Kittichai’s New Chef Ty Bellingham Speaks to Blackbook

Is it me or is there a Thai restaurant on every corner in Manhattan? The latter seems right: they’re as ubiquitous as ATM machines. And they’re not all that special, either (you have to go to Queens for that). Thankfully, New York City recently received one of the best Thai imports in the city’s culinary history. Ty Bellingham—who worked at the famed Sailors Thai in Sydney, Australia—has taken over Kittichai at 60 Thompson, giving it that Thai magic makeover. It also doesn’t hurt that he’s regarded as one of the world’s top Thai chefs. It took Ty a couple months to get acclimated, so we gave him some time to get down and dirty before getting the dish on his new adventure.

What are some of the changes we can expect at Kittichai? I have dedicated the last 15 years of my life specializing as a chef in authentic Thai cuisine. I have immersed myself in every aspect of it including learning about the culture, which is integral to eating the food. My passion for it has led me around the world, including running the most awarded Thai restaurant in Sydney, and traveling through Thailand many times. I guess my philosophy is, if it’s hard it’s usually worth doing. This means making our curry pastes, and lime juice coming out of fruit. No shortcuts are taken.

What are some of the challenges you’ve faced with your new position?
 I imagine getting fresh food is harder to get here than
There are lots of ingredients I can’t get here that I
 can get in Sydney, but I’ve been surprised at the many 
things that I can source. There is a lot more here than I expected. 
I’m enjoying trying all the different types of chilies, fresh and 
dried. There are a lot more varieties here.
The initial challenge is learning all the seafood and meat.
 What’s good, what’s not, and 
what’s a good price. But my sous chef Bryan has helped me a great deal
 with that. Plus I am struggling with the different measures: Fahrenheit, ounces, pints and quarts.

What are some dishes you’ve introduced to the menu?
 I have almost overhauled the entire menu, leaving some of the 
Kittichai favorites.
 A personal favorite is my smoked trout on shiso leaf, with a
 caramelized palm sugar dressing. I did this for the Food Network’s
 Food and Wine fair and the Taste of New York events. It seemed the 
customers at those events loved this dish. 
I also have five different curries on the menu right now:
 Seafood with a citrus red curry, the classic green curry with chicken
 and Thai eggplant, and for the more adventurous, we have the pork tenderloin in a jungle
 curry paste, which is the hottest item on the menu. Curries are my 
favorite dishes to make and eat.

How do the Kittichai diners differ from who those you served back in
 Well, for one thing, diners in News York eat out a whole lot later. In
 Sydney, service would end around 10 to 11 pm. Thai food has been fairly prevalent in Australia for a while – probably due to our proximity to Southeast Asia – and so they are more used to
 ordering food family-style, which is how Thai food is supposed to
 be eaten. A meal would typically have a spicy, salty curry, crispy
 caramelized pork belly, a hot and sour soup, and a salad of some kind. But
 all this means nothing unless it is served with rice. 
I have noticed that people eat less rice here in New York City. Maybe 
it’s the whole carbs thing after 6pm.

What is your opinion of the Thai restaurants in NYC? I really have no opinion on Thai restaurants in NYC. I haven’t had
 time to eat out a great deal yet. 
But what I have recently read is that Thai food is the new Italian. So I
 think it is great that I am here in the city at a time when Thai food is getting
 the recognition it deserves. When it is done well, Thai can compete with the great food countries 
of the world. 
In Australia, Thai has replaced the local Chinese as people’s take-out
 of choice, it is literally that popular. It would be great to see
 Thai food as prominent as this in NYC.

What are some of your favorite restaurants (Thai or not Thai) in NYC? The restaurants in our group are fantastic and show a great range of diversity of cuisines. BONDST has great sushi, Republic at Union Square is great for noodles, and Indochine is still fantastically cool.

Most Wanted Hot Weather Food & Drink

With temperatures in the high 90’s in New York yet again, our eating habits must adapt to beat back the ferocious heat. It’s not Shake Shack weather. Milk, as Ron Burgundy knows, was a bad choice. Here are ten refreshments that’ll help you forget that your skin is melting right off of your body. Stay cool and keep eating!

1. Frog Hollow Farm Peach Gazpacho with Toasted Almonds and Hawaiian Blue Prawns from Eleven Madison Park.

2. Watermelon Juice or the Pineapple Coconut Cooler from Republic.

3. La Esquina’s excellent horchata.

4. Salted Caramel Pretzel or Mango Banana Yogurt Ice Cream from Greene Ice Cream at The General Greene.

5. The Sagaponack Salad (with mesclun, frisee, tomatoes, roasted corns, mozzarella, beets, sautéed eggplant, and grapes) from Sagaponack Bar & Grill.

6.Empress Crab Claws at Luke’s Lobster UES.

7.Salmon & Dill Avocado Tartar (with shallot, lemon, olive oil) or the Shrimp Lemon Ceviche (with scallion, red onion, fennel) at Fig & Olive.

8. Rain Forest smoothie (with kyo green superfood, lemon, fresh mint, ginger, agave nectar, coconut water, banana, pineapple and sea salt) from The Juice Press.

9. The Morning Crunch (with freshly roasted granola, strawberries, bananas, raisins, honey, milk or yogurt) at Sarabeth’s.

10. Soft Serve Passion Fruit Sorbet from Jacques Torres Ice Cream.

BlackBook’s Work Week Lunch: Union Square & Flatiron

Every day without fail Senior Editor Nick Haramis comes over to Assistant Editor Ben Barna’s desk and debates lunch. They aren’t necessarily arguing about where to go, they’re arguing about logistics, how quickly they want to eat, type of food and, most importantly, the length of walk, since the selection of good eating around Union Square is sprinkled throughout the Flatiron, Gramercy and even Greenwich Village. Here, a list of what is getting Seamless Webbed, called in and brought back to the BlackBook offices during the workday lunch.

Office image BlackBook Media 29 East 19th Street, 4th Floor (Park Ave. & Broadway) Eating Hood: Union Square, Flatiron, Nearby: ABC Carpet, Pipa, Starbucks on the corner.

Union SquareDogmatic– Saucy gourmet dogs in toasty baguette jackets about which our Vice President of Content Chris Mohney says simply “luv.” Sunde Johnson, our Quality Assurance Engineer, usually gets one beef and one asparagus dog since “one will not fill you up.” Get your sausages in beef, chicken, pork, turkey, lamb or asparagus form. Smother it in cheddar jalapeno sauce, horseradish mustard, truffle gryere, chimichurri, sun dried tomoto feta or mint yogurt. Handmade sodas in summer are quite nice as well. Tip: Johnson has an aversion to bringing messy food to her desk. “I get jalapeno cheese sauce on the side, a lot of people get the sauce in the actual bun, but it can get really messy.” ●Republic– Minimalist fave of Partnerships and Promotions dude Andrew Berman and myself. Only vaguely communist, which is more fun than the full-bore thing. Andrew is a fan of #15- the Vietnamese Vegetable Noodles (cold rice vermicelli, mint, broccoli, celery, carrots, tofu egg, shallots, bean sprouts, peanuts) while I’m a Glass Noodles person myself (#33 sauteed chicken, green & red bean noodles, carrots, celery, bean sprouts, onions, sesame seeds, ginger dipping sauce). Tip: If you are ordering with some picky eaters from your office, remind them of the sandwich shop in the front which takes advantage of the Baogette and Vietnamese sandwich trend. ●Coffee Shop– Wanna-models, PR flacks, and the occasional leather ‘n’ jean diehard pack this vast diner space, and during the daylight hours we like to take out to take a gander at all of the hungover club people. Our high-ups visit it for other reasons of course, to talk business on lunch breaks. Mohney makes his pilgrimage “never for coffee,” but confirms its “still decent for small power lunch.” If I’ve been surviving on Lean Cuisines all week I’ll begin to crave the Sesame Chicken & Bok Choy Salad with shredded crisp tortilla. Tip: Spring time wait for tables on the patio are horrendous. Send your intern to camp out if you’ve gotta impress a client. ●Chop’t– The lines are as long as Disney Land’s, but nothing beats having your salad chopped within an inch of becoming soup. You might feel like you’re an old Italian woman ordering Pancetta (I said finely sliced not beer coasters buddy!) but nothing feels as good as not being able to taste your bean sprouts, but knowing they’re there. Barna usually “makes it as cheap as possible” and orders a standard DIY salad with four toppings, and I echo this sentiment. Other lovers: Haramis (after months of convincing him that the worms they found in the salad were at Tossed, not Chop’t) and Berman who goes Greek from time to time. Tip: They have cans of Fresca, which is a highly sought after commodity in this office. ●Laut– A favorite of Features Editor Willa Paskin and Marketing Manager Julie Fabricant, who prefers the Tom Yam Gung soup, featuring lemongrass spicy broth with been sprouts, bamboo shoot, mushrooms, basil, mint and cilantro. The red and green curries, which come with a combo of duck, shrimp and beef for $14, chicken, pork and squid for $13, vegetables and tofu for $11, red snapper, salmon and scallop for $15, or soft shell crab and mixed seafood for $16. Tip: Escape from work to this cozy place if you can, it’s a nice mental retreat and still bustling enough to keep you off the Blackberry. ●Ennju– A fave of the adventurous eaters in the office, a grab-and-go for Japanese fast food. Kimchi, weird looking salads and imported candies round out the surprisingly big selection. I usually go for the spicy tuna rolls and pick at the small salad bar. Tauginas swears they have some of the best udon noodles in the area and Mohney is in it for the solid selection of quick sushi. Tip: Place slows down and gets all cafe-ish after the lunch rush.

Nearby Picks: Union Square Cafe, Blue Water Grill, Havana Central, Lillie’s, Hallal street meat on the corner of 17th and Broadway, City Bakery Soup & Sandwich

image Flatiron‘wichcraft– Not to be confused with Craft and Craftbar that also takes up residence in the area, this fast and fab ‘wich shop satisfies the inherent foodies in the office, on days we can afford to splurge. “Try the Smoked Ham breakfast sammich,” Tauginas advises, “it’s a baguette with butter, avocado and ham.” Dan Murphy orders the Gruyere Grilled Cheese and tomato soup religiously. Tip: If you want to escape for a work lunch, this sandwich shop has a hidden restaurant space where you can sit down and enjoy a ‘wich during lunch and a selection of small plates during the dinner hour. Nearby: Craftbar, EquinoxEisenberg’s– Julie Fabricant and Willa Paskin’s favorite “Jewish deli food” as described by Fabricant, who orders the corn beef and chopped liver on rye or pumpernickel. Good portions and a hefty breakfast menu. Tip: The sides are really cheap, so if you’re having one of those days where you can’t decide what you want, load up on cottage cheese, fruit salad, knish, or stuffed derma. ●Azuki Sushi– Rises above the sushi masses with an offer you can’t refuse, really, one that you can afford. The bento boxes from Azuki can be seen on any given desk throughout the week. Stupid fresh fish that stays fresh through delivery. Sushi, Teryaki or sashimi boxes fill you up and are under $10. Old Town Bar– “When beer is required” says Mohney. Chi-town-esque oasis near Union Square, proudly lubricating the locals since 1892 and the BlackBook staff since 2007. If you need a room big enough for a media company to get boozed up, the upstairs is the perfect size for the occasion. ●Shake Shack– Is it worth standing on line forty-five minutes for an undersized, over-salted burger? Yes, friends, yes. And with whisps of forty degree weather, we’re biting at the chomp for the grand Madison Square Park opening. Tip: If you have interns, barter with them to stand in line as a proxy in exchange for free shakes.

Nearby Picks: Houston’s, World’s Best Sandwich Cart (on 20th between Park and Broadway).


Industry Insiders: Julie Farias, the General’s Butcher

As one of the many talented cuisiniers participating in Le Fooding D’Amour (September 25-26 at at New York’s P.S.1), Julie Farias knows a thing or two about a good cut of meat. The Texas-born chef—who recently moved from Brooklyn’s Beer Table to The General Greene—worked for Daniel Boulud for five years (at Café Boulud, db Bistro Moderne, and Daniel), but attributes much of her culinary know-how to her southern upbringing and family influence (her clan owns a tortilla factory inside a San Antonio meat market). Farias tells us about working in kitchens on both coasts and how Le Fooding is going to taste for New Yorkers. In her case, it’s going to taste like tacos made from 40 cow heads.

What influenced your move from Beer Table to The General Greene? Nicholas Morgenstern, the owner of The General Greene, and I met at Daniel when he was the pastry sous-chef there and I was working the soup station. We worked together at 5Ninth. There, I was the opening sous and he was the pastry chef, and then we also worked together at Resto. I’ve known him for a really long time, and before last year, I was living and working in Los Angeles and Las Vegas on a project for the Palazzo. Nick came out to see me and asked me to come to his new restaurant, The General Greene, and I didn’t think anything of it. I said that I wasn’t in the position to leave. When I came back from Vegas, I moved to Beer Table. Owners Justin and Tricia Philips were friends of mine, and they needed a little help setting up the menu. They said, “We have this place, and there’s no kitchen, but we love your food and we think that this would work out.” And I loved the idea of it more than anything. Especially the spatial challenge. We had no kitchen at Beer Table. There was a convection oven, no dishwasher, no prep, no kitchen. When you take things away and you have bare essentials, it made me think about food in a different way. I always thought that fire was a bare essential but I realized that electricity is. I’m not as much of a Neanderthal as I thought I was. The timing was eventually right when Nicholas asked me again, and it just had to happen. He’s a fantastic partner.

What were you doing in Las Vegas? I was working for a gentleman named Jonathan Morr. He owns Republic and Bond St. We opened an Asian noodle restaurant called Mainland at the Palazzo Hotel and Casino. I created the menu, and I was also Jonathan’s consulting chef. I traveled from New York to Miami to Los Angeles to Vegas. I did consulting work for Thompson Hotels out there, creating their room service menu. I also lived and worked at Hotel Oceana in Santa Monica. I had no home for a year.

What was it like building the menu at The General Greene? I’m going to give a metaphor: me being here right now is, in some ways, like cutting in on a dancer. I’m about to dance with the pretty girl, so I’m cutting in and I have to keep up the pace for whatever waltz or jitterbug or lindy-hop they’re doing. There’s already a rhythm here; it’s a successful restaurant. Nick has asked me to work on organization, on execution, kitchen techniques, things like that, and keep up on the quality of products. It was a very big change to go from one burner to a stove and a downstairs and four to five cooks and a dishwasher.

What should we order on our first visit? We have bar snacks, and my favorite one right now is the bacon dates—dates wrapped in bacon and cooked in maple syrup. After that, you’d have to try the butter lettuce with a lemon vinaigrette, curried almonds and ruby-red grapefruit. I’m a big fan of ruby-red grapefruit. For me, they are a little sweeter, a better color, and before, we were using regular grapefruit on this dish. I also put collared greens on the menu, and these you have to try. They’re sautéed with garlic, red pepper chilies, and a squeeze of lemon juice. You have to try the chuck flap steak from Niman Ranch. It’s something known as a bavette, and it’s a tough kind of meat meant to be cooked medium rare. We grill it then slice it thin, and we serve it with a roasted garlic sauce with olive oil and Portuguese sea salt. It’s got a really hearty flavor. Then, you have to finish it off with a salty caramel sundae. It’s a hot caramel cake with salted caramel ice cream, whipped cream, caramel sauce, and then crushed, salted mini pretzels on top of it. It’s out of this world. You may have to stop by Nick’s Greene Ice Cream Cart as well.

How did you get involved with Le Fooding? It turns out, [Le Fooding founder] Alexandre Cammas lives in the neighborhood. His wife, Natalie, had actually had dinner at Beer Table, and so there was sort of a little match-making there, and they contacted me and came down to The General Greene.

What will you prepare for the September Le Fooding D’Amour event? I’m doing tête de veau tacos or “veal head.” It’s traditional barbacoa from San Antonio, Texas. I’m doing this classic recipe here, and I think it makes sense with the idea of the picnic setting. I actually smoked one of the cow heads today. They’re kind of scary looking. I’m going to be smoking about 40 of them for the event. They’re really kind of magnificent with the eyes, the skull, and the teeth.

Will New Yorkers embrace the Le Fooding concept? New Yorkers are all about food. I came here from Texas to cook. I returned to New York from Vegas because I felt that there was more of a focus on and interest in food here—from grocery stores to cooking at home. In keeping with this mentality, to me, it just seems like Le Fooding is a very natural thing. People will be attracted to this, and Alex’s interest in graphic design is reflected in the style of the event. Why would New Yorkers not want to come? I think that Alex’s goal is definitely going to be fulfilled.

What are your favorite bars and restaurants? Because I’ve been working at The General Greene so much, I’ve been limiting my going out to Brooklyn. I love Five Leaves and Char No. 4. They do a lot of smoked meat, and I butcher there on Mondays. Defonte’s in Red Hook is a sandwich place, and oh my God, it’s super yummy. I love the Skybox at Daniel. For drinking, I’m kind of a liquor snob … but when I feel like being a bit more on the rowdy side, I go to the Palace Cafe in Greenpoint. Budweiser and Jack & Coke is about as sophisticated of a drink you’ll get there. All of these places are in keeping with the same mood.

Nicholas Morgenstern and Julie Farias photographed by Michael Harlan Turkell.

BlackBook Staff Picks: Dining, Drinking, Shopping, & Staying

Here at BlackBook, we pay a lot of attention to where cool customers go out — bars, clubs, restaurants, shops, hotels, you name it. So why not flip the frame and let you see where we go out? Here’s a periodically updated, exhaustive list of hotspots currently favored by everyone at BlackBook, from the mighty bosses down to the humble interns, from the charming local lounges around the corner to the jet-setting temples of luxe living.

EDITORIAL ● Editorial Director/Editor-in-Chief – Ray Rogers, Café Mogador (NYC) – Hummus, crack-caliber coffee, and outdoor patio for primo people-judging and “novel writing.” ● Creative Director – Jason Daniels, Babettes (East Hampton) – Don’t let the word “organic” turn you off . ● Executive Editor – Chris Mohney, Pegu Club (NYC) – OCD cocktail heaven. Pith helmet and ivory cane optional. ● Senior Editor – Nick Haramis, The Jane Hotel and Ballroom (NYC) – Latest smash from Sean MacPherson and Eric Goode gets all Edwardian on the WVill.

● Editor-at-Large – James Servin, The Raleigh (Miami) – The local equivalent of LA’s Chateau Marmont. ● Staff Writer – Ryan Adams, Republic (NYC) – Minimalist fave and only vaguely communist, which is more fun than the full-bore thing. ● Writer-at-Large – Alison Powell, Wurstküche (LA) – Hey, sausages! Downtown hipsters with a secret inner-manly-man are pleased. ● West Coast Editor – Matt Diehl, Cole’s (LA) – The 100-year-old buffet-style cafeteria comes back as something new (but the French dip stays). ● Nightlife Correspondent – Steve Lewis, La Esquina (NYC) – Day and night, eating, meeting and playing. ● Paris Correspondent – Dana Thomas, Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Hotel (Paris) – Posh sips & historic ambiance at the Ritz. ● Assistant Editors – Ben Barna, Tokyo (Montreal) – Buy one for the buff bartender while you’re at it—he’s a starving actor. Cayte GrieveCafé Asean (NYC) Foster Ethan KamerLa Superior (NYC) – Quite possibly the best little taqueria this side of town. ● Editorial Assistant – Eiseley Tauginas, Alta (NYC) – Alta, as in “high,” as in “haute,” at this sexy Village tapas spot. ● Copy Editor – Michèle Filon, Sripraphai (NYC) ● Editorial Interns – Annie Clinton Moto (NYC) – High-flavor food with dungeon loos. Sure, Moto’s for metros, but it’s hot anyway. Delia Paunescu Schiller’s Liquor Bar (NYC) – McNally’s successful entrée into the LES mess. Desiree Pais, Lit (NYC) – Rock bar du jour for hos and bros of the ain’t we the shit? set. Alexandra Vickers, Colette (Paris) – Art, style, music, sex and water.

ART ● Art Director – Amy Steinhauser, Five Leaves (NYC) – Café posthumously funded by Heath Ledger does justice to the work and hype put into it. ● Photography Assistant – Stephanie Swanicke, Brandy Library (NYC) – Highbrow mixology, let us know when it’s time to dust off the antique bottles on the upper shelf. ● Design/Photo Interns – Angela Chen, Dinosaur BBQ (NYC) – Roadhouse bringing southerners to Northern Manhattan. Krista Quick – Ottobar (Baltimore) – What can we say, this place rocks.Jeremy Jones – Tokyo Bar, (NYC) – Schizo décor and food, but decently done all the same.

FASHION & BEAUTY ● Fashion Director-at-Large – Elizabeth Sulcer, China Grill (NYC) -Heaping plates of Asian fusion amid fashionable environs. ● Market Editor – Bryan Levandowski, Bondi Road (NYC) – Wizards of Aus in NYC, we like your style. ● Fashion Assistant – Wilson Mathews III, Per Se (NYC) – Advanced gastronomy at the Time Warner Center. Thomas Keller pulls out all the stops. ● Fashion Interns – Samantha Shaw, Chez Janou (Paris) – Boisterous southern bistro near the Place des Vosges. Julien Blanc, La Esquina (NYC) – Fairly authentic Mexican and one of the city’s best-known “secret” bars. Laura Watters, Café Habana (NYC) – Scarfing roast pork is so much better when Mary-Kate is watching, longingly. Lindsay Abrams, Sketch: Gallery (London) – Quirky soho hot spot. BlackBook magazine Founder – Evanly Schindler, The Smile (NYC) – Earnest Sewn owners take over abandoned Double Crown space for Med-inspired cafe/boutique.

BLACKBOOK MEDIA CORP ● Chairman – Bob Hoff, Guys & Dolls (LA) – Sophisticated sexy in West Hollywood. 7 nights a week. ● CEO – Ari Horowitz, L’Ecole (NYC) – Get schooled in fine French cuisine at this tasty training center. ● Associate Publisher – Brett Wagner, Café Select (NYC) – SoHo café marries Swiss Alpine to downtown design, garners Next Brunch Place status. ● Director of Finance and Operations – Joe Friedman, Lucky Strike Lanes (NYC) – Scenester bowling from the dudes behind Marquee and Tao. ● Corporate Counsel – Drew Patrick of Drew Patrick Law, Dutch Kills (NYC) – Modern-day antique saloon from New York’s cocktail kings. ● Executive Assistant – Bridgette Bek, Motorino (NYC) – Belgian-bred Mathieu Palombino’s Billyburg pizza joint serves up personal pan-sized genius, one pie at a time.

ADVERTISING ● Senior Account Executive – Dina Matar, Gascogne (NYC) – Southern French cooking without the Southern French ‘tude. ● Account Executive – Brian Kantor, Botanica (NYC) – Dive that must be working some kind of Santeria to keep prices down in this excessive nabe. ● Executive Director, BlackBook Access – Gregg Berger, La Piaggia (Miami) – Keep your feet in the sand and your hand on the rosé glass at this waterfront café francaise. ● Detroit Account Executives – Jeff Hannigan, Blind Tiger Ale House (NYC) – Beer bar institution finds new home, devoted crowd. Kristen von Bernthal, Pure Food and Wine (NYC) – Say goodbye to a future of pacemakers and a gut the shape of China. Raw food is real food. ● Midwest Account Executives – Susan Welter, Perennial (Chicago) – This could easily become Chicago’s summer hotspot for years to come. ● Andrea Forrester, Mirai (Chicago) – Thumpin’ music and bumpin’ elbows don’t deter crowds from gathering for some of the city’s finest sushi. ● Southwest Account Executive – Molly Ballantine, Gjelina (LA) – New Venice, new American hotspot takes on Hollywood posturing and tude. ● Northwest Account Executives – Catherine Hurley, 15 Romolo (San Francisco) – Bourbon & Branch without the passwords and financial types. Shawn O’Meara, Suppenküche (San Francisco) – Fun place, hearty food. Check the diet at the door. Sales Coordinator – Claire Pujol, Fat Baby (NYC) – Dank in a clean way. Do not enter without skinny jeans.

MARKETING ● Marketing Manager – Julie Fabricant, Kingswood (NYC) – Creative Aussie eats. Feel like king of the W. Vill woods. ● Partnerships & Promotions Manager – Andrew Berman, Bozu (NYC) – Sunken Japanese paradise. Delectable sushi, incredible drinks. ● Interns – Rebecca Hill, Chicago Brauhaus (Chicago) – One of the last of Chicago’s great German restaurants with live oompah bands and an Oktoberfest menu year-round. Delna Joshi, Hudson Terrace (NYC) – Rooftop pleaser for drunk summer afternoons. Brianne Murphy, Beauty Bar (NYC) – Kitschy theme bar serving up mani/drink combos under a row of hair dryers. Elizabeth Pirozzi, Pink Elephant (NYC) – Gangsters, models, and house. Where one goes, the others must follow. Monica Dybuncio, Cha Cha Cha (San Francisco) – The Haight’s never-ending Caribbean party where Santerias and sangria rule. Emily Pflug Presidio, Delfina (San Francisco) – Overly moussed males, technophiles, and high-class hipsters collide in this local fine dining favorite. Lea Abeyta, The Annex (NYC) – Grown-up newcomer from Dark Room boys. Tiswas Saturday, Interpol’s Paul B holding down Wednesday. Joanna Rubinstein, Bar Breton (NYC) – Fleur de Sel’s tastes of Brittany now available in brasserie form. Marie Baginski, East Andrews Cafe & Bar (Atlanta) – Label toters run amok at Buckhead restaurant-bar and pack the place on Thursdays and Fridays. Megan Kunecki, Blender Theater at Gramercy (NYC) -New indie rocker hosting artists you put on your iPod for show while you’re really listening to “Since U Been Gone” again. Jay Kassirer, The Smile (NYC) – Earnest Sewn owners take over abandoned Double Crown space for Med-inspired cafe/boutique. Suhee Eom, Momofuku Ssäm Bar (NYC) – Chef-of-the-minute David Chang fancies up Korean burritos and gets avant-garde after 6pm. Jaime Marie, Sueños (NYC) – Sweet dreams of organic tequila and make-your-own-tacos really can come true! Rana Razavi, Sanctuary (Miami) – Swank rooftop bar and the promise of hanky panky in the pool.

DIGITAL ● Director of Development – Daniel Murphy, Yerba Buena (NYC) – Petite hot zone with wide range of Pan-Latino small plates. ● Lead Architect – Matt Hackett, Beast (Brooklyn) – Small plates and top brunch, come get lost in Prospect Heights. Developer – Bastian Kuberek, Motor City Bar (NYC) – Front like you remember how to drive and these 8 Milers might let you hang. ● Developer – Dan Simon, B.B. King Blues Club & Grill (NYC) ● Designer – Matt Strmiska, Manuel’s (Austin) – Immaculate cleanliness, smart design, and Wine Spectator-designated mole don’t come cheap even for the downtown lunch crowd. ● Developer – Sam Withrow, Pacific Standard (NYC) – Mellow, big-hearted Slope pub keepin’ it pacific. ● Quality Assurance Engineer – Sunde Johnson, Stone Park Café (NYC) – White on white, Williams-Sonoma, Maclarens, fish sandwiches, and burgers. ● Mobile Developer – Otto Toth, Centolire (NYC) – Mangia, mangia, and then ride up and down in the funny glass elevator until the hostess kicks you out.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS ● Bob Hoff, Guys & Dolls (LA) – Sophisticated sexy in West Hollywood. 7 nights a week. ● Ari Horowitz, L’Ecole (NYC) – Get schooled in fine French cuisine at this tasty training center. ● Eric Gertler, SoHo House (NYC) – Members-only decadent den where you may find scruffy English rockers or snaggle-toothed English bankers. Guess which is more likely. ● Joe Landry, Local (LA) – Anything goes, as long as it’s not beef. ● Irwin Lieber, Fishtail by David Burke (NYC) – Fresh seafood in the UES by celeb chef David Burke. ● Dan Pelson, Marea (NYC) – Hopes for a high tide abound at Michael White’s temple to Italian seafood. ● Barry Rubenstein, Shun Lee Café (NYC) – Haute Chinese and dim sum on a glossy, ’80s-fabulous set. ● Jack Sullivan, Blue Ribbon (NYC) – Bromberg bros brasserie takes care of Soho’s after-midnight crowd.
Brian Wilson Tickets Capital One Bank Theatre at Westbury Tickets Westbury Tickets

New York: Top 10 Surprisingly Affordable Meals

imageWhether due to a possible celeb sighting, a massive amount of food and booze, or just straight-up delectable eats and swank digs, these spots — at least by New York City standards — give you real bang for your buck.

10. Azuki Sushi (Flatiron) – Students and students-at-heart who load-up on at least $15 worth of fresh Japanese eats are treated to unlimited house wine and hot sake. 9. Fatty Crab (Meatpacking District) – A welcome antidote to the Meatpacking District’s endless gimmicks and attitude; all you need here is a love for spicy eats. 8. Chef Ho’s (Upper East Side) – Forget about Chinatown — this UES joint is sparkly clean, has a friendly staff, and for $28 you’ll get a traditionally prepared whole Peking duck (enough to feed three hungry diners) served with scallions, cucumber, and pancakes.

7. Rio’s Churrascaria (Midtown West) – Come hungry — very hungry — because Sunday through Tuesday, for $29, you not only get a sizable portion of steak, grilled chicken, salmon, pork loin, or beef ribs, but you can hit 40-plus dishes at the Brazilian spot’s hot and cold buffet. 6. Public (Nolita) – For $14, why not try grilled kangaroo? 5. L’ybane (Midtown East) The diminutive French Riviera import offers a $40 chef’s tasting menu that comes with 14 dishes — think chickpea fritters, moussaka with eggplant & cheese, 2-day marinated meat skewers. You’ll be stuffed through the next day’s afternoon. 4. Republic (Union Square) – A spot so worth checking out that former BlackBook intern Ryan Adams wrote an affectionate ode to the diminutive spot chock-full of under-$8 options. 3. Indochine (Greenwich Village) – The fact that you might find yourself seated next to French Vogue Carine Roitfeld — who counts Indochine among her fave restaurants — is just the cherry on the cake of this perennially delicious hotspot. 2. Matsugen (Tribeca) – Frank Bruni-approved, and you can now enjoy a six-course mini-omakase dinner menu at one of Jean-Georges’ finest for $35. 1. Mia Dona (Midtown East) – Not for nothing was Donatella Arpaia a tough judge on Top Chef — Mia Dona, which she owns along with chef Michael Psilakis, offers top-notch Italian eats that are filling without being heavy. And the menu also includes a variety of exceptionally well-prepared under-$20 entrées.

Ryan Adams Has Skyline Fever

Economic crisis, climate change, and world drama not withstanding, there it is, or rather, there it was … again. That skyline. It happens right before you get anywhere near the tunnel, before you reach the bridge — coming from any international destination, or even Omaha, you can’t not see the lights from the window of the plane. But from the car, there it is. Wizard of frickin’ Oz, Emerald Cityesque, and just glowing. I love this place. It’s always the girlfriend my girlfriends deal with. Hell, my night job as a musician is second, even. I need the cave. New York City. Manhattan. The Big Apple. Home. For real. Forever. Love at first sight. I’ll need bigger arms eventually.

But here we are right before Thanksgiving and the holidays are coming, the other ones, the kind where the city gets even emptier than when it’s very empty. It snowed one time I think (unless I was high) during Christmas. Of course, I don’t know what Christmas means really. I am one of those latchkey kids who got the key yanked from his chest by over-qualified analysts. But here they come, again, like it or not. Yikes. And I just got home. My last trip to the United Kingdom and abroad left me wide open to all the news of the world. And yes, yes, I heard all the glorious news as I was away, attentive never, ever, to flip on a television when I travel. It just makes things feel lonelier. It just makes it worse. And I don’t like to stay in touch really. It’s just me. Me and the job. Then, me and home. That is how a lot of people are here in the city I think. Us and our work. Maybe a friend or two. Maybe a place we love to eat (for me it’s Republic … Bladerunner-esque inside, and good vegetarian eats plus counter service to match, and loner-friendly). The world is scaling back. Our money doesn’t match our dreams. And some of those dreams are just to stay in clothes and to have food enough to eat and a roof over your head. And it’s cold outside. Not like I remember though. Not like it was when I first moved here. Still, something is different. Maybe it’s me. I’m 34 now. And I never spend the holidays at home. I’m one of those people who doesn’t go even if the remains of a home exist somewhere. New York protects you from that, too. Holiday Blues. Life Blues. You just hit the streets and find 5th Avenue and the Chrysler or the Empire State Building shine those foggy lights into the near-always daytime sky and — whammo! — you feel something. A closeness. You see others just like you: alone, together-alone, embraced by the walls, inside the gates of a place designed to hold its loners like a lover’s arms, where there are none. Anyway, here come the holidays and the feeling of being trapped, or isolated or even doomed. Well, I suppose if nothing else, the thing to still celebrate, if you don’t know exactly what to celebrate anymore, it is just right there in front of you: the construct of your home. The one outside where you sleep and take the trash out. The park, or the tree in the park someone planted so long ago it’s only there for you to see, that person faded into the swell of time. Economic crisis, climate change, and world drama notwithstanding, this holiday, if nothing else, I will say some silent prayer of consolation that we’re still here. And those who aren’t, those we lost somewhere along the way, if we wanted to or not, we still stand in their light. And it shines outright for anyone with eyes to see, or a heart to know it can expand past the dates and the times that mark the changing of our little worlds. My how they collide, and how precisely. Happy Holidays and see you at the counter, or under the skyline, swooning feverishly.

Photo by Mary Ellen Matthews.

Ryan Adams Celebrates Republic

On the dawn of a new era in America, musician, birthday boy, and former BlackBook intern Ryan Adams writes in from the road to rave about his favorite Republic.

Today is my birthday, and I am in Europe and a new president has been elected who seems so very dignified and also will have some sleeve-rolling-up to do and some boot-straps to help us with the pulling-up. That being said, I hate birthdays and was glad to be out of the country for mine. I tend to not take myself out to dinner, being one of those single people who needs the counter, that’s right, demands it. Veselka was my “go-to” spot for years, but having moved to the West Village and become a vegetarian recently for no real reason other than it made me feel better and made my life as someone who travels for work easier, I settled into a new spot.

I have lived in the city for nearly ten years now, so I suppose if I manage ten more, I will be considered a New Yorker. But my kids, should I ever have children (which will take an act of God as first I would have to find someone either ridiculous enough or foolish enough to have me as a partner) will be New Yorkers through and through. It just never fades for me how the city takes care of the loner. Our restaurants, the good ones, they know we are a lonely bunch all tied together in our concrete glass towered dreams. Culinary even.

That being said, my spot is Republic in Union Square.

It’s a real trip. They have lightning-fast service, always genuinely friendly due to very sweet owners and managers. The music is never too loud (they do a bar scene there, but only after 10:30 p.m., which is very grown-up in my opinion and way past my bed-time).

The menu changes frequently but never strays from a streamlined one-page easy-to-read descriptive hand-held glossy.

The counter space (my spot) is split up between two seated stooled bars (one for drinkers, and one for just folks there to eat … thank you for that) and also has a nice little area outside to eat if you are an adventurous type who enjoys watching kids skate and taxis honk and people going to and from Brooklyn or wherever ever from the subway stops there in the square. (I don’t eat outside … ever, myself.)

They have excellent soup with noodles — if you have a head cold, that can knock it right out of you in two days should you choose — and a lot of great cold noodles dishes for the light-hearted. Also they tend to surround their food with fresh vegetables and watercress and things you need but don’t know you need. They even have their own very crafty mixed drink list if you are a drunk (if you are under 29 and live in the city you are probably a drunk).

And best of all, their regular seating is made so that you have plenty of room but also have the chance to elbow up with locals you don’t know in a communal and civil environment with wooden tables big enough to carry about ten or so per table. I like that idea but I am afraid of people, so I tend to never stray from the bar.

I eat at Republic most of all to watch the pots and pans and fryers at work and to listen to the indecipherable loudspeaker system working in their open kitchen, which reminds me so so much of the scene in Blade Runner when Han Solo (Indiana Jones) is first approached by his old crew at the future police station headquarters.

I hope you get a chance to check it out. And if you are lucky, the woman who works there who looks like a real living Nubian goddess with cheekbones and a smile that could break a glass statue with water-covered-living-thing-supporting moon like eyes is still there. She gives the best advice on changing up your mainstay courses if you are a creature of habit like myself.

Thank goodness for our amazing city and all its glorious nooks and crannies.

New York: Top 10 Restaurant Recession Specials

imageIf there’s one upside to the tanking economy, it’s that transcendental culinary experiences are finally accessible to the foodie cheapskates. Here’s a rundown of 10 particular pleasures of the palate and wallet, offered for the moment at a discount. Of course, “discount” is a very relative term …

10. Two-pound Lobster at Strip House, $58. Replaces their $116 four-pounder with a critter that’s half the size and half the price.

9. 2005 Lacryma Christi Del Vesuvio, Mastroberardino at Union Square Cafe, $25. Wedged between the four-figure bottles on their 30-plus-page wine list are 100 new selections under $75 — Why this particular Italian wine? Because when an eatery prices a Plain-Jane Belgium beer at $9, $25 for a bottle of wine is a steal.

8. Organic corn dogs at Hundred Acres, $2. For this price we’ll not only eat a corn dog, we’ll wash it down with their $3 ice cream float — offered 5-7 p.m.

7. Wok-seared filet mignon with mixed vegetables in peanut sauce at Ruby Foos, $10. At long last, a worthy excuse to be caught in one of the irritably kitschy Pan Asian tourist magnets.

6. Free Monday panini with glass of wine at Vero Wine Bar, around $10. Booze plus carbs equals happiness — especially if part of the equation is free.

5. Lunch entrée and a glass of wine Fridays at La Grenouille, $35. So you’ll have some extra cash to put towards that $20,000 panther ring from Cartier, conveniently located across the street from the posh eatery.

4. Chicken and rice at Republic, $8. Because dammit, when the going gets rough, that’s what you eat! Luckily this is Manhattan, so the chicken comes with tasty Vietnamese rice, shiitake and wood-ear mushrooms, Asian basil, and bean paste.

3. Three-course Sunday dinner at Apiary, $35. Groaning because it’s almost Monday isn’t attractive, so treat yourself to this new prix-fixe that includes a chocolate cashew brownie tart with cashew ice cream.

2. Two-course dinner menu at Eighty One, $42. We don’t know what foie gras royale is, but we had it, and it was not only good — it was worth the heartburn.

1. Three-course prix fixe at Le Cirque’s Wine Lounge, $48. Now the only question is: Do we pair our meal with the $50 glass of 1993 Barolo, or do we go for the more affordable $48 glass of 1996 Veuve Clicquot Ponsardin “la Grande dame?”