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: info@union-pool.com.

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.”

Where To Eat Post-Hurricane Sandy

Now that the city is trying to get back in the swing of things after Frankenstorm, restaurants too are reopening their shuttered doors to diners sick of chowing on canned beans and tortilla chips. But not every eatery is in on the game, for some, Sandy was one guest they could have done without.

First up, the scenic River Café, which, while the view is lovely from its waterside vantage, proved devastating during the storm. The estimated damage is in the millions, and owner Buzzy O’Keeffe said it would be weeks, even months, until they are able to open again. The Huffington Post has a detailed slide show of the spoils.

Speaking of spoils, the food that went bad when the power outage in Manhattan was another causality. Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali’s six restaurants were all shut down, including Del Posto, Eataly, and Babbo. The food loss on that hit—around $50,000. Secretly, I was glad the Waterfront Ale House in Kips Bay lost power, since, in my selfish brain, that meant my boyfriend who is the sous chef there couldn’t work. But, since owner Sam Barbieri has a Brooklyn Heights location to schlep the food to, the boy will be cooking up a nicer, more people-friendly storm there today, which means you can go eat there, too.

Don’t expect to be hitting up Red Hook’s Fort Defiance, Red Hook Lobster Pound, or Brooklyn Ice House. Unfortunately, that area was beat pretty hard. DUMBO also received damage as long-standing Bubby’s is hurting today, as well as newcomer Governor, which won’t be opening any time soon and a rep reported they estimate there is $200,000 in damages.

Now, the good news. While there were plenty of Sandy casualties, and power remains out in some neighborhoods, many places are up and running. Both New York Magazine’s Grub Street and Eater NY have maps and updated lists of open restaurants. Also, I know for a fact bars and eateries in Fort Greene, Bed-Stuy, and Prospect Heights are all fine and serving. If you are in Queens, or can get to Queens, Studio Square is open and advertising its available space for any post-apocalyptic parties you might need/want to have.  

And while we are on the subject of parties, it is Halloween (even if the authorities say they postponed it), so work off some of that cabin fever and celebrate. Personally, since I am stuck in Brooklyn, I plan on making the trek to Williamsburg for a little spooky skeeball and canned beer at Full Circle Bar, after that, wherever the non-threatening wind will take me. 

Lane to the Game: Full Circle Bar and Brooklyn Cyclones Mesh Beer and Balls

Forget the age-old rivalry between the Yankees and the Mets, Brooklyn has the Cyclones playing on their side. No one could be more excited about this minor league team than Eric Pavony, co-founder of Full Circle Bar in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

"I have been a longtime Cyclones fan and since opening Full Circle Bar, we’ve made a summer tradition out of taking the entire staff to a Cyclones game and to Coney Island to get weird for the day,” says Pavony. “Full Circle Bar is co-owned by a couple Yankee fans and a Red Sox fan, however, we are, without a doubt, a Brooklyn Cyclones Bar.”

Full Circle Bar is also the home of Brewskee-Ball, the first-ever national Skee-Ball league, which began in 2005. This year, it’s not just the staff they are taking to the games, but anyone who wants a ride, a beer, a hot dog, and unlimited access to Skee-Ball. It only costs $25, and the bus departs from the bar at 6PM on each Thursday home game.  From here you can hop on the bus and then get taken back to the bar about 20 minutes after the game ends.

“The idea for Brewskee-Ball was born in Coney Island so it’s fitting that we come back, full circle if you will, and celebrate our Coney Island roots," says Pavony. Plus, not only do you have an excuse to drink large Styrofoam cups of cheap beer while batters step up to the plate, when you get back to the bar you can continue the theme with $5 24-ounce cans of Genny Cream Ale, or go more high class and choose from the dozens of craft canned beers they offer.

The next game vs. Staten Island Yankees is Thursday, June 21, and then the 28th against Aberdeen Ironbirds. For a complete schedule check out their list online

Old NYC Comes Full Circle: The Brats, Anthony Haden Guest

Tomorrow night Anthony Haden Guest— that brilliant, bombastic bon-vivant—will unveil his new tome, In The Mean Time, at the Clic Gallery. Author of the infamous Last Party: Studio 54, Disco, and the Culture of the Night, Anthony captured a world everyone was way too drunk or high to remember. Although I at times remembered things differently when reading the book, it must be said that it was likely because I was looking at things from the cheaper seats.

Although we have always shared the same birthday (and most likely always will) we have little else in common, as I am quite common and Anthony is the son of Peter Haden-Guest, the 4th Baron Haden-Guest with a lot of et ceteras. His half brother is Christopher Guest (yeah, that guy), who inherits the peerage because of a little thing about Anthony arriving a little too early for the party. I have always felt Anthony has enjoyed being a bastard, and he has so often excelled at it.

I remember standing by the door at some soiree, in a place we shouldn’t have been, but everybody was. Anthony was leaving a gaggle of young, fabulous, smart groupies as a crew of recognizable nobodies was just arriving. Anthony pointedly remarked to his groupies, while passing the group of nobodies: “We’re leaving just in time”. The remark hit home. I mean, he was right, but he was wrong in being so mean. Yet on so many other occasions, especially in later years, I have observed him only as gentleman. At a funeral for a mutual friend (and we count many mutual friends between us) he was a pillar of strength, intelligence and class. Earlier just now, I called him brilliant, and I’ll gladly repeat myself: Anthony displays his keen, irreverent mind while contributing to such reputable publications as the Financial Times, The New York Observer, Vanity Fair, The New Yorker, GQ, The Sunday Times, Rolling Stone, The Paris Review, Radar, Esquire—you get the picture. Oh, he also gathered up an Emmy. He always confuses and amazes me, especially when I see him at the same affair as I’m attending. Nowadays, he’s all wit, charm, insight, and good manners. Everyone will be at this affair. A Grand Canyon-like strata of New York life will attend.

I read the “Best of New York” article in New york Magazine and was interested, educated, and impressed. Most of these lists are put together without much more than a whim and hearsay, where this list seems to be the product of great thought. I found little to disagree with, and look forward to visiting some of the places I haven’t yet been. I loved the Brooklyn lean. I also thank them for reminding me of Full Circle Bar, which I visited constantly when I lived in Manhattan, and have unfortunately forsaken when I moved a few blocks away. I’ll be playing Skee-Ball there tonight.

One of the great pleasures I enjoy, as I get a little long in the tooth, is celebrating the birthdays of people who are even longer in the tooth than me. This Saturday Keith West, a guy I have known since before you were born, will celebrate at the Delancey. Keith is the lead singer of The Brats, a band that ruled back in the day. They will be performing live, and will show us how it was, and is done. The Brats were poised for the big time when a fire at the Great Gildersleeves, nightclub on the Bowery, took the wind out of their sails. I was there that night. To this day, every time I enter a place, I clock the fire exits. It happened faster than you can imagine, destroying lives and property before you could grasp the danger. Some people define lives and the world in terms of “what could have been.” The Brats were on top of the world that night, and despite all that did—or didn’t—happen, Keith West has always been a class act, and someone I have always looked up to. It will be an honor to be part of his party and enjoy The Brats once again.

Brooklyn vs. Manhattan

I re-watched all the episodes of Bored To Death the other night. HBO On Demand is the greatest thing since sliced bread. In one of the episodes it was said that Brooklyn is the new Manhattan and Manhattan is the new Queens. As a person who is splitting his time between the boroughs, I started to ponder this. I attended the Brooklyn birthday party of my model/socialite friend Kayci Ryan Rothweiler. “White trash gear required” the invite said, it was a theme party. I was amazed at how many outfits I had at my disposal.

I wore a black WESC warm-up suit with a razor blade zipper pull, cream-colored patent-leather shoes that looked like plastic from an old Elvis costume, a black and gold Playboy Bunny necklace. I slicked back my hair put on some D&G cologne and talked the talk and walked the walk. My crew landed in Kellogg’s Diner. I found it to be wonderful except for the bad food, poor service and atmosphere. In Brooklyn, that’s the charm I guess. Half the scene believes that making an effort is the ultimate insult to the hipster gods they worship. If Moses delivered a tablet to Williamsburg (or is it Greenpoint? Or is it Bushwick? If he landed in Williamsburg it might be so 5 years ago.) Not looking like you are making an effort to be cool would be commandment number one. Commandment number two would say something about not washing your plaid. Number three would say the same thing about the body and so on.

After the cake was washed down with properly indifferent coffee we trekked to Barcade, one of the worst places I have ever tried to find a good time in. The crowd was ugly and their mothers had dressed them funny. The music was boring and played at a level to imitate a mosquito’s hum. The place had no redeeming quality, but my crew (save for a distinguished few) loved it. I was so turned off that I opted to leave Kings County for the evening.

We hit up Santos where we finally felt alive. There were all different types of folks partying. In Brooklyn it was just more of the same everywhere. It was the same sad plaid and the hair do’s that don’t and wouldn’t even if they could afford to. In trying to be above it all they actually had lost sight of their own individuality. I know this was just a bad night at bad places, but only a very few places in old BK mix it up like, dare I say it, a good Manhattan joint. I love my skee ball and the crew at Full Circle Bar. I think Brooklyn Bowl has more than a few moments and there’s a few other joints where conversation and diversity prevail.

We went to Lit to rejoice in its sweet sounds, smells and swill, then trekked to La Esquina for a taco. In full character we entertained the party crowd at GoldBar. PR whiz Steve Kasuba got us non-alcoholic ginger cocktails, which knocked my silk socks off. It was only in Little Italy that my entourage and I looked as if we belonged.

On Sunday I walked my puppies downtown with some special friends. We chatted up Chloe and Andres Serrano and a dozen other bold face names. Everywhere we looked there were fabulous people mixing with the hipsters and all were happy with the promise of spring. The big difference between Manhattan and Brooklyn is the ages of its hip inhabitants. It’s younger in the borough and a celebration of commonality in taste and outlook is to be expected. I keep thinking about the quote “Everyone in Brooklyn just seems bored to death,” from the show. Though the Manhattan scene has been much maligned lately, the potential is still far greater. Here adults play with the children and being incredibly cool isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Brooklyn seems so much more one-dimensional the more I get to know it.

Brooklynization, Paris Powwow and Sally Shan’s Birthday

The Brooklynization of Uncle Steve continues as I find a better product, a better meal, a better conversation and all around better attitude there. I hit Union Pool yet again, and caught Dead Stars– a fabulous band. Cousins Jaye Moore on drums and Jeff Moore on guitar are legendary in Japan, so I’m told, from their previous band, Orange Park. Jon Watterberg plays bass. They were absolutely brilliant. You know a rock band is solid when you’re hearing their set for the first time and the songs catch you. Afterward we all hung outside by the wood burning fire pit and talked rock n’ roll hootchie-coo. I am so tired of the jaded haters and wannabes who have taken over the Manhattan club scene that I retreat to Brooklyn constantly to hang out with homogeneous hipsters wearing variations of the same plaid. At least there’s good conversation and an unending supply of said hipsters. Everywhere I go there is a party. I bought a Diet Coke at Union Pool and they charged me a buck. The only thing you get for a buck in a Manhattan joint is a wrapped white mint from the bathroom attendant.

I played a little skee-ball at Full Circle Bar and had a seriously fantastic meal at Vutera, where waitrons Jeff and Sarah made it special. The large table next doo, presided over by my new best friend Jeff Shonert, engaged us in witty conversation and party games. It’s like that every night. I’m going to Brooklyn Bowl tonight and this is either a severe midlife crisis or the real thing. Speaking of the real thing, my second foray to the Belmont Lounge’s Stones night proved to be even more satisfying then the last. This is a beautiful, friendly, fun crowd .

I chatted with my jet-setting pal Paul Sevigny about the weather and the whether or nots. He’s in town after Costa Rica and on his way to Paris with the lucky ones. My pal Malcolm Harris is already there and I asked him to give me a blow by blow of all the ooh la la action. He says:

“’I’ve got to be honest, not much on the way of reporting on Paris nightlife. As much as there are a lot of places open, the only place that really matters and has a heart and soul is Le Baron. They seem to get nightlife and embrace all the creatures of creativity. Le Régine, Le Montana, Le Magnifique and- uggghhh VIP – all seem to lack a true vibe. They all seem like people crammed into a box because it’s just a little better than staying at home… For me all roads lead to Le Baron. No matter where I start the night, for some reason the New Yorker in me leads me to Le Baron. So if you want me to cover the nightlife, just know that all roads lead to Le Baron.”

Sally Shan is a tenacious presence on the night life scene. A year ago when she was starting out, I interviewed her and she says I gave her the push and the credibility she needed. This may or may not be true, but a year later finds her growing and very relevant to owners concerned with the bottom line. The bottom line with Sally is that she consistently generates money for clubs in need of that stuff. I asked a highly successful club owner and marketing guru what the story was with Sally Shan. He said, “Sally has the remarkable ability to deliver a spending crowd. While many promoters only can bring people to a good party, Sally’s crowds are loyal to her and will follow her anywhere. Once there, she takes care of them and ensures them a great time.“ I caught up with Sally and chatted with her on her “Nightlife Anniversary,” celebrating the annual date she got into nightlife, near to her week long birthday celebration.

Its been a year since you started working in nightlife. How did you start your business and where is it today? Like with any business, I started with an idea; how could I make some money in this damn recession? So I started with one party. That one party went from one venue a week to three to now six parties at some of the top venues in NYC. Along with that I’ve expanded to incorporate a team of promoters, artist managers, fashion and charity events, and corporate sponsorships.

What clubs do you work at now? I get requests from a lot of different clubs all the time. The key places I’m working at right now are Greenhouse, Hudson Terrace, Tenjune, Marquee, Kiss & Fly, Pink, La Pomme.

What does your crowd expect of you and how do you make sure they get it? As you know here in NYC we expect everything, and that’s what I deliver. Best venues and locations, hottest DJs and music, beautiful people and atmosphere and, of course, Sally Shan, they get me too.

What’s the difference between Sally Shan the brand and the person? Sally Shan the brand is the experience I create, it’s what I give back to people. Sally Shan the person is what I do to stay balanced. What creates that balance is my integrity, values and purpose. That’s what allows me to go and build a great brand.

After promotions at clubs where does your brand go? My brand goes everywhere I go, and where it’s going is to creating corporate alliances. For example Svedka Vodka is sponsoring my birthday party. I’m establishing relationships with clubs internationally to take the Sally Shan experience worldwide. I’m working with designers and brands to promote charities and private events. It’s really about creating a world of lifestyle that has me looking at all forms of media, print, digital and possibly television. It should be a fun ride.

Who are your influences, mentors, idols in clubs and out. You mean besides you Steve? Well, the world I came from is one that was always immersed in live entertainment. Broadway, theater, TV and film. So now I take a lot of that creative energy to create live experiences for people in club and party settings. I choose my mentors and idols from a wide range of places, mavericks and pioneers in film, music and fashion. All the things that make up part of who I am.

Where do you hang when you’re not working? I take my brand with me everywhere but I also know when I need to recharge. I frequent Miami and LA for a quick break.

What are you going to be when you grow up? My best ideas have come from breaking the rules, being creative, not knowing what an adult would do, so I hope I don’t grow up too quickly.

Your most satisfying club experience? Ask me after my birthday celebration week. It starts tonight at Hudson Terrace with DJ Peter Paul and DJ Alan Liao. Sunday it’s at Tenjune with a special guest performance and Tuesday at Greenhouse there’s a birthday CD tribute for my EDEN party. I have a feeling that those will be one of my best club experiences.

Tiger Bombs, Brooklyn Balls, Leo’s Rocks

He really does have a tiger in his tank!. The continuing saga of Tiger Woods and his friends will get sadder. As I mentioned Monday, people are telling me that the Rachel Uchitel “scandal’ is just Tiger’s toe in the water; the media will keep running with this story, and by the end he might be in over his head. Apparently a second gal has come forward, and where there are 2 there are often 200. And now, Tiger says, “I have let my family down and I regret those transgressions with all of my heart. I have not been true to my values and the behavior my family deserves.” There you have it. I don’t do gossip, so I traveled out to Brooklyn to attend a Fader magazine party at Brooklyn Bowl and to meet up with some journalist types who wanted to get some names of some dames that tell tales that make Rachel look like Mother Teresa in comparison. I’m just trying to figure out who’s going to give Rachel a club to run so she can cash in on her “good” name, which suddenly became great.

My weekly excursion to BK took me to Lodge at 318 Grand Street in Williamsburg where I hung with my pal, manager Jamie Lynn Rowe, and owner Dan Cipriani. I ate turkey pot pie while I prepared for a serious skee-ball competition next door at Full Circle. Three months ago I wouldn’t have been caught dead in Brooklyn, but now it’s one of the few places where I feel alive. Full Circle was kicking as part owner/manager/bartender/all around nice guy Michael Doherty assured me that his supply of Powers Irish would not run out this evening. I took him at his word while attempting to prove him wrong. Barkeep Amy was on hand to keep my shot glass relevant, while Michael and everyone else in the joint took turns beating me at skee. A close friend has proposed to me that if I am to seriously write I must take drinking more seriously. This morning I do feel a bit more like Hemingway and Fitzgerald — like I have been dead for 50 years. The skee-ball was fabulous … I lost every game. Jamie was amazing at it. I asked her how, and she told me, “I’m from New Jersey!”

My search for the right night took me to West Nanticoke, Pennsylvania, over the long weekend to find antiques for Scott Sartiano and Richie Akiva’s 14th Street supper club and to visit a couple of pals I went to school(schuyl)with. I met Goobs and my pal Leo at Leo’s Roadhouse on Route 11. I dodged a big buck — Goobs said it was a 10-pointer — just outside the joint. Leo’s is a no-nonsense hole in the wall. Some bright crooner once said, “The fundamentals still apply as time goes by.” At Leo’s it’s the basics: friendly bartenders, loose women, and cheap booze. A blue collar good time was had by all. The sign on the door said “Miller Lite bikers welcome, please remove colors,” and the jukebox which made the girls sway had a sign that said “No hip hop, no rap, no R&B unless specifically requested, or you will be tossed.” The bar hangs in the middle of the room with no back to it or barriers to stop peeps from going behind. They keep it simple at Leo’s.

I often listen to complicated schemes as nouveaux owners try to re-invent the wheel. If you get the fundamentals right, the rest tends to happen. The roadhouse floor was plywood stained only by last drinks, and I was surprised to see the Christmas lights up so early. I was told they were up “from last year … or maybe the year before.” They all thought it was great that I wore a plaid shirt to fit in, and all I needed was a trucker’s hat. There are few trends noted out in West Nanticoke, but they get it right. The place makes money and provides a home away from home and a living for many. In a place where bottle service is Rolling Rock, Bud, or Miller Lite, and they don’t charge extra for the table, chair, or the friendly smile on delivery, you could see how the booze business simply works. This saloon was rocking, and I had a blast. Next time I go, I’m going to dig up my John Deere hat and really impress them.

Also check out Dear Uncle Steve: Relationship Advice From Steve Lewis & a Girl.

NYC Openings: Veranda, Rye House, Full Circle Bar

Veranda (West Village) – Hookah pipes, Medi eats, and slick décor inside cavernous former Sheridan Square space. ● Rye House (Union Square) – Brown liquor, hearty eats. Always on the beam. ● Full Circle Bar (Park Slope) – Boardwalk game gets its own bar. Come roll your troubles away.