Eat the Week: Obama eats dinner, Choptank becomes Caffe Muzio, and What Happens When
1. In perhaps the most urgent news update of the week, President Obama ate dinner! Here, in New York! At the hip, yet low-key, upscale Southern joint Red Rooster! Clearly he’s been keeping up with the Times’ Style section. FYI, he had braised short ribs, lobster salad, cornbread, chocolate cake, and sweet potato doughnuts. The political implications are mind-boggling.
2. Eater has a rundown of the ten hardest tables to get right now. Food critics’ darling Torrisi Italian Specialties is number one, followed by perennial West Village favorite Babbo. Chef-cum-sartorialist Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster also makes the list, along with old school heavy hitters Peter Luger and Rao’s.
3. Though the seafood-centric Choptank was closed in December to replace a burst pipe, it seems owner Bobby Werhane had more planned than just a fix-up. The West Village space recently reopened as an Italian restaurant split between the more casual Caffe Muzio, which serves small plates like razor clams and bone marrow sformato, and a fine dining area, set to open next month (don’t entirely understand this).
4. Starting April 11, What Happens When, wacky brainchild of John Fraser and the bane of crotchety Soho-ites, will be hosting a dinner series showcasing female chefs, pastry chefs, and sommeliers every Monday. It will run until October and offer a three-course tasting menu for $58 (or $96 with wine pairings), 20 per cent of which will go to a charity of the featured chef’s choice. Gramercy Tavern‘s Amanda Freitag and Nancy Olden are up first, followed by the likes of Alex Guarnaschelli from Butter and The Darby and Angela Pinkerton from Eleven Madison Park.
5. Michelin-star winning chef David Bouley’s newest Tribeca project, a Japanese kaiseki concept resaurant called Brushtroke, is currently in friends-and-family mode and is set to open April 15. It was originally supposed to launch sometime in 2008, but Bouley was rather preoccupied by legal battles with his landlord. The restaurant is housed in the space that formerly held Danube and the short-lived and widely-panned Secession. Third time’s a charm?
6. Unless you haven’t eaten yet and don’t want to punish yourself, watch this video of the doughnut-making process at Fany Gerson’s DOUGH in Clinton Hill. Gerson, a James Beard nominated cookbook author, fries up massive, crunchy-on-the-outside, fluffy-on-the-inside doughnuts and then dips them in homemade frostings with flavors like dulce de leche and hibiscus. It’s both informational and delicious.
7. Here‘s another update on Eataly’s rooftop beer garden La Birreria: the 300-seat space is set to open mid-May and Mario Batali is currently working on a menu, which will include small plates like potatoes with guanciale, sauteed mushrooms over burrata, and various salumi. Besides draft ales from DogFish Head, Birra Baladin and Birra Del Borgo, there will be three original beers made in a copper-clad rooftop brewery, plus 30-odd bottled selections from around the world.
8. For the low, low price of $44.95, you too can learn the tricks of the food truck trade and make that fail-proof chili-in-a-cone idea a reality! Jerome Chang of DesserTruck and Sean Sullivan of Feed Your Hole are leading a seminar at The Learning Annex on how to start your own vending truck business. The class includes information on choosing the right product and the best locations for maximizing revenue. The only problem is getting your hands on one of those elusive permits…
9. The Daily Swarm has a weird and interesting half food, half music-themed interview with Stephen Tanner, chef at The Commodore in Williamsburg and member of noise rock band Harvey Milk. Not only does Tanner not, and I quote, “give a shit” whether you steal his recipe for fried chicken, he thinks The Commodore is a stupid name. This man just does not give a single hoot!
10. Now that Brooklyn Brewery is 14 times bigger, thanks to an expansion jump-started by a grant from the New York state government, the small batch brewery will be open for weeknight, reservations-only tours. For $8, 25 people will get a tour of the facilities along with a guided tasting of four Brooklyn beers.
Photo: Randy OHC