We’re flying home to San Francisco, and New York is still fresh in my mind (and on my shirt via crumbs from the very good flaky Turkish pastry I picked up before leaving, in Hell’s Kitchen). Compared to San Francisco and LA, not surprisingly, New York had a great deal of innovation and exciting food. And also not surprisingly, you could find any type of dining experience you could possibly want, from the best of expense-account dining (Eleven Madison Park) to riffs on hand-held ethnic street food (BaoHaus). A disproportionate number of my favorite dishes from the CHOW Tour were found in NY, but I was often more uncomfortable eating them than I would have been in another city (more standing up, less air conditioning, usually more expensive.) But I’ve been to NY in July before—I didn’t need to go on a work-sponsored tour in search of Innovation to figure that out. So now that it’s all over, what’s going on with new and interesting food and dining in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles? (more…)
The tour is a wrap, and after nonstop dining in SF, LA, and NYC for three weeks straight it’s fun to be able to compare the cities and look back. Here are some observations: (more…)
View CHOW Tour: Innovation – New York in a larger map
The Breslin: Brit Breakfast in High Victorian Style
Doughnut Plant: Crazy Doughnut Smackdown
Il Laboratorio del Gelato: Red Grape Sorbet to Prolong the Sugar High
Baohaus: Friendly Bun Shop or Aggressive Foe?
Degustation: Nouveau Tapas Face-Off
Resto: Far-Out Belgian Food
Brooklyn Flea: Flea Market Food in Brooklyn
Spot Dessert Bar: Avocado Parfait Perfection at Spot Dessert Bar
WD-50: Getting Educated at WD-50
Van Leeuwen Ice Cream: Earl Grey Ice Cream from a Truck
Fatty Cue: No Revelations, Just Good Food
Brooklyn Kitchen Labs: Food-Dork Mecca in Brooklyn
Momofuku Noodle Bar: Changtastic!
Momofuku Milk Bar: Changtastic!
The French Culinary Institute: Mad Science at the French Culinary Institute
Takashi: Adorable Beef Guts at Takashi
M. Wells Diner: What’s Quebecois Food Like (in New York)?
Eleven Madison Park: Organic Precision at Eleven Madison Park
We had a good idea that Eleven Madison Park, headed up by 2010 James Beard Award winner Daniel Humm, was going to be impressive, so we saved it for our last CHOW Tour dinner. And yes, our instincts were dead-on. Interesting nugget: We were told that the restaurant is in a transitional period of moving from extremely fastidious-looking plating, where “everything has its own space on the plate,” to a more organic look, as if the food just blew there on the wind. (Of course, it was meticulously placed just so in the kitchen to look like that.) The new plating could be part of the reason why Eleven Madison Park had an air of casualness while still being a place where every man in the room was wearing a suit—not a sport coat, a suit. Here were some of our favorite things: (more…)
You don’t expect a place specializing in raw beef liver and grill-your-own large intestines (not your own large intestines; another animal’s) to bring the word “cute” to mind, but Takashi in the West Village does. The walls are wrapped in a cartoon mural that lays out what the restaurant is all about: It’s all beef, and you order meat parts that you either grill yourself over electric grills set into your table or eat raw. It’s a clean, open space with wide wooden benches and a central kitchen. The chef behind Takashi is a third-gen Korean immigrant born in Japan, and his food pulls from both cultures. (more…)
Two weeks into its soft opening, M. Wells was getting quite a buzz when we landed in NY. A Québecois-American diner in the Queens neighborhood of Long Island City, it seemed to have the “next hip thing” glow about it, so we canceled our ABC Kitchen reservations (Jean-Georges is crying somewhere, no doubt) to check it out. (more…)
Talking about the inventiveness of the Momofuku empire, for a food writer, probably feels a bit like talking about the Mona Lisa for an art critic. Hyperbole, maybe, but seriously: What has NOT been said about David Chang’s game-changing cuisine? That said, a lot of what Chang arguably started (the reinterpretation of East Asian street food for a white audience, for instance) can be found everywhere in NY, more popular than ever. So it only felt right to visit Noodle Bar on our Innovation tour (and hit up nearby Milk Bar, the dessert joint he started with pastry chef Christina Tosi afterward). (more…)
Anita Lo’s Annisa in the West Village was a little fancier than we were expecting, with a simple, elegant interior (for more on all that feng shui, see the video below), dusty rose–colored velvet booths, and oversized vases filled with twisty branches. But it didn’t feel stuffy. Lo’s food gave a similar vibe: elegant but not overwrought. Unfortunately, our photos don’t really do the dishes justice: Using the flash in NYC restaurants these days is pretty much verboten, according to our dining companion that night, Rebecca Marx, writer for the Village Voice‘s food blog Fork in the Road. (OK by us, since it’s pretty embarrassing to be “that guy.”) (more…)
Tom Mylan, one of the cofounders of the Brooklyn Kitchen, has described it as a “clubhouse” for the burgeoning Brooklyn artisan food scene. Housed in an old brick factory in Williamsburg, it’s equal parts retail shop, butcher shop, and classroom. Upcoming courses include how to make fresh mozzarella, how to pickle and jam, making home-brew, and improving your knife skills. It’s also quite a piece of eye candy, from the tattooed, thrift-store-fashionable people working and shopping there to the carefully curated new and vintage kitchen goods for sale. Check out our slideshow to see what we mean. (more…)
Fatty ’Cue, a Southeast Asian–meets-American-style barbecue joint in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, is subterranean and sweaty. Loud ’60s R&B on the stereo. A tiny space, dark, and raucous. A place you could see yourself getting really drunk in, happily, while eating a small mountain of ribs.
Opened this year by Zak Pelaccio of Fatty Crab fame, the restaurant was talked about endlessly by the Brooklyn food-nerd scene. Its style can be summed up as fish sauce meets pit smoker. (more…)
We had heard about Xie Xie sandwich shop from our food editor, Jill Santopietro, before we ever saw owner Angelo Sosa on the latest season of Top Chef. But since we had seen him winning challenges on the show, it did add a little extra pressure for the Asian-inspired sandwich joint to kick some ass. (more…)
While en route to something totally unrelated to eating ice cream, my cab dropped me off right in front of the adorable pastel-yellow Van Leeuwen ice cream truck, which a number of people had told Lessley and me about before the CHOW Tour. Their deal: making the ice cream truck over into something better than Mister Softee. (That means using hormone-free local milk; biodegradable cups and spoons; and no stabilizers, unnatural emulsifiers, or preservatives.) (more…)
Wylie Dufresne has often been called a molecular gastronomist, and has just as often objected to the term. When I spoke to him on the phone the other day, he said he saw himself and his Lower East Side restaurant, WD-50, as being kind of like a cooking research facility. “Continuing the education about learning about food” was how he put it, for the benefit of chefs everywhere, “even the red sauce guy on the corner.” (more…)
We barely spotted Spot, the dessert bar off of St. Marks where Pichet Ong creates Asian American fusion desserts, ice creams, and bubble teas. Located below street level, it’s a pretty small place, with wood paneling that is evocative of a Wild West saloon, artificial turf in the entryway, and a ton of college-age kids loudly getting a sugar fix. (more…)
No food-focused trip to Brooklyn would be complete without a stop at the Brooklyn Flea, a Saturday outdoor flea market that has become ground zero for the Brooklyn artisanal food scene. It’s held in a schoolyard in Fort Greene. Residents Eric Demby and Jonathan Butler started the flea two and a half years ago, says Demby, as a spot for vendors, including those traditionally parked at the Red Hook Ball Fields. (The much-loved vendors have ongoing issues with permits and the city.) Antiques dealers, crafters, and other food vendors followed suit, and the Flea suddenly became a kind of testing ground for everything from start-up candy makers to kimchee-topped-hot-dog sellers. (more…)
Now that we’re a good way into this CHOW Tour, we’ve started to notice some food trends that just keep coming at us. Here’s some stuff we’re beginning to see repeat: (more…)
Seriously craving a decent beer list after the beer wasteland that was LA, we decided to have our first dinner in NY at Resto. Described as serving creative Belgian food, with a deep selection of Belgian beers, it’s in a more mellow, shaded block of Midtown Manhattan. We’d read that they do a lot of fun beer pairing dinners and whole animal feasts. (more…)
We liked daveena‘s idea of comparing Degustation in New York with the Bazaar in Los Angeles, since both are doing nouveau tapas with a molecular influence. And daveena’s initial thought that “Genovart’s food is less elaborate but more soulful than Bazaar’s” turned out to be pretty much on the money. (more…)
We stumbled across BaoHaus, a tiny counter on the Lower East Side selling gua bao, Taiwanese steamed bun sandwiches, and remembered we’d heard good things about it. Well, actually, we’d heard weird things about it. Like, that the owner was in some kind of dramatic showdown with Chairman Bao, a San Francisco gua bao truck. How dare they call themselves by this cunning name, when BaoHaus has a pork belly bun on its menu also called the Chairman Bao? That’s what BaoHaus chef-owner Eddie Huang was apoplectic about, according to reports. “I am going to sue the living piss out of you. You unoriginal piece of shit,” SF Weekly reported that Huang tweeted at one point. (more…)