8 Shows To See In New York This Week (That Aren’t The Armory Or Biennial)

Monday, March 3

‘Aftershock: The Impact of Radical Art’ opens at 136 East 74th Street. A group show featuring Marilyn Minter, CandyAss, Carolee Schneeman and more, it’s not suitable for kids. 6-8 p.m. RSVP info@edelmanarts.com

Brendan Fowler’s “New Camera” opens at Half Gallery, 43 East 78th Street, 6-8 p.m.

Tuesday, March 4

The photographs of Peter Arnell, curated by Frank Gehry at Milk Gallery, 450 West 15th Street. RSVP here. 7-10 p.m.

“… a girl should be…” with works by Alex McQuilkin and curated by Marina T. Schindler opens at SPRING/BREAK art show, 233 Mott Street. For VIP preview and regular open hours, go to springbreakartshow.com

Rudolf Stingel opens at Gagosian Gallery, 522 West 21st Street. Opening reception 6- 8 p.m.

Thursday, March 6

Jules Olitski’s ‘Mitt Paintings’ opens at Paul Kasmin, 515 West 27th Street. Reception 6-8 p.m.

‘Alexander the Great: The Iolas Gallery 1955-1987’ opens at Paul Kasmin, 293 10th Avenue, 6-8 p.m. featuring surrealist works of many major artists dealt by Alexander Iolas (think pieces from the archives and foundations of Andy Warhol, Rene Magritte, and Yves Klein).

Friday, March 7

See Rowan’s Sphere, a selection of paintings by Chilean-Venezuelan artist Pilita Garcia curated by Todd Stewart at Picture Farm Gallery, 338 Wythe Ave. in Brooklyn. 6-9 p.m.

Indochine’s Michael Callahan Joins Brooklyn’s Culinary Movement with Coco

The amusement over Brooklyn’s cultural explosion is no longer a subject for headlines, as most people in NYC and around the world are well acquainted with the borough’s emancipation. Brooklyn’s experimental nature has always attracted artists, musicians, and creative types of all sorts, but most recently its culinary movement is making Brooklyn a top destination for restaurateurs as well.

Michael Callahan has been part of the New York restaurant scene since the opening of Indochine in 1984. Through multiple partnerships and connections in the arts and literature worlds he was able to build a mini empire in Manhattan. Now, 30 years and 18 restaurants later, he came across the opportunity to open a place in his native Brooklyn, where his only partner is the landlord.

“I found this place through a friend” said Callahan, admitting to like the “word of mouth” way of Greenpoint.

“This used to be a chocolate factory, and is right next to the music venue Coco 66, so we spent a year renovating it and decided to keep the name Coco, it made sense.” Callahan’s Indochine, Bond St, Republic, and Kitichai all have a lot in common, from the cultural inspiration to their architectonic nature, but Coco is different.

“It’s my baby,” says the restaurateur. Callahan plans to sound proof and insulate the venue next door to create a place for local bands to perform, with the intention to bring in a more music-oriented crowd.

As you walk through the dimly lit hallway past the 12-seat steel bar, an open kitchen with glass windows invites diners to witness the process of what chefs Julie Farias and Joseph Capozzi call “elevated home cooking.” The restaurant’s layout and setup is in perfect harmony with this philosophy – simple, clean, and with a Brooklyn charm. You will feel at home as soon as you see the vinyl collection, tufted white booths, and tall wooden tables. The chefs periodically come out to talk about the dishes and are happy to share stories about the process of finding the best ingredients. According to Capozzi, what attracts him to the Brooklyn Culinary Movement is the emphasis on utilizing only local and seasonal produce, from the wine, to the bread and cheese. “The secret is to use simple recipes with extra loving,” says the chef as he comes over with a platter of grilled oysters with bourbon butter and seaweed beans. The flavors are exquisitely combined and of course, you feel the extra loving.  The $5 bacon cheeseburger is already a favorite, revealing the importance of having something for everyone.

Capozzi is also a veteran in this industry with 11 Madison Park, Ruschmeyer’s, and The Fat Radish under his belt.  One can’t help but wonder: what is it about them that makes it work? Looking at these restaurant veterans, it’s clearly not only about the food; it’s the atmosphere, the consistency, the location, and most importantly, how you treat people.

Coco had its first soft opening this weekend, serving only specials and a bar menu to those lucky enough to pass by and venture inside. A complete menu with items such as a grilled pork chop with cherry peppers and escarole and a root vegetable casserole with be available this week, along with a full bar.

Coco is located at 66 Greenpoint Ave (between Franklin & West), Brooklyn, NY 11222. Open Tuesday-Sunday from 6 p.m. until late. 

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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.

David Sarner on Thursday’s Opening of Pink Elephant

Nightclubs come and go and sometimes, but rarely do they actually come back. The return of Pink Elephant to our scene has me…well…tickled pink. I used to go to its incarnation on lower 8th Avenue just below 14th Street and when it was on 27th Street. On 27th Street it was one of the top dogs on a block that included Bungalow 8 (which is also making a comeback), Cain (hmmm, I hear rumblings), Bed, Spirit, Home, Guesthouse, with Mansion and Marquee right around the corner. The Outer Chelsea or OUCH club paradise was closed down by police action. There were horses and Kleig lights, and cop cars blocking the street to foot traffic. All sorts of search-and-destroy behavior, harassed clubs and customers, and it all went south… literally, to the friendlier Meatpacking District. Pink faded to memory like the day after a satisfied patron’s good time. It will reopen this Thursday at MacDougal and 8th Street and I am excited.

Pink honcho David Sarner is one of the nice guys in the business. He is an innovator, being at the forefront of high energy house music in the mid nineties when everyone else was pushing hip-hop or early mixed format. He was one of the first to push the expansion of his club brand overseas. He was, along with Jeffrey Jah and yours truly, one of the early purveyors of bottle service. He doesn’t rest on his laurels, so expect the unexpected as well as the expected great service and beautiful, sharp crowd.  As I said, the Grand Opening is this Thursday and I will sneak in before my Hotel Chantelle DJ gig.

I asked David to tell me all about it.

Welcome back! Who are the players in this incarnation? How will it be different?
It’s a lot of the same players from the old Pink Elephant. My partner Robert Montwaid, Jamie Hatchett, Stephan Seguin, Rich Black, and we have also added some new faces, including Roee Nahmani, Justin Clemmons, our GM, who comes from GoldBar and most recently, Le Baron, and several unbelievable bartenders and servers who really take pride in the art of cocktail mixology.

What is different is that the venue is much more multi-functional and will operate for longer hours. The space itself is unique because it delivers three distinctive experiential spaces: an amazing Infinity Room, a maze-like mixology bar, and a retro-style discotheque that functions as a traditional cabaret in the early evening before morphing into a dynamic nightclub with high energy dance music as the night progresses. Also, we decided to take the venue in a different direction than most clubs today in that we actually have a great dance floor. We still have VIP tables, but the majority of the people can come in and dance and have a great time without getting destroyed with table charges. 

How did you arrive at the name?
I wanted an iconic image that would transcend language because the brand has expanded into foreign markets where names might not necessary translate. As I wanted to create a brand that typified fun and exuberant celebration, I needed to find a visual that exemplified that. Pink Elephant has the distinction of having a drinking reference. It’s a euphemism for having drunken hallucinations. Therefore, the visual of the dancing Pink Elephant is jubilant, whimsical, a little silly, and most of all, happy…and as we play happy house music, the name fits perfectly.

Tell me about the new space…it’s a little up and to the right. Is its location a plus?
We wanted a venue that was easily accessible to get to and, just as importantly, leave, so we didn’t want to be too close to anyone else. The 8th street location is perfect because it’s directly between the Meatpacking District and the Lower East Side, and it’s very accessible from both 5th and 6th Avenues. Additionally, the whole block is going upscale with the team from The Bowery Hotel opening a boutique hotel on the block, the team from Masa opening an amazing new Japanese restaurant, Stumptown Coffee Roasters is opening adjacent to Pink Elephant, as well as several other places which are in various stages of development. The space itself is unique because it has a tremendous history in the annals of New York nightlife for being the home of a number of famous venues for over a hundred years. I loved the idea of paying tribute and rediscovering the history of this great venue.

In the 1920s, it was Rominy Marie’s, a club for all the great political thinkers, artists, poets, designers and bon vivants of the day, including Eugene O’Neil, Picasso, Calder, Brancusi, Duchamp, E.E. Cummings, Noguchi, Stieglitz, de Kooning, and tons of other major talents that are still remembered today by a single name.

Then, in the 1950s and ‘60s it was the Bon Soir, a cabaret that had some of the hottest talents of the day. Barbra Streisand actually got her start in this very room. Pink Elephant will also feature weekly cabaret performances that are directly reflective of entertainment from the jazz era through the 1960s, from torch song singers, songstresses, and other styles of entertainment, more Café Carlyle than The Box. In fact, in June, our first cabaret event is with Carla DelVillaggio whose Streisand-channeled performances are amazing and uncanny. 

Pink Elephant

What does the brand stand for?
The brand is geared toward high energy entertainment and exuberance for life. It is a joyful place where people come to unwind and celebrate life. The brand has come to be a favorite among jetsetters, celebrities, socialites and trendsetters alike because of the levels of service, sophistication, and the overall entertainment experience.

What has changed in the market since you closed?
In the New York market, it seems that everyone has hopped on the house music bandwagon. Club owners who focused almost exclusively on hip-hop a few years ago have suddenly shifted gears and are espousing house music. It’s very funny. Our team has focused on European house music since 1996 when we started exclusively playing house music at Chaos on Watts Street. Still, our venues are unique because we are focused on discovering and bringing emerging talent to this country, as opposed to the insanity of paying five-to-six figures for a single-night DJ performance. We want our patrons to experience music for the first time and not just get the same 20 songs each night that everyone else is playing, every night.

Having an opening right around Memorial Day is usually….dangerous. What are you doing to market yourself with half the crowd fleeing east and elsewhere?
I’ve never really been concerned about when I have opened a club – Prive, Spy Bar, Chaos, Rehab…none of these were timed. We opened when we were ready. I believe that the important thing is to provide a superior product, focus on quality, and let the crowd and buzz build.

There are so many people who try to open around Fashion Week to garner a little bit of press and get some celebrities attending third-party-programmed events, but that’s a supernova effect, something that may be hot for a moment and then burns out. We’re much more focused on a slower trajectory and building something that has longevity. If you can provide a beautiful room with amazing sound and extraordinary service, as well as great staff, people will come because of the delivery and the way they are welcomed and treated. Additionally, having a smaller venue ensures that you can keep quality really high even in slower months. When Pink Elephant officially opens this week, we will have had a few smaller events for friends and family already, which have put all of our operations systems in order and can provide a seamless and incredibly enjoyable experience.

Besides, Pink Elephant is a known entity that has tremendous international recognition, so there isn’t the concern that people will be away. People have been begging us to reopen in New York for some time because the Pink Elephant itself is beloved. It provides amazing experiences and long-lasting memories and people are so happy that we’re back. I’ve really never felt so much love and appreciation, it’s amazing!

Is a brand viable if it isn’t exported, and is that the idea even at this stage? Viva Las Vegas?
Brands need to evolve and expand, otherwise they become stagnant and boring, and in an industry where venue lifespans are quicker, it’s essential to export product and introduce new ideas to keep things fresh. Our brand DNA has been built around fun, excitement, and high energy entertainment, so we need to be in places that are conducive to that atmosphere. We want to be in locations where people have a great time enjoying life. That’s why Pink Elephant has opened locations in Brazil and Mexico, that’s why we do pop-ups at festivals, and that’s why we are in the process of opening Pink Elephant locations in Rio de Janeiro, Hong Kong, and Las Vegas.

What is your favorite Pink Elephant moment?
My favorite Pink Elephant moment is actually one that reoccurs nightly. It’s that moment when the energy builds up to a point and then suddenly explodes with everyone in the room going crazy at the same time. It’s palpable – you can feel it – and it’s a collective euphoria that is utterly intoxicating.

Memorial Day Weekend Is Approaching, & The City Is A-Changin’…

Sorry I have been missing…been busy. I am happy to have nearly completed the design of The DL, that three-floor nightclub with the DOL (Dinner on Ludlow) attached. It looks swell, and I never want to leave it since it’s so much fun. The Wednesday night party with DJ Prince Terrence and the House of Fields crew is wonderful. I almost have an itch to get back in the game but, alas, staying up till 5am and dealing with the daily grind of nightlife is not for me anymore. I’m content to build the clubs and analyze and anecdote for you. 

Next up is the opening of the front room of XL (512 W. 42nd St.) which has earned its own moniker: "Rosebud." I’m quite sure that this isn’t a Turner Classic Movie reference. XL is the go-to place for everyone who isn’t straight and narrow, which means you are certainly welcome if you are straight and not narrow minded. I designed the place to be warm and comfy. It is all walnut burls and rich veneers and plush seating. It is an ultra-lounge which functions as a quiet respite but can twirl and spin with all the bells and whistles when it needs to. I am very proud of it and will proudly attend the unveiling this Friday. 

I’ve also been slammed finishing up that coffee shop on 96th and Columbus. Birch Coffee is slammed from open to close. It was difficult to live up to the reputation of its brilliantly brewed coffee. And the restaurant out in Long Island I’m working on is six weeks out and still takes up a great deal of my time… but I will be filing regularly again.

The impending Memorial Day Weekend has tons of skilled bartenders, waitrons, and support staff heading east. This creates openings for jobs in the city where clubs will learn to lean on the tourist trade that will fill the void, especially on weekends. Thursdays become Fridays as the NYC in-crowd is still in town. This is an ideal opportunity for newbies to learn or hone their trades, as nightlife still pays the bills for artists that won’t want to starve, and students who pay their bills by serving swill.

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Jell-O Shots & Ricotta Dumplings: Hill & Dale Opens in LES

The specialty at Hill & Dale, new to Allen Street, is a peach and vodka Jell-O shot called the “Dot & Dash.” Our waitress told us it was the house signature, so I suggested we all take one together. She declined, saying she didn’t like the feel of Jell-O in her mouth, and neither do I, so instead of the Jell-O shot, I drank just about everything else, and just about everything else was lovely.

A whole daisy came floating in the “Floozy,” one of eight other cocktails (all $12) fashioned by co-owner Elliott Carlson of Le Bain, which mixed muddled strawberries with Ketel One. Drinks like the Bourbon Negroni and The Berliner (rye, sweet vermouth, cherry, and Ramazzotti bitters) were plenty aromatic, and didn’t mask quality liqueurs with needless sugar. “Flip the Frog,” made with Plymouth Gin and St-Germain, sees its highball glass stacked with half a dozen cucumber slices. I approved.

Décor is themed around early home audio systems: an old brass phonograph rests atop a shelf behind the bar, and kitschy radios line a beam across the dining room. The 1920s-speakeasy thing treads lightly at worst. Beatles tracks played over the PA for a solid hour, with no dips into that “Hello! Ma Baby” schlock. Behind a metal grate in the back, a 30-person lounge with cushy sofas and potted ferns is well suited to quiet sipping.

Hill & Dale calls itself a “gastrolounge,” meaning they serve dinner. Ricotta dumplings are served with a mushroom medley, and a very juicy wild boar sausage wraps around three fantastic cabbage salads. Fried things come in all shapes. One of my housemade chicken nuggets (brown meat) had the form of a heart, while another looked like a man holding a basketball between his legs. For those keeping score in the New York pickle game, Hill & Dale’s current versions are golden baby beets, spring onions, celery, and cucumbers.

The Jell-O shots are not pickled.

Discover the latest openings by visiting BlackBook’s NY City Guides

Next Week’s NY Happenings: Northside Festival, Sud De France Festival, Bushwick Restaurant Week

NOW: Magnetic Northside

Brooklyn’s annual explosion of music and film is back, taking over scores of spots across the borough’s north end. You can catch live music at the likes of CameoTrophy, and The Gutter. Son Volt is at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, The Gories are at Brooklyn Bowl, and The Jazz Butcher plays Spike Hill. And that’s just Saturday night! The festival continues through Thursday, June 20th, with plenty more chances to soak up the spirit of Brooklyn. Start tonight with the reunion of Black Flag’s 1979 lineup at Warsaw.

Black Flag plays Warsaw (261 Driggs Ave., Greenpoint) tonight. To learn more about the music venue, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

SUNDAY: Donna Party

Former Roberta’s chef Max Sussman joins the Sud de France Festival with a four-course afternoon at Williamsburg’s Donna. Corned lamb cassoulet will be the highlight of the Languedoc-Roussillon inspirations, with wine pairings and live jazz to complement.

Seatings for Sud de France Tasting Tables at Donna (27 Broadway, Williamsburg) are at 11:30am and 1:30pm on Sunday, June 16th. Tickets are $45 and include wine, tax, and tip. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

MONDAY: Dine In Bushwick

Snubbed by Brooklyn Restaurant Week, Bushwick is coming back strong. This week you can check out thirty of the neighborhood’s finest without paying full price. Mama Joy’s and 983 are offering discounts and specialty items. At Heavy Woods and Pine Box Rock Shop, the third beer’s free. Cab over with Uber, and Bushwick will spring for your fare, too.

Bushwick Restaurant Week runs Monday, June 17th through Saturday, June 22nd, at spots like Mama Joy’s (1084 Flushing Ave., Bushwick). To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Know every inch of this city by visiting BlackBook’s NY City Guides.

Photo by Kristoffer Trolle/Flickr.

Next Week’s L.A. Happenings: Connie And Ted’s, Robert Zemeckis, & Spago’s New Bar Menu

Opening a trendy restaurant in West Hollywood during Gay Pride Week is genius, but even more brilliant is the restaurant itself. Connie and Ted’s, a new seafood spot by celeb Top Chef Michael Cimarusti, is a trendy little joint that, well, may serve the best seafood this side of Santa Monica. Connie & Ted’s is Michael’s dressed-down seafood joint to his formal Providence, just a short drive away. It’s named in honor of his grandparents, who taught Michael everything there is to know about preparing fish.

The modern-day seafood shack is bright and cheerful and totally fun. There’s an outdoor patio, nautical-themed cocktails, a fire-engine-red booth, and chairs with blonde wood tabletops. Expect raw bar options, three types of chowder (red, white, and cream-based) and even burgers, in addition to the usual suspects (lobster, clams, and—wait for it—fish).

If you haven’t already, nab a front-row seat at Rockwell: Table & Stage for its insanely wild and theatrical live performance called For The Record that pays tribute to a notable director. Playing until July 20th is For The Record: Zemeckis, where the talented (and, let’s face it, easy on the eyes) cast sings, dances and performs creative takes from Robert Zemeckis’ films like Back to the Future, Forrest Gump, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Flight, and Death Becomes Her.

The shows have been garnering a cult following and even the directors and actors from the movies themselves show up in the audience, in addition to A-list fans like Demi Moore, who attended opening night with her daughter Rumer.

Can’t get a table at Spago in Beverly Hills? The bar is just as impressive, especially now, since it’s just launched its new bar menu, offering sweet and intensely savory dishes like Bincho Grilled Chicken Wings and Spaghettini with little neck and razor clams. Wash it all down during the Tuesday to Saturday, 9pm to 11pm happy hour, which features specialty martinis for only $10 and premium wine pours starting at $8.

Know every inch of this city by visiting BlackBook’s L.A. City Guides.

Prince Harry’s Pal Revamps London’s New No. 3 Cromwell

Prince Harry’s pal and all around glitterati-collector Howard Spooner has again decisively stolen the London nightlife conversation with this rather, well, glittering revamp of a legendary South Kensington nightspot. Once the playground of everyone from Jayne Mansfield to Sean Connery to Sir Elton (not to mention the site of a certain Jimi Hendrix’s London debut), the glamorous new incarnation of No. 3 Cromwell is now attracting supermodel sorts like David Gandy and Elle MacPherson. And no wonder. Taking up all three floors of a striking Georgian townhouse, the famous and fabulous could surely want for nothing here. 

True, the chandeliered, piano-equipped dining room (pardon, Drawing Room) is hardly a culinary game changer, dishing up a quite reasonably priced assortment of sliders and dips, aka "boozing food." But we do love that they’ve thought to have a dedicated "pudding" menu, complete with corresponding Ports and and Sauternes’. 

The Back Room cocktail bar, with its baroque trimmings and stately fireplaces, is a sure bet for tabloid-worthy celebrity snoggings (sample tipple titles: Threesome, Menage A Trois). But it’s The Basement nightclub–yes, it’s in the basement–which will be swinging in full until 3am every night. It’s got, um, padded walls…which we can only guess is intended for the safety of the royal habitués. 

Get the inside-scoop on No. 3 Cromwell.