Navigation
Thursday
Aug092012

Danny Bowien's Food Knows How to Work the Camera

If you haven't been to Danny Bowien's San Fran import yet, or seen our First Bite, here's another way to see what's going down at 154 Orchard Street.

Mission Chinese Food has only been on the East Coast for two and a half months, but Bowien's creative vision fuels a constantly evolving menu.  The original 23-item-menu from the early days at the end of May now has 28 options.  You can't get those Lamb Cheek Dumplings in Red Oil or the Tea Smoked Eel anymore, but you can get Red Braised Pigs Tails ($10) and "Married Couple's" Beef ($9). 

The large dishes have seen the most changes, though in typical generous Bowien fashion, nothing exceeds $15.  Kung Pao Pastrami ($11) is not likely to disappear anytime soon.  New additions are Sizzlin Cumin Lamb Breast ($13) and Catfish a la Sichuan ($13).

Don't worry, that free keg of beer is still on offer for those waiting for a table which, in our opinion, is always worth the inevitable wait.

Wednesday
Aug082012

Steve Cuozzo is Corked

Steve Cuozzo wrote an article for The New York Post two weeks ago called "Sour Grapes." He makes three things clear in the article: 1) He has no patience for the lesser-known varietals showing up on wine lists in the city, 2) He hates anything that's not Bordeaux, and 3) He sounds like a lunatic trying to explain why he hates anything that's not Bordeaux. In a single sentence, the schizophrenic rant covers Greek restaurants, iTunes, and Willamette Valley pinot noir.

Cuozzo likes Bordeaux. And despite its rich, full-bodied and tannic profile, he likes to drink it in the middle of summer. Schiava is a perfectly sound, northern Italian grape that would be an exceptional pairing for his "chicken and summer vegetables" craving, but the arrangement of letters in Schiava sends shivers down his spine. Bordeaux is Cuozzo's pacifier and he needs it to put his uninformed nerves down for a nap.

Time's wine critic Eric Asimov responded to Cuozzo's article in today's Dining Section. He poses the question, "Are restaurants obliged to offer something for everybody? Or do they have the right to stay uncompromisingly true to a vision that may strike some as arcane?"

Here's a hypothetical: You need to build a deck. You decide go to Lowe's, or Home Depot. When you get there you find yourself standing in front of a daunting array of lumber choices. You don't cower from the task and go home to write a 600-word, pride-fueled article about the fact that there are too many trees in the world. You stay at Lowe's, or Home Depot, swallow your pride, and talk to the person whose job it is to know the subtleties between Knotty Pine, Tiger Maple, and Red Oak.

Asimov clearly knows how to build a deck. He hits the nail on the head. "The world is dominated by the ordinary and the mass-market. Most restaurants, even in New York City, conform to a mainstream vision of food and wine. For that reason alone we should celebrate the departures, not feel threatened by them." "The enemy isn’t obscure wines or challenging lists," he writes. "It’s fear of wine."

Wednesday
Aug082012

Nicoletta's Goose Egg

If Nicoletta was the first restaurant in Michael White and business partner Ahmass Fakahany's empire there would be no fusilli with octopus and bone marrow.  Nor would there be the rich, delicious Emilia-Romagna-inspired preparations that exist on Lafayette Street at Osteria Morini.  White certainly wouldn't have crossed the Hudson to Jersey and his Altamarea Group's newly signed lease on the Upper East Side would have a John Hancock other than his own.  After reading Pete Wells' goose egg review of Nicoletta, this is the direction it seems Michael White's career would have taken had he not established himself first as the guru of Italian cuisine that he legitimately is.

Nicoletta is the newest addition to White's empire.  It's a pizza place he opened in June on Second Avenue in the East Village that Wells has zero stars for.  As it turns out, the only dishes he recommends are the cucumbers in white balsamic vinegar and the ice cream.  "Mr. White has said he engineered the dough to stand up to the rigors of delivery and reheating with no loss of quality. In that, at least, he has succeeded. Warmed up a day or two later, a Nicoletta crust is just as stiff and bland as when it was fresh from the oven."

Straying from the pizzas doesn't reveal "White’s prodigious talent for cooking Italian food that can make you dizzy with pleasure."  "The insalata mare with clams, mussels, squid and octopus, all as tender as an extension cord, all bathed in a dressing that had no effect on any of it."

White's decade cooking here in New York has found him behind the stoves at six restaurants to be graced by Time's critics.  Fiamma, Alto, L'Impero, Convivio, Marea, and Ai Fiori have tallied 17 stars for the Wisconsin native.  Nicoletta, unfortunately, has none to spare.

Tuesday
Aug072012

Interview with Michele Smith; Wine and Service Director at Brooklyn Fare

Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare didn’t have a liquor license when it opened in 2009.  The early BYOB status, coupled with Chef Cesar Ramirez’s back-to-basics, bright, elegant food, the restaurant quickly became a haven for collectors, wine eccentrics, and anyone looking to eat at one of Brooklyn’s most exciting restaurants.

Michele Smith started working at Brooklyn Fare in the summer of 2010.  She was hired with the intention of building a wine list that would pair with Cesar’s food once the restaurant got its license.  That happened in January this year.  You can’t bring your own booze to 200 Schermerhorn Street anymore, but you can pick from Michele’s wonderfully curated list.

Digest NY recently talked with Michele about putting the list together, her philosophies about wine, and what it’s like to work with the same six people six days a week.

Click to read more ...

Monday
Aug062012

Scouting Summer Corn

It happens at every farmers' market once summer corn is in season.  Now that it is, every farm that sells corn has to deal with obsessed shoppers ripping back corn husks looking for what they think is an optimally ripened piece.  There are other ways to tell though, apart from tearing back corn's clothes.

Obviously, a bigger ear of corn is better if you want a bigger ear of corn.  It'll have more kernals, but bigger isn't always better when it comes to summer's sweet crop.  What matters is that the cob has no holes or missing kernels.  You don't have to go all toddler-on-Christmas-morning to find out.  Instead, just feel for divits and soft spots that might have resulted from worms or uneven ripening.

Monday
Aug062012

Justin Warner Talks About Being the Next Food Network Star

Justin Warner became the next Food Network star two weeks ago.  Voting was left open to the public and it voted 4.5 million strong in favor of the Bed-Stuy food wiz.  Employee's at his restaurant Do or Dine all wore "Team Alton" T-shirts during the voting period.  Bed Stuy Patch got ahold of Justin to talk about his new path

“I didn’t really think I was gonna win in all honesty, because I do weird stuff, and I didn’t know for sure that America was ready,” Warner told Bed-Stuy Patch. “But what I’m really excited about is, because it came down to a national vote, it’s really an endorsement of America than it is of myself.

Filming dates for the new show haven't been revealed but shooting will definitely start sooner than later.  The show is set to premiere this fall.

Friday
Aug032012

Donde Dinner?

Friday is Donde Dinner? day.  Digest NY wants to make your next restaurant outing an adventure.  So, we picked a restaurant and are going to post its address for you.  The catch is, that's all the information you get.  No name, no type of cuisine, and no Googling allowed!  Price, quality, and accessibility are all being taken into concern.  We promise you won't be waiting at the bar for two hours with $15 cocktails, and since we're not fancy folk, you never have to worry about a dress code.  Just hop on the train, or your feet, or your bike, and head to:

30 East 13th Street (btwn University and 5th)

Friday
Aug032012

Signage Up At Pork Slope

Last week, Digest NY introduced Triple Play to bring continued coverage on the development of Calexico, Terroir, and Pork Slope; all opening within the same two blocks on 5th Avenue in Park Slope.  Today's update is to reveal the signage up at Pork Slope, set to open two weeks from tomorrow on August 18th.

Another new sign up on the front door encourages job seekers to "Inquire Within."  This could be done through a propped open front door.  Digest NY knocked and got a peak but construction workers were reluctant to permit photos without consent from the owner's, who weren't there at the time.

We'll head back soon.  Stay tuned.