Get Living Room Envy At UNTITLED’s Nakashima Showcase

Ever wonder what it would feel like to have lots of money to back up your impeccable taste? And, perhaps, a living room the size of a rather spacious Lower East Side art gallery? If so, consider “George Nakashima: In Conversation,” on view at UNTITLED through April 20, as a manifestation of that thought experiment. The exhibition pairs furniture made by the late Japanese-American icon (1905-1990) with contemporary sculpture and mixed media paintings, creating a charmingly domestic tableaux, albeit one that is less cluttered than real life. (If this was my house it’d be overrun by teetering novel-towers, empty coffee cups, and four-legged creatures chasing various catnip-delivery devices).

Nakashima’s elegant wood lines–tables, chairs, cabinets–pair quite well with Roger Herman’s ceramic bowls and vases. Matthew Chambers’s paintings–which achieve a texture akin to a golf course or Astroturf by using enamel-based adhesive, acrylic, and nylon flocking–fade into the background a bit, their walnut frames nodding to Nakashima’s material of choice. Likewise Rob Davis’s “paintings” of stretched leather, minimalist compositions that seem to be included mainly for their tonal resonance with the furniture.  (This is an unequal “conversation” between Nakashima and the other artists; you know who’s in charge). A large Henry Taylor painting does inject a challenge to Nakashima’s subdued vibe, though, as does a surreal sculpture (composed of cardboard boxes and a disembodied head) that lurks in the corner.

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Get Down With 2013’s Michelin-Rated Restaurants

This week restaurants around the city celebrated the release of the 2013 Michelin Guide. One of the best features about this prestigious tome is their “good cuisine at reasonable price,” Bib Gourmand section. For the Bib Gourmand, they consider restaurant that offer two courses and a glass of wine or dessert for $40 or less. Here, they don’t offer stars, but getting mentioned in the guide is enough for many eateries. 

“I couldn’t be more excited about our mention in the Michelin guide,” said Speedy Romeo chef and co-owner Justin Bazdarich. “I really see the guide as an honest measure for a restaurant rating, so, it means a lot to me to gain their respect.”

Aside from Speedy Romeo, highlighted this year include Gran Electrica, Pok Pok, and Battersby, which was also voted one of the best new restaurants in America by Bon Appetite magazine. It also appears to be the golden time for Bed-Stuy’s Do or Dine. Not only did chef and co-owner Justin Warner winFood Network Star a couple months ago, but the restaurant has their second notable mention in the Michelin Guide.

In Manhattan, notice went to August, Il Buco Aimentari & Vineria, and Danny Meyer’s Untitled. There were also quite a few Asian places in the guide including Family Recipe, Jin Ramen, Yunnan Kitchen, and Uncle Zhou in Queens. With the one-star awards, the Asian trend continued with Café China, Hakkasan, and Jungsik at the top of the list.

On the higher end of things, three Michelin stars went, unsurprisingly, to eateries including Per Se, Eleven Madison Park, and La Bernardin. There was one astounding twist; out of seven venues, one award went to a non-Manhattan restaurant: Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare. See folks, Brooklyn is rising. Just wait until it’s all outer boroughs and ramen joints.

Eating Culture: New Restaurants for the Arts

In the past couple weeks, two popular chefs have opened their newest eateries with a little more culture then ever before. Culture being literal as the venue for celebrity chef Marcus Samuelsson’s American Table is in Alice Tully Hall in Lincoln Center, and the team behind the beloved M. Wells Diner has launched M. Wells Dinette, their new eatery inside MoMA PS1 in Queens.

“To me, Lincoln Center symbolizes New York City’s passion for culture and performance,” said Samuelsson. “As a lover of the arts, I am honored to showcase the diversity of the American dining scene at this iconic institution.”

Samuelsson’s new cafe is situated along the large glass windows in the concert hall’s foyer, and is helmed by executive chef Charlene Johnson-Hadley, who worked her way up from being line cook at Red Rooster in Harlem. The fare at American Table includes smoked Caesar salad, turkey meatball sandwiches, country ham biscuits, and, naturally, apple pie.

Over at PS1, chefs and owners Hugue Dufour and Sarah Obraitis have converted an old classroom into their restaurant and offer a daily changing menu with items like escargot, rabbit terrine, and bibimbap with tuna and scallops. For those of you who were looking to try M. Wells’ infamous horsemeat tartar, according to Steve Cuozzo of The New York Post they will not be dishing it out any time soon after a PETA protest. M. Wells Dinette is open the same hours as the museum, but despite the classroom look, don’t expect it to be thronged with children as other museum cafeterias are.

With these new restaurants, almost all the hip cultural centers in New York now have the added draw of destination dining to them, mainly thanks to restaurateur Danny Meyer. His Union Hospitality Group runs The Modern at MoMA, followed by Untitled at The Whitney, and they have upped the food ante at Yankee Stadium by filling it with Shake Shack burgers, shakes, and fries. Now all we need is a true meshing of the two and have more food art.

Photo by Philip Greenberg

Chicago Opening: Untitled

The sheer scale of Untitled, an 18,000-square-foot speakeasy, makes it a little hard to keep up such pretenses as "secret" or "underground lair." But it’s always better to cop your cocktail conceptualizing (and the food, for that matter) from the Prohibition Era than from the post-Millennial twee that haunts so many serious new imbibing destinations. And there’s something kind of cooly meta about calling your place Untitled (it’s sort of like naming your kid Noname).  

Make no mistake, this is no six-table basement hideaway. Rather, it is labyrinthine supper clubbing to the extreme, with a large-boothed dining area, a whiskey-focused library room, and a lounge with a bar the length of a couple of healthy giraffes. There are the usual text message procedures and special VIP keys and whatnot, to add the frisson of challenge to the proceedings.  All sorts of retro naughty entertainments will also be regularly proffered, with Bally Hoo! being the high-profile Friday night fete. Unititled…unfettered. 

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A Scent With No Name

Okay, so I am fully obsessed with the new Margiela unisex fragrance. I’m not one for cologne but after sampling this stuff at the Margiela press day, I’d like to dive into a tub full of it. Well, maybe that’s not such a good idea, but you know what I mean.

It’s called “Untitled,” a fitting name for a scent from the mysterious designer behind the Belgian fashion house. While we may not know what Mr. Margiela looks like, you can bet he smells fantastic. And so do I now!!

image Yummmmm!