This Week’s NY Happenings: Taste Of The LES, Maison Premiere, Greenpoint Brunchtacular

THURSDAY: Taste Of The Lower East Side
As benefits with bites go, it’s hard to beat the Taste of the Lower East Side for both breadth and depth. Fifty top neighborhood joints will come together at 82MERCER for an all-you-can-eat extravaganza. Newer hands like Pig and Khao, Jeepney, and The Leadbelly rub shoulders with established pros like Alias and wd-50. There’s craft beer and wine to wash it down, and a danceable soundtrack from DJ AndrewAndrew. A silent auction will tempt you too, with everything from SoulCycle classes to a Rao’s reservation, all to benefit the Grand St. Settlement.

Taste of the Lower East Side starts at 7pm on Thursday, April 25th, at 82MERCER (82 Mercer St., Soho). General admission tickets are $195 ($125 is tax-deductible). To learn more about the event space, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

NOW: One More Trafalgar Julep
Spring has sprung at Williamsburg’s Maison Premiere. A new chef (Lisa Giffen, late of Daniel and Blue Hill) plies the kitchen, and the spring cocktail menu has been unveiled. Enjoy a full lineup of refreshing juleps like the Trafalgar (gin, sherry, crème de menthe, and lemon).

Spring cocktail menu now available at Maison Premiere (298 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg). To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

SATURDAY: Honeyed Brunch
To raise money for Sandy recovery, Greenpoint’s t.b.d. is hosting an epic brunch in the yard this Saturday. Neighbors as diverse as Anella, Action Burger, and Selamat Pagi will lay out a spread, accompanied by that most indispensible of brunch items—bottomless mimosas.

Rally Downtown’s Greenpoint Brunchtacular starts at noon on Saturday, April 27th, at t.b.d. (224 Franklin St., Greenpoint). Tickets are $30, or $50 for two. To learn more about the bar, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

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Mrs. Kim’s Brings Korean Cuisine to Greenpoint

We’ve been tailing Brooklyn-based chef Jonathan Meyer ever since he formidably combined the beer garden and banh mi crazes (remember those?) last summer at t.b.d. In the winter, he surfaced the Greenpoint Coffee House, where he introduced us to a top-notch burger and some of the best fried chicken we’ve had. The place was doing solid business, and it looked like Meyer and his partner Will Griffin, both 25, had found a permanent home. Not quite. In late 2009, the chefs learned the lease would not be renewed, and they’d have to relocate once again. Then in walked Lisa Kim.

Mrs. Kim the owner of the River Barrel, a small, sunny restaurant four blocks south of GPHC, had just lost her chef. She approached Meyer and Griffin and suggested the two continue to cook their same style of market-driven American food in her kitchen. But after surveying the menu, Meyer and Griffin realized they had an opportunity to try something else altogether. While searching for someone to helm her kitchen, Kim cooked the Korean dishes of her youth as specials. Meyer—who’s had experience preparing asian at Fatty Crab—and Griffin were immediately inspired. Under the tutelage of Mrs. Kim, an accomplished home cook, the menu was revamped as an ode to classic Korean dishes, and the River Barrel became Mrs. Kim’s, Greenpoint’s only Korean restaurant. The incognito transformation (the restaurant’s rustic decor remains unchanged) has both surprised and delighted locals who came expecting the Barrel’s American fare.

The Fatty Crab’s Zac Pelaccio has proven that you don’t need to be of Asian descent to create authentically-inspired oriental dishes. In the same vein, these well-executed dishes ring true to the Korean palette you’re accustomed to. The fried chicken is appropriately sticky with a gentle, hot and sweet glaze that coats the crispy, shell-like exterior. The Wagyu Brisket Bulgogi is melt-in-your-mouth tender, and comes with cradles of bibb lettuce to wrap it in. The Hangover kimchi stew is a fiery concoction served with pork shoulder and pork belly. But enough description. It’s time for some highly intense food porn shots of some Mrs. Kim’s Korean-inspired fare. See you there.

image Whole Grilled Fava Beans: mint, kochukaru (korean chili flake), fish sauce.

image Korean Fried Chicken: Sweet and spicy glaze, herbs (which change, but in this case, cilantro, thai basil, vietnamese mint, and anise hyssop), rice, pickled daikon, cucumber and celery.

image Wagyu Brisket Bulgogi: Braised with soy sauce and apple juice, cabbage kimchi, scallions, rice, pickled daikon, cucumber celery.

image Kim Dog: House-made sausage (pork shoulder, pork fat, gochujang, shallots, dried anchovies, ginger, garlic), chopped kimchi, gochujang ketchup.

image Bibimbop: Slow-poached egg, carrots, bean sprouts, scallions, fern root, bellflower root, mushrooms, nori [seaweed], cabbage kimchi, daikon radish, kimchi.

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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. ● Creative Director – Jason Daniels, The Odeon (NYC) -American Psychos down salmon and steak frites, but the real scene’s on the sidewalk. ● Vice President, Content – Chris Mohney, Agua Dulce (NYC) – Festive outpost feels like Miami, F-L-A.

EDITORIAL ● Senior Editor – Nick Haramis, Motor City Bar (NYC) – Front like you remember how to drive and these 8 Milers might let you hang. ● Features Editor – Willa Paskin, Mayahuel (NYC) – Tequila temple where patrons pay homage to the goddess of agave. ● Writer-at-Large – Alison Powell, Peppermill (Las Vegas) – Vegas institution pushes diner food in front and romantic cocktails in the back. ● Nightlife Correspondent – Steve Lewis, Serpentine (NYC) – Patrick Duffy’s legendary scene uncoils in west Chelsea. ● Assistant Editors – Ben Barna, Jupiter Room (Montreal) – Drink your face off for cheap and dance ’til it aches. Cayte Grieve, Blackstones (NYC) – Foster Ethan Kamer, Joseph Leonard (NYC) – Elegantly distressed Village charmer serving up three solid meals a day. Eiseley Tauginas, Barrow Street Ale House (NYC) – College sports fans and West Village regulars cram into cozy confines. ● Copy Editor – Michèle Filon, Back Forty (NYC) – Manure-free urban farm sates virtuous, albeit rare, healthy food cravings. ● Editorial Interns – Molly Gunn, PDT (NYC) – Somebody told, but still a nice sophisto surprise behind the grunge of Crif. Megan LaBruna, Mercury Lounge (NYC) – Catch a future indie rock god at this rite of musical passage. Toren Curtis, The Vagabond (Miami) – Great indie scene. Even better music. Ashley Simpson, SPiN New York (NYC) – Marginally-more-athletic alternative to beer pong gets its own private club. Averie Timm, Downtown Cipriani (NYC) – Über-scene congregation of A-list supermodels, art stars, and financiers. Food, too. If you care. Annie Werner, Antone’s (Austin) – This revered blues club’s namesake did more for black-white relations than the Oreo cookie. Hillary Weston, The Four-Faced Liar (NYC) – Greenwich Village-proper pub is something out of Middle Earth, or Docklands. Either way: the real deal.

ART ● Art Director – Amy Steinhauser, Mizu Sushi (NYC) – Popular lunch spot for Flatiron media types needing to bitch. ● Assistant Designer – Serra Semi, Momofuku Ssäm Bar (NYC) – Chef-of-the-minute David Chang fancies up Korean burritos and gets avant-garde after 6pm. ● Photography Assistant – Stephanie Swanicke, Canal Room (NYC) – Jersey hordes in the house, but discreet famous faces still rock all night. ● Freelance Designer – Krista Quick, t.b.d (NYC) – Sleek and chic lounge in the heart of Greenpoint.

FASHION & BEAUTY ● Market Editor – Bryan Levandowski, Shang (NYC) – Toronto-bred Susur Lee takes on nouveau Asian small plates at the Thompson LES. ● Fashion Assistant – Wilson Mathews III, Dylan’s Candy Bar (NYC) – King-sized candy shop hypnotizing children and torturing adult waistlines in the UES.

BLACKBOOK MEDIA CORP ● Chairman – Bob Hoff, Voyeur (LA) – The inspiration is Eyes Wide Shut…so yes, there’s lots of leather. ● CEO – Ari Horowitz, Nikki Beach (St. Barts) – An escape into paradise in the middle of, well, paradise. ● Associate Publisher – Brett Wagner, Barrio Chino (NYC) – Chino Latino tequila bar serving up 50 kinds of that devil stuff. ● Director of Finance and Operations – Joe Friedman, Brooklyn Bowl (NYC) – Rock and bowl will never die. ● Corporate Counsel – Drew Patrick, Tournesol (NYC) – Coq au vin and crème brûlée? Oui! Oui! ● Executive Assistant – Bridgette Bek, Tu Lan (San Francisco) – Word-of-mouth dingy treasure serving good, cheap Vietnamese food in a downright crappy location.

ADVERTISING – advertising@bbook.com ● Senior Account Executive – Dina Matar, Ilili (NYC) – Upscale Lebanese moves miles beyond falafel. ● Account Executive – Brian Kantor, Lillie’s (NYC) – Victorian pub with just enough antiquery to make you feel grand. ● Executive Director, BlackBook Access – Gregg Berger, Indochine (NYC) – French-colonial greets uptown-cum-downtown diners. ● Advertising Director – Michelle Koruda, Shorty’s .32 (NYC) – Josh Eden under-promises and over-delivers at this Soho charmer. ● Detroit Account Executives – Jeff Hannigan, The Lodge (Chicago) -Ye old typical Division Street cheese, but always a shameless good time. Kristen von Bernthal, Hudson Bar at Hudson Hotel (NYC) – Acid-trip décor. Sit on a log and rest your drink on a gnome head. ● Midwest Account Executives – Susan Welter, Hopleaf Bar (Chicago) – Andersonville’s best bar. Belgian beers and food meet in a place that’s too smart to be too cool and vice versa. Andrea Forrester, Coast Sushi (Chicago) – BYOB meets the sea at this high-quality Wicker Park sushi spot. ● Southwest Account Executive – Molly Ballantine, Rustic Canyon (LA) – Leave it to the upper-cresty West-siders to show everyone else up with their moody, fashionable darkwood and cream take on the ubiquitous neighborhood wine bar. ● Northwest Account Executives – Catherine Hurley, Coi (San Francisco) – The apotheosis of both the molecular gastronomy trend and the sustainable food movement: ethereal, futuristic flavors in a serene environment. Shawn O’Meara, Nopalito (San Francisco) – ● Sales Coordinator – Celia Ballou, Pink Pony (NYC) – Pseudo-bohemian bistro that’s better for people watching than, like, eating or whatever.

MARKETING ● Marketing Manager – Julie Fabricant, Bottega Louie (LA) – Proof that Downtown is still gentrifying. ● Partnerships & Promotions Manager – Andrew Berman, K & M (NYC) – Former perogie factor converted to current meat market for the indie-rock set. ● Interns – Cristina Girgis, Barbounia (NYC) – Tony Medi with good bones. Interior is all about the arches. Alexandra Vickers, The Slaughtered Lamb Pub (NYC) – Magical enough to overlook the horror movie gimmick.

DIGITAL ● Director of Development – Daniel Murphy, Max’s On Broadway (Baltimore) – Ahhh, good old Max’s I remember you well…well what I can remember anyway. ● Lead Architect – Matt Hackett, Caracas Arepa Bar (NYC) – Arepas, seventeen ways. Venezuela is for carb lovers. ● Developer – Bastian Kuberek, Greenhouse (NYC) – NYC’s first Green club tries to make bottles and models sustainable. ● Developer – Dan Simon, Hudson Terrace (NYC) – Rooftop pleaser for drunk summer afternoons. ● Designer – Matt Strmiska, Uchi (Austin) – Thoroughly inventive and delectable sushi in vibrant environs, compliments of lauded chef Tyson Cole. ● Developer – Sam Withrow, The Knockout (San Francisco) – The vibe is blessedly lawless,prolifically musical and down right hedonistic. Peep tall cans and a sweaty dance floor. ● Quality Assurance Engineer – Sunde Johnson, Melt (NYC) – Brooklyn brunch spot becoming the standard for neighborhood dining. ●Mobile Developer – Otto Toth, Alloro (NYC) – Cacio e Pepe peeps get creative on the Upper East.

BOARD OF DIRECTORS: Bob Hoff, Voyeur (LA). Ari Horowitz, Nikki Beach (St. Barts). Eric Gertler, Matsuhisa (Aspen) – World-famous Nobu chef brings incredibly tasty, stylish, pricy sushi to Aspen. Joe Landry, SLS Hotel at Beverly Hills (LA) – Phillipe Starck and Sam Nazarian mind meld to create a papparazzi-inducing modern luxury hotel in (well, near) BH. 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, Bryant & Cooper (Hamptons) – While it may be trying a little too hard for a classic old-time-y vibe, the steaks are nonetheless quite good. Jack Sullivan, The Raleigh Hotel (Miami) – The local equivalent of LA’s Chateau Marmont.

Winter Warrior: Greenpoint Coffee House’s Stellar New Menu

A while back, New York magazine profiled the Greenpoint Coffee House with the backhanded compliment that it “remains the best place to get a decent cup of coffee in Greenpoint, but it falls short of being a dining destination.” We’re here to tell you that’s no longer accurate. With a renewed commitment to quality eats, the GPCH has elevated itself to destination dining status, its rebirth the work of one man. Earlier this summer, we profiled local chef Jonathan Meyer (he lives across the street) whose experimentation behind the grill turned t.b.d.‘s beer garden into the perfect getaway on a balmy Brooklyn night. It turns out Meyer is a man of all seasons, transforming GPCH into a cozy hub for winter comfort food to go along with its steaming pots of coffee.

Don’t be fooled by the “Est. 2003” emblazoned on the storefront window. The mahogany wainscoted interior with tin ceilings and majestic oak bar call back to a time when the nearby docks were still teeming with shipbuilders and headlines announced allied advances across the Atlantic. And the food is just as transporting. Meyer, who chopped and braised in the kitchens at Fatty Crab and Diner, took into account the winter weather when renovating the menu. “We aim for developed, robust flavors. We’ll be doing a lot of roasting and braising, and we’ll serve plenty of pasta, beans and polenta,” says Meyer. “We’ll use more brown butter and red wine, and reach for more assertive, warmer spices and herbs.”

Last summer, unbeknownst to him, Meyer was being watched. The managers at GPHC must have read the Nymag profile and decided it was time to legitimize their menu. After seeing the creative flourishes he brought to old standbys like corn on the cob (basting it in apple butter) and banh mi sandwiches (homemade pork sausages) they were convinced he was the man for the job. He was losing his job to the increasing frigidness of Mother Nature, and leapt at the opportunity to impose his vision of humble, recognizable, and affordable food with the best ingredients available on a blank slate kitchen. “We don’t use luxury ingredients like say, rare fish or expensive cuts of meat. Instead, we try to cook attentively and carefully. Everyone who works in this kitchen cooks because they love cooking, and places a premium on producing food they can be proud of,” says Meyer.

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Food they can be proud of includes one of the best new burgers in Brooklyn. Featuring a thick, flavorful natural beef patty from Painted Hills in Oregon, it’s cooked to perfection on a cast iron pan (Meyer’s improv in a grill-less kitchen) and topped with grafton cheddar, and sandwiched between a fluffy bun from Amy’s. The result is extremely satisfying ($11). Another standout winter combatant is Meyer’s crispy buttermilk fried chicken with apple cider Glaze, and a house-made buttermilk biscuit ($14). Spaghetti and meatballs ($13), mac & cheese ($9) and this week, a Rueben sandwich with house-made corned beef is also available. As part of the brunch menu, Meyer offers up among other staples, hearty omlette with caramelized onions, manchego, and house-made chorizo ($11).

To compliment with these proven favorites, Meyer’s constantly-changing menu offers up more unusual fare. Squash, pumpkin and apple soup with brown butter, crème fraiche and nutmeg; chicken liver crostini with Lillet, pickled black currants, and beet greens; sirloin steak with salsa Verde, fries and a watercress and watermelon radish salad. “We don’t follow a particular rubric,” says Meyer. “Our menu is determined by the products available to us each week.” His staff is a rag-tag group of passionate cooks. Meyer and his resident pastry chef Will Griffin met at the memorial service of a mutual ex-girlfriend, who was killed last summer in a bike accident. Meyer asked Will to join him at GPCH, who accepted the offer and relocated to Brooklyn. Ben Flanner runs the rooftop farm in Greenpoint over the summer, and has decided to cook with Meyer until the spring, when he’ll return to farming. And John Petry, the resident butcher is also a sous-chef at the Fatty Crab. The union of their sensibilities and passion for food is what makes the food here so special. You can taste the love.

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Greenpoint Coffee House, 195 Franklin St., Brooklyn, NY, 718-349-6635

Beer Garden + Banh Mi = Greenpoint’s Best-Kept Secret

Let’s face it: summer in New York is over. There’s technically a month left, but if it goes by as quickly as the rest of them did, then August will be over by the time you’re done reading this. Looking back on the season that was, the two dominant commodities are obvious – -beer gardens and banh mi. Until now, a harmonious partnership of the two has been non-existent, but an enterprising Brooklyn-based chef has changed all that, and it’s too bad you’re only just now finding out about it.

A few months ago, t.b.d., a clandestine bar on a Greenpoint side street, converted an adjacent lot into a very summery beer garden replete with picnic tables, rustic patio furniture sets, and a gravelly base, all surrounded by a protective barbed wire. But what separates this outdoor area from the others is the corner grill, run by young chef Jon Meyer, formerly a line cook at the Fatty Crab and Diner. Meyer mans the ship from behind a standard barbeque, and at first glance he looks like Dad on a Sunday afternoon, grilling up burgers for the kiddies. But the menu indicates something else entirely.

Meyer grew up in Northern California where sustainable agriculture is more of a norm, and he takes great pride in the quality of his ingredients. He plucks them from a nearby farmer’s market and gets fresh organics from Rooftop Farms. Regulars on the menu include Meyer’s take on the banh mi, which includes egg, Sriracha, and kaffir aioli. Another is his eggplant sandwich, garnished with pickled red onions, harrisa, smoked feta, and mint. When I came last weekend, Meyer whipped up tangy smoked chicken wings, corn on the cob with smoked apple butter, and an octopus salad with charred scallions and romesco. All of it was utterly delicious. Other staples include mac n’ cheese and a BLT. “We just cook whatever we want, so long as it’s delicious, and we can pull it off.” He can, and he does.

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Photos by Mary Meyer.