Everything on the menu will have Nutella in it? Excuse us while we wipe away the drool.
An all-Nutella restaurant sounds like a chocolaty dream come true! Nutelleria, a restaurant that will be serving breakfast, dessert dishes and more containing the famous chocolate-hazelnut spread, will soon be opening in Brooklyn’s Park Slope neighborhood. Expect some seriously mouthwatering concoctions like a breakfast pizza with cream cheese, fruit, and Nutella; a Nutella-bacon-banana waffle sandwich; and of course, Nutella crepes.
But here’s the thing: since the Nutella restaurant is run by fans of the chocolate spread, and not actually associated with Nutella’s parent company Ferrero, the restaurant may actually be illicit.
We’ve reached out to Ferrero for comment, but have not heard back. It does seem that lawyers will come knocking on Nutelleria’s door soon though, because Nutella is a registered trademark, and Ferrero has made restaurants change the names of their dishes and smoothies in the past. The Nutella bar at Eataly is an exception, since they collaborated directly with the folks at Nutella for their 50th anniversary festivities.
But it seems that the Nutelleria folks aren’t too worried, since they’ve started a viral social media campaign on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
So the big question is, when will this beautiful paradise be opening? Cryptically, the Nutelleria just says “very, very soon.” We’ll raise a jar to that.
For the latest happenings in the food and drink world, visit our Food News page.
Joanna Fantozzi is an Associate Editor with The Daily Meal. Follow her on [email protected]
One Restaurant’s New Digital Life
The pandemic forced small businesses to adopt new digital habits, and many are now here to stay.
What does a post-pandemic restaurant look like? At Glasserie, a Mediterranean restaurant in Brooklyn, sales are stellar, the staff is stretched thin, and the owner is excited about technology — but only on her terms.
Last year, I wrote about Glasserie and how technology was both helping and hurting it adapt in the pandemic. I checked back this week with Sara Conklin, Glasserie’s owner, to find out how the restaurant is faring in (fingers crossed) the early phase of coronavirus recovery in the United States.
Glasserie’s experience is a hopeful sign that digital habits forced on us in a crisis may help build a brighter future not only for the corporate tech titans but also for smaller businesses.
Conklin told me that the pandemic forced her to become more tech savvy in ways that she believes will help the restaurant in the long run. She remains frustrated by some technology that caters to restaurants, particularly food-delivery apps, but is thrilled about others, including smartphone software that she plans to use for customers to pay the bill on their phones.
Those are the kinds of digital services that Conklin said will make Glasserie more efficient and more profitable. “These are things I’d like to keep whether there was a pandemic or not,” she said. “We want to keep pushing ahead.”
Most of the last year, though, was all about muddling through. Glasserie’s dining room was closed or capacity was seriously limited. It tried to make up for lost business by opening an online minimart selling items like bottles of wine and toilet paper. It started selling alcoholic drinks and snacks through a new takeout window, and staff members cranked out emails to tempt diners with meals created for eating at home.
All of those pandemic adaptations are over. As other restaurants are reporting, people are eager to eat out again, and Glasserie is happy to serve them. “We’re busier now than we’ve ever been in our almost 10 years of existence,” Conklin told me. That’s even with capacity limits on indoor dining in New York.
Conklin also said that the pandemic converted her from a skeptic of technology for Glasserie. “I have always been resistant,” she said, not necessarily to all technologies but to those that she believed got in the way or ruined the atmosphere. “It didn’t feel right to me.” But now she’s excited about technology — at least some of it.
In 2020, Glasserie had no choice but to start using more delivery and takeout apps including Seamless, Grubhub and DoorDash. Like other restaurant owners, Conklin complained about what she felt were confusing terms and high costs.
Recently, Glasserie has been using a feature from Square, which sells digital cash registers and other technology to restaurants, to take delivery orders directly on the restaurant’s website. Conklin uses a feature to hand off those orders to couriers working for Postmates or DoorDash for an additional fee.
She said this was a way for Glasserie to offer deliveries but on the restaurant’s own website and with more control. If the kitchen is slammed, Glasserie can temporarily pause the delivery option.
Conklin still doesn’t like costs for deliveries. She said she didn’t really know what Glasserie paid to delivery providers, showing how complicated the app companies’ charges were. “For me to find that out would take me a good hour or two and some real math,” she said.
It also bothers her that Glasserie has no way to keep tabs on delivery orders and often doesn’t know about late deliveries or botched meals until it’s far too late to fix the problem.
But Conklin’s biggest headache isn’t technology. It’s finding enough workers. Glasserie has advertised for staff on Craigslist and on restaurant job boards, and has gotten in touch with former employees. It’s been slow going.
I asked Conklin how it feels now that she and Glasserie have shifted past emergency mode to this new phase. She said she felt optimistic and uncertain, but mostly in a good way. “It feels very much like we are opening a restaurant from scratch,” she said.
Gumbo Bros Gives Nashville an Escape to New Orleans Via Comforting Cajun and Creole Food
The Gumbo Bros, a buzzed-about Brooklyn-based Cajun/Creole restaurant, is opening its second location in Nashville (the Gulch, specifically) on Wednesday, March 3. And while yes, Brooklyn might have been the first location for Gumbo Bros — don’t let that distract you from the fact these guys are from Cajun country.
Chef/co-founder/Mobile, Alabama native Adam Lathan and co-founder Clay Boulware met at LSU, where they were roommates. Lathan spent a great deal of his childhood traveling along the Gulf Coast to New Orleans to visit family and of course, eat all of the city’s fantastic food while soaking in the NOLA culture.
After college, they moved to NY and noticed a lack of options for good crawfish, gumbo, and po’boys. What began at pop-ups, festivals, and catering spun into the duo’s first restaurant in 2016, and Nashville was chosen for their first expansion — the former Bar Otaku space in the Gulch, specifically.
“We want this place to be an escape from the absolute BS that we have all been through this past year. We want TGB to be a place that has elevated, classic Cajun/bar food in a setting that says ‘have a beer at lunch, it doesn’t matter here.’ You may not be on Frenchmen Street right now, but this is as close as it gets,” says Lathan.
The Gumbo Bros’ po’ boys begin with New Orleans’ own Leidenheimer Bakery French bread, then come dressed with lettuce, tomato, Duke’s mayo, and pickles. Diners can choose from classics like fried shrimp, oyster, Mississippi catfish, roast beef with debris gravy, or fried green tomato and remoulade. “Fancy pants” po’boy options range from surf ‘n’ turf (fried shrimp, roast beef, and debris gravy) to the “peacemaker” (with fried shrimp, fried oyster, and pepper jack cheese). The Gumbo Bros regularly flies seafood to each restaurant straight from the Gulf.
Lathan has a trio of gumbos on the menu, all based on the proper recipe he learned straight from his great-grandmother Nanny. That very technique—cooking homemade gumbo for 14 hours—is used in The Gumbo Bros kitchen to this day, and serves as the basis for all three gumbos on the menu: Cajun chicken and sausage gumbo (Cajun-style gumbo with dark roux with smoky andouille sausage, Cajun-spiced chicken, and chicken bone stock), Nanny’s seafood Gumbo (coastal-style gumbo with filé powder, fresh shrimp, and blue crab meat in crab stock), and gumbo z’herbes (a vegan and gluten-free classic New Orleans-style gumbo with kale, collard, parsley, and mustard greens, filé gumbo and roasted veggie stock). The gumbo z’herbes recipe was originally associated with Good Friday when no meat, chicken, or fish could be consumed by the religiously observant.
There are also smoked boudin balls (made with Peg Leg Porker pork), cripsy fried Louisiana alligator nuggets, Cajun waffle fries, Louisiana-made Zapp’s Chips, and bananas foster pudding on the menu.
As far as alcoholic beverages go, the Gumbo Bros continue the nod to its New Orleans theme, with house hurricanes and a slew of daiquiris, alongside Tabasco margaritas on tap. There will also be a rotating selection of local Nashville and New Orleans beers.
The highly anticipated New Orleans-style fast-casual spot slid into the former Bar Otaku location at 505 12 Avenue South, and the space of course has a whole new look designed the feel of New Orleans in mind. Lathan’s father, a contractor and preservationist, salvaged wood salvaged from the Port of New Orleans that forms Gumbo Bros Nashville’s expansiveg bar, white globe light pendants hand-adorned with pelicans dangle overhead. A mural features paintings of New Orleans greats such as Leah Chase, Tennessee Williams, and James Booker, plus tabletops made of 150-year-old refurbished maple planks from a former textile mill in Alabama (also via Lathan’s father) add further interest.
As mentioned, this is the second iteration of The Gumbo Bros, following its Brooklyn, NY home base which opened in 2016 (and has received lots of attention nationwide). Lathan describes the process of open a restaurant during a pandemic while operating another one in another city “like refueling a plane mid-flight. Every time we think that we have something figured out, we get thrown a curveball. We had to learn everything on the fly during the height of the pandemic in Brooklyn so in a weird way, we feel like it prepared us to be better operators and make better choices for the safety of our staff, our customers, and our business.” Lathan says Nashville as the second location was a natural fit, as he wanted to come back to the south and loves the thriving city and its hospitality industry. “The restaurant community is very tight-knit and everyone from other operators, chefs, vendors, and even our landlords really sealed the deal for us that if we were going to bet on anywhere to recover from Covid, that we were putting it all on Nashville.”
Nashvillians can expect to experience the full spirit of Louisiana as The Gumbo Bros offers a gathering place for LSU and Saints fans on game days, hurricanes and daiquiris on tap, an oyster happy hour, and plans for crawfish boils and a jazz brunch starting in the spring.
All the Recipes From ‘Recipe Club’
From the mind of chef Dave Chang and Majordomo Media, Recipe Club explores the best ways to cook a popular dish. Each week, Dave and Chris Ying are joined by a rotating cast of culinary experts to prepare, eat, and judge three different recipes of the same dish.
Now, you can cook right along with us from the comfort of your own home. Below, you’ll find each episode along with every recipe that we cook on the show. We’ll see you in the kitchen!
Episode 26: Pillsbury Tube Dough
Episode 25: Yuca
Chris Ying, Bryan Ford, and Priya Krishna discuss the three recipes they have chosen to represent a staple food of cultures across the globe: yuca.
Episode 24: Canned tuna
Dave Chang and Chris Ying are rejoined by Rachel Khong to discuss the three recipes they’ve chosen to represent a pantry item sure to be found in homes across America: canned tuna.
Episode 23: Dips
In another “wedgie” episode, Noelle “the Snackmaster” Cornelio joins Chris Ying and Priya Krishna to discuss the three recipes they have chosen to represent the wide world of dips.
Episode 22: Spaghetti
Dave Chang and Chris Ying are rejoined by Priya Krishna to discuss the three recipes they’ve chosen to represent one of the most ubiquitous pantry items of all time: spaghetti.
Episode 21: Chickpeas
Recovering bartender, cookbook author, and beverage entrepreneur John deBary joins Dave Chang and Chris Ying to discuss the three recipes they have chosen to represent a truly transformative ingredient: chickpeas.
Episode 20: Flatbread
Master baker Bryan Ford joins Dave Chang and Chris Ying to discuss the three recipes they have chosen to represent a universally loved food with endless iterations from all around the world: flatbread.
Episode 19: Okra
Dave Chang is sitting out this week due to his disgust for the star ingredient, so Chris Ying is joined by Rachel Khong and Priya Krishna to respectfully discuss three okra recipes.
Episode 18: Martinis
Dave Chang and Chris Ying are once again joined by literary doyenne Rachel Khong to respectfully discuss three martini recipes.
Episode 17: Bisquick
Dave Chang and Chris Ying are rejoined by Bryan Ford to discuss three recipes using a childhood-favorite boxed mix known for making the fluffiest pancakes in the nation: Bisquick.
Episode 16: Eggplant
Dave and Chris are rejoined by Priya Krishna to respectfully discuss the three recipes they have chosen to represent a particularly polarizing vegetable at the Recipe Club roundtable: eggplant.
Episode 15: Polenta/cornmeal
Dave and Chris are joined once again by the Recipe Club doyenne Rachel Khong to respectfully discuss the three recipes they have chosen to represent an ingredient that goes by many names: polenta, cornmeal, or grits—it’s a wholesome mush loved by Italians and people of the American South alike.
Episode 14: Rice
Dave and Chris are joined by James Beard Foundation Book Award–winning chef JJ Johnson to discuss an ingredient that is both essential to their own personal relationship with food and the backbone of food cultures across the world: rice.
Recipe no. 1: Sesame-avocado brown rice
Recipe no. 2: Waakye (Ghanian rice and beans)
Recipe no. 3: Tteokguk (rice cake soup)
Episode 13: Graham Crackers
Is there more to these tasty little biscuits than meets the Google search? Dave and Chris are joined by master baker Bryan Ford to find out.
Episode 12: Halibut
Dave and Chris are rejoined by Priya Krishna, fresh off a win, to respectfully discuss the three recipes they have chosen to represent an ingredient much-maligned on this podcast. Find out what it takes for three people who don’t eat halibut to actually enjoy it.
Episode 11: Ground Pork
Rachel Khong is back with Dave and Chris to respectfully discuss the three recipes they’ve chosen to represent this week’s ingredient of choice: ground pork.
Episode 10: Boboli
Bryan Ford rejoins Dave and Chris to respectfully discuss their three recipes—which this week concern Boboli shelf-stable pizza crust. This podcast consists of potentially the longest conversation anyone outside of the Boboli organization has had about the end-of-the-aisle grocery store staple.
Episode 9: Casserole
Priya Krishna joins Dave and Chris to respectfully discuss the three recipes they’ve chosen for the dreaded casserole episode. This one’s for the chicken-bacon-ranch-heads.
Episode 8: Bananas
Dave and Chris are rejoined by Rachel Khong in an exploration of the humble and omnipresent banana. Amidst respectful discussion of the three recipes they’ve brought to the table, the Recipe Club discovers new ideals for our conception of what home cookery can and should be. This one’s for the Cool Whip lovers.
Episode 7: Eggs
Bryan Ford joins Dave and Chris for this speggtacular episode of Recipe Club. This one’s for the microwave-heads.
Episode 6: Gyoza
Dave, Chris Ying, and Priya Krishna discuss the gyoza recipes they chose as well as what constitutes the perfect dumpling.
Episode 5: Roast Pork
Dave and Chris are joined by literary doyenne Rachel Khong to respectfully discuss three roast pork recipes.
Episode 4: Brownies
Recipe Club first-timer, cookbook author, and master baker Bryan Ford joins Dave and Chris to discuss the three brownie recipes they have chosen. Whether it needs to be said anymore or not, the microwave was heavily involved.
Episode 3: Mashed Potatoes
It’s peak carbs-plus-dairy season, and Priya Krishna returns to discuss mashed potatoes recipes. If you’ve ever wondered how pomme purée is made in high-end restaurants, this is the podcast for you.
Episode 2: Stuffing
To celebrate Thanksgiving, Dave and Chris are joined by Rachel Khong to discuss the three stuffing recipes they have chosen, which vary from semi-homemade to completely from scratch.
Episode 1: Turkey
In the inaugural episode, Priya Krishna joins Recipe Club to respectfully discuss the pros and cons of the three very different Thanksgiving turkey or turkey-adjacent recipes.
Come back each week for more recipes. And don’t forget to follow us on Instagram (@recipeclub), Twitter (@majordomomedia), and join our Recipe Club Podcast Facebook group. Subscribe and follow along on Spotify.
Brooklyn barbecue holds its own
The headline popped up on my computer screen as I was perusing news websites Sunday morning:
Certainly a provocative statement meant to get attention and clicks to the "Munchies" website, the food blog of Vice Media.
The article argued that the current boom in American-style barbecue joints opening all over the world was inspired by a barbecue joint from Brooklyn, N.Y., called Fette Sau.
Again, a provocative argument. But also inaccurate.
Though the author mentions two barbecue-style restaurants in South and Central America and one in Spain as examples, in my own experience traveling the world researching the diaspora of Texas barbecue traditions and techniques, I have never encountered any mention of Brooklyn barbecue.
Indeed, barbecue joints such as The Beast in Paris and Texas Joe's in London universally mention Texas icons Franklin Barbecue or Louie Mueller Barbecue as their inspiration.
In my international travels to document American-style barbecue, I've never heard anyone say, "We were inspired by Fette Sau."
The article was accompanied by a photograph of a rather desultory tray of barbecue. Further inspection of the article showed that it was originally published back in 2014.
I wrote the piece off as "clickbait" - a provocative article with specious arguments meant to drive traffic and advertising dollars to a website.
But then it went "viral." Users on Twitter and Facebook - many from barbecue strongholds including Texas and North Carolina - began mocking the article. None other than our own Texas Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz tweeted out jokes about the idea of Brooklyn barbecue taking over the world.
Regrettably, much of the social-media mob's ire was directed not at the article but at Brooklyn barbecue itself. They associated the sad picture of barbecue in the article with all of Brooklyn barbecue. For the Munchies website, this article turned into something of a deal with the devil - they got lots of clicks for their advertisers, but Brooklyn barbecue took a big hit to its reputation.
And yes, Brooklyn barbecue has an otherwise excellent reputation among barbecue fans. In a column last March titled "NYC a 'cue capital? For now, fuhgeddaboudit," I argued that there are, indeed, great barbecue joints in Brooklyn, but there are just not enough of them to make Brooklyn a real contender for a top barbecue city.
My heart sank as the Twitter mob spewed invective throughout the week. I imagined my friends Billy Durney of Hometown Bar-B-Que and Izzy Eidelman of Izzy's Smokehouse - two of Brooklyn's best barbecue joints - were reading the same things. Billy and Izzy are two of the toughest guys I know, but they had to be irked by the negative press about their beloved borough and the barbecue they make there.
Closer to home, I called up pitmaster John Avila of El Burro & the Bull barbecue restaurant here in Houston. Avila, a veteran of Franklin Barbecue in Austin, moved to Brooklyn in 2013 and helped open Morgan's Brooklyn Barbecue that same year. He had a front-row seat to the early days of Brooklyn barbecue.
I asked Avila what advice he'd give to his former colleagues in Brooklyn to weather the criticism.
"Just keep grinding," Avila said. "Guys like Mark Roper at Morgan's and Matt Fisher at Fletcher's know Texas barbecue. They respect the tradition. Just keep doing what you're doing."
Back in 2014, when I started exploring Brooklyn barbecue, it was a lonely task to tell Texans that there was legitimate barbecue in Brooklyn. But I've spent enough time with pitmasters such as Durney and Eidelman to know that they respect and celebrate the great traditions of Texas barbecue.
It's unlikely that a Brooklyn pitmaster would claim his barbecue is more influential than Texas'. It's not. But it is great barbecue. And I can unreservedly recommend that any Texan visiting New York should make the trip across the East River and check it out.
Brooklyn barbecue may not be taking over the world, but it is legitimate barbecue. And it offers a taste of home for any homesick Texans visiting the Big Apple.
Off the Menu
Mario Carta, who owns Casimir, a French bistro in the East Village, is opening an uptown version with his partner, Patrick Laurent. They have hired Richard Krause, who first attracted attention working for Wolfgang Puck, notably at Chinois on Main in Santa Monica, Calif., and subsequently in New York at the Rose Cafe and Cafe Luxembourg, among others. His cooking maintains its French accent here, with escargots, steak with fries and duck confit. “With Richard in the kitchen, we will have his savoir faire,” Mr. Carta said. “My idea is to bring a downtown menu and prices to the Upper East Side: a steak for $22, artichoke vinaigrette for $8.” The restaurant has a wine bar on the ground floor, a dining room upstairs and ample outdoor seating. (Opens Wednesday): 1022 Lexington Avenue (73rd Street), (212) 879-6190, casimirnyc.com
GREENWICH PROJECT The third restaurant for the Project Group is sleek and white, on two floors, with a menu for those with eclectic tastes and fairly deep pockets (entrees start at $31). Options include sweetbreads with snails, lobster grits and halibut en croûte with a mandarin orange broth: 47 West Eighth Street (Fifth Avenue), (212) 253-9333.
MULBERRY & VINE Self-service cafe fare for breakfast, lunch and dinner offers a whiff of curry in an African tomato soup, turkey meatballs with garam masala and curried freekeh with cauliflower, mango and cashews: 73 Warren Street (West Broadway), (212) 791-6300, mulberryandvine.com.
OMAR’S This restaurant and private club owned by Omar Hernandez is in the former Hotel Griffou space. The restaurant, called La Ranita, serves an American-Mediterranean menu by the executive chef Kenny Cuomo, with the option of ordering a “spontaneous tasting menu.” The club offers private dining rooms, concierge service and wine lockers for $1,000 a year: 21 West Ninth Street, (212) 677-5242, omar-nyc.com.
ONE TWENTY-TWO FIRST AVENUE Tucked behind South Brooklyn Pizza is this surprising spot for small plates and inventive pizzas. Its bar area is open to the street: 122 First Avenue (St. Marks Place), (212) 533-2809, 122firstavenue.com.
SUPREME BURGER Andy Yang, the owner of Rhong Tiam Express, rolls out a food truck specializing in burgers. He offers an array of toppings to give his prime Angus beef patty a Korean, Chinese, Thai, Japanese or even Greek personality. (Wednesday): Flatiron district, no phone, rhong-tiam.com.
Opening in the Hamptons
BLT STEAK AT THE CAPRI Where Nobu set up shop last summer will now be in the hands of ESquared Hospitality, which will open a branch of its steakhouse. (May 23): 281 County Road 39A, Route 27, Southampton, N.Y., (631) 259-2641, e2hospitality.com.
DELMONICO’S OF SOUTHAMPTON A branch of the venerable financial district restaurant will open in the former Savanna’s space with Continental food. (May 22): 268 Elm Street, Southampton, N.Y., (631) 283-0202, delmonicosofsouthampton.com.
FRESH Todd Jacobs, who was the chef at restaurants in Westhampton Beach and Long Beach, N.Y., has taken over Bruce Buschel’s Southfork Kitchen. There will be a seasonal menu served in a setting that’s somewhat brighter. (May 15): 203 Bridgehampton-Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton, N.Y., (631) 537-4700.
Five Weeknight Dishes
Emily Weinstein has menu suggestions for the week. There are thousands of ideas for what to cook waiting for you on New York Times Cooking.
- This coconut fish and tomato bake from Yewande Komolafe yields a gorgeous, silky ginger-coconut sauce.
- A tasty recipe for sheet-pan chicken and potatoes by Lidey Heuck is really nice without being fussy.
- This vegetarian baked Alfredo pasta with broccoli rabe is inspired by pasta Alfredo, but with green vegetables added.
- Kay Chun adds asparagus and snap peas to spring vegetable japchae in this vegan take on the classic dish.
- You could substitute chicken or another type of fish in this summery grilled salmon salad from Melissa Clark.
MADISON & MAIN The former New Paradise Cafe is now owned by Michael Gluckman, a local restaurateur, and Eric Miller, a caterer and chef who owns Food & Co. in East Hampton. They have turned the space into a seafood restaurant with a terrace: 126 Main Street (Madison Street), Sag Harbor, N.Y., (631) 725-6246, madisonandmainrestaurant.com.
RED HOOK LOBSTER POUND This Brooklyn establishment will serve its menu of lobster rolls and other seafood items at a new shop that Sweet ’tauk, a lemonade company, is opening. (Mid-May): 34 South Etna Avenue, Montauk, (631) 668-5683, redhooklobsterpound.com.
SIENNA RESTAURANT TBAR Tony Fortuna, who owns TBar Steak & Lounge on the Upper East Side, will run this place, with a menu that’s close to what he serves in Manhattan. A nightclub will kick in after 11 p.m. on weekends in part of the space. (May 15): 44 Three Mile Harbor Road (Oakview Highway), East Hampton, N.Y., (631) 604-6060, siennahamptons.com.
SWEDISH CULINARY SUMMER From Memorial Day to Labor Day, East Hampton will have an influx of chefs from Sweden, some with Michelin stars, who will cook special dinners with the chef Mathias Drogie at the Living Room restaurant in the c/o Maidstone hotel. They will also give classes and participate in charity dinners. (May 25 to Sept. 2): swedishculinarysummer.com.
Chefs on the Move
ELIZABETH FALKNER, who moved from San Francisco to New York last year to open Krescendo in Boerum Hill, Brooklyn, has left the restaurant and will work on the Holland-America Line’s culinary council.
MISSY ROBBINS has left as executive chef at the A Voce restaurants at Madison Square Park and in the Time Warner Center. She has not decided what she will do next, and a replacement has not been named.
ROXANNE SPRUANCE, who worked for Wylie Dufresne at WD-50, at Blue Hill at Stone Barns and, briefly, at Café Tallulah on the Upper West Side, is the new chef at Alison Eighteen, where she will tilt the menu in the direction of France.
BANKS WHITE, who had been the executive chef at Five in Berkeley, Calif., is coming to New York to be the chef de cuisine at Mintons, a Harlem restaurant and jazz club owned by Richard Parsons, which is to reopen in the fall. Alexander Smalls is the executive chef.
The team behind nearby Maison Premiere operates this Parisian-style brasserie serving escargots, coq au vin, and other French bistro classics. Diners sit at rustic wooden tables, and the walls are collaged with vintage French newspapers. Come for brunch if you’ve been searching for the perfect eggs Benedict: The version here is drizzled with hollandaise and accompanied by salad and home fries (there are no reservations at brunch, so come early or expect to wait).
PLAN YOUR TRIP : Visit Fodor’s Brooklyn Travel Guide
Millions of animal species roam the earth. Only a few dozen end up on posters for the zoo, though, or featured in calendars mailed out by environmental organizations. These animals, which tend to be impressively large, all have a certain star quality: the elephants, the giraffes, the gorillas, the big cats. In the phrase used by zoologists and conservationists, they are charismatic megafauna. A pride of lions on a fund-raising pitch can be relied on to bring in money that can be used to save the ground squirrel and the lilac-breasted rollers.
Back when the restaurant ecosystem was functioning healthily, it had its charismatic megafauna, too. These were the places that people halfway around the world have heard of, the ones whose names would be mentioned whenever the best food cities came up for debate the ones around which a whole class of tourists would plan international food safaris.
But a city’s most famous restaurants aren’t always its most important, just as the giant panda isn’t necessarily the species most crucial to the health of its habitat. If this distinction wasn’t already obvious, it has been made clear over the past year. Some of New York’s most avidly followed kitchens have been dark for most or all of the pandemic, including the Grill, Atomix, Per Se, Balthazar and Le Coucou. One predictable, if still very weird, effect of this is that these restaurants, once constant attention getters, are now talked about so little that it’s as if they never existed.
Most of the places that have played significant parts in the pandemic lives of New Yorkers — the New Yorkers who stayed, not those who fled — are virtually unknown in Los Angeles and London. To qualify, a restaurant needs to cook exactly what you want for dinner tonight. If it’s within walking distance of your home, even better.
Winner, in Park Slope, is too far from my own Brooklyn neighborhood for me to walk round-trip on an empty stomach. But in almost every other way, it is my ideal pandemic restaurant and its rotisserie chicken, brushed with smoked honey and rounded out with a pound or so of roasted potatoes, some braised kale and a noticeably fresh sourdough baguette, is my ideal pandemic meal.
Daniel Eddy, its owner and chef, opened what was meant to be the first part of Winner’s operation, a corner bakery and cafe, last March. It ran for four days before closing an adjacent wine bar hadn’t opened yet and still hasn’t. Ever since, Winner’s food has been strictly to-go. Most of it is destined to be eaten elsewhere, although in decent weather it’s possible to unwrap your haul at one of the small tables on 11th Street, just off Seventh Avenue.
I’ve been a semiregular customer over the past few months. In the morning I’ve swung by for a macchiato and one of the remarkable sourdough croissants, tangy and a little salty, that the pastry chef, Ali Spahr, makes. I’ve picked up dinner on several evenings, too. Each time, I’ve been impressed by Winner’s ability to pack so many of the things I miss about restaurants into a simple exchange transacted through a window.
One way the restaurant achieves this is by refusing to do delivery. You can order breakfast and lunch at the window dinner has to be arranged in advance, by email. Either way, your first encounter is with one of Winner’s employees or Mr. Eddy himself, not a third-party app. Apps may be convenient, but I’ve never used an app that remembered that a member of my household has a life-threatening food allergy, as a Winner employee did the second time I placed a dinner order. Nor have I had one offer to set aside a few loaves of bread, which typically sell out by late afternoon.
Those breads are worth the trouble. Kevin Bruce, whose last job was kneading Danish rugbrod and grantoftegaard at Great Northern Food Hall, bakes six kinds of loaves a day in a two-rack oven on a tight schedule. It starts at 7:30 a.m., when hefty little bricks of dark rye shot through with sunflower seeds are ready. A sourdough boule whose composition changes day to day comes out at 11 a.m. the buckwheat version sold on Tuesdays and Saturdays is something of a miracle, at once suave and earthy. The baking day ends at 2 p.m., when the baguettes go on sale.
A baguette plus a rotisserie chicken nearly always equals a satisfying dinner. They add up to considerably more than that at Winner, where the bread is just a few hours old and the roast was finished within half an hour or so of your pickup appointment. While you wouldn’t call Winner a French restaurant, the extraordinary attention it pays to ordinary staples may remind you of the neighborhood shops in Paris, where Mr. Eddy lived while he was cooking under Daniel Rose at Spring. (More recently, he was the opening chef at Rebelle, a French restaurant on the Bowery that is now closed.)
The pandemic has brought the city a flurry of new pop-ups. Winner hosts one every week, with a guest chef who cooks a “friends and family meal.” A few weeks ago, the program introduced me to the rich delights of collards in shrimp sauce as prepared by Telly Justice, a trans woman who is planning to open “a restaurant by queer people for all people” in Brooklyn, to be called Hags.
I don’t exactly remember which wine Lisandra Bernadet, the sommelier, recommended with Telly Justice’s cooking, but I believe it came from Slovenia, glowed with a pale-gold skin contact tint, had been made about eight years ago and, like almost all the bottles at Winner, cost well under $40. A conversation through an open window about Slovenian orange wines is another thing I’ve never gotten from GrubHub.
Winner’s wine bar is in a former carriage house, where there is just enough room for the rotisserie oven, a few standing customers and a single table. Will strangers ever rub elbows there? Will travelers with freshly scanned passports give Winner’s address to their drivers at the airport? They should. There isn’t anything mega about the place, but it’s loaded with charisma.
What the Stars Mean Because of the pandemic, restaurants are not being given star ratings.
The Diner That’s Serving Queer Hospitality, One Patty Melt at a Time
It wasn’t the bubbling mozzarella on chicken cutlets or the everything-bagel babka I spotted on Instagram that lured me into MeMe’s Diner. These were just a bonus. I had to check out MeMe’s because this restaurant is, well, super gay.
MeMe’s Diner, a new Brooklyn restaurant specializing in comfort foods like meatloaf, patty melts, and Velveeta mac and cheese stands in contrast with nearly every other buzzy opening. Expensive handmade ceramic plates are nowhere in sight, and the kitchen isn’t shy about using Heinz and Hellmann’s in lieu of artisanal substitutes. These are the foods we want to eat—let’s face it, all the time—but especially on long, lazy weekend afternoons at tables crowded with your friends.
MeMe’s was born out of a pair of friends’ love for entertaining and hospitality. After working together at Ovenly, a Brooklyn bakery known for its vegan chocolate chip cookies and blackout cake, Bill Clark left with the dream of opening a Brooklyn bar, while Libby Willis started a catering company. The duo began hosting dinner parties in Brooklyn, which eventually became the model for MeMe’s, their first restaurant together. Beyond serving playful dishes like brunch-time migas served in a sliced-open Fritos bag, the diner was created as a beacon of queer hospitality. Guests would be treated like friends or acquaintances dining in the founders’ homes, and staff would be treated with the same respect Willis, Clark, and countless other out LGBTQ+ restaurant workers deserve.
“The hospitality industry is hard, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be. We want to come to work and be happy,” Clark says. He and Willis, a third-generation restaurateur (all her relatives told her not to do it), opened the door to MeMe’s in late 2017 with no advertising or formal PR—just the “gay whisper network.” Tables and barstools remain packed throughout dinner each night and especially during brunch on weekends. MeMe’s has already lapped up acclaim and media attention that countless larger, more established and hyped-up New York restaurants only hope for. In an era of dwindling LGBTQ+ spaces, MeMe’s champions queerness in an inclusive, progressive, practical way, infusing equality in every aspect of the restaurant’s operations.
In some ways, the strategy is formulaic. MeMe’s menu offers tasteful, unpretentious food in a gentrifying neighborhood (Prospect Heights). The dining room, with its tufted brown-leather banquettes (crafted by Willis’ Hudson Valley–dwelling brother), artsy oil portraits of strangers (painted by Willis’ grandfather and rescued from his barn), and unfinished-wood shelves displaying Mastering the Art of French Cooking, evokes the seemingly effortless blend of “chill” that every restaurant is chasing in 2018. At its core, MeMe’s, named after Clark’s grandmother, is what a restaurant opening in today’s Brooklyn looks like, but at its heart, it’s a proudly queer space. “We’re not just a queer space [or] an exclusively gay space—we’re a space for everybody, [run] by gays,” Clark says.
Queerness is organically infused into every element of MeMe’s hospitality, from the gender-neutral greeting (think: “Welcome, folks” rather than “Hey, ladies”) when diners walk in, to not questioning someone’s gender identity when it comes to a credit card or ID that may not match their appearance, to Willis’ zero tolerance policy for deprecating language in the kitchen. On a recent evening, the restaurant quickly filled up with LGBTQ+ couples and families, along with a handful of straight-presenting couples several groups of friends crowded in the doorway in hopes of getting a seat. In the small bubble of NYC’s queer social circle, it felt to me that there was a high likelihood someone you knew would walk in the door at any time.
“When we talk about queer hospitality, this is less about making a traditional gay bar or a space for gay people,” Clark says, “but we’re creating a very welcoming, easy, and desirable place for queer people to work in. When your staff is comfortable and not worried about not being able to be themselves or express who they are as people, that translates directly to your hospitality.”
The peanut butter pie at Meme’s.
Willis and Clark operate off an inherent sense of how they’d want to be treated at work, knowing that tolerance for inappropriate behavior often trickles from the top down. “As a femme-presenting female, male coworkers and owners saw me as a sexual object first,” Willis says of her prior experience. “And then when they found out I was queer, they would suggest I just hadn’t met the right man yet and that if they had it their way I would absolutely be straight. Working in an environment where you have to constantly out yourself and shut down sexual harassment is exhausting.”
Meanwhile Clark felt the “culture of competitive masculinity” ingrained in professional kitchens and feared appearing “soft or weak at work,” especially since he focused on pastry rather than on the more-masculine-deemed grill station. All potential MeMe’s employees are informed that the company culture is rooted in queer inclusion and compassion. “If people seem to not get it right away and don’t understand why it is so important in the interview process, they are probably not right for this restaurant,” Willis says.
Willis doesn’t prioritize hiring women or LGBTQ+ people, necessarily, though her original team was built through a network of friends and supplemented by workers from GOSO (Getting Out and Staying Out), a program that helps formerly incarcerated men transition back into life in New York.
The goal is that the restaurant becomes a neighborhood staple, “where you can pop in a couple nights a week, get a plate of meatloaf and some greens or a big supper salad,” Clark says. And so far, it is. “It’s really shocking how quickly we had regulars.” The storefront that houses MeMe’s stood empty for more than two decades, and the fact that a proudly LGBTQ+ partnership and business model infused a new, nonstop energy into the space shouldn’t be overlooked. The restaurant business is undeniably tough, and New York restaurants, as most businesses do, rely on straight people to stay in business. Despite the massive progress LGBTQ+ people have achieved in recent years, latent and blatant discrimination is still prevalent. MeMe’s has to face all of that as well as the lingering stigma that a gay space is for gay people only.
To bring the LGBTQ+ food community closer together, the second Monday of every month MeMe’s hosts a “Family Meal” (only drinks and the bar’s signature complimentary cheese puffs are served) to which LGBTQ+ people working in the food and restaurant industry are invited to network and mingle in the otherwise closed restaurant until 2 a.m. Ideally, the values that launched MeMe’s business will trickle out to restaurant workers across the city.
“It’s a space for everyone who understands what you’re going through, like-minded people,” Willis says. “The best way to change is through community. Maybe someone will pay attention and go back to where they’re working and say, ‘Hey, I know that other people do this differently. Can we try to be different?’ The best way to do that is to be an example, so that’s what we’re trying to be.”
A Restaurant Dedicated To Pickles Is Opening Soon In NYC
They’re tangy, salty, crunchy and delicious. What’s not to love about pickles?
That question has inspired a new fried pickle restaurant that will open this spring in New York City on the Lower East Side, according to Eater New York. The shop is the brainchild of the team behind The Pickle Guys, a popular kosher pickle retail store with nearly 40 types of pickled produce.
Though the new restaurant doesn’t have a name yet, its menu will feature fried okra, fried mushrooms, fried tomatoes and other goodies (in addition to pickles, natch).
Basically, if you can pickle it, you’ll find it on the menu at the new restaurant.
“We pickle many, many things throughout the year,” manager William Soo told Eater. “We’ll try to bring that stuff to the eatery.”
In addition, the restaurant will whip up traditional diner fare, including burgers, chicken sliders and beef sliders. Pickled items will be the main attraction, however.
“That will be our main thing, what we’ll be best at,” Soo said.
Like the gourmet pickle shop, the eatery will be kosher, a decision that represents owner Alan Kaufman’s dedication to the neighborhood’s Jewish history. There won’t be much room for customers to stay and eat, as the casual restaurant is designed for to-go orders.
The Pickle Guys launched 14 years ago and claim to have the best pickles in New York. They’ll pickle anything and everything—from celery to mangoes to pineapples to string beans, according to their website.
Their kosher pickles are so popular that they recently launched a delivery service in Brooklyn.
“The Pickle Guys makes pickles from an old Eastern European recipe ‘just the way mom used to make them,’” according to the company’s website. “The pickles are made by letting them sit in salt brine with garlic, spices and no preservatives. Storing them in barrels, from a day up to six months, the pickles cure as they sit.”
Can’t make it to the new restaurant? You can always make your own pickles at home with this easy overnight pickle recipe from Snappy Gourmet or this “killer” spicy garlic pickle recipe from Foodie Crush. And if you’re really a pickle fan, make sure you try this pickle soup recipe, which calls for sour cream, potatoes and carrots in addition to dill pickles.
Meet the New Wave of America’s Great Pasta Chefs
Illustration by Ross MacDonald
Illustration by Ross MacDonald
Americans are living in the golden age of pasta, one not just of Italian interpretations, but original American expressions. Here are the macaroni-making chefs paving the way for our collective carby future.
Josh McFadden, Ava Gene’s, Portland, Oregon
Josh McFadden attended culinary school and cooked in Michelin-starred palazzos in Rome, but “somewhere along the line,” he says, “I realized I wanted to be more in touch with seasonal ingredients in a simpler way.” That led McFadden to cook in neighborhoody spots like recently shuttered Franny’s in Brooklyn and, later, Lupa, under Mark Ladner. “He is a genius,” McFadden says. “That’s where I really learned about pasta.” Today in Portland, McFadden follows the seasons and sticks to tradition. “Americans, without a long history—we feel we can put our own stamp on certain dishes,” he says, “and that can often go horribly wrong.” So he keeps it simple—pasta pomodoro, cacio e pepe, linguine with clams—and stays in sync with the seasons.
Bruce Logue, BoccaLupo, Atlanta, Georgia
Italian cooking is “not in my soul,” says Bruce Logue. Which means he’s worked harder to master it: He ended up in Mario Batali’s Babbo in 2005 and studied Waverley Root’s The Food of Italy on the subway home. Next came an Italian apprenticeship in Le Marche, and in 2013 he opened his BoccaLupo. He’s cooked pasta there each night they’ve been open since. Logue relies more on inspiration than tradition, and his menu is unmistakably from the South. Collards and smoked brisket make appearances the amatriciana is made with bacon rather than guanciale. To Logue, this is true to the spirit of Italian originals, if not the letter. “Southern cooking has always been about using the stuff that’s grown around you,” he says. “It’s the same with Italian food—it’s a very country cuisine at its core.”
Missy Robbins, Lilia, Brooklyn, New York
“I didn’t set out to open a pasta restaurant,” says Missy Robbins, chef-owner of Lilia in Williamsburg, “but it’s blown up—that’s what we’re known for.” The restaurant was always intended to be rooted in Italian cooking, but it focused first on roasted meats, fish, and vegetables. These were the foods she was excited about after a five-year stint at A Voce in Manhattan. But there it was, in the first sentence of Pete Wells’ three-star rave in the Times: “Missy Robbins is cooking pasta again.” Growing up, Robbins took frequent trips to Italy, but it was at home, at Leon’s in New Haven, “an old-school red-sauce joint in a not so favorable part of town,” where her love for Italian food was sparked. Now, at Lilia, she rolls out hundreds of servings from scratch, daily. “Pasta is a craft,” Robbins says. “It’s something you really have to do with your hands—there’s something about repetition and perfecting that craft that has always been exciting to me.”
Thomas McNaughton, Flour + Water, San Francisco, California
Thomas McNaughton spent his early years working in refined restaurants—Michelin-starred kitchens here and abroad that ran on exacting French technique. He plated quenelles and labored over stocks. But it was working in Italy, in Bologna, where he “became obsessed with how much food was intertwined in people’s day-to-day lives. That’s where I felt like I was actually cooking for the first time,” he says. He’s merged both threads of his culinary education at Flour + Water, where he can serve traditional Italian dishes with fine-dining attention to detail. In the room entirely devoted to pasta production, he’s particularly exacting about texture. “Pasta deals with texture before it deals with flavor,” McNaughton says. “And texture allows you to experience flavor in different ways.” So you’ll find simple egg yolk–based pastas alongside others with stinging nettle purée and minced olives in the dough. That’s what drives his five-course pasta tasting, not sauces or flavors: “The five different textures I want to deliver are what writes that menu.”
Signs We’re Living in the Golden Age of Pasta in America
Watch the video: Nutty Nutella Nitrogen Ice cream . Ahmedabad (December 2021).