In this great dining city of ours, barely a day passes without news of an exciting 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 Grant Achatz’s thrilling migration from the Windy City to the Big Apple to Ivan Orkin’s surprising fascination with pizza.
Raising the Bar: It doesn’t get much bigger than this; Grant Achatz and Nick Kokonas — of Chicago’s crown jewel, the Alinea Group — are headed to NYC. Not only that, but they’re plotting a second location of The Aviary (literally considered one of the best bars in the world) along with its exclusive adjunct speakeasy, The Office, for the Central Park adjacent, Mandarin Oriental hotel. Known for taking a fine dining approach to mixology, The Aviary’s industry-revolutionizing libations are prepared in a “cocktail kitchen,” using 39 different types of ice forged by three full-time “ice chefs,” and featuring flourishes like liquor that macerates while you drink it, and whisky-filled frozen balls harpooned at the table.
Chefs Club Goes Casual: The “Food & Wine”-sponsored, revolving toque-showcasing Chefs Club will debut a casual offshoot at the end of the month. Also located in Nolita, Chefs Club Counter will highlight the work of the world’s top fast-casual cooks, starting with Alvin Cailan from the beloved Eggslut in L.A. So be sure and make the eatery a part of your morning commute, for smoked salmon, fromage blanc and sunnyside up egg sandwiches on poppy seed buns.
Meyer on the Move: Now that Danny Meyer’s revealed the anticipated revamp of his seminal Union Square Café, he can turn his attention to bulking up his restaurant roster. Enter a 6,000-square foot, 60th floor-situated property in FiDi, with 360-degree views of the New York skyline. But lest that sound fashionably high end, Meyer is insisting the spot is intended to serve as an approachable, every day kind of place; at least in regards to price point. Fashionable and affordable? Sounds good to us.
Big Cheese: Who would have thought a New York-born Jew, Ivan Orkin, would become a respected Tokyo ramen chef? And who would have guessed he’d parlay his infamy into a second unlikely career; accomplished NYC pizzaiolo? Well, with his newest Gotham West Market stall, Corner Slice, the inimitable Orkin has done just that. And while the spot pays homage to the city’s ultra-casual slice joints, that doesn’t mean skimping on ingredients or technique. Artisanal, spelt and durum wheat dough undergoes a 60-hour fermentation (which keeps the gluten levels low), and toppings include roasted onions, Sicilian oregano, and housemade fennel sausage with Fleisher’s pork.
Oh Ji: Australian import, Babu Ji, helped kick off NYC’s elevated Indian food revolution, with street snacks like green curry-glazed octopus, “unauthentic” butter chicken, and chef’s tasting menus with wine pairings; and drew universal critical acclaim for its efforts. Unfortunately, it seems that things were not so peachy behind the scenes, as the East Village location has shuttered indefinitely, due to allegations over wage theft. The San Francisco outpost remains operational, but we imagine the news has left a poor taste in patron’s mouths, that not even chana masala can mask.
Cocoa Loco: MoFad has definitely blazed a trail for food-focused museums throughout New York. The Museum of Ice Cream debuted this past summer, and now none other than Jacques Torres is constructing a showcase of chocolate, located inside his Hudson Street candy mecca. While the nature of the exhibits remains to be seen, it goes without saying that a good number will be hands on — and that the educational/edible destination will boast the tastiest gift shop ever.