New York Opening: Talde

Park Slope, Brooklyn is a lovely, if simplistically-named neighborhood. There’s a park, there’s a slope, there are about 8 billion kids under the age of ten, and there are countless businesses that cater to them and their families. There aren’t very many truly exciting restaurants, at least compared to Manhattan, but that’s starting to change, if the opening of Talde on Seventh Avenue near the F train stop is any indication. Top Chef All-Star Dale Talde‘s new restaurant – which he opened with partners David Massoni and John Bush of nearby Thistle Hill Tavern – began welcoming diners on Sunday, and judging from the crowds that have flocked to the place since then, the sleek Asian-American restaurant has already won the neighborhood’s heart. 

Ironically, Talde is located just around the corner from Seventh Avenue’s only other truly fine-dining restaurant, Applewood, which recently got dissed by New York‘s Adam Platt, but is still pretty great. For its part, Talde is going to keep it (somewhat) simple, with dishes like Korean fried chicken and barbecued pork shoulder. But there’s clearly a fanciness here that’s been missed in the area, and the gorgeous space, with huge picture windows, plenty of dark wood and brass, and a strikingly handsome bar with all my favorite spirits and beers, beckons passersby with good food and a hip, comfortable atmosphere. I live around the corner and I’ll admit I’ve been peeking through the windows for months, waiting for the big news. I predict that Talde will quickly become a neighborhood staple, with locals happily skipping the trip into Manhattan (and saving an hour of babysitting fees in the process) to dine in this hot spot. 

But will it draw Manhattanites to Brooklyn? It might, if they knew how easy it was to get there. Just jump on an F train, marvel at the fact that you can see the Statue of Liberty from the windows along the way, hop out at Seventh Avenue, and walk two blocks from the station. It’s just 20 minutes from West 4th Street, maybe 30 door-to-door, max.  If there’s a wait and the bar is packed, pop into nearby Beer Table for a brew and marvel at how nice the Slope has gotten in recent years. You could live here, right? Well, maybe when you have kids. 

Industry Insiders: Julie Farias, the General’s Butcher

As one of the many talented cuisiniers participating in Le Fooding D’Amour (September 25-26 at at New York’s P.S.1), Julie Farias knows a thing or two about a good cut of meat. The Texas-born chef—who recently moved from Brooklyn’s Beer Table to The General Greene—worked for Daniel Boulud for five years (at Café Boulud, db Bistro Moderne, and Daniel), but attributes much of her culinary know-how to her southern upbringing and family influence (her clan owns a tortilla factory inside a San Antonio meat market). Farias tells us about working in kitchens on both coasts and how Le Fooding is going to taste for New Yorkers. In her case, it’s going to taste like tacos made from 40 cow heads.

What influenced your move from Beer Table to The General Greene? Nicholas Morgenstern, the owner of The General Greene, and I met at Daniel when he was the pastry sous-chef there and I was working the soup station. We worked together at 5Ninth. There, I was the opening sous and he was the pastry chef, and then we also worked together at Resto. I’ve known him for a really long time, and before last year, I was living and working in Los Angeles and Las Vegas on a project for the Palazzo. Nick came out to see me and asked me to come to his new restaurant, The General Greene, and I didn’t think anything of it. I said that I wasn’t in the position to leave. When I came back from Vegas, I moved to Beer Table. Owners Justin and Tricia Philips were friends of mine, and they needed a little help setting up the menu. They said, “We have this place, and there’s no kitchen, but we love your food and we think that this would work out.” And I loved the idea of it more than anything. Especially the spatial challenge. We had no kitchen at Beer Table. There was a convection oven, no dishwasher, no prep, no kitchen. When you take things away and you have bare essentials, it made me think about food in a different way. I always thought that fire was a bare essential but I realized that electricity is. I’m not as much of a Neanderthal as I thought I was. The timing was eventually right when Nicholas asked me again, and it just had to happen. He’s a fantastic partner.

What were you doing in Las Vegas? I was working for a gentleman named Jonathan Morr. He owns Republic and Bond St. We opened an Asian noodle restaurant called Mainland at the Palazzo Hotel and Casino. I created the menu, and I was also Jonathan’s consulting chef. I traveled from New York to Miami to Los Angeles to Vegas. I did consulting work for Thompson Hotels out there, creating their room service menu. I also lived and worked at Hotel Oceana in Santa Monica. I had no home for a year.

What was it like building the menu at The General Greene? I’m going to give a metaphor: me being here right now is, in some ways, like cutting in on a dancer. I’m about to dance with the pretty girl, so I’m cutting in and I have to keep up the pace for whatever waltz or jitterbug or lindy-hop they’re doing. There’s already a rhythm here; it’s a successful restaurant. Nick has asked me to work on organization, on execution, kitchen techniques, things like that, and keep up on the quality of products. It was a very big change to go from one burner to a stove and a downstairs and four to five cooks and a dishwasher.

What should we order on our first visit? We have bar snacks, and my favorite one right now is the bacon dates—dates wrapped in bacon and cooked in maple syrup. After that, you’d have to try the butter lettuce with a lemon vinaigrette, curried almonds and ruby-red grapefruit. I’m a big fan of ruby-red grapefruit. For me, they are a little sweeter, a better color, and before, we were using regular grapefruit on this dish. I also put collared greens on the menu, and these you have to try. They’re sautéed with garlic, red pepper chilies, and a squeeze of lemon juice. You have to try the chuck flap steak from Niman Ranch. It’s something known as a bavette, and it’s a tough kind of meat meant to be cooked medium rare. We grill it then slice it thin, and we serve it with a roasted garlic sauce with olive oil and Portuguese sea salt. It’s got a really hearty flavor. Then, you have to finish it off with a salty caramel sundae. It’s a hot caramel cake with salted caramel ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce, and then crushed, salted mini pretzels on top of it. It’s out of this world. You may have to stop by Nick’s Greene Ice Cream Cart as well.

How did you get involved with Le Fooding? It turns out, [Le Fooding founder] Alexandre Cammas lives in the neighborhood. His wife, Natalie, had actually had dinner at Beer Table, and so there was sort of a little match-making there, and they contacted me and came down to The General Greene.

What will you prepare for the September Le Fooding D’Amour event? I’m doing tête de veau tacos or “veal head.” It’s traditional barbacoa from San Antonio, Texas. I’m doing this classic recipe here, and I think it makes sense with the idea of the picnic setting. I actually smoked one of the cow heads today. They’re kind of scary looking. I’m going to be smoking about 40 of them for the event. They’re really kind of magnificent with the eyes, the skull, and the teeth.

Will New Yorkers embrace the Le Fooding concept? New Yorkers are all about food. I came here from Texas to cook. I returned to New York from Vegas because I felt that there was more of a focus on and interest in food here—from grocery stores to cooking at home. In keeping with this mentality, to me, it just seems like Le Fooding is a very natural thing. People will be attracted to this, and Alex’s interest in graphic design is reflected in the style of the event. Why would New Yorkers not want to come? I think that Alex’s goal is definitely going to be fulfilled.

What are your favorite bars and restaurants? Because I’ve been working at The General Greene so much, I’ve been limiting my going out to Brooklyn. I love Five Leaves and Char No. 4. They do a lot of smoked meat, and I butcher there on Mondays. Defonte’s in Red Hook is a sandwich place, and oh my God, it’s super yummy. I love the Skybox at Daniel. For drinking, I’m kind of a liquor snob … but when I feel like being a bit more on the rowdy side, I go to the Palace Cafe in Greenpoint. Budweiser and Jack & Coke is about as sophisticated of a drink you’ll get there. All of these places are in keeping with the same mood.

Nicholas Morgenstern and Julie Farias photographed by Michael Harlan Turkell.

New York: Top 10 Spots for Booze Flights

imageNo matter your poison, level of expertise, or income bracket — there’s no beating comparison shopping. So line up the wine, beer, whiskey, tequila, and even the house-infused vodka for the purpose of weeding out the bad so you can order up more of the good.

10. European Union (East Village) – When you don’t feel like burning your throat with the 5-for-$10 shot-deal at Continental, hit this spot where, for the same price, you’ll get a flight of five hand-crafted artisan beers. 9. I Trulli (Murray Hill) – Always seasonally appropriate with both a garden and a fireplace, the wine flights here go for $14, $15, and $26. 8. La Esquina (Nolita) – Prove wrong all those from Cali who say that NYC can’t master Mexican as you top off your meal with one of three tequila flights — the Blanco ($35), Respado ($40), or Anejo ($45).

7. Eighty One (Upper West Side) – Appropriately posh, the flight here comes with 1-oz. pours of Macallan’s Sherry Oak 12 Year Old, Fine Oak 15 Year Old, and Sherry Oak 18 Year Old — each paired with a changing bite menu that includes dishes like yellowtail tuna tartare with orange honey and yuzu ($30). 6. Artisanal (Kips Bay) – Nosh and kibitz as you enjoy one of 12 beer/wine flights ($27) paired with hand-crafted cheeses. 5. Flatiron Lounge (Flatiron) – There’s nothing simple about this spot’s trio of mini-martini flights ($22) concocted around themes like “a flight to Hawaii” (tropical fruits and rum) and “flight back in time” (Sazerac, Sidecar, Aviation cocktails). 4. Russian Vodka Room (Midtown West) – It will set you back a cool $45 for a flight of six, but for those into house-infused vodkas, there’s nothing quiet like this selection spanning the gamut from garlic to horseradish to peach. 3. Beer Table (Park Slope) – For those looking for a little education with their sampling, Beer Table hosts an informal tasting of five beers — each paired with cheese — every Monday at 7 p.m. ($30). 2. Dos Caminos (Kips Bay) – Give B.R. Guest some much-needed love and order Lick-the-Brick ($45) tequila flight served on a brick of Himalayan rock salt and paired with three flavor-infused salts — habanero champagne, lime sugar, and smoked. 1. Divine Bar West (Midtown West) – A funky décor, a menu full of exclamation points, nearly 20 flight options, and wine-tasting classes offered through their “vino-versity” make this a spot perfect for non-oenophile and connoisseurs alike.

New York: Top 10 Beer Bars

image10. Jeremy’s Ale House (Lower Manhattan) – Not the greenest option, but when it comes to price, there’s no arguing with their $4 32-ounce Styrofoam buckets of Coors. 9. Zum Schneider (East Village) – It’s Oktoberfest all-year-round at this frat-tastic joint where the impressive beer selection comes in small 0.3l, regular 0.5l, or large 1.0l glasses. 8. Heidelberg (Upper East Side) – Nothing like drinking two liters of beer out of a glass boot.

7. Alligator Lounge (Williamsburg) – A penny-pinchers delight, wood-oven pizza comes gratis with any drink order. 6. Blind Tiger Ale House (West Village) – For the perfect beer to complement everything from your morning breakfast to your sausage dinner, look no further. 5. d.b.a. (East Village) – Bring your reading glasses to pore through the 200-plus beer options handwritten on dozens of chalkboards. 4. Spitzer’s Corner (Lower East Side) – With 40 craft beers on tap and a corner LES location, the always-packed rustic gastropub pleases both the beer geek and the collegiate crowds. 3. Brooklyn Brewery (Williamsburg) – Straight from the source for some of the freshest brew in town. 2. Beer Table (Park Slope) – Beer-inspired eats along with suds imported from around the world make for well-paired combos, like the yeast-raised waffles and Schneider-Weisse brunch. 1. Village Pourhouse (Greenwich Village). Their number is 212-979-BEER, is there any more to say?