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Posts from the ‘Restauranting’ Category

Too Long To Twitter

El Bulli: "The demand that we have received at the first moment has again surpassed our limited possibilities for one season and we regret not to be able to full fill more reservation requests."

Well, duh, but it was worth a try.

I'm almost ready to be swayed toward this camp.

Let Your Conscience Be Your Guide

I don’t generally promote products (I don’t even talk myself up), not so much because I’m ethical but because no one asks me to (fyi, I do tend to shy away from companies that claim God is their CEO, and no, I'm not making that up). However, I do have a soft spot for Asian cuisine (I’m tentatively planning a Singapore/Malaysia trip for November, my third foray to S.E. Asia) so I don’t have a problem mentioning The Miele Guide, a new antidote to Western-focused restaurant best-of lists that’s planned for publication in October 2008.

Voting is open to the public until July 31st so if anyone has strong opinions about the best restaurants in Asia, you should pay a visit. I’m going to vote as soon as I figure out a way around the Visa cardholder requirement (Visa is a sponsor—no, they don’t charge your card). I have like six Mastercards, though I may have a Visa hiding somewhere.

Singaporean super-blogger and tastemaker Chubby Hubby, has the back-story. It’s kind of his project. 

The Red (Sauce) Badge of Courage


Pointlessly thinking about neighborhoods past is almost forcing me to give a nod to my current situation. Nice as it is, I rarely have anything (positive) to say about Carroll Gardens. Maybe the reason I feel knocked into silence is because it is so nice. Comfort is a snooze.

But I couldn’t ignore the little bit of local color reported on Time Out NY’s The Feed. It appears that the owner of local restaurant Marco Polo has been named as a defendant in the recent mafia brouhaha.

Not terribly shocking, no. But now I’m finally intrigued enough to pay Marco Polo a visit. James has been dying to try this restaurant since we moved here four years ago, and I’ve always been too spoilsporty. I do get a frequent eyeful of the white stones and brick arches from the elliptical trainers at my gym directly across the street. Perhaps the time has come for me to get over my fear of  red saucey Italian-American food.

More from the New York Post.

Photo from tokenygaard on Flickr.

Move Over, w00t

While skimming New York’s Where to Eat 2008 at the gym (sure, it’s borderline grotesque to ogle steak photos while on an elliptical trainer) I was less dismayed at not having dined at a single best new restaurant of the year than by Adam Platt's rampant use of the word raffish.

I’m the last one to scrutinize repetition; my own bloggy vocabulary is extremely limited. Yet somehow, what seems forgivable online can feel egregious in print. I thought I might’ve been mistaken at first because I wasn’t taking in every word (my blood pressure prescription has run out [yes, my health is on par with an elderly male thanks to some shitass genes] and I genuinely feared I might have a heart attack or stroke while peddling). But now that I’m nice and sedentary in front of a computer I can see that I was correct: raffish was used four times in one—to be fair, long—article.

So, who was raffish in 2007?

The Waverly Inn

To gain access to the pleasingly raffish dining-room sanctum occupied by Carter and his chums, you’ll need a special phone number or e-mail address, or you’ll have to show up personally, then get on your hands and knees and beg.


Whenever I’m ambling down Eighth Avenue in the West Village, I like to duck into the raffish new bar-restaurant dell’anima for a stack of the crunchy house bruschette before proceeding to Centro Vinoteca…

Allen & Delancey

The raffish, deceptively stylish restaurant has a candlelit bar area up front, where you can buy all sorts of advanced mixological creations.

Death & Co.

If I can still walk after that, I’ll stagger a couple of blocks south, to the raffish new cocktail hangout Death & Co., to dine on sophisticated bar snacks like lamb sliders, and quesadillas stuffed with braised duck…

That’s a lot of freaking raffishness for one year. I’m hoping for a rash of rakish eateries in 2008.

Whine Bar

I was going to post this last week and forgot about it and was about to discard it because now it’s old news, plus complaining isn’t attractive. Unfortunately, now I have to because this weekend I ran into a friend at a party who was raving about how great Viñas is and I realize people who live in Williamsburg have wildly different standards from mine but I can’t allow delusional folks to perpetuate falsehoods. So, my friend, her South American boyfriend and a Zagat employee who treated them to a meal love this place. So much so that it was brought up as a fun New Year’s Eve dining spot. That already breaks my rule for a Williamsburg/’80s music-free new year. It’s going to be a tough 2008, I fear.

Original post (ha, or should I say blog as is the new-style parlance):

Generally, I hate eating in Williamsburg. The only time I ever dine in the neighborhood (my hand so wants to type ‘hood or nabe) is when I get a haircut every three months or so, which lord knows, sounds way lamer than just flat out eating in Williamsburg but I’ve yet to find any professional with better prices who grasps non-ugly styling. (Here’s my new cut if you’re into exhibitionist MySpace crap—I don’t like putting photos of myself here despite the Me in the title)

But if for some reason you like to eat in Williamsburg, stay away from Viñas. I know the no seating until your party has arrived deal is an annoying standard but they went beyond. I’m punctuality-crazed but was fifteen minutes later than expected thanks to the G train. I said I’d meet James there at 7:15 and didn’t make it till 7:30. He showed up fifteen minutes early, which was also uncharacteristic. It was a perfect storm of time management flubs.

They wouldn’t let him have a drink at the bar (because essentially most of the seating is at the bar, I assume) even though the room was empty. They wouldn’t let him stand inside and wait either. It’s not that small of a space–75-seats according to New York. And now that we’re into winter weather, it seems especially rude. What kind of restaurant insists you must leave when it’s not even half-full? I don’t want to turn into a fussbudget, but it seems kind of ridiculous because couldn’t you just change your tune and say you were dining solo, oh, and then a friend stops by like fifteen minutes later?

So, there wasn’t any way we were going to eat there when the full party, i.e. me finally showed up. Ok, out of curiosity we did pop in to ask about seating for two and were quoted 30 minutes. Please, it’s just pan-latin tapas.

Old standby Diner, a block away, seated us immediately and my duck breast with sweet potatoes (mysteriously crunchy and brown) “spaetzle” and endive salad with lardons, poached egg and walnut vinaigrette were uber-seasonal and higher caliber than much of what passes for edible in the area. I can’t really find fault with them, though that chain restaurant-style of waiters crouching at your table has always weirded me out. And somehow we managed to spend $100 without even realizing it. Still, it’s $100 that thankfully wasn’t wasted on a needlessly attitudinal new wine bar.

Break Out the Hibachis


I rarely go in for new venue scoping, mostly  because I’m not very observant. But I couldn’t help notice this new Koto awning a couple weeks ago. For all I know it’s been up for months. That’s probably the case because charmingly web 1.0 Small Town Brooklyn even lists it.

I can’t say that I’m ecstatic about sushi and steak, though at least a brownstone Benihana means one less mediocre Italian or Thai restaurant.

Hungry Like the Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Warren_cuccurulloI can’t ignore that every single blurb on new Soho Vietnamese eatery Bun, mentions that “former Duran Duran guitarist Warren Cuccurullo” is co-owner. Warren Cuccurullo isn’t a real Duran Duran member, ok? Never was. Whether Bun is worth visiting is beside the point, no decrepit Duranie should abide such sacrilege.

While I see the fun immediacy in texting in IMing, I still find it hard to believe that only a decade ago, people, low-level celebrities included, actually wrote handwritten letters and months might go between correspondence. After once referring to All-American Girl as unstalkable in print (there was no Googling this shit), I got a letter from Margaret Cho.

I was probably taken to task, but what I remember most about her missive was that she’d attended some Duran Duran related event, got drunk and went over to Warren Cuccurullo’s mom and started in on how he wasn’t a real Duran Duran member. I could only applaud this misguided effort to right the wrongs of music’s past.

Sure, Warren replaced Andy, the gross unlovable Duran Duran member, but if I heard Andy Taylor was opening a Thai restaurant in Tribeca, I’d hotfoot it over immediately. Even though I’m sure the curries would suck. At least Andy would wear a shirt.

$20.07 Worth of Queens County

Who knew there was a Queens Restaurant Week, right? Well, duh, but it seems like the two “cooler” boroughs (no, not Staten Island and the Bronx) get all the attention for their dining promotions. Admittedly, many of the Queens options have less name recognition. Eh, caché ? Overrated.

I mention’s round up of top picks for purely selfish reasons: my own recommendation for La Fusta.

By the way, I’d like to know what you get at White Castle for $20.07.

Turning Macanese

So, I’m gone for a week and now Macanese food is the new hotness? I have no idea why this irks me, though I’m sure I could get to the bottom of my annoyance if I dwelled a bit (isn’t that what therapy is for? Figuring out your feelings? I couldn’t say because I’m not one for paying for such indulgences. I’m certainly not going to waste $100+/hour on why I’m bothered by a restaurant with the already off-putting name of Employees Only deciding to open a Macanese restaurant).

BabyjojoI’ve eaten food in Macau (and am still kind of kicking myself for not trying Joel Robuchon a Galera) and the traditional Chinese-Portuguese culture is really a dying breed even on the island, itself. I don’t see how it could transcend gimmickry or approximate authenticity on this island. (I’ve thought the same of Wild Salmon. The only food I ate in the NW were burritos and jo jo potatoes.) Maybe they’re trying to ride the Fatty Crab hip-Malaysian wave. I would be curious to hear what dishes would be served at this mystery eatery since I suspect food will be secondary.

Ok, I’ve dwelled for a few minutes and have gotten in touch with the shriveled black nugget that is my soul. I think I’m annoyed because this is actually a good idea, an idea I might have if I had any inclination towards restaurateurship or chefhood (which I don’t—there’s not an entrepreneurial capillary in my body) but that it’s going to be bungled by smugness or irony and smothered by a pointless scene. Eating there will not make me feel happy and I don’t enjoy unnecessary unhappiness.

The (Pork) Belly of the Beast

Pigtattoo I do fully realize that the things that get under my skin have zero relevance to like 98% of the world’s population, but isn’t that what blogs are for (I mean besides posting naked pics)? So, I’m getting tired of hearing about chef Zak Pelaccio’s parents' loft in SoHo. Granted, he’s been the subject of the New York Times’s The Chef column for the past three weeks, hence the August barrage, but enough with setting the scene already. Or maybe the three quotes below were meant to be merely informative and endearing and I’m just a fussbudget.

“IN the climate-controlled comfort of his parents' loft in SoHo, where Zak Pelaccio was cooking some of his favorite Malaysian dishes…” —The New York Times, August 30, 2006

“‘I ate a lot of Cubanos back then because you could get them all over Williamsburg, but I wasn't necessarily interested in putting something so ubiquitous on the menu,'’ he said one recent sultry afternoon in his parent's loft in SoHo.” —The New York Times, August 23, 2006

“Arms laden, he crept through the steaming Chinatown streets (‘I learned to move slow in the heat in Southeast Asia,’ he said) to the cool sanctum of his parents' SoHo loft, borrowed for the afternoon.” —The New York Times, August 16, 2006

I can’t believe it’s been a whole year since I was in Malaysia and reading online how Mr. Pelaccio was opening meatpacking district Fatty Crab, a Malaysian restaurant named after a seafood place in Kuala Lumpur. I kind of love the idea of glamming up this cuisine that’s unpopular in NYC to say the least, but the meatpacking district? Ugh. I’ve half-heartedly intended to check this place out since last September, and never have because I’m not a masochist. His first restaurant Chicken Bone Café, which opened and closed in Williamsburg, was one of my more trying dining experiences. And earlier this year when I went to 5 Ninth to try his much lauded cubano for an article I was writing and they said they didn’t have the pork that day. How do you not have pork, especially when it’s been well publicized how swine crazy the chef is? Plus, I couldn't ignore this 5 Ninth complaint on Eater last week. (I can't help but be a bit porcine focused, myself. I just ran out and got pork belly and rice from the Chinese steam table joint around the corner from my office.) :

"Pelaccio combines a knack for old-fashioned goodness (he's a wizard with pork belly) with an instinct for eye-catching combinations using ingredients from far-off destinations like Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur." —New York Magazine, January 9, 2006

"Pelaccio is the punky, pork-loving chef who apprenticed at The French Laundry and Daniel.. "–Daily News, November 18, 2005

"In the end, just like pork-loving 5 Ninth chef Zak Pelaccio, I prefer my pork fresh, not processed.

'Even when my sister lived in Hawaii and I visited her, I didn't eat Spam,' says the hog-wild Pelaccio, who'd just had a 50-pound pig hung in his cooler."– Daily News March 16, 2005

"Mr. Pelaccio makes admirable use of pork in several distinctive forms."– The New York Times, April 30, 2003

His choice of venues give me pause. Now he’s doing dim sum carts (which also sounds cool in theory) at some obnoxious roof top bar 230 Fifth (Ok, I’ve never been but are their un-obnoxious roof top bars in Manhattan)? Double ugh. There aren’t many acclaimed chefs that are so fond of S.E Asian ingredients and are bringing them into the mainstream like he is. I admire that because if I were a chef I would imagine having a similar aesthetic. I’ll even admit to being intrigued by the idea of his often written about watermelon pork belly salad–and I absolutely hate all melons.

But that damn loft. I know I can be closed minded, but I just can’t trust anyone who has parents with a SoHo loft. In the unlikely event that any readers here have parents with SoHo lofts, please enlighten me. I want to understand, not loathe the unknown.

Pig tattoo from SF Gate. I know nothing about chef John Stewart other than what I've gathered from this article.