Bottle Service Lives On: Judge Blocks Bloomberg’s Large-Soda Ban

Judge Milton Tingling proved that you can fight City Hall when he overturned Mayor Mike Bloomberg’s ban on large containers of sugary sodas. Using words like "arbitrary" and "capricious," nightlife’s favorite judge stopped the insanity hours before the regulation went into effect. The rules would have banned carafes of mixers used in bottle service, forcing night spots to have containers of 16 ounces or less instead of the usual double that. What that means is tables designed to accommodate a bottle or two, ice buckets, napkins, glassware ,and mixers to name a few would be unable to handle that load, and alternative systems would be needed.

The regulations would not in any way stop the delivery of sugar-containing mixers, but it would just make that delivery more problematic and costly. Most clubs do not serve 100 percent pure fruit juices with their bottles, so orange and cranberry juice would also have to be poured from smaller vessels.

Clubs were scrambling to find smaller containers, and all sorts of other adjustments were going to be needed to comply. The size of tables needed to be rethought and possibly extra personnel hired to bring what patrons needed.

This law was silly. No one drinks out of a carafe, and it’s obvious that said container is meant for multiple patrons. I’m all for educating people about the harmful effects of sugar, and advising people to only drink diet or water. However, there is a great difference in keeping children away from large containers of sugary liquids, and it’s another thing to force adults to stop having what they want.

Where does this end? Surely the alcohol is as dangerous as the sugar. Surely the staying-up-late can be harmful, same with the noise and the possible unprotected sex. Passing laws that infringe on lifestyle is dead wrong. I agreed with the smoking ban because secondhand smoke hurts other patrons and workers, but secondhand sugar is not a reality. Kudos to Judge Tingling, and here’s hoping Mayor Mike’s threatened appeal is lost.

What on earth is happening down at Bow. Closed already, sources told me the place on the Bowery where Crash Mansion offered local and national bands is needing a rethink. Finale and The General are doing just fine, but Bow in the same building has Travis Bass bowing out.

The other day I wrote a story that things over at Butter Group were not exactly hunky dory. This got a response from the players there that my sources are wrong and that everything is actually hunky dory. Sources are sources, and I did write I was unsure of the validity of their remarks. I wish those guys a ton of success as I have only the greatest affection and respect for them. I look forward to a redone Butter, and the new programming I hear from all sides will happen at The Darby. When I went back and asked one of my sources about the story’s accuracy, they replied that they would stand by their statements, but that the normal state of things over there is confrontational – but somehow they always deliver a great product.

Photo Courtesy of Bon Appetit

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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.

EMM Group’s Sweetest Weapon: Pastry Chef Thiago Silva

Arriving ravenous to an interview with a renowned pastry chef was a bad idea. I knew it the moment Thiago Silva – the 28-year-old Brazilian executive pastry chef behind all OF EMM Group’s restaurants –  placed a massive, glazed green tea donut and mini honey jar before me, and uttered three little words: “It’s cream-filled.” With that, I was off to the races, cutting open the donut, scooping up the green tea mascarpone cream, drizzling the honey all over its lemon honeycomb-topped self, and leaving no crumb behind. Thiago wasn’t fazed. It’s most patrons’ natural response to the signature dessert at The General – EMM’s newest hotspot: an Asian-inspired bar, restaurant, and downstairs jazz lounge.

But at The General, the doughnut doesn’t stop there; the Bowery spot has become known for Thiago’s most nostalgic, breakfast creation: cereal-topped doughnuts. Yes, doughnuts topped with Fruity Pebbles, Cocoa Puffs, or Cinnamon Toast Crunch, and filled with their respective cereal creams. “A lot of people think I was high when I came up with the idea,” Thiago says. “But I wanted a breakfast item, so I combined my favorite breakfast cereals with my really great doughnut recipe.”

The doughnut recipe is another wildfire idea Thiago’s concocted that’s become EMM Group’s top-ordered dessert across all their restaurants. On the sweets menus of their spots CATCH NY, CATCH Miami, Lexington Brass, and Abe & Arthur’s, you’ll find one signature doughnut. For CATCH Miami, it’s their key lime doughnut. At The General, it’s green tea. For the rest it changes, with flavors like pumpkin and peaches and cream.

But Thiago – the man who grew up in Astoria and ironically bellowed “Feed me, feed me, Seymour” in his star-turn as the man-eating house plant in his high school’s production of Little Shop of Horrors  – brings more than doughnuts and plated desserts to NYC. He’s also a master of cakes, known for creating outrageous cakes for EMM’s clients, most notably a four-foot-by-four-foot 16th birthday cake with a confetti cannon, fog machine, and lights. Suddenly, the chef doubles as an electrician.

“I googled how to do the electrical and wood work for the cake,” says Thiago. “And that’s what I love about making cakes – you never make the same cake twice, you never know what kind of order you’ll get. It’s a collaboration with the client, and you’ve got to deliver and make it memorable.”

Thiago, who’s had no formal culinary training, has made lots of memorable cakes for folks you might recognize: Brooke Shields, three cakes for Sofia Vergara, and the entire New York Giants squad, the day after they won the Super Bowl.

“That was the best, they’re my team,” says Thiago. “And Sofia is funny; she told everyone at the party that she stayed up all night making the cake.”

But nowadays the chef is staying up all night for a whole new reason: he and his wife have just had a baby boy. Full name: James Brenden Silva (adorable video here).

“He’s my favorite kind of sweet,” Thiago says. “Him, and tiramisu.”

The General

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Fried Chicken & Cereal-Topped Donuts: New Brunches Launch Tomorrow

It’s a pretty good day when 1. it’s Friday and 2. the following day marks the beginning of a new wave in the competitive NY sport that is brunching.  Two very new and very delicious spots – The General & Sweet Chick – are launching their brunches, meaning that the following items will transform our weekend afternoons/hangovers/indigestion for the unforeseeable future.

The General: Top Chef winner Hung Huynh & pastry chef Thiago Silva cooks up…

  • Peking duck hash and eggs
  • Blueberry buttermilk pancakes
  • King crab in a kabayaki hollandaise
  • Signature pretzel bombs: pretzels filled with egg and cheese, and bacon or pastrami
  • Signature cereal-topped donuts

Sweet Chick: Southern-American dishes include…

  • Cheddar-laced shrimp and grits
  • Signature golden chicken & waffles
  • Bacon Bloody Marys
  • Sticky buns lathered in cream cheese frosting
  • Smoked pork hash and poached egg

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Photo: delish.com

EMM Group’s The General Launches New Bakery Today

The General, EMM Group’s latest Asian restaurant on Bowery, gets even newer with today’s opening of its bakery. And while this is a charming update on the sweets front, the announcement becomes positively electrifying with the introduction of two menu items: World, meet The Cereal-Inspired Donut & The Breakfast Pretzel Bomb.

Crafted by pastry chef Thiago Silva – the chef behind every EMM restaurants’ desserts – the cereal-inspired donuts ($3) come in six combos, three of which include: Fruity Pebbles with Cereal Milk, Coffee with Espresso Cream, and Coco Puffs with Coco Cream. The breakfast pretzel bomb ($4-$5) – a good dose of protein, dairy, and salt – is filled with egg & cheese, with a choice of ham or bacon.

Stumptown Hair Bender coffee is also being served, as is fresh orange & grapefruit juice.

It’s also open seven days a week, from 6am-2pm.

Free Wi-Fi is available.

I know; it just keeps getting better. Life is sweet.

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[Photo: NYT]

IT’S HUMP DAY: This Week’s Sexiest Events

It’s Wednesday and you know what that means: we get our hump on. This weekly column is devoted to finding the hottest events across NYC that’ll arouse and titillate even the most jaded New Yorker. Partake in these shows and soirees – from Naked Girls Reading to the shocking "F*ck Art" exhibit – and make the rest of your nights this week very sexy.

See hot naked girls tell stories about circus tricks:
The hit, nude literary event Naked Girls Reading begins its 2013 season tonight with its most eccentric event yet: “Naked Girls Reading Joins The Circus.” At Under St. Marks in the East Village, the naked girls troupe will read tales about their days at the carnival, on the tightrope, and the sideshow, while you attempt to get a gander at the chest behind their books. Whoops! Extra-special guests include Miss Coney Island 2010 GiGi La Femme, and international cirque and burlesque star The Lady Josephine. Wednesday, Jan. 16th. 9pm. All the details here.

Listen to writers’ most sensual and seductive work:
Open mic hits Le Poisson Rouge Friday night when 20 authors, poets, and spoken-word artists bravely take to the mic and share their most erotic sexual fantasies in a monthly night known as “Titillating Tongues – NYC Erotica in Poetry & Prose.” The host – fiery redheaded poet Aimee Herman – has been known to surprise audiences, most notably with a male stripper simulating masturbation onstage. And wahoo, while that doesn’t sound like poetry to me, for some, it’s just perfect.7pm. $10. Friday, Jan. 18th.  All the details here.

See shocking, sexual NYC street art at “F*ck Art” exhibit:
In NYC, there’s little separation between nightclub and lounge, hipster and homeless. And at the Museum of Sex, 20 select street artists showcase art that pushes the boundary between sexuality and our public space in an exhibit called “F*ck Art.” This exhibit gets shocking, asking all those big questions about human cultural identity and sexuality etc., so it’s not for the timid or the meek. But then again, if you’re considering walking into the Museum of Sex at all, you’re none of those things. Bravo. 10am. Runs every day until March 1st. All the details here.

Eat the sexiest Chinese food you’ll ever have:
When nightlife crew EMM Group opens anything new, the spot becomes a huge, sexy hit – and so begins the trajectory of their latest opening:  LES Chinese restaurant The General. I know, Chinese food and sexy? But with its plank-wood ceiling, retro red chairs, and gilded Asian wallpaper, EMM Group makes The General swank – and your new date spot. Open now. 199 Bowery. All inside-info here.

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New York Happenings: The General, Trestle on Tenth, and Atera

The Bow/FINALE spread now has a legit restaurant, too. The General follows EMM Group’s sibling spot Catch by putting Top Chef Hung Huynh in a buzzed-about room. Huge garage doors welcome you to a space done up with black and white floors and popping red seats. Bites are made for sharing, cribbing Chinese inspirations in Peking duck and Philly cheesesteak sticky buns. Salute.

DETAILS: The General (199 Bowery, Lower East Side) is open now. To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

NOW: Swiss Meatz

The annual meat fest that is known as Metzgete has begun at Trestle on Tenth. Acolytes of Dr. Atkins can dig in guilt-free to a feast of brats, sausages, and pork bellies. Swiss beers and wines stand by for pairing.

DETAILS: Metzgete at Trestle on Tenth (242 Tenth Ave., Chelsea) runs nightly through Saturday the 20th. To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

WEDNESDAY: French Twists

Atera is at the vanguard of the micro restaurant trend. This week, the restaurant expands its horizons with David Toutain, late of Paris’s Agapé Substance, who will collaborate on a four-night stand as guest chef.

DETAILS: David Toutain at Atera (77 Worth St., Tribeca) will run Wednesday through Saturday, with two seatings each night. To learn more about the restaurant, check out the listing at BlackBook Guides.

Do you enjoy going out in New York? Then check out BlackBook’s New York Guide for all the best spots. Raise your nightlife game by downloading the BlackBook City Guides app for iPhone and Android. And to keep up on the hottest openings and events, sign up for BlackBook Happenings, a fun, informative, non-spammy email newsletter with the latest and greatest goings-on, delivered to your inbox every Monday.