Something Sweet for Something Sweeter: BR Guest

The beauty industry has been championing it since 1993, NFL teams pink up their gear in its honor, the Empire State building goes rosy for the cause – so it’s only fitting that New York’s dining circles get involved with October’s National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Participating B.R. Guest restaurants will be offering special dessert items during October, with 75% of the proceeds from each decadent morsel being donated to the Breast Treatment Task Force, a local nonprofit that facilitates free mammograms, diagnostic follow-up, surgeries, and cancer treatment for patients without health insurance in NYC. That means the desserts are calorie free, right? Maybe not calorie free, but certainly guilt free.

Each dessert will be priced at $10 and served at both lunch and dinner at these BR Guest locations:

Dessert: Pink Velvet Cake with Raspberry-Hibiscus Ice Cream. Dos Caminos Dos Caminos Soho Dos Caminos Meatpacking

Dessert: Bon Bons and Pink Velvet and Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream with Dark Choc Dipping Sauce. Atlantic Grill Lincoln Center Primehouse New York Blue Fin

Dessert: Pink Velvet Cake with Raspberry Ripple Ice Cream. Ruby Foo’s

Dessert: White Chocolate Raspberry Crème Brulee served with Pink Ribbon Cookies. Atlantic Grill Ocean Grill Isabella’s Blue Water Grill

Dessert: Pink Velvet Cupcakes with a Raspberry Jam center and Cream Cheese icing. Wildwood BBQ Bill’s Bar & Burger

I think tonight, instead of carelessly reaching for a calorie-ridden late-night snack to soak up the evening’s imbibery, I’ll be noshing on a feel-good dessert, prepared by an award-wining chef.

Where Celebs Eat: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Brian Williams, Betty White

Maggie Gyllenhaal @ the Fresh Air Fund gala: Al di La and Il Buco: anything there! ● Maggie Rizer: At Nobu I get everything. I like the sea bass and the lettuce leaves, the tuna sashimi salad, the shishito peppers, and the Kobe beef. ● Brian Williams: I’m laughing because my wife and I go to the same two places all the time! There’s a little French place on Lexington; there’s a pasta place on 49th, Alfredo’s, because it’s right next to NBC.

Betty White at the Time100 Gala: Shun Lee Palace. ● Mark Feuerstein at the Royal Pains premiere party at the Lacoste store Fifth Avenue: Anywhere from The Waverly Inn to Smith & Wollensky. The most delicious chocolate souffle I’ve ever had was at the Four Seasons restaurant. In LA, Mastro’s or Boa. ● Henry Winkler: The Burger Joint at Le Parker Meridien is unbelievable! ● Amy Landecker: I just had lunch at Blue Water Grill, and it was fantastic. Union Square Cafe has a tuna steak that is just absolutely to die for. And Momofuku in the East Village is unbelievably excellent. ● Jill Flint: There’s one restaurant in Brooklyn that I’m absolutely loving called Prime Meats. My favorite dish is meat with a side of bacon and a little bit more meat. ● John Legend at the Sesame Workshop’s gala: Le Bernardin. I just love the whole tasting menu.

Industry Insiders: Lulzim Rexhepi, Craftsmanship at Kittichai

Lulzim Rexhepi spent time in some of the world’s top kitchens before taking over for Executive Chef Ian Chalmerkittichai at 60 Thompson’s Kittichai . From the Mandarin Oriental in Switzerland and the Blue Water Grill to the Four Seasons Hotel and Icon at the W Hotel and Xing, Chef “Lou” has endured every type of culinary experience to help him keep Kittichai’s flavor booming.

Typical day: I come in, I check my email, I go over manager’s log, and go through Grub Street to see what’s happening in the restaurant world. I walk through the kitchen. First I stop by the butcher station to make sure everything came in properly. I’ll walk through where the cooks are cooking and make sure everyone is using the right product at the right time, make sure everything is fresh. Then I get ready for service.

Favorite kitchen: Working at Icon with Chef Paul Sale. I was on the cusp of being a sous-chef and he really showed me how to take it to the next level. He taught me so many important lessons about cooking. The people I worked with before that were really mean, non-stop-yelling chefs, and he was very laid back, very cool, and we still got the same amount of production. He just taught me a whole different style in the kitchen. It doesn’t need to be that old-school mentality. It can still be an amazing kitchen.

On getting along with the old boss: Chef Ian and I have a great relationship. We still email. He’s mostly in Thailand. He pretty much lets me do the menu the way I want. The only difference is that I have to take a step back and tweak my own mistakes. Whereas before I had him to ask, “What do you think of this?” That’s really the only difference. Of the ten ideas I get in a day, maybe three of them are like “wow” if I’m lucky. So I definitely need the back and forth with him.

Go-to menu items: My favorite drink is the Muddled Grape with coconut water and grapes. It’s really refreshing, really nice. I absolutely love the Whole Fish. We dust it in rice flour, lightly fry it and we serve it with a lesser-ginger curry. It has an earthy flavor and a nice spice. It takes curry to a slightly higher level. I also just put a lobster dish on the menu that I love. It’s cooked three different ways and we serve it just like that with a little suki-yaki sauce, which is a Thai fondue sauce.

On being in a Thai kitchen: Kittichai is the first Thai restaurant I ever worked in. When the Tsunami thing happened, I went to Thailand with Ian to do a fundraiser at the Four Seasons, and I wound up staying for a long time, trying street food and exploring. I get along well with my peers, though. I come from a modest background. When they come in the room I’m no longer the chef, I look at them eye to eye, call them “chef.” My parents did a really good job of teaching me, and I’ll be a culinary student until the day I die.

On getting a tough table: Give a hundred bucks to the manager. I’m joking. Because I’m never sure when I’m going to be off, I hardly ever make reservations and I don’t go to places and say, “Oh I’m the chef at Kittichai, give me a table.” I’m very polite, and if I have to wait a half hour at a place I want to eat, I do it. When a host has 80 people waiting for tables, if you walk in and you’re demanding, you’re not getting a table. It never hurts to compliment what the host is wearing.

Go-to joints: I like Macao. I like the bar chef there as far as drinks go. I go up to Thom Bar and have a cocktail with my buddies. I just had a great dinner at The Breslin and I think April Bloomfield is doing some cool stuff.

Guilty pleasure: I sneak behind pastry counter and eat these mekong whiskey chocolate truffles that we make. I can’t get enough. They’re ridiculous. I’ve got a lot of bad habits—I get worked up easy. When I’m in the kitchen, I’ll explode for a second, and then I’ll take a deep breath and get better.

Industry Insiders: Jason Zukas, East Coast Chopper

Jason Zukas is recognized most often as a winner on Food Network’s TV show Chopped, but the Tom Collicchio look-alike has achieved more than 15 minutes of reality TV fame. A Queens native, Zukas couldn’t afford culinary school, so he taught himself to cook with the help of a Culinary Institute of America instruction book. The education paid off; Zukas has worked at some of the city’s most reputable restaurants, including Ouest, La Bottega and Blue Water Grill. In August, Zukas was named chef at Charles, filling in for Kristine Mana-ay (on maternity leave). We met Zukas at Charles midday for a quick chat about the ups and downs of the restaurant biz.

When did you know you wanted to be a chef? When I was a kid. Just having Sunday dinners with my grandmother, growing up in a house filled with food and family. I’d call my grandmother asking for recipes. Everyone in our family got together because of food. I always knew I wanted to cook. I started pretty young.

You’re self-taught. Do you think there’s an advantage for chefs who went to culinary school? No. I think there’s less of an advantage. They don’t have the passion. Someone who didn’t go to school really works to achieve a goal. Some people just go to school, learn a couple techniques and think they’re chefs. But it’s the total opposite. Being a chef comes from the heart, not from what you learn at school.

You’ve worked at some great restaurants. Where did you enjoy working most? That’s a tough one. All of them had their good points. I really enjoyed working at Ouest. That was a good time, and there were celebrities every night, one after another. Everyone from Bill Clinton to J-Lo, De Niro, Steven Spielberg.

The most exciting person to cook for? It would probably be when Steven Spielberg called up and said that his helicopter was landing, and he came in with Tom Hanks, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Bruce Springsteen. We kept the restaurant open a little later for them.

You were recently asked to fill in for Kristine Mana-ay at Charles. Do you plan on changing the menu? I’ve probably changed 70-80% so far.

What would you describe as “your” food? My food is Mediterranean soul food.

Could you give me an example of the quintessential Jason Zukas dish? That’s tough. That’s really tough. I hate when people ask me questions like that. I love doing slow, braised meats with a little bit of a Mediterranean flair. My lamb shank on the menu really describes me. Slow cooked over Israeli couscous. It’s really, really good.

Any plans to open your own place? Yeah, of course. That’s my dream.

What neighborhood would you choose? I’m loving the West Village right now. It’s a great spot.

Tell me a little about being on Chopped. Great experience. Being on Chopped opened up a lot of doors, even though it was very, very nerve wracking. I didn’t think I was going to win at all, didn’t think I had a shot, going up against the competition I was against. But it worked out and I won.

Would you do it again? Yeah. 100%.

Charles doesn’t have a listed phone number. You can only get a reservation via email. What are your thoughts on the whole mysterious restaurant-as-nightclub vibe? I think it’s great. It gives a little mystery to the restaurant. People don’t know what to expect. It’s all through word of mouth, like an old speakeasy. You’ve got to know somebody to know somebody to get in. Just makes the experience better.

Do you think it puts more pressure on the food? Yeah, definitely. Because people want to see something a little different. They’re going to say, “I waited this long to come here.” They’re going to want something amazing.

What’s the hardest part about being in the restaurant industry? Probably not having any time to yourself. When I get home, I’ve been thinking about food since 5 in the morning. You have no life. Your life is the kitchen and the restaurant. That’s the hardest part.

What are your go-to spots? My favorite bar to go to is 5 Burro Cafe in Forest Heights, Queens. A Mexican restaurant. Really good Mexican food. Good margaritas. Tequila.

If you could eat with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? Mick Jagger.

What’s your favorite meal of the day? Big dish of rigatoni with meatballs and sausage. That’s my favorite meal ever. From an Italian grandmother.

The Tourist Trap Escape: New York’s Alternative Agenda

Friday’s – yeah, that Friday’s – is coming to Union Square, and we’re scared. For us, yeah, but especially for tourists: every year, hundreds of thousands pour into New York, and hit the same, godawful places everyone else does, or worse, the ones they could hit at home. You can’t (entirely) blame them: they don’t know any better, besides which, doing touristy things in New York isn’t the worst way to see this city! Some things – like hitting up a deli, roaming New York’s parks, trying to get a good view of the urban landscape, or taking in the epicenter of the action in midtown – really aren’t to be missed, or begrudged. But why waste away at the same spots, doing the same things that’ve been done time and time again? They’re generally mediocre experiences. We polled our staff panel of self-proclaimed Manhattanites, and came up with a list of alternatives to the turns many a tourist takes wrong. We’ve consciously omitted Brooklyn and Queens, who deserve their own list; for now, here’re your 2009 New York Tourist Trap Alternatives.

Financial District Excursions

Overrated: South Street Seaport. Glorified mall and chain restaurants on Pier 17 overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge have a nice view, but are the same things you can get anywhere else. Take pictures with the big boat and leave. Though the cobblestone on Fulton Street may at first appear quaint, the tweens regurgitated from the mouth of a nearby Abercrombie and Fitch are dealbreakers. Overpriced food, drinks, and tourist friendly boat trips are as disingenuous and quintessentially New York as, I don’t know, Tyra Banks.

Underrated: Staten Island Ferry. 25-minute boat trip services the daily commute for Staten Island residents, and also provides awesome views of the New York Harbor, the Statue of Liberty and downtown Manhattan. Turn around and get back on as soon as you get to the other side for a total of 50 minutes of fun. And thanks to our egregiously high taxes, tourists, you get to ride this moving bar for free. Yes, they sell beer, along with a few snacks, as well. Take it at Sunset: it’s one of the most underrated experiences you can have (and creative dates you can take someone on) in New York.

image The best booze cruise in town. Just don’t get marooned on the other side.

Manhattan’s Best View

Overrated: The Empire State Building. $20, average waiting/trip time is two hours. The Observatory is on the 86th floor, where the views look just about the same as they would from any midtown office complex, except you have a giant, grated gate in front of you. Final verdict: anticlimactic. And if you’re going to go to the top of an annoying building, at least make it Rockefeller Center.

Underrated: The Cloisters. Medieval Branch of the Met in Fort Tryon Park in Northern Manhattan. Recommended donation, so admission price is up to you (i.e. free…for assholes) and getting there is straightforward: you must take the A train. The monastery gardens are straight out of some majestic childhood story about a girl in a secret garden and a handsome prince, or something. Either way, it’s an incredible Metropolitan Medieval Museum with a terrace offering unparalleled views of the Hudson and city below it.

The Midtown Epicenter Experience

Overrated: Times Square. Ah, Times Square: hell. Yes, it looks exactly the same as it does in every cheesy chick flick you’ve ever seen it in. No real Manhattanite ventures into the Times Square perimeter unless (A) you got comped a pair of Broadway tickets, (B) in-laws are visiting from Wisconsin or (C) you’re a Summer Intern, lost on your way to the Conde Nast building. Tourists walk slow, the food uniformly sucks, and people are wearing fanny packs. Fan. Ny. Packs. ‘Nuff said.

Underrated: Grand Central. Campbell Apartment and Oyster Bar are valid destinations on their own. New York’s main train depot is also one of the city’s most magnificent architectural masterpieces. The towering, vaulted ceilings of the terminal hold more prestige than the first episode of Gossip Girl gave up. Campbell Apartment has décor of a Florentine palace, even when full to capacity, feels like a hideaway. Oyster Bar boasts an incredible oyster roast, a great place to get clam chowder on a rainy day, and some of the city’s freshest bivalves. Don’t forget to find the “whispering gallery“, where you can talk into one of the curved walls and have the sound go directly to one of your friends, on the opposite side of the room: one of many of Grand Central’s nice little secrets.

image Yeah, dude. We’re sick of this Broadway shit, too. Tell Mom they have Bas-kee-aht at Rose Bar. She’ll be down.

Luxe Manhattan Boozing Spot

Overrated: Hudson Bar at Hudson Hotel. The design’s one part David Lynch, two parts Alice in Wonderland. Though the space might be worth a look, the overall effect gets sullied by a cheesy Euro-crowd, Heather Locklear doubles, and “ballin” popped collars. Uncomfortable chairs, and awkward seating arrangements also detract from this Ian Schrager “gem.” You can do much better.

Underrated: Rose Bar & Jade Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel. Concession: yes, it gets the celebrity crowd. Yes, the doormen, after a certain hour, turn into Bridge Trolls. And yes: the drinks are pricy. But hands down, no question, the better Schrager alternative is farther downtown, as is everything else these days. Here, the unfaltering velvet sex appeal makes Hudson Bar look like a bad acid-trip. Go before 10 to get a glimpse of the big art (Basquiat, Twombly, and…Schnabel), and why no one gets past the velvet rope thereafter.

Downtown Park Experience

Overrated: Union Square. The history of Union Square is unquestionable: just steps from its bad teenage skateboarders, and its incredible greenmarket, Andy Warhol once kept his factory. Unfortunately, the remnants of this culture dissolved into touristy, bland, and “faux” downtown restaurants like Blue Water Grill and the Ford Model farm team that is Coffee Shop. Shopping, like Babies ‘R’ Us, Whole Foods, and Barnes and Noble make this place no better than your average suburban strip mall. Pile that all on an excess of never-ending construction, the fact that you can barely get on the grass, and the rats running rampant through the parts you can walk? You have absolutely every reason to avoid it.

Underrated: Madison Square Park. Less than ten blocks north of said terrible tourist pit, Madison Square Park sprawls in unmatched serenity, and brims with culinary attraction. Comfortable lawns are cared for, though not overly manicured. The classic New York 45 minute-wait-for-lowbrow-food experience – Shake Shack – supplies afternoons with perfect park bench meals, even at night. For an upgrade, the recently four-starred Eleven Madison Park, Danny Meyer’s haute Indian cuisine destination Tabla, and one of New York’s best BBQ experiences, Hill Country, are just steps from the quiet park.

image If you think this is great, wait until we show you Cherry Tavern. Seriously.

Romantic Central Park Date

Overrated: Horse-buggy rides. It’s a cruel practice, horses smell, they’re expensive, locals will stare at you, it’s cliche, it’s not exciting, and you might as well just take a taxi and tell him to drive slow. Or walk. Also, karma could come around, and one day, those horses might be taking a human-buggy ride. Wouldn’t that suck?

Underrated: Rowboats on the Central Park Lake. It’s cheap, for one thing: $12 for the first hour, $10 for every hour after that, and a refundable $20 deposit, assuming you’re not stupid enough to capsize the boat. You can bring booze (and other assorted libations), and drink them (or smoke them) in the middle of the lake, or under a tree in a “cove.” It’s beautiful, and you can explore parts of Central Park you otherwise wouldn’t be able to see. You’re in control, and have you ever been on a rowboat? It’s fun! Go during the week and you won’t experience a wait (unlike every other tourist trap in the city). This is also the best way to catch some sun in the park not on the otherwise overcrowded Sheep’s Meadow. And if you really want to go all out, have their resident Italian take out a Gondola for you: $30 every half hour, but he’ll serenade you in Italian if you ask nicely.

Downtown Punk Dive.

Overrated: Max Fish. Who the hell goes to Max Fish? So many people. Again: who? We don’t know when everyone decided this place was punk, or who they heard it from (Vice, like, four years ago?), but they need to know better: this place is about as pedestrian as the Lower East Side gets. Jersey’s second-rate hipster imports afraid to make their way to Billyburg mix in with kids on teen tours with good fake I.D’s. The pool table’s occupied by LES sleaze trying to take home some of the fresh meat. We’re having none of it.

Underrated: Cherry Tavern. You want sleaze? How about a jukebox that doesn’t even pretend to be remotely interesting (The Strokes, Taking Back Sunday, The Cars, Talking Heads) or drink deals (a $6 Tecate and shot of bottom shelf tequila: the famous Tijuana Special) concieved with the intention of possibly killing the shithead patrons who dare step in here. Bankers, lawyers, punks, assholes, pool sharks, cokefiends, deliquents, outlaws: for some reason, the Cherry Tavern’s managed to keep attracting one of the worst – and most interesting – crowds in town. The later you stay, the younger (and brasher) it gets, so stick around until the wee hours, especially on weekends. Oh, and: on the off chance you’re drunk enough to get a number here, write it down somewhere safe, and make sure you never call it, unless you’re fishing for STDs.

image You are what you eat. Or sometimes, who you’re served by. In this case: bad tongue and dicks.

The Great New York Deli

Overrated: Carnegie Deli or Stage Deli. The service is awful: old New Yorkers who think dishing out contrived attitudes bigger than their deli’s respective tastes? Bullshit. Same goes for the crowds, who enjoy being bossed around by the fake attitude, and the bush-league, overpriced preparations that sold their souls long ago to keep paying the rent and maintaining the brand. Avoid at all costs.

Underrated: Katz’s Delicatessen. In a classically Jewish neighborhood, a classically Jewish deli, one based around ritual and almost pathological habit, where none of the attitude is contrived, the meats are hand-sliced, the Cel-Ray flows freely, and fake orgasms alchemize into epiphanies. Grab a pink ticket at the door, know what you’re going to order at the counter when you get there so you don’t get growled at. Speak it loudly, be confident, and get the only thing – and seriously, the only thing – you really should order: pastrami on rye. Don’t balk when they offer you a taste of the meat on a plate as they slide it down the counter, and when they ask you what kind of pickles you want, you’ll take both, thanks. Get some Cel-Ray, sit down, make sure you don’t lose that ticket, tip graciously, and pad out into the Lower East Side. Breathe that fresh air: you’re still surrounded by tourists, but at least the fanny pack wearing families are far removed from some of the excellent bars in proximity. Hit them, and drink away the New York you wish you knew, and – against all odds – are still trying to find.

[Reporting by Eiseley Tauginas, Cayte Grieve, and Foster Kamer.]

Hook, Line and Single! Top 10 Places to Pick Up Seamen During Fleet Week

imageIt’s hard to stand out in a city populated by naked cowboys, that screeching guy who wears bird feathers and bells in Union Square, and Mike Nelson. But when the ships dock in New York for Fleet Week and its annual Memorial Day celebration, the Coast Guard and Navy mariners dressed head-to-toe in their white, starched uniforms aren’t exactly subtle. That said, a handy how-to on nabbing seamen might be helpful. (Full disclosure: They’re everywhere!)

Rusty Knot (West Village) – This nautical-themed watering hole is practically on the Hudson, and it has the best dark and stormy mix in the city. Worst-case scenario: You won’t meet a sailor, but there’s an aquarium filled with blowfish! ● Old Town Bar (Flatiron) – Once a safe haven for Manhattan’s old-world editors, this creaky, dark den of drink now serves the best clam roll in the city to the weariest of Navy-gazers. Plus, there’s a man who lives off of the upstairs eating area, and I’m almost sure he’s Cap’n Ahab. ● Ritz Bar & Lounge (Hell’s Kitchen) – Think Village People, not necessarily seamen proper, at this HK schooner-adorned, dimly lit meat market. (On your quest for Fleet Week friendship, expect multiple “seamen” puns from the gay patrons here.) ● Legion (Williamsburg) – There may not be any boathouse boys here, but this East Williamsburg staple has three-dollar “Atomic” pints of beer — and a White Castle across the street. ● Cubby Hole (West Village) – No longer the sanctuary for casualties of the Beatrice Inn door policy, this anything-goes shrine to Madonna and 90s divas will most certainly attract a don’t-ask-don’t-tell group of Fleeters. ● Ear Inn (SoHo) – A late-late-late night restaurant sure to reel in a few Sway castaways looking for cheap, unfussy beer. ● Spring Lounge (SoHo) – There will be no shortage of men in white here. Its microbrewery beer menu is almost overwhelming, and it opens at 8am. ● Don Hill’s (SoHo) – No longer home to Leigh Lezark and her asymmetrical crew of merrymakers, the eponymous venue now has room for the nightlife aquatic. In keeping with the nautical theme, Hill’s will house a live performance by Pisser tonight. ● Central Park Boathouse (Upper West Side) – Overlooking the park lake, the Boathouse is a healthy, hearty mix of geriatrics, homeless passersby and, yep, sailors! Order the swordfish or snapper with melted cabbage. ● Blue Water Grill (Union Square) – http://bbook.com/guides/details/blue-water-grill Part of the Dos Caminos family of restaurateurs, Blue Water Grill employees tweet about the goings-on at their seafood emporium. A sample: “memorial days menus have been finalized- watermelon gazpacho, jumbo shrimp skewers, main lobster, jonah crab boil, tons of sides, etc etc,” and, “recently saw former presidential candidate mike dukakis for what seemed like a formal business dinner with 10+ people, wife was there too.” Ships ahoy!
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New York: Top Green Joints for Earth Day Dining

Happy Earth Day! Time to jump on the bandwagon and make a couple of conscientious decisions that will make up for the fact that you’re a lazy, meat-eating oaf who leaves the water running whilst brushing his teeth the other 364 days of the year. So where to begin? By now you’ve already googled “eco-chic” and “organic” and it’s left you hopelessly confused! All of these certifications and standards — it feels like someone is pulling the eco-friendly wool over your eyes. So let’s make this easy. Here’s a short list of GRA-certified New York restaurants that will shrink the size of your size-13 carbon footprint today. These restos are certified green, and like Kermit once said, it ain’t easy. Once joining the GRA program, restaurants must use a comprehensive recycling program, must never use Styrofoam products, and complete four “Environmental Steps” a year, like using biodegradable or tree-free products and energy-efficient lighting.

Dirt Candy (East Village) – It just sounds healthy, doesn’t it? ● Vento Trattoria (Meatpacking District) – Modelized girls dining here are more into their stilettos than Mother Earth, but what they don’t know won’t hurt ’em, unless the planet blows up.

Rouge Tomate (Midtown East) – Not only are they GRA-certified, but they also use greenmarket ingredients. ● Wildwood Barbeque (Gramercy) – The South may bring to mind big diesel trucks with a Confederate flag on the back window, but at least this southern-style BBQ joint is diesel free. ● Boat Basin Café (Upper West Side) – You’ll feel even healthier hanging outside, if the pollution levels on the Hudson are low today. ● Dirt Candy (East Village) – It just sounds healthy, doesn’t it? ● Del Posto (Chelsea) – Eco-friendly never tasted so good, thanks to Mario Batali’s sprawling Italian resto. ● Eletarria (Greewich Village) – The interior may look recycled too, but that isn’t what gives it the GRA certification. ● Blue Water Grill (Union Square) – Net a bounty of MILF and cougar attention at the bar with your extensive knowledge of the GRA program. ● Dos Caminos Soho (Soho) – Is your new green approach to eating making you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, or is it the fifth margarita?

Will More Steve Hanson Spots Close?

imageI was walking my dogs past Café Habana when I ran into a group of old friends. The conversation centered on the 675 spot where Level V should be. The crew — which included a few ex-Steve Hanson employees — were talking about how “675 makes no sense” and that “another wave of contraction” of Steve’s B.R Guest properties was about to happen. I was told it’s “common knowledge” that the Starwood acquisition of B.R. Guest was “one of Starwood’s worst deals ever.” In between bites of crisp, cheesy corn, I was told that “at least one of Hanson’s properties was on the verge of closing, maybe more.”

The pal told me that these properties probably should have been closed during the last wave of shutterings that included the famed Fiamma and others. I asked which ones will be closed and was told that “Primehouse is new but doing so poorly.” He shook his head and continued, “there is so much money invested in it, it’s hard to believe it will go down, but I think it has to — that’s what I hear. I think he will retreat to just the Dos Caminos and Blue Water Grill, and I’m sure Wildwood is doing well.”

Steve Hanson looks at promoters like I look at that closet filled with my ex-wives shoes — a terrible and flamboyant waste of money. Yet promoters could have easily turned Level V into a very viable spot. “Steve was always so concerned with his image and feels that promoters are really bad for that image, but is it as bad as shutting places down, or worse, a quick fix into this 675 thing which makes no sense?” I bought him another corn, and he volunteered, “At its worst, Level V generated $30,000 on its three good days without promoters. Can 675, without bottle service, hope to generate that much?” I put in my two cents with “That’s a lot of beers,” and he replied, “Yeah, that’s what I mean.” The female corn-eater added, “It really doesn’t matter to Steve … he took in all that money with the merger.” But my corn-husking pal disagreed. “Sure, the money is always important, but Steve is so driven by image, it’s sad that it has come to this. At least with promoters there would be somebody to point a finger at.” I saw the decor of 675 online, and frankly I didn’t see much worth talking about. There was that fabulous horse with the lampshade on it, which we looked at when we were designing Aspen Social, but thought that even though it was really cool to look at one or two times, it was essentially a waste of space. I guess that pretty much sums it up.

The Rick’s Cabaret Guide to New York

Where do the dancing girls of publicly traded flesh palace Rick’s Cabaret like to hang when they aren’t putting themselves through school? Sure, you saw the stripper interviews yesterday, but wouldn’t you rather get intimate with the source material? After the jump, the Rick’s lovelies page throuh our “notes” regarding where the ladies kick it when they’re not working the pole. Can you get a Pulitzer for blue balls?

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Jennifer’s Picks:, Son Cubano, Little Branch, Bourgeois Pig, Boss Tweeds, Le Souk

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Becky’s picks: Dos Caminos, Blue Water Grill, La Zarza, Lil’ Frankie’s, Rick’s, Kum Gang San, Wildwood, Ace Bar, Mason Dixon, Boss Tweeds, Little Branch, PDT, Lucky Cheng’s

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Jazz’s picks: Cielo, Pink Elephant, Esperanto, Cafe Mogador Suzy’s Picks: 7B, Niagara, The Box, Apothéke, Big Wong King, Rick’s

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