Restaurants, Bars, and Food People Pull Together For Charity

Well, since just about everything planned this week and weekend was cancelled, what else is there to do but drink, and give a little back to those who lost a lot during Hurricane Sandy? All across the city, food folk are pulling together to host fundraising dinners, cocktail hours, and get-togethers to help pull New York City back on its feet. We already posted about the dinner by Momofuku and Café Boulud, but here are some other ways you can help, and in comes cases, eat and drink too.

On the Upper West Side, the yet-to-be-opened Casa Pomona is throwing a Hurricane Sandy relief dinner on Monday. For $75 you get wine and a four-course dinner. The best part, as you enjoy their lamb stew with mint, it will go down easier knowing all profits are being sent to New York Cares.

In SoHo the power is back at City Winery where they will be hosting a Hurricane Sandy Free Film Festival today. It started at 12:30, but you can still look forward to catching When Harry Met Sally at 3pm, Sidewalks of New York at 5pm, and Manhattan at 7:30. They will be serving light snacks and drinks, cash only, and if you need to, you can recharge your electronics. 

Sadly, Speed Rack’s Sunday event got postponed, but on the upside, the founders are turning their efforts into “Back the Rack,” and putting energy toward helping folk in the service industry by cleaning and rebuilding destroyed restaurants and bars. You can volunteer by filling out a form here.

Watch Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together, the benefit concert and telethon featuring Christina Aguilera, Jon Bon Jovi, Jimmy Fallon, and Sting tonight at 8pm at Full Circle Bar in Williamsburg. There, aside from broadcasting the show, they will be collecting toiletries, canned food, socks, clothes, batteries, and whatever else you want to give.

Also in Williamsburg, The Meat Hook and Brooklyn Kitchen are collecting goods to help people and businesses in the Rockaways, which, in case you didn’t know were obliterated.  Nearby at Union Pool, they are also supporting the Rockaways and the bar is putting together musicians and artists for a benefit show. If you want to be a part of it, you can email them here:

On Monday you can hit up Clinton Hill’s The Fulton Grand bar for Hilary Krishnan’s Barman’s Fund shift. Every penny she gets in tips from 3 to 9pm will go to local charities, which, as she so eloquently says, “they need ‘em more than ever.”

Don’t Soil Your Pinafores: Cabinet of Wonders Comes to NPR

“May I present the cabinet: its contents, and its discontents,” begins John Wesley Harding’s Cabinet of Wonders, the live variety show that’s running in six neatly packaged episodes from NPR this summer. And not to spoil their intro, but there’s little in there to leave one discontent. What the Nieman Journalism Lab “guess[es] is a variety show for hipsters” might work out to this formula: if you graduated from a liberal arts college in the past fifteen years, own a pair of Converse sneakers, and have ever fantasized about being the president, Cabinet is the kind of performance you’d imagine staging on the White House lawn for your birthday party. A vaudevillian piano romp transitions between writers reading, comedians joking, and musicians playing small handfuls of tunes. The live show, which runs a meaty two-and-a-half hours at Soho’s City Winery, wraps up into a fifty-three minute prix-fixe delicacy for the NPR podcast/radio program, currently airing on WFUV in the Bronx, among other stations.

“I know it’s a fashionable term now, but the idea really is to put together a well curated show,” says Wesley Stace, who goes by the moniker John Wesley Harding (as in the Bob Dylan album) for the music/performance side of his work. “The whole idea of variety is that you come for one thing, and leave with something else…the absolute goal is to introduce people to artists they wouldn’t have otherwise known about.”

Case in point: on episode four of the podcast, John Hodgman’s musings on doppelganger science and Sloane Crosley’s incidents of travel in Ecuador are immediate draws—they’re witty and wry and hit all the right beats. But if you’re unfamiliar with the musician Bhi Bhiman, I swear his voice is of the rarest variety of beautiful that if you don’t feel compelled to turn to the person next to you on the D train and evangelize for him, then something’s wrong with your headphones.

The seed of Cabinet of Wonders was a little show Stace did in the late ’80s, while touring as a rock musician, called “The John Wesley Harding Medicine Show.” It had a comparable format, “except I had a pathetic address book in the ’80s,” he explains. Even now, Cabinet is largely just a conglomerate of names from Stace’s Rolodex.

“It’s all Wes,” says Eric Nuzum, Vice President of Programming for NPR. “They’re all his friends, and he’s just really good at keeping in touch with people.”

“There’s a history that comes with sharing dressing rooms with people. It’s a camaraderie from just travelling around,” Stace says. “And then there’s people like Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen”—who performs in episode two of the podcast—“our children go to school together.”

One other antecedent of sorts is the public radio variety show Live Wire! out of Portland, Oregon. Both Stace and Eugene Mirman, the comic sidekick and “resident mirth man” on Cabinet, have appeared on the show, which features a smattering of original comedy sketches in addition to music. “They were definitely an inspiration,” notes Stace.

But for all the great comedians on Cabinet, there’s something to be said for peppering in acts that don’t rely on laughs. “Comedy is always a great way to get people interested in what you’re saying,” he explains. “But a writer like Patrick McGrath reads so brilliantly, that even if it’s not funny, it’s such psychologically accurate prose that the audience is saying, ‘Good lord that was a great writer.’”

And speaking of great writers, or rather songwriters, I have one more nerdy fanboy digression; sorry. But John Darnielle of The Mountain Goats, in episode two, plays the song “You Were Cool,” which he’s yet to record for an album. The default fan recording is from his performance at my college radio station’s show last fall. NPR has now usurped our station in terms of recording quality, but no matter. The point is that the song is out there, and if it doesn’t melt you into a soup of emotion, you may want to consult your doctor about lack of soul.

Cabinet, for that matter, does a good job of encouraging artists to perform outside of their default contexts. A.C. Newman plays a work in progress. Sarah Vowell, instead of reading, answers audience questions alongside Mirman. Peter Buck of R.E.M. and members of The Decemberists back Stace for one of his own tunes. It’s part of what makes Cabinet a great show in its own right, as opposed to just a solid list of performances.

In all, “it’s a show for people who like music and enjoy discovering things,” says Nuzum. Or as Mirman explains, the listener “is sitting in their Volvo or low-end Lexus, probably went to Vassar, and is generally liberal but a little afraid of Latinos. And you’re thinking, ‘that’s not me’…but it’s you.”

Photo by Rufus Standefer

The Best Places to Become an Amateur Sommelier in New York

Most people aren’t aware of the small cooking school nestled next to the swimsuit department on the eighth floor of Macy’s Herald Square. It’s there I found myself last Saturday afternoon, sipping cool Rieslings while most of my food-focused brethren sweated, and waited it out for bite and beer at GoogaMooga.

The school, De Gustibus, was founded in 1980 and has hosted numerous cooks, many who are now celebrity chefs, including Bobby Flay, Mario Batali, and April Bloomfield. The host on Saturday was Juliette Pope, the beverage director of Gramercy Tavern, and she was teaching a three-hour course all about Rieslings. Three hours, and yes, it felt like a long time to me, too. But with 14 vintages to try, numerous nibbles from the restaurant, and more information than I knew was possible to cram in, the class went by in a flash.

Unfortunately Pope’s course was a one-time deal (though she did it last year, so hopefully she will continue the trend), but they do have another class in their Best in Glass series on June 2. This one features wine writer Jim Clarke, who is the beverage manager of Armani Ristorante, and South African chef Hugo Uys. This team will pair South African wines like Chenin Blanc and Syrah, with food by Uys.

Don’t worry, the wine education doesn’t stop there. New York City has a plethora of options, including wine bars that are happy to teach you a thing or two about what you are drinking. Terroir in the East Village is one of them, and their Bible-like book of wine proves almost a class in itself. At City Winery, head winemaker David Lecomte teaches a class on how to craft wine, and, as bonus, you can discuss your newfound knowledge over a flight in their in-house wine bar. As a bonus, you can also buy and compose your own barrel of vino.

Another great place to learn about wine is at master sommelier Laura Maniec’s Corkbuzz Wine Studio in Greenwich Village. Here they offer all sorts of classes from all about Spanish wines to basic wine education. They frequently plan food and wine pairing courses where they match six vintages with themed snacks as a way to teach you how certain foods and wines can enhance the other. Coming up on June 15, they will feature pizza pairings.

That’s right, wine goes with pizza. In fact, it goes with everything, and now, given the availability of classes and chatty experts, is a great time to stick your nose up, and put it right in that glass.

Marianne Faithfull and Others Pay Tribute to The Rolling Stones

It’s been forty years since The Rolling Stones released Hot Rocks, their first best-of compilation which included their biggest hits from the years 1964 to 1971. The album is still the Stones’ biggest-selling to date, and includes enough material for a huge tribute concert. Such an event took place last night at Carnegie Hall under the supervision of City Winery’s Michael Dorff, who culled together an impressive line-up of classic rock ‘n’ rollers and a handful of revered indie acts for a mind-blowing concert in celebration of one of the greatest bands in rock and roll history.

Stand-outs included Steve Earle performing “Mother’s Little Helper” (“This is the first song he learned to play on guitar,” he announced, “which is probably why I’m so fucked-up”), The Mountain Goats with a toned-down piano-heavy version of “Paint It Black, a surprisingly bluesy and suble "Heart of Stone" from Peaches, Rosanne Cash’s sultry voice leading vocals on “Gimme Shelter” (she later joined Jackson Browne and Marc Cohn to perform “Wild Horses”), and actress and singer Juliette Lewis, who kicked off her sequined heels and jumped and jived across the stage during her rendition of “Satisfaction.”

Opening the show was Italian rapper Jovanotti, members of TV on the Radio, and the Young Audiences New York Chorus with a spirited rendition of “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” which actually closes the album but was performed first on account of it being a school night. Taj Mahal, who performed at last week’s Robert Johnson tribute, brought his daughter Deva Mahal to join him in a deep country rendition of "Honky Tonk Women." I shouldn’t even have to mention how amazing it was to see rock legend Marianne Faithfull in person, much less to hear her perform “As Tears Go By,” the song that Mick Jagger and Keith Richards wrote especially for her. After the proper Hot Rocks line-up, Faithfull returned to the stage to perform “Sister Morphine,” which she co-wrote with Jagger. It was enough to cancel out the only low point of the night when The Swell Season’s Glen Hansard, who ended his cover of “Under My Thumb” with the chorus from Them’s “Gloria,” as if he decided that Van Morrison needed some representation.

Proceeds from the show went to charities Church Street School for Music & Art, The Pinwheel Project, Music Unites, The American Symphony Orchestra, Young Audiences New York, Fixing Instruments for Kids in Schools, Midori and Friends, The Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, and The Center for Arts Education.

Check out the video below for a short clip of the entire line-up performing “Tumbling Dice” from the seminal Exile on Main Street as the encore.

Photo by Bobby Bank

Tomorrow it’s Jersey, Tonight it’s City Winery

Tomorrow’s can’t-miss event is a toss-up between the 2-year anniversary of the W Hoboken, which I may actually attend, and Andrew Goldberg’s birthday bash at Avenue. Amanda might not be able to make it to Jersey (something about allergies), so I’ll be looking for a ho to bring to Hoboken.

The development of the outer-boroughs and nearby enclaves like Hoboken and Long Island is profound. “New York” (or international) service and style can be found everywhere, as local yokels demand sophistication having enjoyed it in Manhattan and seen it on TV, online, and in places like Atlantic City, Miami, and Vegas. It is ironic that this event will make me “Bridge and Tunnel” as I cross-commute to the gala. They’re sending a car so I don’t end up at the Bada Bing or in some swamp. The Jersey of my past is changing, and the W Hoboken is leading the way. Someone, who I think was 9-years old, once told me that “if Jersey didn’t suck New York would slip into the ocean.” I’m not 100% sure what that means, but some pretty cool people that I trust are telling me I will be impressed with what I see. What to wear?

I guess if Hoboken doesn’t win over my heart and I do end up returning to the Rotting Apple, I will attend the birthday bash for Strategic Group’s man about town Andrew Goldberg. At 21 years of age, it was said that in 10 years the talented and boisterous young fellow would have a good shot at turning 31. Blessed with the best smile in the game, Andrew has survived and thrived, and is now an undeniable force in the most forceful of all nightlife organizations, the Strategic Group. You know, Tao, Avenue, Lavo, Marquee, Vegas, New York —and soon the world. Andrew knows everyone, and everyone knows him. In a world where everyone is subject to critique and snide remarks, I have never known anyone to dislike or disrespect this man. He is a gentleman, which is my biggest compliment. Happy Birthday Andrew Goldberg. Please excuse my Jersey outfit.

Well that’s tomorrow. Tonight’s can’t miss soiree is the 40tth Anniversary Celebration for the Anthology Film Archives. It will be held at City Winery. Their press release for the event is perfect so I’m going to leave it as it is:

On April 27th, Anthology Film Archives will present their annual event honoring individuals and institutions that have made important contributions to the preservation and understanding of our film heritage. This years event will encompass a celebration of Anthologys 40th Anniversary, with a live program of performances and music. The event will feature performances and appearances by Harmony Korine, Marina Abramovic, Richard Barone, Ólöf Arnalds, and Transgendered Jesus, as well as others to-be-announced. The evening will also pay tribute to our 2011 Preservation Honorees: filmmaker Albert Maysles; Vlada Petric, founding director of the Harvard Film Archive; film scholar Tony Pipolo; Technicolor; and the Library of Congress, for creating the National Film Registry.The event will be hosted by Jonas Mekas and master of ceremonies Richard Barone. Special speakers will include Andrew Sarris, Lola Schnabel, Ed Bland, Stuart Liebman and Jonas Mekas. Benefit table seats with light dinner and wine $200, General Admission tickets $40:

Nightlife Try Outs: 5 Posh Bars To Visit When You’re a Party of One

New York might be the city that never sleeps, but that doesn’t mean your posse is always awake and ready for adventure. Don’t let other people’s home-bound plans keep you from treating yourself to a night on the town. Sometimes people scoff when they hear about my inclination for going it alone, but getting over your fear of facing social situations solo opens up an entirely new side of the city. You don’t have to stress out about making plans, you needn’t worry about other people’s loves/hates/dietary restrictions, and doing things off the cuff can lead to so many other surprising adventures. Plus, you can treat yourself to really lavish experiences without worrying about splitting up the tab—deliciously empowering. Whether you are a single girl in need of a dose of romance, a New York newbie looking to make friends, or a culture-addict searching for a unique experience, these posh bars are some of my favorite treats for when I’m flying solo.

1. Brandy Library It’s 7pm on a Friday evening and the library has a gathering of friendly, smartly-dressed folks. The sophisticated ambiance is slightly intimidating at first blush, but once you settle beneath the flattering lighting and sidle up to the mahogany bar in all of its snazzy glory, you’ll immediately feel at ease. Ask the knowledgeable barkeep a ton of questions about the menu—your solo session can double as a free liquor class. Perk: The bar is usually filled with singles that appreciate a well-made cocktail. Best For: Single girls who aren’t afraid to share a Brandy tasting with a stranger. Tip: The record will skip if you order a cliché whiskey and cola. Ask for a recommendation if you need help.

2. Bowery Poetry Club What? Not exactly glamorous, you say? Try telling that to the man reciting E.E. Cummings and drinking cognac. A night of poetry readings might not spell “Night on the Town” for everyone, but if you’ve got a hankering to expand your circle, meet new people, and take advantage of one of New York’s great cultural experiences, BPC is a great place to discover the luxury boho scene on your own. Sure, you’ll bump into a prose-snob or two, but you can always use the live performances and the full bar as an excuse to get away. The crowd is constantly in mingle-gear, and you’ll end up meeting an amazing cast of characters. Perk: The bar is a WiFi café from 12-noon to 6pm. Best For: Those in need of culture shock. Tip: Stop in on Mondays and treat yourself to a night of bingo!

3. Rose Bar at the Gramercy Park Hotel Rose Bar runs a tight ship in the small hours of the evening, but early on, the large, lavish spot is filled with interesting locals and outgoing foreigners celebrating in the city. Park yourself at the front bar around 6pm and watch as a slow trickle of hotel guests begin their night. The clientele is high-end, savvy, and inclined to learn more about their surroundings—in this case, you. Gramercy locals still cite it as the best way to start or end their night, and the sensual, tranquil space is a great venue for interesting conversation—even if it’s only with one of the attractive bartenders. Perk: The pool table near the front is a great way to get the night started, and can distract you in case you’re not feeling chatty right off the bat. Best For: Solo girls who want a scene. Tip: Use the art pieces as a sneaky icebreaker—Julian Schnabel designed the furniture, original pieces from Warhol and Keith Haring hang inside.

4. Per Se So, Prince Charming has yet to take you to the (so-called) best restaurant in America? Why not take yourself? This first-class restaurant, full of pomp and circumstance, will certainly put a dent in your pocketbook if you ever decide to overdo a date night, but sit stag at the bar and get sucked into your own little world of complete culinary euphoria. The Salon menu offers lavish dinner and dessert dishes in the front lounge area, priced between $24 and $46. Treat yourself to Butter Poached Nova Scotia Lobster or go easy with “The Cheese Course, ” and a glass of wine. The serene bar area is full of single parties. Perk: Every staff member is incredibly attentive, making for a surprisingly unstuffy atmosphere. Best For: A date with yourself. Tip: Indulge in the “Brownie And Malted Milk,” a $14 dessert luxury—double chocolate brownie with chocolate “marquise,” caramel ice cream and malt mousse.

5. City Winery Breathe a sigh of relief: this is not a house of hard-core winos. Instead, it’s a venue that pairs a jovial atmosphere with fine wine and music. If you feel like truly being by yourself, you’ll find that the space is cavernous enough for you to melt into the atmosphere. But if you’re feeling chatty, the bar offers a great view of the stage, and friendly patrons often take up casual conversations between sets. Perk: The venue schedules classes like wine pairings and tastings, perfect for a solo act. Best For: Live shows when you’re solo. Tip: Skip City Winery for stag nights when they aren’t hosting a class, or live performance. The giant space can be awkward without their presence.

More Tips For Going Stag in NYC

-Research Your Bars: Even the most out-going girls might feel awkward after popping into a sceney bar or a romantic couples lair. On my first night in the city, I made the mistake of heading to Marquee alone on a Tuesday night after I overheard some girls raving about it. I actually ended up having a great time, and I met a ton of people, but clubbing alone is just a tad unnerving. -Take on a Traveler’s Mentality: Hit up hotel bars, where the ambiance is usually forgiving and people are dying for conversation. Aim to learn about other people. -Give Yourself a Good Reason: Live bands, distracting performances, a great love for foodie fare or mixology—all sneaky props to take the focus off of your party of one. -Draw Attention to Your Confidence: You’re out alone! You’re an independent girl who loves the city and can enjoy it on her own. Celebrate that and strangers will, too.

Industry Insiders: Michael Dorf, Wine and Music Maven

Michael Dorf first opened the legendary Knitting Factory in 1987. More recently, he’s built City Winery, a fully functioning winery in downtown Manhattan. Never one to forget his musical roots, the space doubles as a concert venue. Dorf’s vision of music and wine coexisting in the same place has people flocking to City Winery to sample the grapes and sounds.

Point of Origin: I came to New York with $20,000 in 1985. I was managing a band called Swamp Thing and trying to get them booked. I eventually convinced myself that I should rent a small office on Houston Street. With $20,000 we were able to put up the walls and serve coffee and tea for a month and get the ball rolling. I got lucky along the way, met great artists and moved up. I used radio to distribute the name the Knitting Factory, and I was very fair in terms of the door policy. 70% of the gate went to the artist so we were honest about what was coming in. Artists were freaking out about that. We could survive because we kept the bar money.

Concept of City Winery: It was a combination of epiphanies. When I left Knitting Factory, I never thought I’d do another club. I did a few big concerts and festivals, and then one day had a chance to make a barrel of wine with my brother out in California and had so much fun. The ego of being a producer came out when I started giving away the bottles that said, “Michael Dorf” on the labels. It got me thinking that there was no precedent for a winery in Manhattan, bringing grapes in from high quality locations like California, Oregon and South America. I had to do some real homework. What’s really unique about us is that we’ve created a place where people can learn about wine and enjoy it and share. I eventually thought, “Let’s do a winery and let’s do a music venue.”

Choosing wines vs choosing bands: I wish I could get as many bottles of wine as I got demo tapes at the Knitting Factory. The wine list is much more of a pure, artistic art form while there’s some pragmatism that goes into it. In the Knitting Factory days, it was always a balancing act between pure art and commerce. If we didn’t do so well at the door and the bar, but I really liked it, then that’s all that mattered. I’m a big jazz fan and I feel guilty that I’m not able to support more jazz or avant garde performance, but I can’t do as much cutting edge material here because it can’t sell 300 tickets. People’s palates aren’t usually sophisticated enough to know a cutting edge winemaker, but they’ll know if it’s shit, so in that case the two are a little different.

Membership programs: There’s a very small group of about 150 people who are making their own wine. They get 250 bottles with their name on the bottle. Wired magazine and NBC are doing it as well as some law firms. It’s a unique insight into wine making. Then the other program is called the Vino File membership, which is a rewards program that costs $15 a year and three or four days before we let the world know about a show, we let the Vino File members know. You can buy tickets with no service fees. If you use the Vino File card you can also track which wines you drank and the sommeliers can recommend a wine for you based on your taste.

Future projects: Since 2004, I’ve been doing an annual concert at Carnegie Hall. This March will be the music of The Who. These are benefits for music education for underprivileged children. Springstein showed up and played the encore at one and REM did the same thing. I’m also going to expand to Chicago, I hope, for the next City Winery. Then I hope Paris and London and Shanghai. That’s why I named it City Winery.

Industry Icons: On the music side, Bill Graham really inspired me as a promoter. George Wein from the Newport Jazz Festival. He’s the grandfather of large festivals. As a fellow wannabe megalomaniac, David Geffen has an amazing story. In the wine industry I’m fascinated by these winemakers that are just farmers. They aren’t flashy even though they’re millionaires. They get on a tractor and they get in the dirt and taste it. That, to me, is pretty remarkable.

Go-to places: Now I don’t go out anymore, which is pretty tragic. I could alternate between Nobu and Babbo every night if I could afford it. I dig going to Joe’s Pub to see music, and I do still sneak to the Village Vanguard because there’s nothing like it.

Favorite band: I’m really into singer/songwriters. I lean toward the Regina Spektor world. I could always listen to Radiohead.

Uncork New York!: City Winery Hosts an Empire State Wine Fest

Climbing aboard the locavore bandwagon is tricky for Manhattanites. Most of our acreage is covered in concrete. And heavily populated. Greenmarkets are a help, although less so when it comes to wine. There’s only one homegrown vintage, “Château Latif,” cultivated in a backyard on E. 92nd Street. It’s not widely distributed. Expanding our immediate options is City Winery, Michael Dorf’s newish restaurant slash concert hall slash full-on winemaking operation. There’s some precedent for Manhattan fermentation. Our humble island was the first spot in the state to cultivate grapes, with the Dutch putting down vines in the 1600’s. The rest of New York soon followed, creating what’s now a thriving wine industry.

The last three decades have been particularly fruitful, with the number of Empire State wineries increasing by a factor of ten. To sample some of those vintages without racking up the miles on the Zipcar, head to City Winery this Sunday, December 6, for Uncork New York!. Nearly three dozen wineries will be represented, from Long Island to the Hudson Valley to the Finger Lakes and beyond. You can sample some 100 wines, and should you have any locavore entertaining coming up, buy some to take home. There will also be Empire State cheese, ice cream, bread, and fruit, among the dozen-plus purveyors. Tickets are $45 and also include sample tastes from NYC restaurants. Park Slope fave Palo Santo will be serving anticuchos de puerco, Jimmy’s No. 43 is planning a rabbit cassoulet, and Il Buco is covering dessert, plating panna cotta with aged balsamico. That’s one of the nice things about living in Manhattan: local is so often world class.

HoHo Rising

A while back the often maligned but generally easy guy to deal with Jon B of Home/Guesthouse fame was looking for a new spot to hang his hat. I steered him into what is now the Greenhouse space. I had been designing the property for the shelter crew of Timmy Regisford and Merlin Bobb, and it turned out they needed a partner. I felt strongly that the space, which has been a nightspot since pre World War II, was ideal — an easy-to-get-to cabaret downtown with few neighbors. A home run. Jon told me I was nuts for a couple of months, but then moved in.

I didn’t end up doing the design, as Jon brought in his guy Antonio Di Oronzo. I did do much of the layout, bar placements, and such, but this award-winning design is all Jon B and his vision of a “green” club. Dipster-hipsters don’t necessarily embrace the joint, but it does make money — not an easy task — and downtowners swarm to Kenny Kenny and Susanne Bartsch’s “Vandam” parties every Sunday. For the fashion-gay crowd, it’s the only game in town.

The area is so isolated from Manhattan civilization that it doesn’t really have a name yet. Realtors often dub it Hudson Square. I have seen HoHo, which stands for Houston/Holland, as in the Clifford Milburn Holland Tunnel. BrooHoHo includes Broome Street into the mix. North Tribeca, West Soho, and South Village are also tossed around. My favorite is WeVar for west Varrick. Whatever it’s called, it’s about to be a different hood real soon. A half-dozen or more projects in development will give Jon B’s isolated outpost some company

The well-documented Trump Soho collaboration with Miami superstars Nicola Siervo, Karim Masri, and Rony Seikaly will bring the sexy set to the hood. Quattro and all the food and beverage joints at the Trump will skew the monied jet-set crowd a little down and to the left of their current Meatpacking District haunts. Four-star chef Daniel Boulud will open on the corner just north of Greenhouse with his new restaurant. City Winery across the street is open, attracting a mixed bag of yuppies and confused revelers now … but it could easily attract dreaded promoter types to its comfy confines and make a statement. Even the Vandam Diner has a liquor license, and there’s a buzz about it too. Up the road a bit at the Sheridan Square, an Egyptian crew headed by Mino, Romy, and Greenhouse bottle host Sammy is gearing to go. This is supposed to be super hush hush, or hu-hu as we say these days. Also very hu-hu is the forgotten Movido space. It’s getting looked at, my source tells me, by a French crew. This group is giving it a shot despite being saddled with a 2am liquor license. They are trying to get the 4am working but are running into HoHo community board opposition.

That’s a lot of activity for an area without a name. Maybe that’s the way it has to be. New development is everywhere as the banks see fit to contribute cash once again. Operators must look at the elbows and corners of Manhattan where developers aren’t digging in if they are to obtain licensing and stay in business. For potential residents, this Vandam strip is a horror during the day, as hundreds of thousands of cars make their way back to mainland America. But the honking and pollution are almost gone by the time the party people are going out. Whether it’s WeVar or HoHo, it figures to be the next MePa (Meatpacking) or OuCh (Outer Chelsea) in time for Christmas. We will all ho-ho-ho-ing in HoHo.