What to Drink at ABC Kitchen
Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s Flatiron temple to virtuous dining crafts cocktails for power players.
February 25, 2013
You can be a Master of the Universe and still want to save the planet. That’s the ethos at ABC Kitchen by Jean-Georges, the bright and airy atelier within Flatiron’s ABC Carpet & Home. Here, a mix of power players from the financial, fashion, and art worlds meet at this Jean-Georges Vongerichten restaurant centered around local, sustainable, and organic ingredients. And of course, that extends to the bar, from Manhattans made with McKenzie Rye Whiskey from the Finger Lakes region (perhaps paired with crab toast and lemon aioli) to a fully biodynamic wine program.
“We try to maintain a 350-mile radius for farm vendors, including liquor,” says Ryan Armstrong, General Manager for ABC Kitchen. Luckily, the recent artisan distilling boom gives the bar plenty to work with. Even Jean-Georges classics like the vodka-thyme lemonade are given an “ABC spin,” updated with Vermont Gold, a vodka made from Vermont maple sap, organic citrus, and herbs fresh from the restaurant’s rooftop garden and the neighborhood greenmarket. However, that same lemon-thyme base also transforms into a crisp house-made soda, hold the spirits.
That’s right: the new power drink doesn’t always have to mean alcohol. Armstrong notes, “We have guests from the Middle East who don’t drink.... Or the businesswoman who is pregnant, but still needs to drink with the guys from BlackRock.”
Power cleansers can also opt for cold-pressed juices from Organic Avenue (a bespoke line available at ABC) in flavors such as the Mellow Love, a colorful mix of cucumber, romaine, spinach, parsley, and Himalayan sea salt, its vibrant green glory showcased in a wine glass. 35 E. 18th St., 212-475- 5829
photography by rebecca sahn
Russian Indulgences at FireBird
The menu lives up the opulent ambiance of this romantic Russian townhouse restaurant.
February 15, 2013
Nestled on the fringe of Restaurant Row in Midtown, FireBird Restaurant transports guests into a regal setting that takes the idea of an “Old World” as a concept and makes it a real place. Named for the epic ballet by Igor Stravinsky, the restaurant’s three stories—from a library filled with rare books on the lower level to the parlor lounge and private upstairs party space—are impeccably curated by owner Joe Valentine and his team. Setting the scene are century-old costumes from the original performance of Stravinky’s ballet, vintage hardbound classic novels in the library, and an extensive collection of paintings and sculptures.
While history and location inform the food here, there is a welcome lack of overemphasis on tired authenticity. Instead, executive chef Paul Joseph’s cuisine takes cues in tone and foundation from the motherland, but with a fair share of French and other continental influence that makes for some well-crafted options. There’s caviar, of course, from baseline salmon and trout roe to decadent sturgeon and Ossetra, and more than two hundred different types of vodka available. Starters include traditional dishes like gravlax with lemongrass and red beet cured salmon with more caviar and a truffle vinaigrette. Chunks of lobster meat make an interesting match with avocado butter, harissa, lemon, and herbs.
For mains, grilled scallops with Romanian polenta and asparagus get a salty-sweet kick from crushed pistachios and orange and vanilla sauce. Meanwhile, moist, tasty medallions of Hudson Valley wild boar are sweetened with mountain cherries over an earthy bed of Brussels sprouts and red quinoa. As far as dessert goes, bananas foster flambéed tableside are more than just a show—the sweet bananas over rapidly melting vanilla ice cream are a tasty end to an almost historic night. 365 West 46th St., 212-586-0244
Creative Cocktails at Rogue & Canon
We're impressed with inventive drinks, and dishes like a pork belly burger with peanut butter.
February 08, 2013
Rogue & Canon boasts a large bar to complement its extensive imbibing options.
Near the cobblestone-paved strip of MacDougal Street that connects Prince and Houston lies a secret locale of a different sort. Rogue & Canon, recently opened by hospitality industry vets Johnny Swet and Larry Poston (JIMMY at The James) alongside Yanni Marmarou, plays up the whole speakeasy thing to a point—there’s no name-bearing sign out front, but the address is prominently displayed enough so that it’s not entirely a secret. You're not destined for the dark, overdone Prohibition-era theme inside either; brick walls are backlit by amber lights, and a large, inviting bar beckons you to sit down and stay for a drink.
And with a cocktail list this creative, you’re likely to have more than just one. Traditionalists who identify with the “canon” side of the resto’s name need not stray too far from their comfort zones, though. Concoctions like the Continental Cocktail encompass familiar flavors like Brugal Extra Dry Silver Rum, Crème de Menthe, and muddled fresh mint with a rinse of green chartreuse and seltzer. For a completely different drink (“rogue”), sip the American Pie, comprised of apple jack, Bavarian apple liquor, and cranberry juice over a cinnamon ice block. Those somewhere in the middle will want to try the Mango Margarita with tequila, mango, lime, agave nectar, and chipotle. Can’t decide? Beverages are clearly marked as “rogue” and “canon” for ease of ordering. Beers and wines also run the gamut—from rare crafts like the java-charged Founder’s Breakfast Stout to a sizable list of reds and whites.
The food here is equally likely to encourage indulgence. To start, choose a snack like the Welsh rarebit—melted cheddar cheese mixed with brown ale and caramelized onions, served warm with slices of bread. Or, order a small plate like the carnivore-friendly Butcher Block. The pièce de résistance, though, is undoubtedly the Rogue Burger entree, stacked with crispy pork belly, onion marmalade, aged cheddar, a juicy slab of bacon…and peanut butter. The canon side is catered to with a more classic burger, fish and chips, and a chicken dish served with sweet potato-root vegetable hash, and thyme. Just save room for dessert, where options like a gooey bread pudding await. 128 W. Houston St., Greenwich Village, 646-398-8700
Bocca Di Bacco Expands to Chelsea
The popular farm-to-table Italian eatery adds a third jewel to its crown.
February 05, 2013
Three’s a charm for New York City Restaurant Group’s Bocca Di Bacco, which recently opened a third location in Chelsea. And in addition to the farm-to-table Italian cuisine that Bocca Di Bacco is known for, the new outpost is also planning to add a subterranean chefs’ table with special tasting menus. But until then, there’s plenty to rave about in the cozy upstairs dining room, where industrial hues of grey and metallic accents combine with reclaimed wood and exposed light bulbs, making executive chef Kristin Sollenne’s seasonal menu shine even brighter.
The culinary force behind all three Bocca Di Bacco locations (Hell’s Kitchen, Theater District, Chelsea), Sollenne puts an emphasis on farm-fresh ingredients and sensible menu construction. With almost a dozen pastas, a hearty assortment of entrées, and plenty of antipasti and assaggi, the menu is a deep dive into the flavors of Italy. Well-seasoned crab cakes are a nice even mixture of ‘crab’ and ‘cake’ and come paired with a warm wild mushroom salad for a light yet satisfying start to a meal, while the divinely juicy osso bucco is served shredded with house-made garganelli. However, if you prefer surf to turf, a pan-seared monkfish provides buttery heft balanced by a vibrant tomato sauce that enhances the delicate fish in all of the right ways. 169 9th Ave., 212-989-8400
Macarons 101 with Dana's Bakery
Scenes from a cooking class on New York’s favorite French confection at Haven's Kitchen.
January 28, 2013
The perfect French macaron combines sweet, thick filling with a pillowy yet crackly meringue shell. The cookies have gained an impressive following over the past few years. One recent chilly night, Haven’s Kitchen, a recreational cooking school in the Flatiron District, hosted a “Not Your Ordinary Macaron” class with Dana Loia of Dana’s Bakery. Loia’s macarons emphasize authentic (and often unexpected) American ingredients and flavor profiles—think Girl Scouts-inspired Thin Mints, PB&J, or jelly donuts. Each cookie is a pairing of French sophistication and American artisanal ingenuity. Above, two Gotham editors test their macaron mettle.
The Ultimate Valentine's Day Toast
At Il Mulino's new Upper East Side outpost, Michael Greco sits at a coveted table and shares his ultimate champagnes for a Valentine's Day toast.
January 28, 2013
Il Mulino has established itself as one of New York’s premier Italian restaurants, and with the launch of its new Upper East Side location, positions itself as the reservation to get for Valentine’s Day this year. The uptown wine list, crafted by food and beverage director and vice president of operations Michael Greco, features Champagne mainstays such as Cristal and Krug as well as smaller sparkling labels prime for an evening of romance.
Greco recommends beginning the meal with a rosé Champagne. For a recognizable bottle with proven quality, Veuve Clicquot Rosé is perfect. For something more unassuming, “one of my personal favorite Champagnes is Lanson Brut Rosé,” says Greco. “Its smaller production and softer feel on the palate give the guest the feeling that they are ordering something very special. As far as sparkling goes, it is one of the best little treasures on our list
To pair superiorly with salads and sweet cheeses, Greco offers Azienda Agricola Provenza’s Sebastian, a fruity, sparkling Italian wine. However, he finds that Moët & Chandon Nectar Impérial with its hints of grapefruit, pineapple, and vanilla best suits the pinnacle of any romantic meal: dessert. Says Greco, “for dessert, there is nothing better than Moët Nectar with anything [including] our flourless chocolate cake with mixed berries, zabaglione, and whipped cream,” a sweet bite the restaurant has become famous for. 37 E. 60th St., 212-750-3270; 86 W. Third St., 212-673-3783
photography EUGENY KARANDAEV/GETTY IMAGES (GLASS)
Simple Pleasures at LuLu & Me
Dishes here are made delicious with no more than three different ingredients.
January 16, 2013
Fettuccine with mushrooms and fresh tomato at Lulu & Me
In terms of over-accessorizing, the same rule applies to both fashion and cooking: less is more. But dishes weighed down by unnecessary extras and too much of a good thing are an unfortunate reality, in New York especially. For a welcome breath of simplicity, visit LuLu & Me, a Flatiron gastropub where no dish contains more than three different ingredients. At the bar you’ll find traditional pub bites like peanuts roasted with lime, chipotle, and cucumber, as well as an egg pickled in salty brine and served in a Mason jar. The taste of the egg is homemade in the best of ways. The rest of chef Karen Fohrhaltz’s menu leans heavily toward Italian flavor profiles. A thick, to the tooth fettuccine with delectable porcini, shiitake, and crimini mushrooms and fresh tomato was one of the best bites we’ve had so far this year. Less otherworldly dishes, like hake with fennel, parsley, and tomato in white wine sauce, still score high marks for pure, simple flavors and skillful preparations. So even the most minimally "dressed” dishes impress. 253 Fifth Avenue, 212-290-2460
A Slice of Culture at PizzArte
The Theater District pizzeria elevates NYC's favorite food with rotating art exhibits.
January 16, 2013
Eating pizza in an art gallery just north of Times Square seems downright sacrilegious, but PizzArte on West 55th Street manages to pull it off delightfully. On our visit, Paola Romano’s bubbling explorations of lunar-like textures hung on the walls of the upstairs dining room, but exhibits rotate in the pizzeria that co-owners Bruno Cilio and Dario Cipollaro de l’Ero claim is New York’s only restaurant gallery. Whether that’s true or not, the juxtaposition of Romano’s gray scale works and PizzArte’s vibrant Italian cuisine is a success.
In the kitchen, executive chef Antonio Pisaniello and his staff churn out some of the best pizzas the city has to offer, from basic Neapolitan with globs of Buffala mozzarella to earthy tartufata with black truffle, mushrooms, and speck. Each pie is a textbook example of the form, and there are 19 different varieties (some available gluten-free) to choose from.
Beyond pizza, the six-hour simmered ragu of pork and beef with San Marzano tomatoes over twisted fusilli is cooked perfectly al dente and the gnocchi with butternut squash sauce, sage, and Parmesan is sweet and light. The must-try dish, though, is agnello cacio e uova, a deconstructed lamb stew consisting of lamb chops, a cooked egg, pecorino sauce, artichokes, and fritatta. Another favorite is Pisaniello’s Chilean sea bass, plated simply with white wine and a light, sweet tomato sauce. So while the exhibits are nice, the real art is happening on the plate. 69 W. 55th St., 212-247-3936
Mixing It Up at China Latina
Go fusion for dinner tonight, with sushi burritos and wonton tacos.
January 10, 2013
On the ground floor of Hotel Indigo, in the Flower District, new restaurant China Latina is creating fun fusions that are more playful experimental works than they are strictly authentic combinatory cuisine. The menu borrows ingredients from across the globe—from Latin America to Korea—offering solid, if sometimes forced, new takes on old favorites. Wonton tacos are filled with Szechuan skirt steak and pickled onions, Peking duck, or tempura-fried fish with Sriracha. Served sliced, to resemble maki rolls, sushi burritos envelop fish like bigeye tuna in flower tortillas. Earthy guacamole seasoned with sesame seeds and seaweed flakes derives its spice from wasabi, a surprising twist that is worth a double-dip (and borrowing the idea in your own guacamole recipe). On the entrée side, thick, flat rice noodles with shrimp, vegetables, cashews, and truffle oil make up the devil corn chow fun—one of the best dishes we tried. It's made unique by the addition of huitlacoche, a fungus that is best described by its slightly euphemistic nickname—the Mexican truffle. 127 W. 28th St., 646-397-9881
photography by adam morganstern
Wintry Treats at David Burke’s Treehouse
The SoHo watering hole serves up specialty cocktails and stick-to-your-bones small plates.
January 04, 2013
Enjoy a Winterberry Sangria at David Burke's Treehouse Bar through February.
The mostly glass interior at David Burke’s Treehouse Bar may evoke the feeling of being in a snowglobe come wintertime—if said snowglobe looked out onto the trendy streets of SoHo and was housed within the upscale James Hotel. Embrace the season further with the Winterberry Sangria, a refreshing mix of Pouilly Fuisse, Pisco 100, Cointreau Noir, St. Germain, and simple syrup, mixed with orange, grapefruit, and lemon juices. Or, if you’re looking to warm things up, sip The 3rd Date, a bold blend of tanteo jalapeno, mescal, agave, lime, and a DB bacon lollipop.
Complement your cocktails with satisfying small plates like the maple bacon dates, smoked salmon pastrami sticks, melt-in-your-mouth donuts, chili, or a rotating-daily selection of tacos. But the pièce de résistance on a cold winter’s night is the hearty kitchen burger—a juicy mini sandwich that’s best enjoyed with cheese, bacon, and a side order of the naked fries. 23 Grand St., SoHo, 212-201-9119