Monday, May 31, 2010

NYC Summer Food Truck Dining Kicks Off This Weekend

This weekend is the true kick-off of food truck season. Yesterday was the opening of the Red Hook Ballfields with pretty much any kind of Latino food for sale. I especially love The Country Boys, last year's finalist at the Vendys. Tomorrow is Bklyn Yard's Parked. A lot of my favorite trucks will be there (Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, Rickshaw Dumplings) along with new ones that I can't wait to try (Green Pirate Juice Truck, Steve's Key Lime Pie). On June 2, the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck hits the streets again. And, after that I'm planning to crawl from one vendor to another in midtown, from Rafiqi on 44th and 5th to the fabulous Halal truck on 53rd and 6th. With the weather as glorious as it is now, this is the time to grab a bite and sit outdoors.

Has anyone tried the Blueprint Cleanse? I'll definitely need it!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Celebrate the Transformation of Lincoln Center on May 21 from 12-3

Lincoln Center has a new look and a new outdoors. Check out the LED messages that flash off and on as you climb the new gradually sloping Grand Stair from Columbus Avenue towards the fountain. That’s the first indicator that something 21st century has transpired here. And, BTW, the Revson Fountain is even more amazing than it used to be. With the nozzles now placed at ground level, rather than in its former birthday-cake configuration, the water shoots up gloriously to varying heights with varying designs. There’s a reason why everyone heads directly to it. While we were wondering why there were no seats around it to admire this amazing view, we spotted new chairs just around the bend in the completely redesigned North Campus. We were later told that every attempt was taken to maintain the original design integrity of the main plaza of Lincoln Center. Hence, no chairs. We can live with that because what’s on the North Plaza more than makes up for the main plaza's shortcomings (in our opinion). In addition to seats in a now tree-lined and shaded area next to the reflecting pool, there is the fabulous new Illumination Lawn overlooking the Vivian Beaumont Theater, an ascending grassy park space and the perfect spot for picnicking, people watching and lounging. (And, it's actually the roof of the in-development "Restaurant" which will open in time for Fashion Week in September).

There are more wonderful places to hang out, too. Walk over to the corner of 62nd Street and Columbus, previously an uninteresting corner, the spot has been transformed into the Charles B. Benenson Grove, the beginnings of an "urban forest" with trees carefully chosen to "chatter" and create a white noise block against the street traffic, with inviting seating.... yet another place to lounge and reflect.

The redesign of Lincoln Center by the architectural firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro had an objective of bringing people into the public spaces of Lincoln Center, both indoors and outdoors. People, with or without event tickets, are invited to spend more time soaking up the cultural richesse of Lincoln Center (which finally has a sign, albeit discreet, to tell you where you are), enjoying the buildings and settings which are so different from everywhere else in Manhattan, and simply observing.

On Friday May 21, everyone is invited to an opening party from 12- 3 to celebrate the new public spaces. Come enjoy the beautiful outdoors, free lemonade and free gelato. You might want to make a quick stop first across the street at the Atrium Ticket Office to see whether anything’s being offered at discount that night so you can grab some choice seats. If not, don't fret. Free tickets for Summer at Lincoln Center events will be given away every hour at the opening party.

Friday, May 7, 2010

James Beard Award Winners 2010

At the event last Monday at Avery Fisher Hall, NYC took home the lion’s share of awards (no surprise, really):

Best New Restaurant

A restaurant opened in 2009 that already displays excellence in food, beverage, and

service and is likely to have a significant impact on the industry in years to come.



Chef/Partner: Michael White

Partner: Chris Cannon

Outstanding Chef Award

A working chef in America whose career has set national industry standards and

who has served as an inspiration to other food professionals. Candidates must have

been working as chefs for at least the past 5 years.

Tom Colicchio



Outstanding Pastry Chef Award

A chef or baker who prepares desserts, pastries, or breads and who serves as a

national standard-bearer for excellence. Candidates must have been pastry chefs

or bakers for at least the past 5 years.

Nicole Plue


Yountville, CA

Outstanding Restaurant Award

A restaurant in the United States that serves as a national standard-bearer for

consistent quality and excellence in food, atmosphere, and service. Candidates must

have been in operation for at least 10 consecutive years.



Chef/Owner: Daniel Boulud

Owner: Joel Smilow

Outstanding Restaurateur Award

A working restaurateur who sets high national standards in restaurant operations

and entrepreneurship. Candidates must have been in the restaurant business for

at least 10 years. Candidates must not have been nominated for a James Beard

Foundation chef award in the past 10 years.

Keith McNally

Balthazar, Lucky Strike, Minetta Tavern,

Morandi, Pastis, Pravda, and Schiller’s

Liquor Bar


Outstanding Service Award

A restaurant that demonstrates high standards of hospitality and service.

Candidates must have been in operation for at least the past 5 years.



Chef/Owner: Grant Achatz

Outstanding Wine Service Award

A restaurant that displays and encourages excellence in wine service through a well presented

wine list, a knowledgeable staff, and efforts to educate customers about wine. Candidates must

have been in operation for at least 5 years.

Jean Georges


Wine Director: Bernard Sun

Best Chef: Great Lakes

(IL, IN, MI, OH)

Koren Grieveson



Best Chef: Mid-Atlantic

(D.C., DE, MD, NJ, PA, VA)

Jeff Michaud



Best Chef: Midwest

(IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)

Alexander Roberts

Restaurant Alma


Best Chef: New York City

(Five Boroughs)

Daniel Humm

Eleven Madison Park

Best Chef: Northeast


Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier


Ogunquit, ME

Best Chef: Northwest

(AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, WY)

Jason Wilson



Best Chef: Pacific

(CA, HI)

David Kinch


Los Gatos, CA

Best Chef: South

(AL, AR, FL, LA, MS)

Michael Schwartz

Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink


Best Chef: Southeast

(GA, KY, NC, SC, TN, WV)

Sean Brock


Charleston, SC

Best Chef: Southwest

(AZ, CO, NM, NV, OK, TX, UT)

Claude Le Tohic

Joël Robuchon at MGM Grand Hotel & Casino

Las Vegas

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Does Manhattan Need Another Shopping Mall?

Remember when Limelight was a Church? Then a nightclub? Then a nightclub for drunk teens? On Friday the transformation will be complete: it will be Manhattan's newest indoor mall, Limelight Marketplace. I don't get it. And I wonder if anyone else will. It seems that Time Warner has almost gotten some sea legs, and it has real stores and restaurants in it. And you can actually find it. Ditto for the shops and market at Grand Central Terminal. This one's a mystery me. Time will tell.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

TODAY! Hell's Kitchen Gourmet Food Truck Bazaar -- 11-4

It's a gorgeous day to visit the Gourmet Food Truck Bazaar in Hell's Kitchen on 39th Street and 9th Avenue. Great eats all in one place. Much calmer in that part of the city than last night (with the car bomb scare in Times Square).

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Mother's Day Brunches and Dinners in Manhattan -- May 9

OK, procrastinators. You can still score a great brunch or dinner resy for Mother’s Day in Manhattan. Here are some of my favorite dining spots that have something special going on for next Sunday:

Adour Alain Ducasse at The St. Regis New York: Executive Chef Joel Dennis will create a memorable three-course French brunch inside this elegant restaurant in the St. Regis Hotel. The prix fixe menu is $95 with such specialties as lobster benedict. 2 E. 55th Street, (212) 771-2277

Anthos: Just because you can’t take Mom to the Greek islands doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some fabulous Greek cuisine. Anthos means “blossoming” in Greek, and you will love the cherry blossoms featured throughout the restaurant while partaking of a three-course special menu for $60/person and $25/child. 36 West 52nd Street, (212) 582-6900

Benoit: Benoit is another great French brasserie by Alain Ducasse, whose sister restaurant sits on the famous rue Saint-Martin in Paris. The regular à la carte menu will be offered along with a $55/person three-course prix fixe menu all day from noon-8pm.
60 West 55th Street, (646) 943-7373

Café Boulud: After a day at the park or the Whitney Museum, stroll over to Daniel Boulud’s French bistro, offering a three-course brunch menu for $75/person and $45/children. The regular à la carte menu will be offered for dinner. 20 East 76th Street, (212) 772-2600,

‘Cesca: For a taste of Old World Italy, ‘Cesca on the Upper West Side is offering a three-course prix fixe Mother’s Day brunch menu for $29/person. The meal includes a Bellini or choice of juice. 164 West 75th Street, (212) 787-6300

David Burke Townhouse: After shopping for a gift at Bloomingdales, walk to David Burke’s Townhouse for his inventive American dishes. A $49 three-course brunch and dinner menu will be offered. 133 East 61st Street, (212) 813-2121

The Harrison: Chef Amanda Freitag is offering a $55 prix fixe menu at this cozy TriBeCa restaurant with Mediterranean-influenced delicacies such as sautéed prawns, olive oil poached Chatham cod, and a peanut butter and jelly dessert (peanut butter mousse, black grapes, and banana cake). If it’s sunny sit outside to people watch. 355 Greenwich Street, (212) 274-9310

Industria Argentina: Kick up the heat a notch at TriBeCa’s newest sizzler, Industria Argentina, as you surround yourself with everything Argentine. Chef Natalia Machado’s three-course “Tango” brunch for Mother’s Day ($30) includes favorites such as pamplona de pollo, huevos asados, and creamy flan casero with a complimentary glass of rosé. 329 Greenwich Street, (212) 965-8560

Marea: Chef Michael White, one of my personal favorites, takes Italian-style seafood to a whole new level at Marea on Central Park South. The restaurant will be serving brunch from 11:30am–2:30pm, and moms can enjoy a complimentary glass of Prosecco. Try any of the wonderful crudo choices. 240 Central Park S, (212) 582-5100

Maze by Gordon Ramsay at The London Hotel: Gordon Ramsay’s New York location offers French-based cuisine with Asian influences and a special Mother’s Day brunch menu. Enjoy classic fish and chips or something more inventive such as the pressed octopus terrine. Mothers will receive a rose with their meal. 151 West 54th Street, (212) 468-8889‎

The Modern (Dining Room) at the Museum of Modern Art: Spend a day marveling at MoMA’s dazzling exhibits and then enjoy a French prix fixe lunch overlooking the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. Chef Gabriel Kreuther’s also-dazzling four-course menu will be offered for $125/person. 9 West 53rd Street, 212.333.1220

The Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel: For an elegant Mother’s Day celebration, The Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel is the setting for a three-course brunch menu served with a glass of sparkling wine or a mimosa for $85. Bring your own little Eloise to join you, so she won’t be “Home Alone.” 10 Central Park S, (212) 758-7777

Oceana: This striking midtown seafood restaurant has a Mother’s Day brunch and dinner the entire family will love. Served in its new outdoor park from 11:30am-2pm and from 4-9pm, the meal includes “Make Your Own Sundaes” with unusual toppings including espresso shortbread crumbles and fried angel food cake. 1221 Avenue of the America’s (212) 759-5914

Osteria Del Circo: This family-pleasing circus-like Italian eatery invites guests to enjoy a Mother’s Day three-course prix fixe menu for $58 or $78 with wine pairings. Try the beautifully prepared bufala ricotta and spinach ravioli, grilled branzino (my favorite) and a chocolate tartufo with moscata zabaglione. An à la carte menu will also be available. 120 W. 55th St, (212) 265-3636

SD26 Restaurant: Spend some time looking at the outdoor art installations or playing in the playground at Madison Square Park before enjoying a special Italian three-course Mother’s Day menu for $55/adult and $33/child from 1-9pm with San Domenico classic soft egg-yolk filled ravioli with truffled butter and panna cotta with strawberry and caramelized balsamic vinegar. 19 East 26th Street, (212) 265-5959,

Smorgas Chef West Village: This charming Scandinavian restaurant in the West Village is offering a three-course brunch ($35) and four-course dinner ($55) Mother’s Day menu, with a champagne cocktail included. Try the super-light chilled lemon soufflé and the fabulous Swedish meatballs. 283 West 12th Street, (212) 243-7073‎

Tanuki Tavern: Take a walk on the High Line, Manhattan’s newest outdoor park, and they enjoy the Japanese small-plate experience at Tanuki Tavern in the Hotel Gansevoort. This trendy spot is offering a four-course tasting menu for $32 per guest with a sake/wine pairing available at an additional $20. The regular menu is also available. 18 9th Avenue New York. (212) 414-0300