In this great dining city of ours, barely a day passes without news of an exciting new restaurant opening, a devastating closing, a shocking chef shuffle, or a groundbreaking, must-try dish. That’s why we’re keeping you apprised of the industry’s most noteworthy bits and bites, from the shockingly affordable all-dessert tasting menu at Contra to Pastis’ official au revoir to the Meatpacking District. (C’est la vie.)
Pastis Sent Packing: Sometimes, you just can’t go home again. After assuring patrons that the seminal Meatpacking District mainstay, Pastis, would return once the building was finished undergoing renovations, Keith McNally now says that probably won’t be the case. No word yet on where the 15-year-old bistro will actually relocate, but rumors are already swirling about the Beekman Hotel (where McNally had already announced plans for a restaurant), or the P.J Clarke’s site at the snazzy new Brookfield Place.
Sweet Deal: Already known for their quirky, inexplicably inexpensive tasting menu (five courses for $55), Contra is now offering an occasional three-course dessert for $20, available at the bar on days to be announced on Twitter. Former Noma and Jean-Georges pastry chef, Fabian von Hauske, will use the platform to experiment with envelope-pushing dishes that may or may not make it on the regular menu, such as Toasted Potato Mousse with blueberries, and Buckwheat Custard with caramelized grains and yogurt sorbet.
Be Our Guest: Unassuming SoHo hotspot The Cleveland — whose kitchen is now overseen by former Roberta’s chef, Max Sussman— will host a series of collaborative, al fresco dinners in its pastoral back garden. Each Sunday throughout the remainder of the summer, a different chef will join Sussman for a $25 supper, such as Pok Pok’s Alicia Parter, the Meat Hook’s Brent Young, and even Sussman’s brother Eli from Mile End. So head over to Contra for dessert afterwards, and you’ll have scored four fantastic courses (and one glass of beer or wine) for under 50 bucks!
Cork Buzz: Already a must for a classy girls night out, the terrific Union Square wine bar, Corkbuzz (run by the world’s youngest female Master Sommelier, Laura Maniec), has opened a second outpost in Chelsea Market. And Maniec’s expertly curated selection of 150+ bottles of vino isn’t the only cause for celebration because respected chef Missy Robbins (who left A Voce last spring to open her own, upcoming eatery), has designed the food menu, consisting of elegant small plates, such as Gougères, Marinated White Anchovies, Veal Tartare with lardo and cannoli cream-filled Eclairs. We’ll raise a glass to that!
Dis-Graced: It’s truly disappointing that the year-old Grace Bar, which boasted a drinks menu designed by some of the industry’s most talented female bartenders (like Ivy Mix from Clover Club, Pamela Wiznitzer of the Dead Rabbit and Jane Danger from the NoMad), has closed. The concept never wound up gathering steam, with the restaurant side of the space — which served British-inspired comfort dishes, such as Scotch Eggs and Crispy Cod — consistently losing money. So instead of serving as a showcase for often-underappreciated female mixologists, it appears that the spot will soon transform into yet another brick-oven pizzeria. We will most certainly not raise a glass to that.
Vienna Meets the West Village: Top Austrian chef, Kurt Gutenbrunner, shuttered his improbably named Upholstery Store for renovations six months ago, and the restaurant has just reopened on Washington Street with a new look, a new menu, and a new (and only slightly less off-putting) moniker; Upholstery Store: Food and Wine. Inspired by Vienna’s famed Loo’s American Bar, the space is outfitted with marble tables and lacquered ceilings, and the food offerings from Matthew Neele (who previously staged at Noma), include savory Beef Gelee and Oysters in Cold Cucumber Soup. Odd name aside, it sounds pretty gut.