EMM Group Opens The General, A Sure-Fire Hit

I’ve was invited to the friends and family opening of The Generalthe new restaurant from EMM Group at Bowery and Spring. EMM is Eugene Remm, Mark Birnbaum, and Michael Hirtenstein. They are the force behind Abe & Arthur’s, CATCH, CATCH Roof, CATCH Miami, Lexington Brass, SL, SL East, Tenjune, Chandelier Room, Revel Nightlife, FINALE, and Bow, and lots of other stuff. Bow and Finale are the other parts of the Spring and Bowery space that once housed Boulevard and Crash Mansion. Executive chef Hung Huynh of Top Chef fame offers up modern Asian cuisine in a red-chaired gilded wallpapered paradise. All the inside-info is here.

Opening up this time of year is interesting. Most operators look to open in the early or late stages of spring or fall, and with 300 seats, there will be a lot of kinks to be worked out. Groups like EMM have fewer kinks than most.  Opening now allows the place to hit its stride as the nice weather and affluent snowbirds return. They can do no wrong in my book. The General stretches the Bowery strip from its previous above-Houston Street border where joints like Daniel Boulud’s DBGB, Gemma, Peels and many others serve neighborhood residents and well-heeled visitors. This is not the Bowery of my youth. Little Steve Lewis trivia: my great uncle was one of the famed Bowery Boys.

Most clubs reported near-normal attendees for the week after New Year’s but much lower revenues. People went out but seemed to be tapped or burnt out.  For all except for the very top operators, New Year’s Eve is a loss when you account for the naturally slower nights preceding it and the after-effects. I’m still beat up from all the rushing around, and Christmas bills are still being paid. Getting me out requires special coaxing.

Many people obviously get terribly drunk on New Year’s Eve and try hard to slow it down for a couple of weeks. Then there are those resolutions which often include a step back from the boozing. My resolutions always end in a vow to break all my resolutions ASAP. We are still enjoying tourist dollars, but those will fade away as vacation bucks tend to fly to warmer climates this time of year. The cold keeps people in and, well, you get the idea.

EMM group is way ahead of this game. They have a built-in clientele that’s enamored with all their other joints. CATCH is still more than killing it, and the word "NEW" is always a sure draw. The General, a NEW offering from an established hospitality group enters as a sure thing. I’ll keep you posted.

Bring on the Meat: New Places to Pig Out

In the last month, it’s been a sausage fest in New York, and the latest joint to make the scene is San Francisco transplant Rosamunde in Williamsburg. This rustic shop just opened a week ago on the bustling Bedford Avenue, and already it’s become a hot spot. Maybe this is due to Rosamunde’s laidback staff and lack of hipster bartenders. Maybe they are stoned (they’re from California!). Or maybe the meat is so good that everyone is just high off of sausage. I like this option the best, but if you want to check it out for yourself, go to their official opening party on Saturday from 6 to 9 PM. There you can get sausages like the spicy pork Italian, wild boar with apple, or chicken habanero, which is smoked with tequila.

You can also fill up on sausage at the newly opened Die Koelner Bierhalle in Park Slope. This biergarten serves up some mean German fare, including a traditional bratwurst with sauerkraut, bauenwurst, currywurst, kielbasa, and the wurst of them all, wiesswurst, which comes pressed into a soft pretzel with sweet mustard. Also in the German sausage category, Radegast Hall & Biergarten has a whole griddle full of meat links, and, if you don’t know what they are, just point to what looks good. For a more high-class sausage, Daniel Boulud’s DBGB in the East Village offers excellent homemade ones.  Is there a missing link? Feel free to chime in on more great sausage spots?

Chris Cosentino Doesn’t Give a Damn About His Offal Reputation

Chris Cosentino doesn’t think there is anything funny about offal, and he wishes you didn’t either. I caught up with the executive chef of San Francisco’s Incanto during his whirlwind book tour promoting Beginnings: My Way to Start a Meal, his first book that ironically doesn’t deal with offal, but instead consists of recipes for starters and small plates. Of course, the meal at DBGB Kitchen & Bar couldn’t go by without a little offal, and though Cosentino ordered the Frenchie burger, it wasn’t long before the kitchen sent out an iron-rich boudin basque, also known as blood and pigs head sausage, and pied de cochon pane, or crispy pigs feet. We ate it all as Cosentino chatted about his past as a hardcore skier, getting saved by chef Chris Santos during a bar brawl in Rhode Island, and his upcoming stint on the fourth season of Top Chef Masters.

Know any good jokes about offal?
No. I don’t joke about offal. It has a hard enough track record and I don’t need to put it in a category where it’s made fun of. It’s already looked down upon and I think when people start joking bout it, it doesn’t demystify it and instead puts it in a category where it’s something to point at and make fun of. I really try to focus on bringing it to light in positive way as much as I can.

It’s hard to do I am sure, though I feel like it’s becoming bigger and bigger.
Yeah, offal has really taken off. You are seeing more chefs knowing where their whole animals are coming from, and the consumers and guests are more interested. 

Why now?
It skipped a generation. You have the children of World War II, right. They had to have it. It wasn’t a choice. So now, my mom’s generation won’t eat it because it was something their parents would try to get them to eat because it was a necessity. Then it skipped over and now this generation, my generation, is more interested in learning how to cook it. It’s interesting how it skipped and jumped. Sometimes if feels like food trends are like clothing trends and stuff regurgitates itself. For instance, 70s clothing, the high-wasted pant is coming back. Personally, I don’t think it should, but just like clothing styles you see disappear and then it comes back, with food it’s same thing.

So what are some things that you have been doing or seen done, to help make people more educated an interested in offal?
A lot of people think about Fear Factor and all those things, but it has nothing to do with that. For me it’s about tasty parts and doing justice to the animal. And doing it the right way by cooking it properly and making it delicious. One of the tricks we use, though it’s not really a trick it’s a fact, is that we use the familiar with the unfamiliar. You can put bacon with a cut someone isn’t familiar with and they would be willing to try it. What you are dealing with is that the majority of the public has never had offal cooked properly, or they are advised to the texture.  There is a culture of texture all over the world, and in the United States we are a culture of crispy. Our potato chips, our French fries, our fried, our fried, our fried. If you say crispy on a menu it sells.

So unctuous, gelatinous, jiggley is not really sexy and people don’t really want to gravitate to that style. That being like chicken feet, beef tendon, or liver, people don’t like granulated when it’s over cooked but they don’t like it undercooked either because they can’t deal with the quiver. So like with tripe, we will fry so it gives you that well-known, crispy texture. Also, everybody wants everything to be tender.  They don’t want to chew the meat they just want it to melt. But sometimes toothsome meat is good. I am not saying it should not be like chewing a rock, but like octopus, that’s also toothsome.

What are some of the other things are you doing to highlight offal?
I just do what I do. I don’t try to reinvent the wheel, I just try to make it taste good and make people feel comfortable with it.

Is there an ingredient you find harder to work with?
Not really, there is always something to learn with every product. I learn from my mistakes. There is always a way to get better. Every year we do our head to tail and I have never had a repeat dish in nine years.

Is there a piece of the animal you really like?
You know, I don’t pick favorites. I feel that all the cuts are good. It’s like me coming to a parent with six kids and saying, “Pick your favorite.” For me, I love different cuts for different reasons. I love pigs feet, I love trotters—always have, always will. They have magical-ness to them and can be used in so many ways.  But there is no perfect cut for anything. Each one gives me a different result and the guest a different experience.

In your new, and first cookbook, what made you decide to break the mold and not write about offal?
The book Beginnings is very different because 80 percent is all vegetable. It’s all about first course food and setting the tone for the meal. I think that’s a really important thing.  You can either set a bad tone or a good tone. Like when you go to a show when that curtain opens, you really want it to catch your eye and keep your attention. You hear a lot of people say, “The best part of the meal is the first course,” or, “I liked the starters.” I really wanted to focus on that and give people options.

It’s a deviation from what you are known for.
Yeah, it was kind of my gentle “fuck you” to everybody who was expecting me to have an all-intestine book.  I am not a one-trick pony and unfortunately, the populace thinks I am, so I wanted to do something different. 

NYC Try Outs: Natasha Huang’s West Coast Sensibility

It’s always intriguing to watch a former West Coast denizen make their way in the Big Apple. Their itineraries have a slightly sunnier edge, quite literally. They seek out roof tops and tiki bars, their drinks are sweeter, their style is fashionably laid back – they’ve mastered that whole California-cool thing that’s a stretch for the native New Englander. Natasha Huang is of the West-turned-East school. A native of the Bay Area, she graduated from the University of San Francisco and worked in health care for hospitals before moving to the city as the Director of Marketing for Encore Magazine. Shortly thereafter, she struck out on her own to start a company: NH Media. As an entrepreneur in the PR field, Natasha is often out and about, raising her public profile and collecting business cards with the best of them, while still maintaining her distinctly relaxed, and, let’s face it, friendly West Coast nature. The places she’s deemed her favorites reflect her sunny disposition.

Name: Natasha Huang Professional Resume: I own and run a social media public relations company called NH Media, where I work in the fashion and social media arena in one of the greatest cities in the world. One Word to Describe Nightlife in New York City: Infinite.

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City Loves • Favorite lunch spot: Mamoun’s Falafel or La Esquina. • Favorite dinner spot: DBGB. • Favorite nightlife trend: Rooftops and tiki bars. • Drink of choice: KGB – apparently it’s orange vodka, soda, splash of orange juice, and a slice of orange. • Meal of choice: anything raw – oysters, tuna tartar, sushi, beef carpaccio. • Favorite group of people to bump into: housewives, socialites, fashionistas, diva’s, models.

City Loathes • Nightlife trend: Anything with a line or cover charge. • Drink: Cosmo or Sex on the Beach. • Meal: Baked Mac and Cheese. • Group of people to bump into: Fist Pumpers, girls who can’t walk in high heels, hoochies, club promoters.

Her Hotspots • Monday: Salud. • Tuesday: HighBar. • Wednesday: Le Bain. • Thursday: Ulysses. • Friday: 230 Fifth. • Saturday: Hudson Bar @ Hudson Hotel. • Sunday: Pastis.

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• Wouldn’t be caught dead here: Quo, Marquee, Greenhouse. • For special occasions: Per Se or South Gate. • Brunch is usually: Bagatelle.

Daniel Boulud Is On the Market

Back in ’09, restaurateur Daniel Boulud gave us some advice on shopping in markets for his slew of upscale, New York restaurants (Daniel, Bar Boulud, DB Bistro Moderne, and DBGB). And now it seems that the charming Frenchman is on the market himself.

In explaining techniques for finding good produce, Boulud told BlackBook, “When you go to the market, you use your eyes to spot the good things; you use your brain to look a the price and compare; then you use your nose. Sometimes you can use your hands, but often farmers don’t like when you touch things.” Well now, Boulud is having to use the sixth sense: his heart. Gawker reports that Boulud is calling it quits with his half-French wife, Michelle “Micky” Palmer Boulud. The couple have a college-aged daughter, Alix. Our condolences to Chef Boulud, and let us know if one day down the road we can play matchmaker!

Nightlife Try Outs: Intern Alice’s Wide Eyed NYC Itinerary

Name: Alice Urmey Professional Resume: BlackBook intern and NYC newbie.
 One Word to Describe Nightlife in New York City: Fascinating.

City Loves: 
 • Favorite lunch spot: Hampton Chutney Co. in Soho. Cheap, delicious, and a nice alternative to Whole Foods. 
• Favorite dinner spot: DBGB. Fight for a table up front and enjoy upscale burgers and beer with the crowd.


• Favorite nightlife trend: Bars becoming more than just places to drink: Union Hall, Culturefix, Pimps and Pinups, The Blind Barber. • Drink of choice: Sangria is always a summer favorite. And a Belve and Soda. • Meal of choice: John’s of Bleeker: classic New York pizza. 
• Favorite group of people to bump into: Anyone I haven’t seen in a long time and keep forgetting to call.

image Union Hall, Culturefix, Pimps and Pinups, The Blind Barber

City Gripes: 
 • Nightlife trend you loathe: When a good trend goes out of style too quickly. 
 • Drink: Martini, who knew it was just a fancy name for gin?
 • Meal: Raw oysters. Briny and slippery goop. • Group of people to bump into: Crowds on The High Line, tourists in Soho.

image Alice, Left

Her Hotspots: Monday: Fresh pasta at Scarpetta, Little Branch. Tuesday: B.E.S., Avenue. Beautiful art and beautiful people in Chelsea. Wednesday: Bar Pitti, Wilfie & Nell. A low key night with close friends. 
 Thursday: Schiller’s Liquor Bar, free entrance to New Museum after 7pm–great incentive to get my boyfriend to a museum. 
 Friday: Start with a bite in Brooklyn at The Vanderbilt. Hit the East Village for Death & Co. and Mayahuel, where tequila is not only the drink of choice, it’s the only drink. 
 Saturday: Union Square Greenmarket for a loaf of bread and Long Island wine. Light dinner at The Standard Grill, followed by a night of rooftop bars. Sunday: Aroma Espresso Bar, Balthazar. Recover from the weekend with strong coffee and steak frites.

image Smith & Mills

Every night: Smith & Mills. Perfect place to end any night. 
 Wouldn’t be caught dead here: Fratty bars like Wicked Willy’s. If I wanted to play beer pong, I would’ve stayed in the suburbs. 
For special occasions: Celebrate with drinks at The Modern while munching on truffle popcorn. 
Brunch is usually: Pastis. Or Bubby’s if I didn’t eat there in the early hours of the night before.

Where Celebs Go Out: Ed Norton, Tim Blake Nelson, Steve Earle

At the Leaves of Grass premiere: 1. Ed Norton: “Blue Hill — anything at Blue Hill. I like this little joint in the East Village called Joe Doe.” 2. Steve Earle: “Babbo is every bit as good as it’s cracked up to be. And A.O.C. is a favorite of ours, which is a French restaurant on Bleecker Street. The duck confit at A.O.C. is the best in the city.”

3. Allison Moorer: “We’ve been doing this like go out to dinner a lot lately, so we won’t think about, ‘When is the baby going to come?’ So we went to Union Square Café last night, which is fantastic. I’m vegetarian. I had this incredible ricotta gnocchi, which I think is a regular item on the menu.We just went to Babbo Monday night, which is great. Our neighborhood is ridiculously good for food.” 4. Josh Pais: “One of my favorite restaurants is called Westville. It’s on West 10th Street, between Bleecker and West 4th. The guy, Jay, is the owner. He’s a good friend of mine. It’s like so well priced. They have the best burger in the city. I’m not kidding. I am not kidding. The food is so fresh. It’s a great place.” 5. Lucy DeVito: “I really like Gobo which is on Sixth Avenue. It’s a vegetarian place. I like Milos. It’s like uptown. It’s Greek food, really nice fish, and I love feta cheese and the fresh vegetables and everything. What else? Oh, Frankies. I live in Brooklyn, so I go to Frankies. It’s on Court Street, and it’s really good Italian food. It’s so good.” 6. Melanie Lynskey: “I really got obsessed with that restaurant, Quality Meats, on 58th Street. It’s super good. I only eat fish. I don’t eat meat, so I don’t know why I love it so much. They have this amazing halibut there, and they have this crazy thing which is like a brulee’d corn dish, which is the most delicious thing you’ve ever eaten in your life.” 7. Tim Blake Nelson: “I like Nicola’s, and Medeo in L.A.”

At the Man-O-Manischewitz Cook-Off: 8. Jacques Pepin: “From the French Culinary Institute in New York, because it’s one of the greatest values, to Daniel’s new restaurant in Houston — I forget the name. The menu of the students at the French Culinary Institute is the best and quite inexpensive. Everything has to be fresh, morning and night. The morning crew and the night crew can’t use the same stock. We may have the best bread in New York — short of being in Paris, the best baguettes. Go there. They’ll give you one. DBGB has different sausage and peasant food — it’s a great spot. From this to the Union League Cafe in New Haven. I live in Connecticut. One of the best restaurants in Connecticut — that goes to Clam Castle in Madison, Connecticut, where you get the lobster roll — one of those joints on the road.”