New York: All Points West Music Fest Top Eats & Drinks

For the second year in a row, All Points West will take over Liberty State Park in Jersey City this weekend. For most Manhattan dwellers, the thought of crossing that river is daunting — but with a location just across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan, the commute is surprisingly easy and filled with great pit stops. Meet your friends for a pint or a bite at one of these fantastic bars and restaurants near your departure point, and enjoy Jay-Z, Coldplay, Vampire Weekend, The Ting Tings, and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on a full stomach. With a seven-beer maximum and lengthy festival lines, you’ll need the pre-party.

Ferry Service (Lower Manhattan) Enjoy the sights and bites of lower Manhattan before catching the Ferry at Battery Park Pier, just south of Castle Clinton. The ferry is $20 if you buy this week; otherwise it’s $25 on the day of the show. Prior to cruising by the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, fill up at these lower Manhattan favorites. ● Burger Shoppe – So close to the bottom of Manhattan you can feel the mist off the river. Crowd is largely lunch-breakers and FiDi residents; near empty on the weekends, which means you can pack in you and your posse pre-Silversun Pickups. Nothing really under $10 as far as food fare, but you’ll be spending the same on street meat and beer at the festival anyway. Best of all, it’s just a hop, skip, and a jump from your ferry.

Gigino – Get into the outdoor mode at this overpriced picnic spot just north of the Castle Clinton National Monument. Rustic Italian food to OD on carbs for your all night dance-a-thon. ● Cordato’s Deli – Guessing that your festival garb borders on grunge, NYC’s most suspicious deli might be your best bet. Dark and dank — how the MI5 might run a deli, but a perfect meet-up spot, as it’s near all of the subways. ● John Street Bar & Grill – Just as grimy as your Nike Dunks will be after an extended MSTRKRFT dance set. Like parallel to an outdoor festival, the elements in this bar are saved by the music — in this case, a quality juke. Greasy bar bites are a great way to start off the day. ● Delmonico’s – For the refined concertgoer. Legendary steaks for the pinstripe set, though it should be fine for the plaid shorts set on any given festival afternoon. Get ready for the day by filling up on a classic steak lunch for $24 if you mention the code “SumSp1144.”

PATH Train (West Village) The environs of the PATH Train at Christopher Street and Greenwich Street or 9th Street will certainly support your eating and drinking habits. PATH stations Hoboken, Pavonia-Newport, and Exchange Place all offer free connections for All Points West ticket holders to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail that will take you straight to the festival. Hop in here before you hop on the train. ● Rusty Knot – You’ll be on the water … might as well get a jump start with this nautically themed bar. Ask bartender Griffin for his special pre-music festival shot: the lethal and yummy pickle backs. Then stumble on over to the PATH. ● White Horse Tavern – Since it’s an arts and music festival, may as well try impress your pals by taking them to the place where Dylan Thomas bit the dust after an eve of boozing, then join in with the rest of the frat party by downing beer by the pitcher. ● Blind Tiger Ale House – The old faithful beer haunt is always a great meet up place. Listing 28 drafts from homey to exotic, plus many more in bottles. There are about as many brews as there are APW festival bands. ● A Salt & Battery – Sure, APW isn’t Glastonbury, but get psyched just the same by plunking down with your mates for some perfect fish ‘n’ chips wrapped in London newspaper spotted with grease. Brilliant, innit? ● Corner Bistro – Wait, how much were those festival tickets again? Luckily there is this joint known for the incomparable Bistro Burger. With everything on the menu less than $6.50, and cheap McSorley’s to wash it down, we’ve hit the penny-pinching mother lode. See you soon, Neko Case!

Priciest Comfort Foods: NYC

imageWhile most restaurants are running “recession specials” or creating some kind of crazy happy hour deal just to get butts in seats, these three food purveyors are holding strong at ridiculous prices. We salute your obsession with opulence and your commitment to over-the-top prices.

First up: The $175 Richard Nouveau Burger at Burger Shoppe in deep downtown. This burger is made of gold prime Kobe beef, grilled and topped with aged gruyere, shaved black truffles, foie gras and golden truffle mayonnaise. The RN Burger is actually the only super-pricey thing on the menu; everything else hovers around the $12-15 range.

Next: The $1,000 frittata at Norma’s. This “Zillion Dollar Lobster Frittata” has 10 ounces of Sevruga caviar, which pushes it into a four-figure breakfast. If you’re just feeling slightly flush, you can opt for the $100 version, which only comes with one ounce of caviar.

Finally: The $1,000 bowl of ice cream over at Serendipity 3. The Guinness World Record, Golden Opulence Sundae $1,000.00 (reservation required 48 hours in advance) comes with three scoops of the finest Tahitian vanilla bean ice cream, infused with gold leaf, then drizzled with the most expensive Parisian chocolate sauce, all resting on three $100-apiece Belgian truffles. And just to make sure you know this is an “opulent” sundae, there’s also a tin of Beluga caviar on the side.

Industry Insiders: Heather Tierney, Mixology Mistress

Heather Tierney, apothecary-at-large for Chinatown destination Apothéke on comparisons to Amy Sacco, being the bad twin, and dealing with Chinese landlords.

Have people compared you to Amy Sacco? Admittedly yes, and I am honored. She is giant in this business. I might know 1% of the people she knows, so it is flattering for someone to say I am like her.

Where have you been going out? I like small places that have an identity. I like La Esquina … I think that place is brilliant. It’s completely original, and it still holds up. It will be there a long time and the food is excellent. I like this place in Williamsburg called Moto. It’s in this old check-cashing shop. It’s a random location in the middle of nowhere. They made a great Parisian bistro/bar with great details. It’s just so charming. Sometimes they have a band, and you have to walk through the band to enter.

How’d you get involved in this business? Really the way I got into the business was finding this street. I passed this street with friends one night after a concert because we decided to walk to the Brooklyn Bridge to watch the sunrise, and I felt the street was so magical and wondered why no one had ever done anything on it. I started looking around and talking to brokers. I thought it would make a good cocktail bar destination. I hadn’t even met Albert Trummer yet. I quickly realized there was a huge barrier to entry into the Chinese community as an outsider. They don’t do leases here. People pay month to month. You want a lease if you are going to renovate a space and put a lot of money into it. Meeting with a landlord is hard because they are not interested … they pass it down into the family. Everything on the street has been owned by families over the years. I just kept the idea. I met Albert a couple of years ago through a friend who worked with him at Town and had read about him and admired him. I was moved by his humbleness when I met him. I felt that what he was doing with his mixology, no one else was doing. Albert had worked at Town and Bouley, and I thought it would be cool to bring him into an edgier environment.

Who do you admire? Keith McNally. First because he has not sold out, meaning I am sure he has been approached by everyone under the sun to put a Balthazar in Las Vegas or a Pastis wherever. He keeps his brand very strong … he doesn’t dilute them. Each restaurant is a unique concept and its own brand, and he doesn’t open more than one of them. He nails it on the head. He has great staff. He has great vision. He also gives back a lot. Every year he brings an orphanage into Balthazar and feeds them. The do magic shows for them, and the cards get stuck to the ceiling. You will see them still on the ceiling. He is also very humble and down to earth. Danny Meyer is next because he really understands service. He is a warm person and has built an empire, and none of them have a cold, corporate feeling. He wrote a book about hospitality and says it’s the small details that get you to the big place. Everyone in the industry says you have to read his book. People live by it. He gives back a lot too. He is also really down to earth.

What trends are you seeing in your industry? I hope attention to detail is a trend in the city. That’s what interests me. Places need to make a statement and be memorable, which I think is from substance. It can’t just be I am so-and-so and I am opening this, ’cause no one will care in six months.

What is something that people don’t know about you? That I am from Indiana. That I have a twin sister, not identical. We are yin and yang. She supports me in all my crazy ideas. She is the good one, Katie. Also that I don’t care about the “scene.” I don’t need to constantly network. I like to be alone and lay in the sun

Burger Shoppe, Apothéke. What’s next? I have another business too. It’s a concierge service called Sorted. It is a membership. I am not even taking on new members. I have even more I want to do. I want a personal life too. Also opening places, you get a bug to open more. I am even hoping to expand into the basement and upstairs of this space.

What are you doing tonight? I am going to dinner at Macao, owned by the same people who own Employees Only, with a friend who is a restaurant critic. Then I am coming back to Apothéke.

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.