Eating and Drinking by the Reopened Smith-Ninth Street Station

The Smith-Ninth Street subway station is the tallest in the world, which should be cause for some civic pride. Unfortunately, tumbledown infrastructure and ratty innards have long kept riders from luxuriating in the skyline views. Two years and a cool $32 million later, the F and G have at last returned to this stretch of Brooklyn. The station’s new façade is unexpectedly space-age, putting aside eighty years of industrial cred for a look that’s more Funkadelic than Wilco. Although the Gowanus may not quite be ready for destination dining status, both sides of the canal have some great places for getting your eat and drink on, accessible once again by the grace of the MTA.

Buttermilk Channel takes its name from a nearby stretch of Brooklyn waterfront, although buttermilk fried chicken with cheddar waffles is what put it on the map. If you’re looking for a killer brunch and don’t mind a wait, this is your place. Just up Court you’ll find Prime Meats, where the two Frankies take their eyes off the boot for a look back at Germany and old New York. The biggest raves are for the burgers: hefty half-pounders of Creekstone Black Angus, tender and packed with flavor.

A couple of doors up is the Falcinelli and Castronovo original, Frankies 457 Spuntino, where the pork braciola marinara and housemade pappardelle are sublime, and everything else is merely mind-blowing. Nearby La Slowteria is a neighborhood newcomer with a line in Mexican slow food. Duck comes pulled and stuffed in a crispy potato taco, slow cooked in posole stew, or paired with black mole. If it’s barbecue you’re craving, Fletcher’s has the hookup, with a maple- and oak-fueled barbecue pit imported from Texas. That should hold you until the new Dinosaur Bar-B-Que comes online. Another GoWo player is Bar Tano, which compensates for a trafficky corner with a chill Euro interior. The kitchen turns out better than solid bruschette, americo burgers, and lightly charred pizzas.

On the boozy end of things, Abilene and Lowlands peeps bookend the Gowanus with a pair of low-key neighborhood drinkeries. A little closer to Smith-9th is Draft Barn, where 250 brews have been culled from every corner of the earth for your sampling pleasure. On an even bigger scale is The Bell House, an instant G-Slope classic with stellar booking. Tonight the concert hall turns into Wasablanca—a mashup of Casablanca inspirations and Wasabassco burlesque. Wait until tomorrow and can catch epic dance party The Rub. Dance party Mister Sunday is back for at least one more summer at neraby Gowanus Grove. This year’s sessions start on May 12th, with Brooklyn brews, dancing under the poplar grove, and huaraches from the Country Boys. There are worse places to contemplate the Smith-Ninth viaduct, and wonder why they built it so damn high. (Okay, it’s for the tall ships that once plied the pristine waters of the canal.)

Photo by City of Strangers/Flickr.

[For more great places to wine and dine, visit the BlackBook New York Guide; To keep up on the latest openings and events, subscribe to BlackBook Happenings; More by Ethan Wolff; Buy Ethan’s book; Follow him on Twitter

This Week’s NY Happenings: The DeKalb Classic, Meatball Slapdown, ‘Mad Men’ Premiere

TONIGHT: No-Fooling April Cocktails For DeKalb Ave.
Spring has sprung in Fort Greene, with glasses being raised tonight for inaugural cocktail competition The DeKalb Classic. Local faves like Madiba, Roman’s, and Chez Oskar will be throwing down for best bartender and cocktail crowns. Cornerstone’s entry (pictured) is barkeep Chris Rue’s St. Rue, a bright blend of Greenhook Gin, St. Germain, and lemon, with a vernal sprig of mint. You’ve got a month to track down the five cocktails and place your vote, with a portion of the proceeds going to charity.

The DeKalb Classic kicks off tonight, April 1st, at 5pm. Cornerstone (271 Adelphi St., Fort Greene) is among the five participating venues. Tickets are $50 and the event runs through the end of the month. To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

THURSDAY: Meatball Madness
Look for an all-out meatball royal battle as local superstars like Buttermilk Channel, M. Wells Dinette, and Prime Meats square off for sphere supremacy at the Meatball Slapdown. Ted Allen is among the celeb judges; host Brooklyn Brewery will keep the suds flowing.

The 4th Annual Meatball Slapdown at Brooklyn Brewery (79 N. 11th St., Williamsburg) starts Thursday, April 4th, at 7pm. Tickets are $50 for all you can eat and drink, with the proceeds going to charity. To learn more about the brewery, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

SUNDAY: Hamm And Whiskey
Where better to catch the premiere of Mad Men season six than a swank, Midtown lounge? Whiskey Park will do the honors, with themed cocktails, a trivia contest, and guests decked out in their swinging ’60s best.

The Mad Men viewing party at Whiskey Park (100 Central Park So., Midtown West) starts at 8pm, no reservations required. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Be the first to know about the latest openings & events in NYC by signing up for the weekly BlackBook Happenings email & downloading the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android.

Kick & Play: Some Spring In Your Bold-Colored Step

Spring is coming. And if camo wasn’t your thing (as featured last week), then maybe color is. But not just a standard cherry red leather or blue canvas. This week we’re talking creative and daring color.


Ronnie Fieg x Asics GT II “High Risk”

Need a pair to stand out? Purple suede on a pair of low lace-ups will turn heads and probably take up a good 20 minutes of conversation at dinner. The Asics GT II, a collaboration with renowned shoe designer Ronnie Fieg, features premium purple suede backed by leather, with trims of red dispersed across the shoe.

The lower-cut shoe is definitely meant to be worn with your pants tucked in. So if you appreciate letting your whole shoe show and have a thrill for rocking bright colors, this limited edition is a must-have in your closet.

Release date and price info are forthcoming, but once they come they’ll go fast, so it’s in your best interest to follow these closely. Stay in the know via Ronnie on his blog for future details.

Nike Roshe Run

Nike Roshe Run

Is purple too much? Try olive green with a hint of orange. Enter the Nike Roshe Run. The Roshe shoe is one of Nike’s newer designs, created by a Nike shoe designer in his own free time. The shoe is named after “Roshi,” a title given to a Zen master. The idea behind the shoe is to be extremely minimal in design and only implement the most necessary features. The design itself is a simplistic woven mesh with an extremely cushioned midsole. The result: one of Nike’s most comfortable casual shoes.

The Roshe Run is from the Nike Sportswear Collection, so it’s meant to be more of a casual running and daily wear kick, as opposed to sneakers for long-distance runners and trainers.

The Nike shoe is available in a multitude of colors, but the newest spring colors feature a dominant color with an inner trim. Three other colors are available (Stone/Volt, Black/Crimson, Anthracite/Mint).

Available at CaliRoots or select Nike retailers for $135.


Buttermilk Channel, Brooklyn, NY
This is easy. Cheddar waffles. Chicken fried in buttermilk. But Buttermilk Channel, this  chic, imaginative eatery, does far more than just damn good chicken. The menu here is full of goodies for a variety of taste buds. Chicken, steak, or steak lovers can find a menu full of charming entrees with assorted delectable sides waiting for you. House pickles are a big hit here while cornbread with lime and chile butter just might put you to sleep before you get home. By the way, the coconut, lime bread pudding with coconut caramel is stupid good.

Masa, Echo Park, CA
A question over lunch this weekend: Why is it impossible to find deep-dish pizza in Los Angeles? Because there is only one place that really serves it: Masa Of Echo Park. Originally a Cuban bakery, this family-owned restaurant serves good baked gems here, but the real reason to visit Masa is the deep dish pizza with fresh cornmeal dough baked daily. From the super fresh buffalo mozzarella to sausage and pepperoni (vegan too!) instilled with secret recipes, their traditional pizzas do the trick. And not to be outdone, but the bread pudding here is unbelievably fantastic. Chocolate, almond, and butter croissants, pan-baked in vanilla custard with caramel? This idea wins. Everytime.

Beretta, San Francisco, CA
When you think Italian comfort food, you think simple pastas and warm mozzarella. Beretta reinvents this idea with thin crust pizza, a tapas-inspired menu, and super creative cocktails. The list of appetizers here is remarkable – roasted beets with ricotta salad, baked polenta, lamb chops with greens and yogurt, and a Dungeness crab you’ll always remember. The menu also includes artisan salami meats and thin crusts pizzas that are worthy of not sharing. A hidden gem on the menu is their squid ink risotto with calamari. Innovative uses of tequila, brandy, bourbon, gin, and scotch turn cocktails into delightful supper drinks or for dessert. Oh, and by the way, house-made gelato can be found here, and is good – before, during, or after dinner.

Walk fresh. Eat right. Be well.


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The Wallace Brings Quality Cuisine to a Burgeoning Strip in Brooklyn

Clinton Hill, Brooklyn may not be the first destination that comes to mind when hit with a hankering for locally grown and seasonal American cuisine, but thanks to restaurateurs Chef Jon Wallace and partner and fiancée Jessica Soule’s The Wallace restaurant, the fast-developing Fulton Street is now home to a great addition that has been leading the charge to revitalize this corner deli and Chinese take-out-dominated area into a foodie hot-spot.

“What we liked about it here is that it’s a place that is very diverse,” explains Wallace. “There is an influx of new residents and people who have been here for a long time. The possibility to serve everyone was very exciting to us.” Setting up here also meant much lower rent than in the much-gentrified and bustling culinary haven of Fort Greene, which neighbors Clinton Hill to the west. Wallace and Soule jumped at the chance to stand out with their selection of refined American gastronomy. Since opening The Wallace’s doors back in September, a couple of new restaurants have followed suit by opening shop on Fulton. “We both have this great passion for all things New York, Brooklyn and American,” reveals Soule, who along with Wallace resides in Flatbush. “It’s the amalgamation of cultures in Brooklyn we love. Everyone can find a home here.”

Having made a name for himself cooking scrumptious comfort food at Buttermilk Channel and gastro-pub fare at Thistle Hill Tavern, Wallace was ready to indulge in his own interpretation of American cooking which has very little to do with comfort or bar food. “A lot of the American restaurants that have been opening recently are based on comfort food. I love it and it’s something I cook for myself, but what we wanted to be is different. There are plenty of places that cook mac and cheese and do it very well, but I was pretty much finish with doing comfort food. I wanted to do something that reflected my culinary experience growing up,” says Wallace, who describes a childhood exposed to a mélange of flavors which included Southern, Japanese, Indian, Thai and Portuguese.

Before embarking on his culinary journey, Wallace worked as an executive in the publishing world for ten years. An unexpected lay-off from his post as Director of Publishing at The Source magazine back in 2006 was the catalyst for a career change. “After some soul searching, a friend, who I had cooked for several times, suggested I get in touch with her friend who owned Lamb & Jaffy in Greeenpoint to see if they needed any help,” recalls Wallace, who went from working at the top of the corporate ladder to being assigned to washing dishes and taking out the garbage. “Walking into a professional kitchen for the first time and despite my, at the time, extremely high opinion of my cooking skills and being told and that I really wasn’t qualified to touch food was humbling and changes one’s perspective very quickly.” Forgoing culinary school training, Wallace chose instead to learn on the job from “a number of great chefs.” His hands-on training consisted of basic French culinary techniques with a focus on American cuisine. He quickly excelled and became a sous chef at Buttermilk Channel and later a chef at Thistle Hill Tavern.

“Working with American food allows you to take the influences of all the numerous culinary cultures of the world and throw them together in a melting pot similar to America,” Wallace says. “If I feel like I want to use curry, miso or chimmy churry in any of my dishes, I can pretty much sell it as American food—as far as using American ingredients and making things that are familiar to an American audience.”

His refined American “farm-to-table” menu boasts appetite-rousing dishes such as a mouth-watering duck breast served with fingerling potatoes, baby turnips, and shaved brussels sprouts. There are the much-loved scallops with hazelnut cauliflower purée, onion jam, and brown butter appetizer. For their burger with garlic aioli, they grind their own beef, make their own buns and pickles, and hand-cut their fries turning the classic burger into something brilliantly delightful. They also make their own cheeses, jams, and seasonal flatbread with caramelized onion, olives, and egg in the center. The braised oxtails accompanied with creamy polenta, toasted breadcrumbs, and crispy garlic have become The Wallace’s quintessential and by far the most raved-about dish on the menu.A very unthought-of piece of meat but elevated to be something really fancy and beautiful,” says Soule.

Locavores Wallace and Soule have also expanded their celebration of all things American to their extensive wine selections. The wine menu is all-American and seasonal here, with a concentration on New York State and Long Island; all of the featured cocktails are all made with Brooklyn spirits. “We are really trying to keep it as local as possible,” says Soule, who honed her American wine chops, along with her hospitality expertise, whie working the front-of-the-house at Manhattan restaurants like Zoe and Chubo, where service was paramount. “I think attentive and knowledgeable service is essential to being a good restaurant,” she explains. “You don’t have to be stuffy to be efficient. Being friendly is another part of it. We are not trying to be too cool for school.” On the topic of service, Wallace adds, “One of my biggest problems with restaurants, old and new, in Brooklyn is hipster service. The idea of ‘Ugh, I’m here, you’re here, let’s just get through this.’ When you are dealing with that type of attitude from a server, it just makes you feel like you are an imposition to them.”

The modest décor at The Wallace is warm and inviting with dark wood tables, chairs, and banquette. Vintage mirrors of all shapes cover the wall to add depth to the long and narrow space. “We wanted it to look like a cross between a French bistro and a steak house,” says Soule. Modern industrial-looking chandeliers hang from the ceiling. The lighting is dimmed, and candles are lit on each table for dinner. It’s both romantic for date nights and just chill enough for an easy dinner with friends and family.

While Wallace had been conceiving his initial opening menu five years prior to opening The Wallace and loves to share unconventional flavors and dishes with his customers, it quickly became apparent that there could be such a thing as “too cute of a menu,” at least at their present location. “In the short month that we opened, I might have gone too far with some things,” he says. “We’ve changed the menu to reflect what our customers want to eat.” Take for instance the charcuterie plate that included duck liver pate and testa headcheese. Wallace, a huge fan of testa, noticed the plate just wasn’t selling. “To a lot of people the idea of eating something called headcheese, even if you try to disguise it with the Italian name testa, wasn’t appealing,” he explains. The duck liver pate has a strong irony taste and gamey-ness to it which made their pate much stronger in taste than people were accustomed to. So they did away with the headcheese and replaced the duck liver with chicken, and now the plate sells. “When you fall in love with a particular flavor or dish, especially if it’s something that is rare or different, you want to share it. Unfortunately sometimes those dishes, no matter how much you love don’t sell,” says Wallace before adding that his “primary responsibility is to serve my customers.”

But there is a line that must be drawn between catering to the masses and creating the type of food that inspires and fulfills you as a chef. His eclectic menu and concerted effort to stray away from comfort and soul food have some residents in the neighborhood accusing him of pandering to white customers. “I’m proud of being a black chef,” Wallace declares. “There are far too few of us, and those of us in this industry get pigeonholed into making comfort food or Southern food. All of which I believe are noble pursuits. Nevertheless, if I want to make a menu that is contemporary then I feel there is a burden on me that I am somehow leaving our culinary traditions behind.” It’s an issue about which Wallace feels very strongly. “Hearing from black people that I don’t cook a certain way so they won’t come here… It’s ridiculous, scary, reductive, and backward-ass thinking. If you’re not inclined to give my restaurant a fair shake ’cause there is no fried chicken on the menu, then up yours. Seriously.”

Word-of-mouth has been essential in The Wallace’s growth and so has residents’ support of the local restaurant. Their customers are made up of Brooklyn locals and diners making the trek from Manhattan. “We definitely benefit from the Barclays Center,” Soule says. “When there are big events or concerts, we get more people from outside the area for dinner.” The restaurant is still at its early stages (having only been open for five months), so landing a table for dinner or brunch doesn’t require a long wait. Although that may soon change with Fulton becoming the new up-and-coming restaurant row Soule and Wallace predicted it would be. “The challenge is getting people to think of Fulton as a place to get great food and dining and not just take out,” Soule says. “We’ve had a good feeling about this area from the start, and now it’s changing in the right direction.”

New York Valentine’s Day Itineraries for Every Couple & Scenario

So you’re single; or you’ve been in the same relationship for years; or you keep hooking up with your ex/best friend/ neighbor who has a stocked pantry and a really good view. Who cares! Valentine’s Day is for lovin’, and no matter the state of your romantic affairs, you deserve a rendezvous-filled good night. We’ve compiled the ideal itinerary for every kind of date – satisfaction guaranteed.

Friends with Benefits:

  • Westminster Dog Show: Who needs roses and a box of assorted chocolates? Get delivery, jump into bed, turn on your TV, and admire some good looking hounds at the second longest-running sporting event in the country. Whether you’re anticipating the debut of the Icelandic sheepdog, rooting for the Brittany Spaniel, or easily amused by the dog handlers’ two-piece ‘80s suits, this show is a good respite from the overwrought romance and drama that is Valentine’s Day –  and a real relationship.
  • HiChristina (Mad) Love at First Sight: Enter a Victorian parlor, and run around and mingle with wandering iconic personalities like Don Juan, Marilyn Monroe, and Shakespeare. Get a sugar-high from the hand-made chocolates being passed around and join a parlor game of show and tell that just might surprise you both. 

Blind Date:

  • Cedric the Entertainer’s Valentine’s Day Show: Laugh away the awkwardness with the star of Barbershop and Spike Lee’s The Original Kings of ComedyHis show at the Beacon Theatre will serve as perfect fodder for the post-show meal, and will be a better gauge of one another’s sense of humor than the 17th question on OkCupid’s match questionnaire.
  • Buttermilk Channel: Find some comfort in the food at this lauded Carroll Gardens spot that specializes in all things butter, waffles, and pecan pie. With its three-course prix-fixe menu, you and your new friend can delight in duck meatloaf with bittersweet chocolate-duck jus, fried chicken with cheddar waffles, pie, and barbecued oysters – an aphrodisiac.  


  • Never Sleep Alone: Alright, so you might be happily on your own, but who can say no to a show that’s designed to hook you up? In this appropriately named performance by sexual psychologist and music therapist Dr. Alex Schiller at Joe’s Pub, the Dr. dispenses advice from her book Get Laid or Die Trying, performs some sex-infused pop songs, and encourages mingling between all the rows and legions of single people in attendance. If you’re feeling timid, just sign up for the more expensive “voyeur” seat in the back and watch the action unfold.
  • New York’s Largest Singles Anti-Valentine’s Day Party: Chat and drink with over 150 like-minded folks at Stitch, a two-tiered classy lounge that was once a garment showroom.  Wash down the free hors d’oeuvres (from 7:30pm-8:30pm) with Happy Hour drink specials, and enter your name for door prizes and weekend getaways. Oh, and maybe network. And meet someone.

Second date:

  • Romance Under the Stars: So it’s your second date and you still hardly know each other. Amp up the flirting with a night of getting cozy under the stars at the Museum of Natural History’s Hayden Planetarium. Stay toasty inside with a 90-minute open bar of champagne and cocktails, a performance by the Josh Rutner Quartet, and epicurean bites like chocolate truffles and baby artichoke and chanterelle tartlets. Listen to the romantic stories based on the mythology of the stars, and begin to create your own.
  • BAM’s screening of The Shop Around the Corner: Before the AOL-inspired You’ve Got Mail, there was this 1940s flick about two gift shop employees who unknowingly fall for one another through the mail as each other’s pen pals. Jump into the nostalgia of the pre-Twitter days, and enjoy the sweetness of another couple’s budding relationship. 

Long-term relationship:

  • Aphrodisiacs & Amor: Skip the long and expensive dinner routine, and opt for this blindfolded tasting feast at Shag Brooklyn. With an aphrodisiac-riddled menu prepared by Food Network-featured Nuevo Latino chef Alex Garcia, you two will tease and titillate your taste buds as you take turns blindfolding one another and indulging in the unseen, never-before-tasted foods of love. Play on!
  • Filthy Gorgeous Burlesque: Any show spotlighting half-naked, ornately-garnished women and men stripping, singing, and telling suggestive tales is sure to keep the passion flowing throughout your night. Plus, the New York City Burlesque Choir is performing, which is basically the older, half-naked version of the choir you were in in high school. It’s good to return to your roots. 

New York: Top 10 Brooklyn Restaurants Worth the Wait

Flatbush Farm (Prospect Heights) – Everything you’d expect from a restaurant with “Farm” in the name: local, organic, sustainable. Decor is more modern than country, save for the bangin’ backyard overflowing with green. ● Vinegar Hill House (Dumbo) – Cast iron dishes, straight from the wood fire oven, are killer tasty and surprisingly affordable. Mismatched knickknacks and vintage furniture make the space a real charmer. ● Rose Water (Park Slope) – It’s not surprising that a seasonal menu helps the coop crowd get off. Park Slope’s favorite date spot comes with flickering candles and chocolate pot de crème.

Buttermilk Channel (Carroll Gardens) – Brooklyn’s M.V.P. in the fancy-fried-chicken craze serves their birds with cheddar waffles. A clean interior — large windows, industrial lighting, dark wood floors — is the epitome of Brooklyn chic. ● James (Prospect Heights) – Hidden in the first floor of a brownstone, the restaurant draws a neighborhood crowd, but the food — New American with local ingredients — is worth a commute. ● Al di Là (Park Slope) – Park Slope’s favorite Italian job comes with the longest wait. Rustic fare (pork loin scallopine, tagliatelle al ragu, roasted duck) is served in a purposefully deteriorating dining room. ● Franny’s (Prospect Heights) – Ultra-thin pizza fancied up with super fresh — and yes, you guessed it, sustainable — toppings like clams and mussels. Husband and wife owners don’t skimp on the salads or apps, either. ● Acqua Santa (Williamsburg)- The romantic, go-to spot for the more committed hipster types. Italian favorites, like spaghetti puttanesca and fettucine amatriciana, are easily paired with a bottle of vino. ● Applewood (Park Slope)- Mom and pop joint serves up responsible food in a cozy, ski-lodge setting; think fireplace, wooden tables, and flowers. The meal won’t weigh as heavily on your conscience as it will your wallet. ● The Good Fork (Red Hook)- A reason to go to Red Hook other than IKEA. This eclectic restaurant serves global bites like Korean style steak and eggs, as well as neighborhood favorites like Steve’s Key lime pie.

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.