Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bastille Day Dining

In honor of Bastille Day, check out my latest for Metromix in which I interview five French chefs about their favorite dishes. Ducasse, Boulud, Vongerichten, and more...

Photo: Metromix

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Food Writer Turned Dating Columnist?

Check out my latest article for Metromix, a survey of drunken hook-ups and bad pickup lines direct from NYC singles bars. The next time you're wondering where to find single people in NYC, look no further.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

LA: From Hate to Love

Oh LA, I always hated you, but perhaps I just didn't understand you. Despite all your shortcomings, (freeways, parking, smog, lack of culture), you've slowly started working your way into my heart, mostly, I admit, through my stomach. LA has arguably one of the most exciting food scenes in the country right now, and last weekend I got a chance to check out some of the hot spots first hand. The lineup: Tasting Kitchen in Venice (menu pictured to the right), Umami Burger, and Animal, among others.

Tasting Kitchen is a combination of so many trends that are predominant in NYC: classic cocktails/speakeasy, small plates/wine bar, market menu, etc. reminded me a lot of Marlow and Sons in Brooklyn meets 'inoteca but with much hotter waiters. Although ours was sporting an 'irony stache', he was the epitome of the long-blonde-haired California surfer dude/actor type that you'd totally expect to be working here. What we had: scallops with hen of the woods mushrooms, pork rilettes (these were off the hook), whole orata (they were out of the filleted fish), steak (so bomb), and two pastas: chicken with leeks and mushrooms, and salami pilote (almost like an Italian fried rice). Oh and dessert, bread pudding and something chocolately. Let's face it, I was half in the bag by then. Both were fantastic.
Umami Burger OMG. The "umami factor" here is SERIOUS. I tried the classic Umami Burger which had sun-dried tomatoes, shitake mushrooms and a parmesan wafer--so rich, complex and delicious. Wish I could have tried the triple pork but alas they were out of it. Will definitely be back on my next trip.
Animal Wow. Animal was like a pork tornado. In a good way. We had: gnocchi with goat cheese and bolognese, rabbit loin wrapped in pancetta, chorizo and cheese dip, pork belly and slaw sandwiches, carrot and sunchoke salad, and tres leches cake with dulce de leche for dessert. Everything was great but the space definitely leaves something to be desired. A little sprucing up might make it feel more cozy and less sterile. But with food that on point, who really cares anyway.

Other notable meals: El Compadre on Sunset: Your classic kitschy old-school Mexican joint complete with mariachi band and flaming margaritas. Loved it. Amazing enchiladas verdes.
The Griddle: Three words. Nutella french toast. Maybe one of the best things I've ever eaten in my life. Kings Road Cafe: Really impressed with the quality of ingredients here. Bread was freshly baked and mozzarella was incredible. A tad sceney/Hollywoody but a good place for a sandwich to be sure.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

21 Things Restaurant Patrons Should Never Do

In response to the NYTimes Blog post, "100 Things Restaurant Staffers Should Never Do," I present a server's list of things that restaurant patrons should never do. If you ask me, servers are usually far better behaved than their patrons. You wouldn't believe some of the shit people say/do when they're hungry.

1. Never seat yourself unless explicitly told that you may do so. If you see an open table, do not go sit there before checking in with a staff member. This includes outdoor tables.

2. Never sit at a table that has not been bussed. If told you may sit anywhere, this does not include dirty tables. At least wait until it has been cleaned and a staff member has given you the OK.

3. This is a new one from the other night: Do not ask the server for a “pitcher” of water unless you see other tables with them. A restaurant that offers decanters of water will generally put them down at seating. Asking me for something I don’t have is just annoying.

4. Do not order more than one alcoholic drink for yourself at a time. You're not at a frat party.

5. Don’t act like a douche when ordering. Please don’t say you’d like to “double down” on that last order, or other douchey phrases of the like.

6. In fact, don’t act like a douche period.

7. Do say please and thank you.

8. Always order your meal in the order you'd like it served. Ex: “To begin we’ll have x and y, etc.” Throwing in apps at the last minute makes it much more likely that your server will forget.

9. Don’t voluntarily “summarize” the order for the server. This is their job. It usually only leads to confusion. It’s also an insult to their intelligence.

10. When a server passes by you holding a stack of dishes, this is not an opportune time to flag him/her down for your order.

11. Also do not shove plates at a server or busser on their way by.

12. Additionally, when a server is entering an order into the computer, this is not a good time to talk to them.

13. Do not go into the kitchen. Ever. For any reason. Unless a patron is on fire.

14. If you see your server in the kitchen, bathroom, or outside, do not ask them for anything/change the details of your order etc. Your time with them begins and ends at the table.

15. Don’t lie about/underestimate the number of guests you are expecting. Do not tell a hostess that you have a party of 4 when really you have a party of 6. Squeezing extra seats in is often difficult to do.

16. Don’t ask for separate checks at one table. One table, one check. You figure out the rest.

17. Don’t ask for “water for the table” unless each person has concurred that they do in fact want water. It’s wasteful and time consuming.

18. Don’t touch the staff. For any reason. Additionally don’t get an inch from my face when you talk to me.

19. Don’t flag me down and then when I get to the table still have no idea what you are going to order. At least ask me a constructive question so it’s not a total waste of time.

20. Don’t get involved in me and my life. I’m here to take your order, not provide you with entertainment. Ex: “you look bored today.” “Where are you from?” Additionally don’t make jokes to the table at my expense. (at least in front of my face.)

21. This one is obvious but do tip 20% for good service, regardless of what you've ordered. $60 worth of drinks does not mean you leave $6. Whoever started that rumor that you "only tip 10% on drinks" is a cheap asshole.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Dutch Kills/Detroit's Last Word

Went to Dutch Kills in LIC on Monday night, the newest in the family of old-school bĂ´ites brought to you by Sasha Petraske and co. The bar is lined with large, starkly-designed wooden booths, which look kinda like horse stalls. I sampled an Arc Angel (gin, cucumber, bitters, etc) and my favorite Petraske creation, the East Side Company. One of my comrades ordered a Greenpoint, a classic drink made with green/yellow chartreuse, rye, bitters, etc.

The verdict? Solid drinks as to be expected. The place itself is cool but somewhat unremarkable. Points for good music and lighting. If you live in the nabe it should certainly be on your list, but otherwise you can get most if not all of these drinks at a Petraske outpost near you.

Then, today I stumbled upon this article in the Detroit Free Press about the Last Word, an old-school gin drink made with green chartreuse which apparently originated in Detroit. The drink's revival has made it onto cocktail menus around the world and across the U.S. Proud to learn that my hometown has a place in cocktail history both past and present.

Photo via Flickr/Gilrain

Friday, April 3, 2009


Another day, another gourmet pizza joint. The latest on the block is Keste Pizza & Vino, noted for its affiliation with the Associazone Pizzaiuoli Napoletana, the association that certifies pizza-makers. Walking into the Keste space you might feel like you are in some cheapie prix-fixe tourist trap or suburban strip mall joint. And the menu looks like it might have been designed/laminated at Kinko's. But once you taste the pizza, any doubts you might have about Keste will quickly fall by the wayside.

The staff seemed nervous, like they were on a first date, and accordingly a bit overly attentive. There were a few snafus--the soda was flat, the server's English was poor, and another staffer kept filling up all the glasses on the table with water, so at one point we had 3 full glasses for two people. (We had to snicker at that one.)

But the pizza is truly first-rate. Based on the server's advice, I tried the basic Buffalo Mozzarella pie, which was rich and delicious, its sauce full of plump, fresh tomatoes. The crust is textbook and spectacular: chewy, crusty, and crunchy in all the right places. My friend ordered a more elaborate pie with ham, mushrooms and artichokes which was also good, but not quite as flavorful as mine. We also shared a mixed green salad filled with chunks of mozzarella (since clearly we weren't eating enough cheese as it was).

All and all, Keste makes a very fine pie. Oh, and also, fire is free here, as noted on the check below. What a bargain!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Marc Forgione fka Forge

Vegetarians and devout Jews, turn away. The rest of you, behold to your right some piggy porn from the Marc Forgione renaming party last night, (the restaurant formerly known as Forge.) Pretty random turnout but some good apps including a scallop ceviche, duck sliders, curried chicken nuggets, and short ribs with parsnip puree. Oh and the requisite roasted whole pig, as shown.