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Gourmet Gossip: December 2013

iF89bV_5h6.4In 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 Paul Liebrandt’s sought-after new Chef’s Counter at The Elm to Dominique Ansel’s ingenious Cronut pre-order system and Zak Pelaccio unexpectedly breaking ties with the Fatty ‘Cue crew.

Expansion at The Elm: Paul Liebrandt recently surprised Brooklyn with a comparatively affordable new brunch program at The Elm (we’d totally pay $19 for a Lobster Benedict on a Housemade Crumpet).  But it seems that he’s back to his posh Corton ways with the upcoming Little Elm.  The 8-seat chef’s counter (open on December 6th but now taking reservations) will feature a multi-course tasting menu inspired by Japanese Kaiseki or French “tête-à-tête,” which he interprets as meaning “two flavors, or the beauty of two ingredients, in each dish.”  Once we’re able to cobble together the $135 (or $200 with wine pairings), we look forward to elaborating on Liebrandt’s vision further.

buttermidtownmain_nyc_636_374_85_s_c1Everything’s Better with Butter: While the original NoHo location is still under construction, Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli just threw open the doors to her Midtown outpost of Butter.  The restaurant has a subterranean dining room with a vaulted atrium ceiling, communal wooden tables, and an outdoor patio up above (which they’re bound to get better use of once temperatures begin to climb).  But until then, a wood-fired oven is just the thing for turning out all sorts of toasty, cold weather eats, like Welsh Rarebit on Pullman Bread with Melted Wisconsin Cheddar and Ale, and Whole Roasted Branzino with Rainbow Chard and Preserved Lemon Stuffing.

Brew News: New York has no shortage of sizable beer gardens, but the brand new Paulaner Brauhaus promises to be the biggest and best one yet (although they really should have pushed to be open for Oktoberfest).  The first U.S. location of the major German chain, the massive Bowery bar is currently serving Hefeweizen, Munich Lager, and seasonal beers brewed onsite in giant copper tanks, along with stick-to-your ribs fare, like Weiner Schnitzel, Goulash, and a few concessions to local cuisine.   Think Hot Dogs and Matzoh Ball Soup.

pelaccionewrestoAdieu to Fatty Cue: Although he started stepping back from day-to-day operations years ago, Zak Pelaccio quite literally distanced himself from the Fatty ‘Cue brand when he decamped to the Hudson Valley last summer to open the rustic farm-to-table eatery Fish & Game.  And now, he’s announced that he’s officially parted ways with the Fatty Crew Hospitality Group completely, which has been undergoing a series of internal shakeups, starting with a partnership with mega-restaurateur Stephen Starr.  The Crew has even transformed the Brooklyn branch of Fatty ‘Cue into Fatty Lab, an experimental venue used to develop new concepts, hold private events and host pop-ups. Sounds like Pelaccio will be much happier spit-roasting pigs over an open hearth upstate.

Pastry Pre-Order: Looks like President Obama and baked goods guru Dominique Ansel are both battling website woes.  The James Beard-nominated pastry chef launched an online pre-ordering system two weeks ago, in hopes of civilizing the early morning Cronut crush.  In theory, the site opens every Monday at 11am sharp, and takes orders for six Cronuts per person, up to two weeks in advance.  It hardly comes as a shock that the website has been deluged, with the entire cronut stock from now until December 2nd selling out in a manner of minutes.  Ah well, we’d still rather keep a standing Monday date with our computer than regularly camp out on Spring Street at four in the morning.

a_560x375Plus-Sized Pok Pok Ny: Andy Ricker is also doing his best to keep up with demand at Pok Pok, which just moved into roomier digs just down the street.  Instead of a cramped 30 seats, there are now 64 seats, and a much larger kitchen will allow them to expand the menu to include all of the dishes from the original location in Portland. They might even do lunch service, although the lack of mid-day foot traffic in the area could complicate plans.  And as for the old Pok Pok Ny space?  Ricker is keeping it as an event space called Suan Pok Pok (your next party perhaps).  Whether or not you consider Ricker to be the king of Thai cuisine in New York, there’s no disputing that he’s now the ruler of Columbia Street in Brooklyn.

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