New Year’s Eve Parties for All, and Management’s Response to the Christmas Incident at Le Souk

First of all, Happy New Year. Today will be short and sweet as BlackBook staff is cutting out to get ready for the big night. Yesterday’s article about Sam Valentine allegedly getting beat up by Le Souk management did get a response, which you will find below. As for New Year’s Eve, I, of course, will be DJing at the Dream Downtown and will be there when 2013 is rung in. Afterwards I probably will pop into Lit to say hey to that gang.

I am sending people to parties that suit them. There isn’t a be-all event for everyone. Many will love the Dream, many 1 OAK. Many will just be in heaven at The Darby while others will love Toy. For people with my view of things I’m recommending the Box and Bow.

I am heading out to 305 Ten Eyck, Brooklyn for Seva Granik’s party, BRCDBR and THV ENT. present Shanghai. Seva and Thunderhorse are producing this event and the installation, which "is going to focus around the fear, or the premonition, of China and Chinese culture taking over the U.S. So lots of  futuristic stuff like screens, lasers, smoke, etc." The DJ’s are Gavin Russom, a "legendary DFA label guy who built their synths for them and played in the now-seminal act LCD Soundsystem" and Venus X, a big deal. The New York Times just did a profile on her. The music is going to be very dancey and very unexpected. Admission is $10 and it starts at 1am. They have my vote.

On New Years Eve the biggest problem, except for the people you are surrounded by, is getting around. If you are not a public transportation kind of guy or gal I suggest hiring a local car service for some hours. Rates range from $25 to $50 an hour . Traditionally I have hired them from 1 to 7 am, sometimes splitting the cost with another. It’s great to have a driver to whisk you around safely while you party like it’s 1999. New Year’s Eve is amateur night for the club industry. Take it from a pro and prepare for all contingencies.

In life they say there are two sides to every story. In nightlife, when you add in booze , dark lights, loud music, and other factors, some stories can have multiple sides. Yesterday I ran a story about a beaten up and down story, Sam Valentine. Others who were at Le Souk on Christmas night verified that indeed owner Marcus Jacob had kicked and punched Sam. Today Le Souk responded to the allegations that Sam was attacked, bruised, and hurt to the point of hospitalization by Marcus Jacob with the help of security. Yesterday I referred to Sam as hobbit-sized, and that description is fairly accurate. He told me he was 5 foot 7 and I’ll believe him as long as he believes I’m 6’3". Sam is 5’7" standing on a phone book. He has heart but is no match for the forces that hospitalized him. 

The response from partner Lamia Funti is below. She is a partner at Le Souk and wife of Marcus Jacob. I have always respected and enjoyed her, but having read her response I cannot help but think that excessive force was brought to bear. Her version only tells of a late night argument, with promoter Sam Valentine reacting badly to not getting paid on Christmas. The amount was $200. All accounts agree that he was loud and demanding, but Sam is a lover and a promoter/DJ, not much of a physical threat to anyone.

The response attempts to justify the physical altercation. It does not explain the injuries inflicted by bonded security and an owner. Anytime a person is beaten badly and in need of hospitalization somebody screwed up. Unless weapons of mass destruction come into play security must contain the situation, and kicking and punching are not allowed.

Here is the response from Lamia:

Unfortunately, it was a small situation that escalated over nothing. Our accountant took the day off since it was Christmas so there was no one to make the checks. We let our staff know so that they do not wait for the checks in vain. Everyone was fine with it, since we never have problems with the checks.

At the end of the night, Sam Valentine comes storming downstairs, asking Marcus to give him "his fucking check now." Marcus was actually very calm, he’s really not the guy that likes to fight, he was trying to calm him down, but he was cursing out, and making a scene at the bar downstairs.

I called the security to calm him down because now he was pushing people around when they are trying to talk to him and we didn’t need a scene in front of our friends and family, while Marcus only asked him to wait til tomorrow for his check. Since it was Christmas, our friends were all there and two of my aunts that are much older in the fifties were there as well, which was embarrassing.

I went quickly to tell him to stop and he pushed me with his hands and called me a bitch, the security saw that and they tried to contain him but he wouldn’t stop fighting, we just asked him to leave, he did not want to leave, and started throwing things around and fighting with the security who was trying to escort him out. I also have several witnesses that saw that and saw him wrestling with the security.

We actually called the police, before it got out of hand, which is really unfortunate. When the police got to Le Souk, he started cursing the officers out which I’m guessing that’s why they told him they would arrest him. And the rest is history. We have been in the business long enough to be mistreating our staff or customers in any way, and we always pay on time, for someone to be acting that way after we ask him to come back the next day because its Christmas and nobody came to the office to work, but we can not tolerate having people storming at us like that while there was no wrong doing.

I guess this is the way he’s planning on getting back at us. And by the way, Ariel was at no point near the scene, he didn’t see anything at all and witnessed anything, and did not talk to the security at any time, he was upstairs the whole time.

DJ and Promoter Alleges Christmas Assault By Le Souk Owner and Staff

If nightlifers were to be cast as characters in a Lord Of The Rings flick, Samuel Valentine would be a Hobbit rather than a troll, orc, or wizard. It is therefore surprising and kind of offensive to hear that our favorite Rock and Roll DJ and promoter got his ass kicked at Le Souk the other night by what seems to be forces of evil. The end result is, from what I hear, the end to the long-running Tuesday night affair, The Wolf Party. I have been told that door person Ariel Zucker-Brull was also quitting over the incident. It was Christmas night and while most of us were snuggled up dreaming of sugar plum fairies and other club types, multiple members of Le Souk’s staff allegedly beat up our friend. By all the reports given to me, Le Souk owner Marcus Jacob was involved in the ruckus. He personally beat our humble hero Sam Valentine down. Police reports have been filed, lawyers are involved, and there is a great deal of bad-mouthing on the internet. I hear the Daily News is looking into the story and we will read about it there…tomorrow. For the record I have always enjoyed a good relationship with Le Souk and its owners. Calls for comment were not returned by press time. A source told me the News was trying to reach them as well. I did speak to people who were there and the story seems consistent with the one Sam Valentine is telling.

It was a pretty good night at Le Souk although, predictably, revenues would not be high on a huge holiday. Spending types tend to stay at home or are off in exotic places. Door person Ariel Zucker-Brull, according to someone who was there, was told by owner Marcus that "everyone would not be paid night of … instead on a different date." Marcus "instructed Ariel to tell all the promoters." Ariel went off to tell the promoters that money wasn’t coming. When Sam was told "he was pissed off. While Ariel went off to tell the other promoters Sam bolted to confront Marcus about this pay delay. Sam had been promised he would get paid that night, and although it was only a couple hundred bucks he wanted what was promised. Ariel heard there had been a fight and rushed to the scene of what may be determined to be a crime. Ariel found Sam visibly beaten up and being held by bouncers. He told the bouncers "to let go and they did right away like guilty children." None of the bouncers would tell Ariel what happened.

Sam Valentine tells it like this: "I came down from upstairs to ask for my paycheck as usual around 3:45 am. when i went down the other promoters were at the bar as well asking for their money. when i ask MARCUS JACOB the owner of the club for my check he said ‘i dont have it.’ we weren’t going to get paid. i told him i have to get paid cause i need the money and we started a heated verbal argument he was on the inside of the bar i was on the outside area. after words were exchange he pointed at a bouncer said ‘take him out.’ he grabbed me from behind to drag me out so I tried to get loose cause I wasn’t fighting anyone and just wanted my money. The bouncer was able to drag me out and Marcus came from behind the bar and walk out with bouncer. instead of taking me to the street and throwing me out they held me in the entrance between 2 doors where Marcus grab my hair put it under his shoe , put my right hand under his other shoe and started punching my face multiple times, at this point i got scared had to do something so I tried to lift my head by pulling my hair from under his shoe when a bouncer saw this he started punching my left rib cage. At this point  I just screamed that I was going to call the cops and sue them, I told them this was illegal and to just let me walk out on my own, money was not important at this point. Someone that saw the whole thing call 911 told them someone was getting beat up then I also called . The cops showed up and one approached me to get my story and as I’m giving the cop the story another cop comes out of nowhere and shoves me and says ‘when you talk to us you dont stand that close’. That was weird. I told them I wasn’t trying to start anything with the cops… I needed their help. One cop went inside to get Marcus story then came out minutes later saying they had video proof of me breaking their heating system and a Christmas tree which never happened.  I was shoved by them onto some sort of Christmas tree after they were dragging me. So the cop told me my option was we both get arrested, me and Marcus, or I have to just go home. Marcus at that point had left so I knew it be just me getting arrested so I decided to leave so I could go to the hospital and file a report against them."

What Sam described is common in clubland brawls. When police arrive at a scene there are usually two sides to the story and combatants are told that they can file cross complaints against each other with both parties going to jail and the courts left to sort out the truth. Usually parties involved fail to press charges on the scene and opt for walking into the local precinct at a later time. Sam went to the hospital got treated and released. The photos posted on Facebook and sent to me show his usual pretty face bruised and swollen. His ribs are hurting. He stands tall, determined to get justice. Witnesses back his story and hundreds of people are gathering to support his cause. Le Souk is no stranger to courts and controversy. Their Lower East Side incarnation was shuttered years ago after a long dispute.

Although I haven’t got official word that The Wolf Party is over I’m hearing it is, as by all accounts the players involved have had enough. If it moves I’m sure it will find a home as it is fabulous fun. A regular described it as a rave with club kids. It has been going on according to sources, "for a year and a half or 2" with the current promo team consisting of Markko Donto, Bless Fantastic and Michael De Guzman. It’s a dubstep party with DJ Jess, a guest that night, and resident DJ’s Monikkr and Valerie Valentine. With all these Valentines around you would think there would be more love.

Le Souk is Not a Cliché

Someone famous, I still can’t remember who, once said: “There’s no such thing as a free lunch.” That is very much a cliché, but my Wiki says clichés can certainly be true. Wiki also tells me that “cliché” is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work, which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect. It’s something that is “played out,” rendering it a stereotype, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful, or novel. The term is frequently used in modern culture for an action or idea, which is expected or predictable, based on a prior event. I think it’s extremely cliché that it’s a word with French origins. Nightlife, for the most part, has become one big fat cliché, and I embrace anyone trying to do something different.

Anyway, I do agree with that cliché, but I have managed a few free dinners recently. The latest was at Le Souk, now firmly embedded in its Laguardia Place location. It was an experience that was way better than expected. I thought the whole Mediterranean food, belly dancer, hookah thing was cliché, but it was a blast. The food was amazing, and the atmosphere refreshing. There were big tables of people having gobs of fun. I even broke the Steve Lewis Rule Number 7, which is “Always leave a party when the belly dancer goes on.” Rule 1, for those keeping track, is “Never, ever date a girl whose hair can hurt you.” Le Souk was a welcome change from the actually cliché dining experience of sitting across a table with friends, listening to easy-listening music, and chatting. People were having fun all around. I even smoked a Hookah with a bowl made from a pineapple.

There are powers that want to ban this Hookah thing. It seems so much a part of the experience and culture that it just doesn’t seem right. I am really tired of ”the government” helping me not hurt myself. I sort of understand the drug thing, and drinking ages and such. As most know, I hardly ever did drugs. Although it has been argued that when I did them, they must have been really good because their effects have lasted a very long time. Now they want to ban energy drinks that have booze in them. Alcoholic energy drinks have the politicos in an uproar. Omg, the poor dumb public is enjoying drinks that combine alcohol and energy! We must save them from themselves! It seems so ridiculous to ban them, as they are merely time and energy savers. Then banned peeps will just have to continue to pour the red bull into the vodka by themselves—or visa versa—depending on what night it is. I can’t fathom how a smokey pineapple is a bad thing. Nine times out of ten I find government intervention invasive. Spoiling the fun of it all is such a cliché.

I didn’t understand the rules of engagement of the belly dancing thing, or the Hookah thing, although the beautiful and hip staff were trying real hard to educate me. It was all Greek to me. My crew figured out that we had eaten 8 different animals that night. I was shocked by this revelation, but at the same time, I was awed by how delicious the meal was. I was faced with a dilemma: I thought of going vegan, and would have if it wasn’t such a cliché. Do the French use an English word for cliché? The crowd became frenetic with belly dancers, smokey pineapples, good food and strong drinks.

A sultry, dark, quiet lass with very talkative eyes whispered a familiar cliché in my ear. “Can you keep a secret?” she asked. I whispered back to her with my smokey pineapple breath, “Of course I can, I am a writer which means I talk a lot but don’t say anything.” Her deep eyes deepened, and I pointed out how many clichés she was invoking. “Love is blind, misery loves company, two wrongs don’t make a right, and too little too late.” That gave me enough time for a glance over at my Amanda (whose angry eyes reminded me of another cliché: if it aint broke don’t fix it). My guilty glance back at my darling said, “It takes two to tango” and “Actions speak louder than words.” But the smoke coming out of her ears was not of the pineapple variety. I started to chuckle thinking laughter to be the best medicine. I turned back to the imperfect stranger and said “It’s not, you its me,” and “I think we would be better off as friends,” and “it seems like you want more than I’m prepared to give,” and “I’m not ready for a relationship right now.” The sultry lady excused herself to the ladies room, which must have had a long line as she never came back.

Le Souk was sexy. I caught up with Le Souk honcho Lamia Funti and asked her about her world.

Le Souk made it’s mark in the East Village. How does this location affect your business? The new location was a challenge for us, and it gave us a chance to reinvent ourselves, it gave us a kind of a facelift. It happened at the right time, since the East Village was fading out. The West Village is in the center of everything, so many businesses flourish here, the neighbors are amazing, and we are very active in the community. We feel very welcome here, and we are very happy to be here.

The space is also very different. Tell me about adjustments and changes you made to make it work. Le Souk was renowned for its multiple levels, which was made organically. We started 10 years ago with a small 1000 sq. foot room and ended up with a 3 floor, 6000 sq. foot space. Here, we took a big raw space and tried to recreate the same feeling. Even though they each have their different identity, you still get the same Le Souk feeling. It’s all about having fun, enjoying good food, and just feeling at home.

The food was great. Does it drive the late night? Or is it the other way around? The food does drive the late night. A lot of people come for dinner and don’t realize that it turns into this fun and crazy place, and end up staying the whole night. The food also brings earlier clientele, which is always good. And thank you for the compliment, we’ve been working very seriously on our menu. We always invite new, renowned chefs to help us refresh our menu, and make it exciting. The latest chef to work with us is Doug Psaltis. He worked as an executive chef for Alain Ducasse, he’s really talented. We like to call our food Moroccan with a French twist.

Will you open other Le Souks? We are always open for new business opportunities. Our new project would be to open more Le Souks in other cities, but not another in New York. New York city can only take one Le Souk.

What is your favorite night at Le Souk? My favorite night is Tuesday. The music and crowd are great. It’s funk rock. The crowd is very diverse, so you’ll be seating between a guy looking like Bret Micheals and another one that looks like Boy George in his old good days. It’s a lot of fun.

Why did the Avenue B location close? When we decided to open Le Souk in the East Village, we took a big chance. You have to remember that Alphabet City 12 years ago, you couldn’t even walk at night over there. But it happened, and we were lucky and Le Souk took off. Other businesses and restaurants started to open around us. The East Village was really happening. Unfortunately, there was a big and very aggressive movement against the nightlife in the East Village, and I guess Le Souk being the bigger spot on the block was the target. But we moved on and it happened for the best, we love our new location.

The hookah was a first for me and mad fun. Tell me how important it is to the place. Will it eventually be banned? In our culture the hookah is very important. It’s a way of sharing, socializing, and getting to know people. Hookahs are very important for our concept. People come to our place to experience it, and they love it. They are talking about having a grandfathers law, in which case it wouldn’t affect us. It would be very bad for us to loose it, absolutely.

NYC Openings: Le Souk Harem, Crosby Street Hotel, Ajna Bar

Le Souk Harem (Greenwich Village) – Le Souk supersizes, brings similar atmospheric scene. ● Crosby Street Hotel (Soho) – Spendy Brit import lands on quaint Crosby Street. ● Ajna Bar (Meatpacking District) – Jumbo Buddha is gone, as is the Buddha Bar name, thanks to catfight with the Parisian original.

New York: All the Week’s Parties

Just heard a very realistic rumor that East Village hipster standby The Annex has been sold and will become, of all things, a sports bar. In honor of the decline of yet another club kid landmark, the infamous electro-nu-rave Ruff Club party will be throwing a final hurrah for the sweat den it made popular on September 11, bringing out some underground all-stars: the Misshapes, Spencer Product, and the Ruff Kids. Another fond farewell to a Friday night hotspot that many called home.

It’s been interesting keeping tabs on this moody teenager we know as NYC nightlife. As staple bars close, the beloved Beatrice for one, patrons react as like displaced persons, leading a moveable feast in search of their next home. Keeping a regular weeknight schedule has been futile, as flash-in-the-pan venues like Chloe 81, which used to rule Wednesdays, cool down after losing a place in the rotation. These changes, however, open up the field for some new players. Thursday is becoming a great New York night, with two parties on opposite sides of Manhattan drawing their respective crowds. Likewise, people are turning to venues with solidarity, places that have stood the test of time (if not just a few months) to become sleeper hits. While many spend more of their evening arguing about where to go than actually going anywhere, here are some suggestions for parties on the verge — and old favorites rising to the occasion — for every night of the week.

MondayLit (East Village) – With Le Royale creeping out of the picture, Lit now has a refreshed patronage and a fresh outlook. ● Le Souk (East Village) – It will take a little while to regain the status their Monday party once enjoyed, but this mischievous restaurant is poised for a steady comeback thanks to a loyal following. ● Stanton Social (East Village) – In the spirit of restaurants shape shifting into nightlife, this table-hopping joint has been a mainstay on Mondays, though it may seem a left-field choice. The mounting interest in doubling your fun at dinner attracts a diverse crowd.

TuesdayAvenue (Chelsea) – Beatrice reggies rejoice! Todd and Angelo bring their special brand of refusal to the plush doors of this slick lounge — with Wass! It’s an all-star door, meaning you’ll find a mix of Beatrice groupies dressed up in nostalgia, seated next to high rollers and genuinely pretty people. It’s like a temporary shelter built for nightlife refugees, though this could prove to be long term. ● Rose Bar (Gramercy) – Indeed, the beautiful people have been planted here for a while now. So what? It isn’t any less of a party just because it has been around the block. It’s comforting to know that whenever you might desire being near to big art, Lily Donaldson, a mixed crowd, and a rope you might not get past on a Tuesday night, this is your go-to. ● Above Allen (Lower East Side) – Promoters? Bottle models? Hipsters? Ballers? Promoting hipster bottle models with money? All here on this diverse, overstimulating Tuesday night. Go, dance, get drunk — especially if you and your group are at a loss on Tuesday night.

WednesdayMinetta Tavern (Greenwich Village) – For once, go to this ubiquitous restaurant for the bar. Indeed, the bar lives in the shadow of the food, but the cocktails and bartenders really round out the celebrated establishment. Wednesdays are particularly wonderful here because those on a trendy feeding frenzy are less inclined to stick it out through the night. This means a better crowd, and a better chance to actually get seated — even if it isn’t your main concern. ● 1Oak (Chelsea) – The Koch twins once did a bang-up job on Thursday nights, but the shared sentiment about this golden child is that Wednesdays are now bringing the crowd. “It’s organic, a phenomenal mix of people, and there are usually surprise performances,” one faithful patron says. Indeed, the midweek party hits its stride, and even celebs like Rhianna — who showed face here just last Wednesday — have been known to drop in. “The best part is,” the patron continues, “the B&T crowd isn’t in full force and you actually get to enjoy the surroundings.”

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ThursdayJane Hotel and Ballroom (West Village) – Steve Lewis calls the Jane the Obi Wan Kenobi of nightlife. “It is proving to be the savior,” he says, and really, the Jane is something to get excited about. Though some nights showcase bland party princesses better served for the Meatpacking District, we both agree there are enough pockets of poise on their Thursday night to negate the posturing — a feat Lewis says makes this fete a new staple in a nightlifer’s diet. “Any day of the week could be a good night to go to the Jane.” ● BEast (Chinatown) – Ryan McGinley’s Thursday party proved to be a hit with the gays, then came the girls, and now Thursday night is just a mecca of mess (in a good way).

FridayWhite Slab Palace (Lower East Side) – While some things should be kept a secret, this must be said: the decrepit oyster bar throws a pretty great party on Fridays. Known as the Swede Party the music is satisfying, the crowd is fashionable and extremely drunk, and the bartenders seem to be having just as much fun as everyone else. The front seems like a quiet pub, and just like all fronts, appearances are not as they seem. Though the place has caused rumors to fly about questionable activity, it all seems like good, clean fun, aside from the sweaty, dirty dance floor that is. ● The Standard Beer Garden and The Standard Grill (Meatpacking District) – The property is an all inclusive playland. Start off in the garden, if you can stand the crowded atmosphere. Great for a leisurely cocktail to begin the night, especially since you won’t be able to spend your entire night here. After you’re unceremoniously booted around 12am (though the fun sometimes ends around 11pm because of “neighborhood concerns”) gather ’round the friendly front tables and make friends with the rest of the drunks. Sometimes it boasts an unsavory crowd, but the property must be savored in the summer as a premier adult playground.

SaturdayVon (NoHo) – We’ve done everything a person could do on a Saturday night, and we’ve found that staying in or hiding from the masses are usually our best bet. Hiding counts for something at Von, because it isn’t the upstairs bar we’re after, but what’s hidden below it. Try to find it while it’s still mythical.

SundayGreenhouse (Soho) – For those that need their dance fix on Sunday night, Kenny Kenny and Susanne Bartsch bring them great happiness. Though Sundays aren’t at a loss for dance parties, the Vandam party is particularly worthy to check out. ● Goldbar (Nolita) – You can carry the party from brunch to Broome Street, where you’ll probably run into fellow brunchers still carrying on. Very much the Cheers of nightlife, thanks in part to the work of doorman Jon Lennon. ● Sway (Soho) – Sway is still around, and it is still a place to house the freaks and friends of Sunday night. Last time I casually dropped in for a drink, the bartenders were randomly handing out shots, and a colleague of mine was caught crawling around on the dance floor.

Photos by Frank Horvat

Le Souk Back to Make You Dance & Wake the Neighbors

Speaking of restaurants as nightlife, one of the most notorious (if not most controversial) of them all appears to have won its ongoing battle against the irate neighbors of Avenue B. Word via a press release courtesy of Lizzie Grubman (who better to represent a scandalous resto nightlclub than her) that Middle Eastern rager Le Souk is set to re-open its doors next Monday night. This means triumphant, thumping beats for the joint’s Euro-ish devotees, and more ire for certain noise-averse neighbors. You pretty much have to side with Le Souk on this one.

Ave. B used to be pretty gnarly before the restaurants and nightlife came in and sorta cleaned the place up, as far as neighborliness is concerned. It pretty much comes down to what you prefer: heroin dealers or a bunch of drunks smoking cigarettes outside into the wee hours. (I prefer a delicate balance between the two myself.) In any event, Le Souk is open for business again on Avenue B, and their big Monday-night party is poised for a comeback. Got gel?

New York: Top 10 Middle Eastern Restaurants

imagePasha (Upper West Side) – Though its name often gets it confused with Ibiza import Pacha, the only similarity the spots share is that they’re both perpetually packed. Bargain prices, friendly service, and a quaint atmosphere make the wait for a table bearable. ● Tanoreen (Bay Ridge) – Though Astoria gets most of the attention when it comes to Middle Eastern food outside of Manhattan, this Brooklyn restaurant’s hodgepodge of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean eats puts Bay Ridge on the map. ● Le Souk (East Village) – Sure, the crowd’s a little on the boisterous B&T side, and you’ll come out reeking of hookah smoke. But if you’re looking for some ladies to fill out your harem, this is the spot.

Ilili (Flatiron) – Swank setting, thumping house beats, and a $35 dinner menu that includes two appetizers, entrée, and dessert. ● Halal Chicken & Gyro (Midtown West): Buying food out of a truck, car, or cart is always a smidgen sketch, but the ever-popular Halal Chicken and Gyro cart on 53rd and 6th takes food-cart rice and chicken to a new level – not only won’t you get sick from it, you’ll want it even when you don’t have those low-standard, late-night drunken munchies. ● Ali Baba’s Terrace (Midtown East) – When the weather hits 75, there’s no better rooftop to enjoy Middle Eastern fare. ● Sahara’s Turkish Cuisine (Murray Hill) – Sahara’s takes a healthful approach to Middle Eastern food — all meat and fish are char-grilled without butter, salads are topped with lemon juice and olive oil, traditional cold appetizers like yaprak sarma (stuffed grape leaves) are purchased fresh and cured in-house, and their “rice” is actually a blend of bulgur wheat, minced vegetables, and dill. ● Turkish Kitchen (Kips Bay) – Arguably the most well-known Middle Eastern joint in the city, best enjoyed during weekend brunch hours when you can chow down on unlimited gyros, chargrilled ground lamb patties, chicken kebabs, filet mignon, bulgur pilaf, and more. ● Kebab Café (Astoria) – The chef/owner of this Tony Bourdain-approved spot will get even the most unadventurous to eat (and enjoy) cow’s feet and lamb’s brain. Yes, you can still get your hummus and baba ganouj. ● L’ybane (Midtown East) – Go for the “Imperial Assortment” — essentially a chef’s tasting. About $40 buys you 14 dishes, including chickpea fritters, meat-stuffed pita, hummus, tzatziki, moussaka with eggplant and cheese, and two-day-marinated meat skewers.

The Rick’s Cabaret Guide to New York

Where do the dancing girls of publicly traded flesh palace Rick’s Cabaret like to hang when they aren’t putting themselves through school? Sure, you saw the stripper interviews yesterday, but wouldn’t you rather get intimate with the source material? After the jump, the Rick’s lovelies page throuh our “notes” regarding where the ladies kick it when they’re not working the pole. Can you get a Pulitzer for blue balls?

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Jennifer’s Picks:, Son Cubano, Little Branch, Bourgeois Pig, Boss Tweeds, Le Souk

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Becky’s picks: Dos Caminos, Blue Water Grill, La Zarza, Lil’ Frankie’s, Rick’s, Kum Gang San, Wildwood, Ace Bar, Mason Dixon, Boss Tweeds, Little Branch, PDT, Lucky Cheng’s

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Jazz’s picks: Cielo, Pink Elephant, Esperanto, Cafe Mogador Suzy’s Picks: 7B, Niagara, The Box, Apothéke, Big Wong King, Rick’s

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New York: The Hottest Weekend Party Nights

imageAbout damn time.

Friday 1. 1Oak (Chelsea) – Cool rules the door at this lavish new hot spot. 2. Ella (East Village) – Deco blacks and whites glamming up lower Avenue A. 3. GoldBar (Nolita) – Gold is the new black.

4. Mr. West (Chelsea) – Snug, stylish hotness in the middle of gallery-ville from Danny Divine and DJ Jus Ske. 5. Little Branch (West Village) – We’ll go out on a limb and say it’s cocktail heaven.

Saturday 1. Merkato 55 (Meatpacking District) – Crazy-dancing-on-the-tables-brunch at this Addis Ababa market inspiring latest MePa grazing. 2. Santos Party House (Chinatown) – Big, sweaty, hot bi-level boite with sick sound and killer acts for dancing downtown darlings. 3. subMercer (Soho) – Submerce yourself in max exclusivity deep in the bowels of the Mercer Hotel. 4. White Star (Lower East Side) – Chase that flighty Green Fairy thanks to a clever loophole in the trade laws. 5. Cain Luxe (Chelsea) – Revamped hotspot amps up the system, add some design touches, focuses more on electronic music.

Sunday 1. Freeman’s (Lower East Side) – Hunting lodge chic pioneer, newly expanded to better display animal head and stuffed bird collection. Booze-fueled brunches are the best here. 2. Sway (Soho) – Moroccan-themed rocker. Share in the angst with La Lohan on Sunday night Morrissey fests. 3. Le Souk (East Village) – Fezzes, hookahs, belly dancers, hotties, and oglers. Indulge your ADD. 4. APT (Meatpacking District) – Not-so-secret cooly-skooly dancing spot. Likely scene of future iPod playlist war. 5. Socialista (West Village) – Cipriani team brings Cuban hotness behind the handsome face of Bungalow 8 doorman Armin Amiri.