Nightlife Pick: Theater Bar
A bar with a theatrical spin makes a great cocktail and sets a winning scene.
April 27, 2011
In New York City, it’s not uncommon for an aspiring actor to moonlight as a cocktail server. But for the bartenders and waitresses at Albert Trummer’s new opera house-inspired venue, Theater Bar (114 Franklin St., 212-334-3733), serving drinks is a performance in itself. “It’s not enough to just make cocktails anymore,” Trummer says. “You have to entertain as well.”
To set the stage, Trummer enlisted the help of designer Emily Anne Waterhouse, who focused on decorating with vintage pieces. “Almost everything in the space has been reclaimed,” she explains, “even the floorboards.” The arch behind the bar is made with frames (taken apart and repainted) that are more than 100 years old. (A few things are admittedly new. “The red curtains behind the bar were made by a stage curtain company,” Waterhouse says. “And the large pieces of artwork were done by students at the NY Art Academy across the street.”) Toward the back of the long room is an elevated bar. Made from large slabs of marbleized onyx lit from within, “it’s almost set up like a sushi counter,” Trummer says.
Each of his four bartenders has their own station, where apothecary bottles hold fresh ingredients used in the thoughtful specialty cocktails. The original European aperitivo and Champagne cocktails, Asian and Latin libations, Mayan and Aztec remedies and Harlem Renaissance-inspired drinks are the handiwork of Nick O’Connor, Esteban Ordonez, Miguel Aranda and Duane Fernandez (respectively). Of course a great performance comes with a few surprises. “I learned from growing up in Vienna opera houses that every bar needs a backstage,” Trummer says. “Friends always want to come behind the bar.” A secret code to a door downstairs lets friends of the house reemerge on the other side of the action. It’s there that a fifth bartender, illusionist Jeff Grow, keeps his appointments. He pairs cocktails—like a Pins & Needles—with Houdini’s tricks—a feat that involves swallowing a pin. Bravo.
Tribeca Film Fest Bar Crawl
Stolichnaya mixes signature cocktails at a string of bars near NYC film landmarks.
April 22, 2011
For the full Tribeca Film Festival experience, order up one of the fest’s official cocktails available at ten participating bars. Festival sponsor Stolichnaya enlisted British mixologist Charlotte Voisey to concoct the four signature cocktails, which include the Stoli Razpiroska (AT LEFT), Stoli Gala Temptress, Stoli O Twilight and Stoli Blue Sintini. Each of the bars mixing up these special cocktails is in direct proximity to a cinematic landmark. Pick your favorite spot or organize a full-fledged film fest bar crawl. Find the full list of bars and nearby landmarks at Tribecafilm.com/festival.
New Eatery: Philippe Jericho
The new outpost of Philippe in Jericho is a winner from famed chef Philippe Chow.
April 20, 2011
With many upscale locations to choose from on the north shore, we were thrilled with the new outpost of Philippe in Jericho—the latest venture by restaurateur Stratis Morfogen. The extension of one of our favorite contemporary Chinese establishments came through with the delicious food and grade-A ambiance we've come to know and love. Once we were seated at our table, the familiar culinary stylings of chef Philippe Chow reminded us of our old Manhattan favorite. We were thrilled to reacquaint ourselves with signature dishes like the chicken satay, lettuce wraps and Chilean sea bass. Even more remarkable were our newly discovered darlings: house mignon, Beijing chicken and nine-season spicy prawns. Although we didn’t order the Peking duck, three other tables seemed to thoroughly enjoy the tableside-sliced delicacy. After a remarkable dinner, we topped off our meal with the scrumptious cheesecake-infused red velvet cake and the sinfully delicious peanut butter pie. 399 Jericho Turnpike, Jericho, 516-605-2555
The Counter’s Custom Built Burgers
Tuck into a new school burger in an old school diner locale.
April 19, 2011
The Counter, a modern and industrial take on the 1950’s diner, recently opened in Times Square offering premium build-your-own burgers with over 300,000 flavor combinations.
Diners use a clipboard menu and golf pencils to choose their bun, patty (beef, chicken, turkey, veggie, or market selection) toppings and sauces. Cheese selections, of which there are twelve, range from Tillamook cheddar to soft ripened brie and toppings, like Applewood smoked bacon and grilled pineapple, spark construction inspiration.
Also on offer are a bevy of fried treats; cheese fries, chili cheese fries, parmesan fries, sweet potato fries, onion strings. Old fashioned coke floats, milk shakes and malts seal the deal and add to the diner vibe.
Since it’s opening late last December, The Counter has developed a cult following among the in-and-out business crowd and a loyal pre and post-theater crowd. Co-owner Chris Gale is thrilled with the restaurant’s success and plans to expand to another location downtown, near Union Square. 7 Times Square
Wine 101: All About Amarone
A Venetian wine aficionado schools us on the bold, fruity merits of Amarone.
April 14, 2011
Indigenous to the bountiful vineyards of Venice, Amarone is considered to be one of the most complex and fruit forward wines in the whole of Italy—vis-à-vis the wine world. Rooted in the romantic town of Verona, the winemakers of Masi Agricola have lovingly crafted this round and inviting wine—using the age-old process of appassimento—for seven generations. Tending to the quality of Masi Agricola’s Amarone, and all of the wines in the brand’s stable, is Raffaele Boscaini, the youngest son of the Masi Agricola dynasty. Here, he explains the beauty of Amarone and shares a personal recipe to enjoy it with.
How would you characterize Amarone?
Amarones are typically considered one of Italy's big, bold red wines with fruit forward flavors of cherry, raisin, plum and spice. We often describe Amarone as suadente, the Italian word [which] means persuasive, conciliatory and slightly flattering. They are entirely made using appassimento.
Explain the appassimento process and its impact on the flavor of the wine.
Masi Agricola is an authority on appassimento, [which is] an ancient winemaking technique used in the production of Amarone. It is the process of laying grapes out for partial drying after harvesting to obtain higher concentration levels of color, flavor and aroma.
With what do Venetians like to drink Amarone?
Amarone is extremely affable and enriches a meal with its range of aroma, texture and complexity. I like to pair it with sautéed beef filet and mushrooms. Another quintessential way to enjoy Amarone is to take a a bite-sized piece of parmesan cheese and a teaspoon of Acacia honey, pop them both in your mouth, chew them up to savor the tastes, then take a sip of Amarone and enjoy the ensuing harmonies.
Boscaini’s Beef Filet With Plum and Mushroom Sauce
Pair with Masi Costasera Amarone
4 one-inch slices of beef filet
3 3/4 cups fresh, diced Champignon, porcini and honey mushrooms
1/3 cup pitted prunes
1 cup chopped onion
1 cinnamon stick
Salt and pepper
Sauté onion in oil and add mushrooms and salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 40 minutes before adding prunes and cinnamon. Cook for 20 minutes on a low heat and remove cinnamon stick. Tie cooking string around the circumference of each filet and cook for thee minutes on each side in a buttered and oiled pan. Once filets are cooked to the desired temperature, remove string, add salt and cover with sauce.
Masi Agricola wines are available at Spring Street Wine Shop. 187 Spring St.
Coming Up: Beaumarchais Whiskey Dinner
Whiskey master Spike McClure pairs classic malts with four mouth-watering courses.
April 13, 2011
Brasserie Beaumarchais, which recently breathed life into the old Bagatelle space, and whiskey master Spike McClure will host a decadent four-course whiskey dinner ($100, per person) on April 25. McClure and Beaumarchias chef Nicolas Cantrel crafted the meat-centric menu to include beautifully rustic dishes like beef tenderloin with bleu cheese and English Peas and boiled country jambon alongside malts from myriad distilleries that hail from the early 90's.
Jambon Au Foin: Boiled country ham cooked farm-style and served with jumbo asparagus; paired with Glenkinchie, 12 year, Lowlands
Caille Rotie Au Verjus: Roasted quail, grapes and white wine sauce; paired with Cragganmore Distillers Edition, 1997, Speyside
Fletan Roti Aux Oignons: Roasted halibut, onion rings and kale; paired with Oban Distillers Edition, 1995, Wester Highlands
Tournedos De Boeuf Et Petits A La Francaise: Beef tenderloin, bleu cheese and English peas; Lagavulin Distillers Edition, 1994, Islay
Coupe Glacée Aux Marons: Sundae chestnut, chocolat and coffee ice creams; paired with Talisker Distillers Edition, 1999, Skye
Reservations can be made by calling 212-675-2400 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Dispatch: Varli Food Festival
The first annual Indian food festiva is a worthy addition to the calendars of NYC foodies.
April 12, 2011
Get ready to add another yearly fest to your already fat cuisine calendars. Last week’s First Annual Varli Food Festival, which celebrated 35 of New York’s finest Indian restaurants, was a sold-out, smashing success sure to be made even better this time next year. The inaugural fest attracted some of the hottest names in the Indian culinary world, from Iron Chef America’s Jehangir Mehta to The Spice Story of India author Vikas Khanna.
Held at the West Village’s Altman building, the line to get in snaked halfway down West 18th Street—but once inside, it was well worth the wait. Sponsored by Varli magazine, the event showcased food and drink tastings, cooking demonstrations and a special performance by Indian songstress Tina Sugandh. Inside the dimly lit hall, noshing possibilities were endless. The selection of spicy pickled meats and fresh Indian sushi rolls (yes, there is such a thing) were curious and delicious, and Nanking’s Thai shrimp curry was absolutely sublime.
Hotel Eats: Hudson Hall
Chef Jasper Schneider takes cafeteria-style comfort food to the next level.
April 11, 2011
“Cooking and working in New York, you have to be driven. You have to have a lot of passion,” chef Jasper Schneider explains while seated at the head of long, cafeteria-style table at Hudson Hall. Inspired by Schneider’s vision of the “old-school mess-hall days,” and the atmosphere of a New England college campus, the Hall features a self-service concept where diners approach the bar and choose from a variety of cooked-to-order small plates.
Among Schneider’s new school takes on comfort food classics are Brussels sprouts with house-made sambal and macaroni and cheese laced with tasso and ricotta béchamel. He also experiments with the technology of the culinary new wave in signature dishes like the 72-hour sous vide and braised short rib, as well as a house made Worcestershire sauce. Wherever possible, Schneider sources ingredients from local farmers and bases the Hall’s menu on seasonal availability. If all college food were like this, who would ever leave? 356 W. 58th St.
Lido's Light Italian Fare
As the weather warms, we crave light, farm fresh cuisine—and Lido delivers.
April 11, 2011
“I hope that this will be food that people will travel for,” says Lido co-owner Susannah Koteen, who lives just six blocks from the new Harlem eatery. With Lido, her first restaurant project, Koteen aims to deliver light, responsibly farmed fare in an elegant, yet neighborhood-y space. In the kitchen, Koteen enlisted four-time James Beard recognition award recipient chef Stephen Putnam (of River Café and Park Avenue Café), who hails from California and has spent time in Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast.
Our visit began with an herbal cocktail, dubbed Le Violette, which combined velvety crème de violette and Bombay gin with fresh rosemary and lemon. On top of being absolutely dreamy, the flowery cocktail perfumed our palate for the chef’s selection of farm stand cheese: nutty Parmigiano Reggiano, melt-in-your-mouth goat cheese and crumbly blue cheese, served with crusty bread, Marcona almonds and honeycomb. The cheese trio is part of the “assaggini” portion of the menu, which includes charcuterie, mixed olives and a selection of crostino topped with everything from salt cod, potato and lemon to fava bean and mint.
Salad and antipasti selections tempt with rich Italian cheeses and dynamic flavor combinations. We sampled the organic winter chicories tossed with dried cherries, Marcona almonds, Pecorino Romano and red wine vinaigrette. Also peaking our curiosity was the marinated beet salad, dressed in Saba (a sweet, reduced balsamic) and topped with a warm Hudson Valley goat cheese fritter.
Pastas, which are made in house, include the lighter orecchiette with rock shrimp, broccoli rabe and cherry peppers, as well as heartier plates of gnocchi tossed with guanciale, truffle butter and pecorino (a favorite among regulars). Secondi selections of braised short rib, leg of lamb and whole branzino are all enhanced by garden fresh herbs and veggies. The fork-tender short rib arrived on a cloud of potato purée with a crisp horseradish gremolata topper. Desserts change often, but if you visit on a night where Putnam’s white chocolate panna cotta is on the menu, take advantage. Served in a quaint country jar, the creamy custard has a hint of tarragon and is finished with sliced strawberries and shards of almond.
As the weather begins to agree, Putnam’s light Italian cuisine can be enjoyed on Lido’s front patio. And in addition to dinner service, Lido offers Saturday and Sunday brunch. 2168 Frederick Douglass Blvd.
Bikini-Season Prep with The Fresh Diet
The Fresh Diet delivers fresh, super-healthy food right to your door.
April 08, 2011
Spring is finally here, and summer is thankfully approaching. While I have been looking forward to digging out my summer wardrobe, I can’t say that I am totally prepared for bikini season. After speaking with my friend Brielle Batory, project manager for The Fresh Diet, I decided I would kick-start my own personal spring training program by trying out their gourmet meal home delivery program. Here’s what she had to say about it:
What makes The Fresh Diet special?
BRIELLE BATORY: It’s not a traditional diet. It is fresh, whole food delivered daily. Nothing is processed, frozen or vacuum-sealed. Our meals are prepared by gourmet chefs using the 40/30/30 principle—40 percent carbs/30 percent protein/30 percent fat. What’s our secret? Portion Control. The result is food that is delicious, properly balanced and perfectly portioned for ideal nutrition and weight loss.
How much does it cost?
BB: It depends which plan you select—Chef’s Choice or Premium—and for how many days. For about $35 per day you will get three freshly prepared gourmet meals and two snacks delivered to your door daily.
I know I can get it delivered in Manhattan, but what about other areas?
BB: We deliver to most major cities throughout the U.S., in addition to Toronto. As summer approaches, most New Yorkers want to know if we deliver to the Hamptons—and the answer is yes! Starting late this summer, we will be delivering nationwide, anywhere and everywhere, using MAP (Modified Atmospheric Packaging). The food will still be fresh, never frozen, and certainly not processed! The only difference is that it will arrive at your doorstep via FedEx rather then our Fresh Diet elves.
Do you have corporate customers?
BB: Yes. We even have a corporate lunch plan that allows companies with a minimum of five employee participants to get lunch delivered daily for under $11 a day.
What about people who have special dietary needs?
BB: We have vegetarian, diabetic and low-carb offerings. Currently our Kosher plan is only offered in South Florida, but will also be available in the Northeast Region by June 2011.
And can I pick up the meals anywhere else yet?
BB: Yes! We just launched our flagship Fresh Diet Grab & Go retail store in Miami. By the end of 2011 we expect to open five more Grab & Go stores, as well as several satellite Grab & Gos in gyms throughout the U.S. The Grab & Go concept is simple—purchase The Fresh Diet meals à la carte with no membership necessary.
Any juices on the menu?
BB: Not just yet, but we’re actually launching our own juicing line this year.
And which celebrities have discovered you?
BB: Khloé Kardashian, Playmate Holly Madison and Neil Patrick Harris are a few I can share at the moment.