Mushrooms, Mushrooms Everywhere: And Where to Eat Them

The best part about seasonal food is the influx of menus, tastings, dishes, and drinks dedicated to whatever plant is growing now. Enter, mushroom season and an array of ways to get down with fungi.

First up, Paprika in the East Village where chef and owner Egidio Donagrandi is offering a tasting menu from now, until October 28, that focuses on different types of mushrooms. “Wild mushrooms are in season and they are perfect for the fall as we transition to heartier winter foods,” said Donagrandi. “My favorite [mushroom dish], and one of the most traditional dishes in Valtellina, is trifolata, which is fresh porcini mushrooms sautéed in oil with garlic, parsley, and sometimes with a little beef or veal jus.”

Though the menu at this Northern Italian restaurant doesn’t feature the owner’s favorite plate, they do offer four courses for $52, including dumplings in mushroom broth, buckwheat and cornmeal polenta with wild mushrooms, maltagliati with roasted chanterelles, sage and veal jus, and finally, leg of lamb crowned with more chanterelles. If you are vegetarian, don’t worry, you can also order dishes a la carte, and, if you happen to go on a Monday, bottles of wine are half off.

The wine list at Paprika is Italian, so you might want to go with a Pinot grigio. If you happen to be pairing another bottle of wine with mushrooms, try its aromatic, smoky and rich French counterpart, Pinot gris—especially if you can get a bottle from Alsace. 

This wine would go splendidly with David Bouley’s porcini flan with black truffles, which he serves at his Financial District restaurant Bouley. The French chef also adds the seasonal truffles to his scrambled eggs. If truffles are your thing, you can also get a taste of the fancy fungi at Tocqueville, where chef Marco Moreira adds white truffles and chanterelles to his potato gnocchi. At the Andrew Carmellini’s The Dutch, they add chanterelles to the herb roasted chicken, and have three types in their pilaf.

Finally, if you are more in the mood to cook your own fungi, hit up the New Amsterdam Market for some of the freshest mushrooms around. If you aren’t sure what you are looking at, New York Magazine recently wrote a handy little guide to all things fungi

Billy & Devon Gilroy: Peas in the Pod Hotel

Sometimes I find myself far away from home. The other day, I was on 51st between 2nd and 3rd . I came to interview nightlife legend Billy Gilroy (Nell’s, EO, Macao Trading Co.) and ended up having lunch with Billy, his son Devon, and publicist Alan Rish. We met at the Pod Hotel and ate in the Pod Café. I sometimes forget that Manhattan nightlife isn’t just between Canal and Chelsea and that other types of venues like hotel lounges and rooftops are viable and vibrant alternatives to what is often the same-old same-old of downtown. For me, sitting in this outside, art-oriented space with Billy and the prodigal son — Devon happens to be the Pod Café chef — was like a mini-vacation. Years ago, uptowners would flock downtown, but it was rare for a downtown hipster to venture north. Exceptions like the summer parties at Tavern on the Green have always existed, but are still rare. A downtown sensibility in design, service, staffing, and music does find its way into the breeder areas of our town though. The Pod hotel and café recognize that downtown is a state of mind — and that the boutique hotel, which so often embraces downtown aesthetics, is a worldwide trend.

This is a very artsy place for 51st and 3rd. Billy: Yes, that’s the faux-Liechtenstein.

Since you just fed me, I have to say nice things about Devon’s food, which is actually great. Billy: He was at Chanterelle with David Woltocks — my chef now at Macao. I actually met David through Devon. Devon was at EO for a year, then he went to apprentice and went on to the staff at Chanterelle for a year, then he went on to A Voce for a year under Missy Robbins. He’s a serious food person. Another fun thing about Devon is he grew up working for David Barton and Susanne Barsch. David Barton is one of my best friends

David Barton of David Barton gyms — he’s a Chelsea icon — and Susanne Barsch still does those great parties over at Vandam. She is one of my mentors. Devon you worked in this club kid, fashion, gay, party-crowd club world. Which world did you want to live in — the chef world or that fabulous club world? Devon: Well, I was a teenager. I grew up in the country, and I would come to the city and be exposed to all this stuff, so as a teen it was great. I don’t know about pursing it as a full-time career. When I was getting over that — that’s when I started getting into food, around the time I was 18.

What are you trying to do here with the food? Devon: I’m trying to do a simple farmer’s-market-oriented menu. So everything is made in house … probably 85 percent of what we have here is local, so it’s pretty cool. All our jams are made here, we make all our own chocolates, we make all our own cheese.

I just had your mozzarella, which you made in-house. And now I’m having a — what is this? Devon: A strawberry rhubarb truffle.

It’s really good. The food’s great. I feel like I’m in a sanctuary. It’s very peaceful back here Devon: Yeah, it’s quiet here. You can’t hear anything from the street, especially when the jazz is playing. It’s really cool.

Beer and wine? Devon: We’re trying to move towards using microbreweries. So everything is local, American, and then you have the East Coast microbreweries and Finger Lakes wines to kind of compliment wheat we’re doing . I think it’s kind of a fun little foodie place, but it’s very, very simple. Billy: Artisanal.

What’s it like working for your dad? Devon: It’s great.

Good answer.

Industry Insiders: Sandra Ardito, Giving the OK to KO

Sandra Ardito heads sales, marketing and special events for KO Hospitality Management (Cooper Square Hotel, Empire Hotel, Hotel on Rivington, and Chelsea Hotel in Atlantic City). We met the hospitality connoisseur at the Cooper Square Hotel to get the scoop on the Hamptons Memorial Day hotspot, the Reform Club Inn (suites and private cottages in Amagansett), working for Ian Schrager, and why we should stay at Cooper Square (besides the fact that it’s the location of the Bjork’s afterparty tonight).

Is this the first hotel KO has developed? No, we did the Empire Hotel on 63rd Street, and we did the Chelsea Hotel in Atlantic City for Paul Sevigny and Matt Abramcyk. For those hotels, I would describe us as the hired guns.

Who are the other members of the KO team? Klaus Ortlieb, Yana Yevinson, Meg Burnie, Manuela Kolb, and Annie Ohayon.

How’d you get here? I was the director of special events at Chanterelle. Budgets were $250,000 to a million back then. And while there, I moonlighted by helping people open their restaurants. I opened the Harrison with owner Jimmy Bradley. I met some amazing people, like Joey Campanaro from Little Owl. I was Jason and Jen’s investor at ‘ino on Bedford street. Eventually, Meg Burnie brought me into meet Klaus at the Hotel on Rivington. That’s when I left Chanterelle. My first event at the Rivington was Timothy Greenfield Sander’s XXX Book. Bill Dye called me to be part of Gramercy Park Hotel with Ian Schrager. We opened with the Marc Jacobs party on September 11, 2006, after working for months nonstop. I shadowed Ian for the two nights before we opened the hotel. He had receptions for all of his friends and was surprised at how I knew them. He said, “You are the girl, you are going to do this.” It was like a love letter. And he trained me and nurtured me into this role. Finally, Klaus started KO Hospitality Management about a year and a half ago and asked me if I wanted to be a partner. It was very hard to leave Ian. At KO, we work with owners and developers from ground-up construction. We attaché the restaurant, the architect, the interior designer, and conceptualize the entire project.

Something unique about Cooper Square Hotel? Every book in the Cooper Square hotel was picked through Housing Works, which is a charity for AIDS victims. People can purchase the books and the money will go to the charity. Klaus is a seasoned professional who only takes on projects he believes in. He worked with Andre Balazs and Ian Schrager for years. He wanted the experience at Cooper Square to be completely different, that’s why there’s no reception desk. There’s a lobby host who shows you to your room. It’s about personal attention. Klaus sat on 575 chairs until he choose what he felt was the right one. We’re also building a screening room on the second floor. There’s an indoor/outdoor bar on the second floor as well, and a 3,000-square-foot terrace.

What is your specific contribution? The total experience here. I hand-picked the staff. What Ian and Klaus have given me, I hope to give to someone else.

What’s the next project? We are helicoptering to the Reform Club Inn in Amagansett to get ready to open for Memorial Day weekend.

What music do you listen to? Rock ‘n roll — Iggy Pop, The Raconteurs, Jane’s Addiction.

Favorite artist? Radek Szczesny.

Favorite restaurants? ‘inoteca, Little Owl, and James in Brooklyn

Favorite bar? Royal Oak in Williamsburg, Madame Geneva in the Double Crown and Bowery Electric.

Favorite hotel? East Deck in Montauk for a retro motel and The Crillion in Paris for high-end.

Who do you admire in the business? I grew up reading about Ian Schrager and then had the pleasure of working for him. He hired me to be his director of special events. The man who started the party is looking at me and letting me see his vision. It’s an honor and the best compliment. I also admire Klaus Ortlieb for his loyalty, compassion, and integrity, and Nur Khan for the incredible way he takes care of people

Who do you feel does it right? Joe and Jason Denton of ‘inoteca and Lupa

What’s something people don’t know about you? I’m an avid gardener and spend all my money on plants for my roof deck that I made totally grassroots style with my boyfriend.

What are you doing tonight? Going to Bjork’s concert at Housing Works and then to her after party at Cooper Square Hotel.

Photo: Mike Mabes

The Bruni Breakdown: Our Guide to Frank Bruni’s Guide to Recession Dining

You could read all of Frank Bruni’s article (and supplemental blog post) on the sad ways restaurants and their respective owners are coping with the downturn (by offering customers various deals to help lure them in), or you can read our simple guide to the guide. The choice is yours, but we know what would save more time. Savings we pass along to you, the otherwise hapless consumer.

Chanterelle – A management consultant notes: “You can go to Chanterelle at the last minute now, in a way that you couldn’t nine months ago.” ● WD-50 – Anyone who orders the $140 tasting menu can get a bottle of wine — any bottle of wine — off of their wine list for half price. ● The Modern – Bottles under $50 are now appearing under a special section on the wine list as “wines for our times.” ● Perry Street – A $35 three-course menu that runs on off-hours (from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and 9:30-11 p.m.). ● Nougatine – Also, a $35 three-course menu that runs from 5:30-6:30 p.m. and 10-11 p.m. ● Matsugen – A $35 seven-course menu that runs all hours. ● Del Posto – The infamous 20-course meal price went down from $225 to $175; a nine-course went from $175 to $125. ● Daniel – From 5:30-6:30 p.m., three courses, with wine: $98. You need a reservation to get this one. ● Cru – Through 6:30 p.m. nightly, a $49 three-course menu. ● Compass – A lobster “sample sale”: a grilled three-pounder for $39, lobster salad for $13. ● TOM – Now open as Damon: Frugal Fridays, with $10 dishes cooked by Craft’s executive chef. ● Lever House – A $35, three-course menu going through March. ● Eleven Madison Park – Still has a two-course lunch that goes for $28.

And NYC Restaurant Week is getting extended by a bunch of the places that were original participants, including Le Cirque.

James Franco’s NYC Favorites: Chanterelle, Bungalow 8, Smith & Mills

imageIn our James Franco cover story, the actor/NYU student notes a few joints in New York that he’s learning to love. “I’m still getting to know the city, but Chanterelle is good.” His favorite lounge is Bungalow 8, “Smith & Mills has great dim lighting, good food and an excellent Art Deco restroom.”

New York: Top 5 Spendy Restaurants Worth Every Penny

imageSometimes you’ve got the urge to splurge …

1. The Grocery Innovative farmfresh cuisine in a tiny, elegant setting: as transcendent as NYC gets. 2. Chanterelle The city’s best spot for foodgasms, with elegance done to perfection. 3. Eighty One Creativity saved on the name is channeled into impeccable locally sourced menu.

4. Gramercy Tavern Danny Meyer’s pride and joy is classy but not crabby, and soaring on its second wind courtesy of laid-back chef Michael Anthony. 5. Momofuku Ko David Chang’s East Village answer to Per Se, loaded with wit, flair, and originality.