We like to think that because most New Yorkers live above the shop, we are the restaurant capital of the world. Yet even with the heralded arrival of Danny Bowien, it turns out San Francisco kicks our (pork) butt when it comes to restaurants per capita. Even worse, so does Fairfield County in Connecticut and–gulp–Long Island.
Chefs and restaurateurs, rejoice: a rigorous statistical analysis of the three most recent New York Times restaurant critics suggests that current critic Pete Wells is ever-so-slightly more liberal with the stars than predecessors Sam Sifton and Frank Bruni.
Looking at the three critics’ first six months on the job side-by-side, The Daily Meal’s executive editor Arthur Bovino found that Mssrs. Wells, Sifton, and Bruni all reviewed the same number of restaurants. During those heady and caloric early days, Mr. Wells gave out three more stars than Mr. Bruni and fourteen more than Mr. Sifton.
This morning, The Observer published a column by culinary bon vivant, chef, restaurant-owner, and writer Eddie Huang on the matter of Red Rooster, the Harlem fine-dining restaurant serving the nu-soul food of culinary darling Marcus Samuelsson, whose memoir Yes, Chef comes out this week. The reaction has been—to say the least—fiery.
Now, Marcus Samuelsson himself has weighed in.
THE HIPPING POINT
Does anybody want to run Tavern on the Green anymore?
Once the most profitable (if also mocked) restaurant on the planet, Tavern on the Green cannot seem to get any love anymore. Not even Donald Trump wants anything to do with it, nor do most of the two dozen restaurateurs who first checked in on the space. According to Crain’s, there are six firms vying for control of the once-hallowed haunt, none of whom are especially distinguished.
Babbo's Big Boy
Roberta’s of Bushwick, Brooklyn, has traditionally been the only restaurant that could ever inspire Manhattanites to take a safari out to the young, hip, and tres chic post-apocalyptic, post-Williamsburg neighborhood.
It is a restaurant that does not take reservations for most parties, which on a busy night, will lead to a wait of anywhere from half an hour to 90 minutes (if you arrive in the middle of a dinner rush). Compared to the other restaurants in the neighborhood, it is slightly pricey.
It has a radio station, and their own garden (with its own blog), and they make their own honey, too. It is also fairly well-regarded, and was undoubtedly instrumental in putting the neighborhood on the map for many people who’d otherwise never venture past the Bedford Stop.
Today, erstwhile New York Times food critic Sam Sifton took a break from his gig as the paper’s national editor to report on the existence of Blanca.
Blanca is a restaurant that sits behind Roberta’s.
Blanca is a restaurant with twelve seats.
Blanca is a restaurant in Bushwick with a $180 per person entry fee.
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD
Joseph Bastianich isn’t content being a mere Restaurant Man, as he’d have it. Or even a haute grocer.
“Hopefully, we’re going to change the way people consume,” he said, sitting at a table in Eataly, the Flatiron grocery store he opened in August 2010 in a partnership with Mario Batali, his mother, Lidia, and Italian businessman Oscar Farinetti. Before him was a plate of lentils and a glass of red wine. Asked about the rising price of food, he quickly fired off his reply in his distinctly outer-borough-bred baritone: “We’re going to change the balance of the plate. Less proteins, more carbs, more legumes, more rice, more barley. The era of cheap, abundant food is gone.”
Much attention has been paid to the changes the Barclays Center has wrought on the surrounding brownstone neighborhoods: eminent domain evictions, property values both falling and rising, construction noise, a starchitect fight and a rat tsunami. Yet nothing could have prepared the borough of kings and kombucha for this: Hooters “desperately” wants to open an outlet near the new Nets arena.
For this week’s Observer cover story—a profile of New York City restauranteur, cultural gadabout, and rising food personality Eddie Huang—we spoke with someone well-acquainted with Huang, the world of food celebrity, and the perils of speaking without reserve: Anthony Bourdain.
“They called me a chigger.”
Eddie Huang, the gleefully iconoclastic chef-cum-troublemaker, was in a back room at the Ace Hotel, remembering high school. He’d just finished serving as the host of a Jeremy Lin viewing party for a crowd of the chef’s friends and “three random girls from Twitter.” The wax-paper wrapped bao—the signature Asian bun sandwiches that have been drawing crowds to his restaurant, Baohaus, since December 2009—were long since emptied of their pork-packed glories. The Knicks had fallen to the New Jersey Nets. And Mr. Huang was in a reflective mood.
Keith McNally is the famed New York City restauranteur behind Pastis, Schiller’s, Bright Lights Big City locale The Odeon, Minetta Tavern, and of course, Balthazar (which just today recieved a James Beard nomination), to name a few. They are restaurants as much as they are scenes (figuratively, as they’re stacked with celebrities, or literally, as they’re occasionally television backdrops). Tellingly, Keith McNally’s interview responses couldn’t be better if they were scripted by a brilliant writer (which they basically have been), if not moreso. Take, for example, like the one posted to the site of Bon Appetit today, with news of McNally’s forthcoming first London restaurant.