Cuisine: Summer-inspired American Scene: Mixed bag Hours: Dinner, Sun-Thu, 5:30-11pm, Fri & Sat, 5:30-11:30pm; Lunch, Mon-Fri, 11:30am- 3pm; Brunch, Fri & Sat, 11am-3pm. First Bite Impressions:  Splendidly summer Don’t Miss Dish: Soft shell crabs with strawberries, soy & avocado Price: Appetizers, $16; Entrees, $32. Reservations: Accepted & recommended for prime-time. Park Avenue Cafe had fallen into the category of steadfast old-timers, wrestling with the demands of a new generation of diner, who eat as stylishly as they dress, while still trying to appease seasoned regulars.  That is, until Alan Stillman’s son recently took over the restaurant’s reigns.  Michael Stillman first tempted fate when he transformed the seafaring Manhattan Ocean Club into Quality Meats, a chic new steakhouse species. At Park Avenue Summer, he’s again ventured out on a limb...

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