Thanksgiving Out, Where To Have Your Turkey and Eat It Too

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, it’s probably a good time to pin down what you are going to do for the holiday. While some people go home for this iconic feast, many of us choose to avoid that, and the kitchen all together. So where can you get your Thanksgiving on? There are plenty of options.

In Midtown, Del Frisco’s is giving steak a break, and instead, letting turkey take the main stage. They will also serve butternut squash soup, apple sage stuffing, potatoes au gratin, and pumpkin cheesecake; all for $80 starting at noon. 

For an Austrian twist, hit up Edi & the Wolf or their sister restaurant Seasonal Restaurant & Weinbar for a three-course prix fixe menu. At the more laidback Edi & the Wolf they offer dinner for $45, from 3pm to 12am, with dishes like roasted duck with sweet potato, spatzle with wild mushrooms and Brussels sprouts, and fluke tartare. At the other eatery, they serve pork belly with kale, grapefruit and sweet potato, rainbow trout, and Austrian caramelized pancakes with seasonal fruit, all for $65.

If you want to do two Thanksgivings in one day, you can go to Landmarc for Thanksgiving brunch. This feast of pumpkin pancakes, hash browns, and cheesy egg sandwiches comes with a $45 price tag. Follow that up with a three-course traditional turkey dinner at Back Forty in the East Village. There, for $60 you can get your fill of Brussels sprouts, roasted sunchokes, and pecan tarts. They will also be offering this feast at their SoHo location for $65, with the bonus of a fireplace.

Chef James Corona of Bocca Restaurant & Bar will whip up four courses for your Thanksgiving pleasure, for $49.95 starting at noon. The menu includes pumpkin risotto, turkey breast with chestnuts, and butternut squash soup with candied walnuts. You can also get this to go, or delivered to you.

Perilla chef Harold Dieterle has a lovely feast of brown butter sweet potato soup, roasted local turkey, braised ginger-sassafras short ribs, and pumpkin-chestnut bread pudding for guest starting at 2pm, until 9pm, for $75 a person. A great feast can also be had at The Little Owl in the West Village. There, chef and owner Joey Campanaro’s $85 prix fixe menu features Riesling roasted turkey with fig and root vegetable dressing, roasted scallops with truffled parsnip mousse, and Italian holiday cookies. Reservations start at 1pm and go until 10pm, and, it’s half off for kids under the age of 12. 

For charitable folk, il Buco Alimentari & Vineria is donating all proceeds from their Thanksgiving dinner to post-Sandy relief efforts. That means when you pay $85 for their family-style meal of antipasti, oysters, risotto, heritage turkey, roast suckling pig, and pumpkin gelato, you may not be doing your waistline any favors, but you are helping others. 

Finally, why sit down for a meal when you can get one to go in a flash at Pie Face. That’s right, this Australian pie shop has a Thanksgiving pie to go, which consists of turkey, stuffing and gravy in a buttery shell that gets topped with sweet potato mash and cranberry sauce. They also have pumpkin, pecan, and apple pies for dessert. Take home one or 12, they cost between $2.66 and $7.90, and taste just like Thanksgiving. 

Surf’s Up! Back Forty Hits Rockaway Beach

It appears everyone is cooking up a storm of goodies at Rockaway Beach this summer, and now, the popular chef-driven, seasonal restaurant Back Forty is bringing their idea of a surf party to the shore.

“There is some delicious and interesting food being served in the Rockaways and we wanted to be a part of that,” said chef Shanna Pacifico.“What’s better than drinking some ice-cold beer and eating crabs with your hands on a beautiful night overlooking the water?” 

Starting today, Back Forty, which has locations in the SoHo and East Village, will bring their traditional Chesapeake crab boil to Rockaway Beach at Boardwalk 96Street for a crustacean feast. Starting at 5pm, for $25 you get a bucket of spiced blue crabs, corn on the cob, potatoes, and enough paper towels to clean up your mess. Plus, for the weekend feasts you not only get crabs (oh my), but there is live music and DJs on at the beach.

They are only doing this ocean-side dinner three times, today, and on August 18 and 25. But if you can’t make it to the Rockaways, you can still have a crab boil at their landlubber location in the East Village on August 14 and 21. But wait, there’s more! On August 28 through September 1, they will be hosting the Crabapalooza, a messy five days of hammering shells, sucking sweet crabmeat, and downing beer. 

Where Celebs Go Out: Hilary Duff, Michelle Trachtenberg, Kristin Bell

Martha Stewart at Good Housekeeping‘s 125th anniversary “Shine On” benefit for the National Women’s History Museum – Mmm. I love La Grenouille. I love everything of Jean Georges. I love everything of Daniel. And I love Benoit, right around the corner, yeah. Every one of them has its specialty, of course. If you go to Benoit, you can have the oysters—they’re delicious. The souflees are like the best. And at Grenouille—the frog’s legs.

Hilary Duff – That’s a good one, I have to answer that. In L.A, Giorgio Baldi. ● Meryl Streep – Women’s National History Museum, which is yet-to-be-built on the mall, in D.C. ● Michelle TrachtenbergYerba Buena. ● Kristin Bell – In Los Angeles, Real Food Daily. ● Gayle King – I love Jean Georges and I just discovered Quality Meats the other day on 58th, really good. ● Candice BergenJean Georges at the Mark, at the moment. ● Liz SmithSwifty’s, at Lexington between 72nd and 73rd. It inherited the old Mortimer’s crowd, but it’s smaller. They just have the kind of food I love. I can always find something wonderful to eat there: tuna carpaccio, their little hamburgers, vichysoisse. I like everything they do. ● Carolyn Maloney – I go in my neighborhood—Paola’s, right next door, hot dogs on the street the Four Seasons is always a great restaurant. Every corner has a great restaurant. ● Marlo Thomas: – I love Nello, Bella Blue, Il Mulino, and Primola. I’ve got a million of ’em. ● Phil Donahue – We enjoy Nello and Primola. We’re an east side crowd, so those are two of them. And I don’t get out like I used to, so I don’t have as many to suggest to you. But I hope those two will be fine, and I haven’t hurt their reputation by endorsing them. ● Laura BenantiABC Kitchen. I like Back Forty as well. They’re incredible. Their hamburger is the best in the city. And they’re both all local and organic. ● Anika Noni Rose – Dang it, I just went completely blank! Wait a minute. Give me a second because I love to eat, and I am a restaurant girl. Pio Pio is Peruvian and has the best chicken in the world. It’s on 44th and 10th Avenue. ● Cheryl Tiegs – I live in Los Angeles. The Beverly Hills Hotel Polo Lounge, and MyHouse.

BlackBook Staff Picks: Dining, Drinking, Shopping, & Staying

Here at BlackBook, we pay a lot of attention to where cool customers go out — bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels, you name it. So why not flip the frame and let you see where we go out? Here’s a periodically updated, exhaustive list of hotspots currently favored by everyone at BlackBook, from the mighty bosses down to the humble interns, from the charming local lounges around the corner to the jet-setting temples of luxe living. ● Creative Director – Jason Daniels, The Odeon (NYC) -American Psychos down salmon and steak frites, but the real scene’s on the sidewalk. ● Vice President, Content – Chris Mohney, Agua Dulce (NYC) – Festive outpost feels like Miami, F-L-A.

EDITORIAL ● Senior Editor – Nick Haramis, Motor City Bar (NYC) – Front like you remember how to drive and these 8 Milers might let you hang. ● Features Editor – Willa Paskin, Mayahuel (NYC) – Tequila temple where patrons pay homage to the goddess of agave. ● Writer-at-Large – Alison Powell, Peppermill (Las Vegas) – Vegas institution pushes diner food in front and romantic cocktails in the back. ● Nightlife Correspondent – Steve Lewis, Serpentine (NYC) – Patrick Duffy’s legendary scene uncoils in west Chelsea. ● Assistant Editors – Ben Barna, Jupiter Room (Montreal) – Drink your face off for cheap and dance ’til it aches. Cayte Grieve, Blackstones (NYC) – Foster Ethan Kamer, Joseph Leonard (NYC) – Elegantly distressed Village charmer serving up three solid meals a day. Eiseley Tauginas, Barrow Street Ale House (NYC) – College sports fans and West Village regulars cram into cozy confines. ● Copy Editor – Michèle Filon, Back Forty (NYC) – Manure-free urban farm sates virtuous, albeit rare, healthy food cravings. ● Editorial Interns – Molly Gunn, PDT (NYC) – Somebody told, but still a nice sophisto surprise behind the grunge of Crif. Megan LaBruna, Mercury Lounge (NYC) – Catch a future indie rock god at this rite of musical passage. Toren Curtis, The Vagabond (Miami) – Great indie scene. Even better music. Ashley Simpson, SPiN New York (NYC) – Marginally-more-athletic alternative to beer pong gets its own private club. Averie Timm, Downtown Cipriani (NYC) – Über-scene congregation of A-list supermodels, art stars, and financiers. Food, too. If you care. Annie Werner, Antone’s (Austin) – This revered blues club’s namesake did more for black-white relations than the Oreo cookie. Hillary Weston, The Four-Faced Liar (NYC) – Greenwich Village-proper pub is something out of Middle Earth, or Docklands. Either way: the real deal.

ART ● Art Director – Amy Steinhauser, Mizu Sushi (NYC) – Popular lunch spot for Flatiron media types needing to bitch. ● Assistant Designer – Serra Semi, Momofuku Ssäm Bar (NYC) – Chef-of-the-minute David Chang fancies up Korean burritos and gets avant-garde after 6pm. ● Photography Assistant – Stephanie Swanicke, Canal Room (NYC) – Jersey hordes in the house, but discreet famous faces still rock all night. ● Freelance Designer – Krista Quick, t.b.d (NYC) – Sleek and chic lounge in the heart of Greenpoint.

FASHION & BEAUTY ● Market Editor – Bryan Levandowski, Shang (NYC) – Toronto-bred Susur Lee takes on nouveau Asian small plates at the Thompson LES. ● Fashion Assistant – Wilson Mathews III, Dylan’s Candy Bar (NYC) – King-sized candy shop hypnotizing children and torturing adult waistlines in the UES.

BLACKBOOK MEDIA CORP ● Chairman – Bob Hoff, Voyeur (LA) – The inspiration is Eyes Wide Shut…so yes, there’s lots of leather. ● CEO – Ari Horowitz, Nikki Beach (St. Barts) – An escape into paradise in the middle of, well, paradise. ● Associate Publisher – Brett Wagner, Barrio Chino (NYC) – Chino Latino tequila bar serving up 50 kinds of that devil stuff. ● Director of Finance and Operations – Joe Friedman, Brooklyn Bowl (NYC) – Rock and bowl will never die. ● Corporate Counsel – Drew Patrick, Tournesol (NYC) – Coq au vin and crème brûlée? Oui! Oui! ● Executive Assistant – Bridgette Bek, Tu Lan (San Francisco) – Word-of-mouth dingy treasure serving good, cheap Vietnamese food in a downright crappy location.

ADVERTISING – advertising@bbook.com ● Senior Account Executive – Dina Matar, Ilili (NYC) – Upscale Lebanese moves miles beyond falafel. ● Account Executive – Brian Kantor, Lillie’s (NYC) – Victorian pub with just enough antiquery to make you feel grand. ● Executive Director, BlackBook Access – Gregg Berger, Indochine (NYC) – French-colonial greets uptown-cum-downtown diners. ● Advertising Director – Michelle Koruda, Shorty’s .32 (NYC) – Josh Eden under-promises and over-delivers at this Soho charmer. ● Detroit Account Executives – Jeff Hannigan, The Lodge (Chicago) -Ye old typical Division Street cheese, but always a shameless good time. Kristen von Bernthal, Hudson Bar at Hudson Hotel (NYC) – Acid-trip décor. Sit on a log and rest your drink on a gnome head. ● Midwest Account Executives – Susan Welter, Hopleaf Bar (Chicago) – Andersonville’s best bar. Belgian beers and food meet in a place that’s too smart to be too cool and vice versa. Andrea Forrester, Coast Sushi (Chicago) – BYOB meets the sea at this high-quality Wicker Park sushi spot. ● Southwest Account Executive – Molly Ballantine, Rustic Canyon (LA) – Leave it to the upper-cresty West-siders to show everyone else up with their moody, fashionable darkwood and cream take on the ubiquitous neighborhood wine bar. ● Northwest Account Executives – Catherine Hurley, Coi (San Francisco) – The apotheosis of both the molecular gastronomy trend and the sustainable food movement: ethereal, futuristic flavors in a serene environment. Shawn O’Meara, Nopalito (San Francisco) – ● Sales Coordinator – Celia Ballou, Pink Pony (NYC) – Pseudo-bohemian bistro that’s better for people watching than, like, eating or whatever.

MARKETING ● Marketing Manager – Julie Fabricant, Bottega Louie (LA) – Proof that Downtown is still gentrifying. ● Partnerships & Promotions Manager – Andrew Berman, K & M (NYC) – Former perogie factor converted to current meat market for the indie-rock set. ● Interns – Cristina Girgis, Barbounia (NYC) – Tony Medi with good bones. Interior is all about the arches. Alexandra Vickers, The Slaughtered Lamb Pub (NYC) – Magical enough to overlook the horror movie gimmick.

DIGITAL ● Director of Development – Daniel Murphy, Max’s On Broadway (Baltimore) – Ahhh, good old Max’s I remember you well…well what I can remember anyway. ● Lead Architect – Matt Hackett, Caracas Arepa Bar (NYC) – Arepas, seventeen ways. Venezuela is for carb lovers. ● Developer – Bastian Kuberek, Greenhouse (NYC) – NYC’s first Green club tries to make bottles and models sustainable. ● Developer – Dan Simon, Hudson Terrace (NYC) – Rooftop pleaser for drunk summer afternoons. ● Designer – Matt Strmiska, Uchi (Austin) – Thoroughly inventive and delectable sushi in vibrant environs, compliments of lauded chef Tyson Cole. ● Developer – Sam Withrow, The Knockout (San Francisco) – The vibe is blessedly lawless,prolifically musical and down right hedonistic. Peep tall cans and a sweaty dance floor. ● Quality Assurance Engineer – Sunde Johnson, Melt (NYC) – Brooklyn brunch spot becoming the standard for neighborhood dining. ●Mobile Developer – Otto Toth, Alloro (NYC) – Cacio e Pepe peeps get creative on the Upper East.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Bob Hoff, Voyeur (LA). Ari Horowitz, Nikki Beach (St. Barts). Eric Gertler, Matsuhisa (Aspen) – World-famous Nobu chef brings incredibly tasty, stylish, pricy sushi to Aspen. Joe Landry, SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills (LA) – Phillipe Starck and Sam Nazarian mind meld to create a papparazzi-inducing modern luxury hotel in (well, near) BH. Irwin Lieber, Fishtail by David Burke (NYC) – Fresh seafood in the UES by celeb chef David Burke. Dan Pelson, Marea (NYC) – Hopes for a high tide abound at Michael White’s temple to Italian seafood. Barry Rubenstein, Bryant & Cooper (Hamptons) – While it may be trying a little too hard for a classic old-time-y vibe, the steaks are nonetheless quite good. Jack Sullivan, The Raleigh Hotel (Miami) – The local equivalent of LA’s Chateau Marmont.

Beet Cocktails & Class from Back Forty’s Michael Cecconi

Whipping up the same tired pitchers of Sex on the Beach every soiree and then not expecting to wake up on the bathroom floor, crusted in vomit and peach schnapps, is the definition of batshit crazy. Luckily, the seasonal sages at Back Forty are looking to help a drunk out, offering professional guidance on three weekends in November. Starting this Saturday, November 7, Michael Cecconi, the cocktail ace at both Back Forty and its landed gentry cuz Savoy, will lead classes on DIY-ing his fancy fresh creations at home. Students will learn to shake that thing, muddle like it’s hot. Not one to acknowledge boundaries between liquor store and Whole Foods, Cecconi will also help participants face their fears of squash plus vodka.

Lessons start at 4pm sharp, to be followed by a farm feast prepared by chef Shanna Pacifico, which you may or may not be coherent enough to enjoy. Contact Back Forty for reservations; $130 covers everything. Bonus point: teacher’s pets can get a jump on the scholarly competition by test-running Cecconi’s candy-striped beet concoction, the Root Cause, which he shares with us below. Highlighters ready!

A riff on the Manhattan, this rosy beauty gets its flush from the infusion of candy-striped beets, which are not only adorable, but according to Cecconi, “have a fantastic natural sweetness and are more balanced and less intensely earthy than their larger, purple brethren.”

Michael Cecconi’s Root Cause 2 oz Dickel Tennessee Whisky 1 1/2 oz beet liqueur 3/4 oz Punt e Mes (a widely available Italian vermouth)

Combine ingredients in pint glass or mixing tin and fill with ice. Stir 100 times, then strain into chilled martini glass. Garnish with a paper-thin beet slice.

Beet Liqueur 6 candy-striped beets 1.75 liters vodka Pinch of salt

Clean beets and wrap individually in foil. Roast at 350˚ until fork tender. Let beets cool, then peel off skin and slice into 1/4-inch rounds. Add to a pitcher of vodka and let steep 4-7 days at room temperature, stirring daily.

Porchetta 101 from Back Forty’s Shanna Pacifico

The East Village’s Back Forty is still riding the rusticity wave that’s crashing over the city. The restaurant’s walls are dressed up with vintage farm tools, there’s Greenmarket-fresh food, and a communal table amplifies a neighborhoody vibe. Given those trappings, a class on cooking up a full pig fits right in. The next three Saturday afternoons (October 17, 24, and 31), Shanna Pacifico, Back Forty’s chef de cuisine, will give demonstrations on the art of porchetta. For $130, you’ll learn the ropes from butchering to stuffing, and then get to sit down to a serious feast. The classes are limited to a dozen people each week, so reservations are recommended (beer and wine are included in the cost). Not only will you get a great meal, you’ll also pick up some skills, should you want to impress guests of your own someday (Pacifico assures us that porchetta really can be made in a New York City kitchen).

So, porchetta? Porchetta is a very traditional Italian dish. It’s kind of like an Italian street food. They do it with a bigger pig, and you’ll find it a lot in markets, and they’ll sell it out of trucks. They basically debone the whole pig, leave the head on, tie it up, roast it really slow so the skin’s all crackly, it gets kind of sweet and unctuous and crunchy, and then they slice it and serve it on bread. What I like to do is put fennel, a bunch of different herbs, spices, apple, and onion, and then I put that back into the pig and stuff it and then cook it really slow — although it doesn’t take long because it’s just a little pig.

How hard is it to source? The suckling pig is a little harder to source for the home cook. The person we’re getting our pigs from for this set of classes is Bev Eggleston from EcoFriendly Foods. He’s currently in the works of getting a butcher shop in Brooklyn to carry his meats. For this class, if anybody’s really interested in getting a suckling pig, he’s willing to work with them. It’s a little bit different than going to any butcher and asking for a suckling pig because we focus here at Back Forty on sustainable farming and using local, humanely raised animals, so that makes things a little bit difficult. It even makes things difficult for us here.

Can people really do this at home? The hardest part I would assume for people who aren’t completely skilled at cooking or butchering would be deboning the pig. I’ll hand out some information and offer some alternatives if they don’t have a butcher. Suckling pigs are pretty small. They’re about 20 pounds, or 18 pounds, or 16 pounds, although that gets a little bit small for me. It can fit in a regular-sized oven. I’m going to offer different directions for people who may be able to use pork shoulder, which is a lot easier to find, or what they call a Boston butt. There’s definitely a lot less traditional ways to make it. At Porchetta, a restaurant here in the East Village, the center is a loin and then they wrap it with belly, and that gives it the crispy skin on the outside and meat inside.

How will the class go? We cook things a little bit backwards. We’ll be stuffing a pig first, a pig that I’ve already prepared, because that’s the pig I need to get into the oven. And then I’ll be deboning a second pig which I’ll be using for the following week. It takes a little bit time to prepare it, let it dry out a little bit. And then I’ll be making and rolling out a pie dough made out of butter and pork lard. It’s a pork dinner from the beginning to end. There’ll be pig cheeks for appetizer, and I’ll add a little salad with some nice autumn vegetables. And then it’s on to the pig. When the pig comes out of the oven it’s like a big roll, like a loaf it almost looks like, and you just slice it down, so wherever you slice it you get a whole round of everything, there’s stuffing and there’s all the different parts of the meat. That’s what’s really special about porchetta. You have a little bit of belly, you have a little bit of loin, you have a little bit of leg, you get everything in one little package.

New York: Top 10 Bars for a Bathroom Hookup

Per Se at the Time Warner Center (Midtown West) – Discreet and intimate, with stunning attention to detail. That’s how one would choose to describe this advanced gastronomy resto at the Time Warner Center. It doubles for the bathrooms. Discreet, intimate, and roomy. I can name more than a few hookup tales thanks to these private rooms. ● 1 Oak (Chelsea) – Private bathrooms lined in a row for a gorgeous group waiting in a line. Floor to ceiling coverage, low lighting, and mirrors where you just barely make out your own reflection. Bonus for the fact the attendant never seems to be around. Maybe he’s getting it on as well? ● Plaza Hotel (Midtown West) – Act like you’re old money having an affair like the rest of the clientele. Restrooms are private and off main grid of the palace, though everyone’s too wrapped up in themselves to notice your vulgar behavior. Posh, gilded — dare we say fucking tacky — catering to tacky, sexy quickies.

Back Forty (East Village) – Such a virtuous, healthy restaurant — the scene for a hookup? Named for the unplanted quarter of 160-acre homestead where farmers get wasted after long days baling hay, the idea brings to mind your romp-in-the-hay fantasy. Just me? Well, the clean, private bathrooms, left unattended and rarely used, provide room for some other fantasies. ● The Cooper Square Hotel (East Village) – Some might blame an amorous evening on the beautiful views, but you could venture to also place blame on the size of the bathrooms. Everything is low key — even the lobby is unassuming. Small, clean lines, and lots of places to get lost in, including the bathrooms. ● BEast (Chinatown) – Should Chinatown bathrooms be this clandestine? Clean, separate, all-white water closets act more like a hangout space than anything else. ● The Box (Lower East Side) – The attendants are busy flirting with the regulars somewhere, the cushion-covered, plush restrooms seem as though they were made for a hookup. The stalls aren’t exactly private, but that makes it all the more dangerous. ● Raines Law Room (Flatiron) – What laws? Speakeasy vibe and overall privacy of this joint plants the seed; the floor to ceiling doors shut out the noise and bring to mind more dirty deeds. And if you need any more suggestions, consider the bathroom wallpaper: stick figures in various sexual positions. Subtle! ● Bungalow 8 (Chelsea) -“It’s a standby” says [redacted] enthusiastically about banging in the Bungalow loos. In his professional experience, one should slip the always-friendly attendant a $20, and do as you like. The sexy lights, sturdy counter tops, and close quarters will do the rest. ● Baddies (West Village) – Here, it’s all about the mirrors. Small, unlit hallway leading to the bathrooms helps as well. Single, private rooms, though not a lot of room to get creative. Still, people will leave you alone to get the job done.

Photo: Purple Diary

Industry Insiders: Chris Santos, Stanton Street Star

Chris Santos of the Stanton Social on his love of dives, Apothéke owner Heather Tierney, and why thinking too much detracts from dining.

Where do you go out? Well, I’m kind of a dive bar kinda guy both in drinking and for eating. I mean, I obviously enjoy a good Jean Georges or Per Se as much as the next guy, but I like sort of the hole in the wall-y kind of places. One I really love a lot is in Brooklyn. It’s called Franny’s. It’s on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn. A really simple rustic Italian, you know, wood-coal pizza and great appetizers and a beautiful garden in the back. On the outskirts of Park Slope basically, near the Manhattan Bridge. I’m a big fan of Back Forty, which is a small little bistro on 12th Street and Avenue B that does just a really outrageous burger and great roast chicken, and you know, simple crispy nuggets and simple, simple rustic comfort food. I’m a sucker for Strip House on 12th and University. It’s like my favorite steakhouse in the city. There’s a lot of crushed red velvet, bordello-y kind of vibe. And they’ve got great wine, and their steaks are, bam! They do a great job with their steak sauce. I go there monthly.

What do you do at Stanton Social? My title is executive chef and owner. My day-to-day life is hectic right now … in addition to this we are trying to get another restaurant together. I am working on the Stanton Social Cookbook. I am consulting for a restaurant group that’s going national. They’re rolling out 50 restaurants nationwide, and I am rewriting all their menus for them. I was in Las Vegas all summer helping my partner open the restaurant in club Lavo. I have two partners: Peter Kane, who in addition to this he owns Happy Ending bar, and he was the guy who opened Double Happiness, which closed just recently. And my other partner is Richard Wolf, who owns Tao, Tao Las Vegas, Lavo, Rue 57.

You rave about the vibe and loyalty in your kitchen at Stanton Social. Where have you worked that had a stressful vibe? I opened Rue 57, which is a French rotisserie on 57th Street. I was the sous chef, and Sam Hazem was the chef. He was the head chef at Tao for a really long time, and now he’s working to partner with Todd English. But that was just constant stress and drama, and you know it was a really teeny tiny kitchen, putting out enormous numbers.

It seems like if you’re doing more like the low-key, under the radar places; how come your restaurant’s high profile? I’m just lucky I guess. It’s really just upscale versions of street food and comfort foods. We’re not doing anything esoteric here. We’re not really challenging diners. I mean, I like to be challenged, but mostly I don’t. I want to go somewhere and be taken care of, and I want to be able to look at the menu and just kind of understand everything.

Name two people that you particularly admire in the industry. Would it be corny to say my partners? I really admire Josh Capon, who’s the chef at Lure Fishbar. He’s kind of an under-the-radar guy. And that’s kind of an under-the-radar place. He’s a fantastic cook. He was born to be the guy coming out of the kitchen in the white coat, just charming a table. I have a lot of admiration for Heather Tierney. She used to be a food writer at Time Out. She now owns a cocktail bar — Apothéke. She owns Burger Shoppe down on Wall Street, which is like a burger restaurant. She has her own dining concierge service where you’re basically a member, and she gets you reservations in hard to get places. She’s really young — she’s in her twenties, and she’s really passionate about food — and we’ll go out to dinner and just talk about, “Have you been here, have you been there?” We’ll talk about the industry. She’s just super motivated.

Name one positive trend or aspect you see in the restaurant industry. Affordable dining. I see a lot of restaurants opening (in Brooklyn especially) a lot of neighborhood restaurants that are serving really quality food. There’s this place called Buttermilk Channel in Carroll Gardens that just opened. That’s really amazing. Frankies. When I went to Europe — which was like ten years ago — I came back with the feeling that the big restaurants, the name restaurants, the three-star restaurants, Michelin-rated restaurants … I felt they were no better than anything that you could find in New York City. In other words, the top New York City restaurants were better than the top restaurants that I could find in Europe. But I also thought that where they had it on us, all over the place, was the little, tiny neighborhood restaurants and pubs. The food there was so awesome, and you didn’t have that in New York. That is a positive trend. You go down any little street in the Village now and walk into a 40- or 50-seat little Italian trattoria where the food is solid.

What’s changed as far as the restaurant industry goes in New York in the past year? How it’s affecting me directly? You know, we’ve had very ambitious plans to run a restaurant that’s twice the size of this. And we have this space, and we have a lease, and a year ago when were ready to pull the trigger, it would have been a couple of phone calls and a couple of dinners to raise all the money that we needed because you know our track record, not just at Stanton Social, but with my other partners as well. Basically everything any of us have ever done is successful, and everyone’s gotten their money back, and everybody’s making money. You know the investors here are doing very well, and we got the space back in record time. The difference is people now are hesitant to part with the money they have in the bank, with everything that’s been going on. Even though we have a great location, and we have a great track record, and when we open the next place it’s going to do very well. There are people that are so shell-shocked about what’s happened on Wall Street that they just aren’t necessarily willing to keep investing, so that’s something I think that’s really changed. I think you’re going to see the growth of the industry and openings and whatnot coming to a halt.

Do you think people are going to stop going out to dinner? People are going to stop going out to dinner Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I think you’ll still get your Thursday, Friday, Saturday night diners. You’ll still get your Sunday bruncher. And Monday night you’ll get your after-work crowd.