Larb Ubol (480 Ninth Avenue, New York) – Larb Ubol features authentic Isan cuisine – a region in the northeast of Thailand which represents about 30% of the population. Hell’s Kitchen has a plethora of Thai restaurants and I stumbled upon this south of Port Authority hole-in-the-wall only recently. Larb Ubol has quickly become one of my favorites in the neighborhood. Best dishes (so far) are the crispy pork and any of the larbs (see picture above). http://www.larbubol.com/
Pam Real Thai (404 West 49th St, New York) – Pam Panyasiri opened Pam Real Thai in 2001 and it has long been a neighborhood favorite (as with Larb Ubol don’t expect much investment in the interior furnishings). Most of Pam’s dishes originate in Bangkok, and are less spicy than the cuisine of the south. My favorite dishes are crispy pork, pad thai ad the deep-fried red snapper (see picture above). Bring cash as Pam doesn’t accept credit cards. http://www.pamrealthai.com/
Wondee Siam (792 Ninth Ave, New York) – While I have only been here once (the 50s are a bit north for me. . . ) Wondee Siam (or one of its offshoots) shows up on most best lists for HK Thai restaurants. Favorites here are the duck dishes – roasted and tossed into a fruity, savory salad, or fried crisp and layered with herbs and sliced peppers.
And last but not least Kin Shop (469 Sixth Avenue) – while the address is more West Village than Hell’s Kitchen no best list of NY Thai restaurants would be complete without it. Harold Dieterle (season one Top Chef winner, chef at Perilla) opened Kin Shop in 2010 and was instantly a critical success. My favorite dishes: Spicy Duck Laab Salad, Fried Pork and Crispy Oyster Salad and Massaman: Braised Goat. http://www.kinshopnyc.com/
Some of my favorites in Hell’s Kitchen. The first three are all located on the corner of Tenth Avenue and 47th Street.
Tehuitzingo Deli – this grocery store underwent a reservation last year and now has a more prominent food counter (it was a bit hard to find before). Amazing tacos. 695 Tenth Ave (x 47). http://www.tehuitzingo.net
Tulcingo del Valle – Great Pueblan sauces (try both pipian and mole) from this restaurant that has been family-owned for the past eleven years. 665 Tenth Ave (x 47). http://www.tulcingorestaurant.com
Anejo – From Top Chef Angelo Sosa. Great magaritas – more traditional and not overly sweet. One of the best deals at this restaurant is their weekend brunch: three drinks, an entree for $29. Perfect for when you have a lazy weekend day (as not much gets done after three afternoon cocktails). 668 Tenth Ave (x 47). http://anejonyc.com
Ponche Taqueria – Highlights are the tacos and tortas. I like the mole also. And I always start with the Nachos Verde – for some reason I can’t get enough of them. 420 W. 49th St. http://www.ponchetaqueriacantinanewyork.com
David Chang opened his new casual fine restaurant Fuku this week to general acclaim and hour-long lines around the block. He aims to do with the fried chicken sandwich at Fuku what Danny Meyer did with the burger at Shake Shack. I haven’t been yet but plan to go this weekend – early to hopefully avoid the lines. Eater NY had few on-scene write-ups and first impressions you can find here: http://ny.eater.com/fuku-first-look-chicken-sandwich-review
Deutschland 83 (June 17th, Sundance) – an eight-part thriller, Deutschland 83 is Germany’s answer to The Americans — a Cold War thriller set amid the nuclear paranoia of 1983. According to reviews, the series captures well the mood of the divided city of Berlin, with the backdrop of the United States and the dying Soviet Union playing chicken with the threat of nuclear war.
True Detective (June 21st, HBO) – The hotly anticipated second season of the hit show debuts next weekend with a new cast and new storyline created by Nic Pizzolatto (who also wrote and created the first season). Taylor Kitsch stars as a war veteran and motorcycle cop who enlists two detectives (played by Colin Farrell and Rachel McAdams) to help investigate a strange crime in California. Vince Vaughn also stars. If the review from Stephen Marche of Esquire is an indication the second season will be as popular as the first: http://www.esquire.com//tv/reviews/true-detective-season-2
Ballers (June 21st, HBO) – stars Dwayne Johnson (who seems to be everywhere these days with two movies currently in theaters) as a Spencer Strassmore, a retired football player well as a financial manager. This “Entourage for athletes” series would not normally be my type of show but the previews with the fast cars and fast money are strangely compelling.
Owen, the men’s and women’s fashion boutique located in the Meatpacking district is discontinuing its mens business and is discounting all spring summer styles 70% from designers that include Philip Lim, Acne, Alexander Wang and Tim Coppens. Shop the store at 809 Washington Street in New York or from the comfort of your own home online: http://owennyc.com/men-sale
The Overnight(opens June 19) – Written and directed by Patrick Brice, The Overnight stars Adam Scott, Taylor Schilling, Jason Schwartzman and Judith Godréche as two couples who have a wild night of drinking and debauchery after their children go to bed following a playdate. The dysfunctions of one couple threaten to destabilize the other.
Infinitely Polar Bear (opens June 19) – Mark Ruffalo stars as Cameron, a man whose breakdown from a bipolar disorder forces him to leave his family. When his wife (Zoe Saldana) decides to go to business school in New York they decide that he will move back in to take care of their two daughters. I haven’t seen the film but I can imagine the scenes that come next . . .
Controversy is swirling around both the future of the restaurant (will the restaurant owners lose their lease?) as well as the physical space which Aby Rosen, the owner of the Seagram Building (which houses the restaurant) is attempting to renovate.
Completed in 1958 the Seagram Building was hailed as hailed as a modern architectural masterpiece. The structure was designed by Mies van der Rohe and the lobby and other internal aspects of the building (including the Four Seasons restaurant) was designed by Philip Johnson. The building, the headquarters for the Seagram company, was the world’s most expensive skyscraper at the time it was completed ($36MM) due to the use of expensive, high-quality materials and lavish interior decoration including bronze, travertine and marble.
Located at 375 Park Avenue, the Seagram Building set the architectural style of New York skyscrapers for several decades. It was the first building of its kind to have a set back from the street and incorporate a public plaza at the front of the building. One interesting fact about the building – Mies van der Rohe hated the look of inconsistently drawn window shades on the front of buildings so he specified window shades that can only be operated in three positions: fully open, halfway open, fully closed.
The Four Seasons restaurant’s lease is up next summer. Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder who have presided over the restaurant for over 40 years are variously said to be scouting downtown locations and taking over the space at 280 Park Avenue. Is it a negotiating tactic? Hard to say but Aby Rosen, the building owner says they are out, “I love the guys but their time has passed, and sometimes something great needs to go.”
At the same time as the lease negotiations (or lack thereof) have been ongoing, Mr Rosen has proposed renovations of the space to New York City’s Landmark Preservation Committee. Most of these were rejected at the hearing which included testimony from 18 people speaking out against the changes. Phyllis Lambert, 88 (a daughter of Samuel Bronfman, the founder of the Seagram Company) who helped create the building said RFR’s proposed changes would “do irreparable damage to the two great rooms.”
Whatever happens with the Four Seasons restaurant and the physical space it currently occupies it is clear that an era is coming to an end. Even if the space remains unchanged, it looks like the current restauranteurs are out and looking for new space. There is something magical about the Four Seasons – the building, the restaurant’s design, the food, the ambience, the patrons – that is bound to be lost in the transition.
I had the opportunity to have brunch last weekend at Mathieu Palombino’s recently opened La Gamelle on the Bowery. The restaurant opened in the Bowery Diner space and is a permanent version of the Chez Josef popup he operated in there last year.
It was a perfect Spring day – warm and sunny with a light breeze. The restaurant had just opened for brunch so it was not at all crowded and we sat near the front of the restaurant which was open to the street.
The menu is typical brasserie fare: steak frites, hanger steak, salmon, whole grilled branzino, roast duck, sandwiches and charcuterie platters. We both had the Croque Monsieur (see picture below – of course with a side of frites!) and a bottle of crisp rose. If I were picking nits I might say the bechamel was a little on the heavy side but all in all a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon.
In honor of Eater’s Burger Week, Eater has compiled a number of best-of lists. I wouldn’t dream of trying to recreate them so I will link to them below – but a few of my personal favorites first.
In-N-Out Burger – This family owned, California-based chain of 300 restaurants has a cult following and is at the top of my list. Simple menu (ordering is as easy as 1-2-3. . . ), consistently good in every location. The fries, while not necessarily my favorite, are hand-cut on location. The group recently expanded out of California into Utah and Texas. See the location finder to find a restaurant near you . . . or download the app (and see below for information on the not-so-secret secret menu). http://www.in-n-out.com/locations
Shake Shack – the closest East Coast equivalent I have found to In-N-Out. The Danny Meyer-founded chain recently went public to great fanfare. In addition to a great burger, the restaurants also offer hot dogs, frozen custards (the “concretes” have custom mix-ins and some unique versions to each location) and beer and wine. The group has recently expanded beyond New York to Massachusetts, Chicago, Washington DC and Las Vegas – funds from the IPO with also fuel their growth to additional locations. https://www.shakeshack.com/home
Five Guys – Originally started in Washington DC this chain has expanded to over 1,000 locations (in other words there should be a restaurant near you). Famous for “having it your way” – there are over 250,000 combinations for your burger. Also, hand cut fries and fresh ground beef in fact everything is fresh – nothing is frozen in the restaurants, ever. http://www.fiveguys.com/home2014/index_us.html
In the past few years chefs at better restaurants have jumped on the “better” burger trend started by Daniel Boulud at db Moderne Bistro in 2001 with a truffle and foie gras stuffed burger. A few of my better burger favorites (in addition, of course, to the original from Daniel Boulud):
NoMad – The NoMad (home of the famous foie gras stuffed roast chicken for two) is also home to a chef burger at the NoMad Bar – which starts with a custom blend of LaFrieda beef.
Minetta Tavern – The well-known Black Label burger at Keith McNally’s Minetta Tavern was introduced in 2009. One of Eater’s essential dry-aged burgers, it is made from aged ribsteak.
The Spotted Pig – Created by April Bloomfield at her 11-year old Greenwich Village gastropub the burger is one of the house specialties.
And, without further ado – all of those Eater best lists I promised at the start of the post:
Brooklyn Fare Hell’s Kitchen – will it ever open? Still supposed to be March/April but blogs have been posting about an imminent opening date for two years.
Woman in Gold (opens April 1) – based on a true story, Helen Mirren plays an elderly Jewish woman who returns to Vienna six decades after WWII to reclaim a painting by Gustav Klimt “The Lady in Gold” which had been seized from her family by the Nazis. Ryan Reynolds plays the young lawyer who comes to her aid.
Furious 7 – Continuing the global exploits in the unstoppable franchise built on speed, Vin Diesel, Paul Walker and Dwayne Johnson lead the returning cast of Furious 7.
Last Knights (open April 3) – A fallen warrior (Clive Owen) rises against a corrupt and sadistic ruler to avenge his dishonored master (Morgan Freeman), in this epic, sword-clashing adventure of loyalty, honor, and vengeance.
Skylight (open April 2) – stars Carey Mulligan and Bill Nighy fresh from their critically acclaimed performances in London and directed by David Hare. Mr Nighy plays Tom Sargeant, an ex-lover of Ms. Mulligan’s character Kyra Hollis. Tom visits Kyra after his wife dies and the two spend and evening attempting to rekindle their relationship – only to find themselves locked in a battle of opposing ideologies. The production was hailed by The Mail on Sunday as “a scorching production—a brilliant play about changing and clashing values, and the true cost of love. Bill Nighy and Carey Mulligan are sublime.”
Hand to God (opens April 7) – A hit off-Broadway which earned critics picks from The New York Times, Time Out New York, and New York Magazine the provocative Hand to God opens this week. The play is centered around Jason, a shy student who initially finds an outlet for his creativity in the Christian Puppet Ministry in the devoutly religious, relatively quiet small town of Cypress, Texas. When Jason’s hand puppet, Tyrone, takes on a shocking and dangerously irreverent personality it throws Jason’s close relationships with friends and family into upheaval.
TV / DVD
The Imitation Game(released March 31): The story of legendary mathematician Alan Turing’s most famous feat: cracking the Nazi’s seemingly unbreakable “Enigma” code. If you haven’t seen it yet rent it and see why the film was nominated for eight academy awards.
Veep: The Complete Third Season (released March 31): The new season debuts on April 12. If you aren’t watching start now. Entertainment Weekly calls Julia Louis-Dreyfus “the greatest comedic actress of our time.”
Silicon Valley: Season 1 (released March 31): The new for Silicon Valley also debuts April 12th so get caught up now on Mike Judge’s HBO comedy about a group of California computer programmers trying to make it big.
Cymbeline – opens March 13. This action/thriller starring Ethan Hawke, Ed Harris and Milla Jovovich was inspired by William Shakespeare’s Cymbeline. A gritty story of a take-no-prisoners war between dirty cops and an outlaw biker gang. Good cast but early reviews haven’t been positive.
Epaulet is a specialty men’s retailer with stores in Brooklyn and the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Much of their assortment is product which is exclusive to them – either their own label or collaborations with great brands like Alden. The proprietor’s (Adele Berne and Michael Kuhle) goal is “to deliver classic American style (with a heavy touch of British influence), razor-sharp tailoring, consistent sizing, unique fabrics, and phenomenal quality at a fair price” and they largely succeed. Epaulet recently launched a custom shirt program (see link below for more details). Use the code “Individualized-Welcome” for $25 off each shirt through Tuesday March 10. http://epauletnewyork.com/collections/made-to-order-shirting
Lovely afternoon! Started with lunch at Kiin Thai – a new restaurant in the Village from the owners of East Village favorite Somtum Der. The restaurant was still in soft opening mode but based on the Sai Qua sausage and Gaeng Hung Lay curry it is worth a visit. See more information from the Village Voice and Eater NY:
After lunch I took a snowy walk to the Lynn Redgrave Theater to see The Lion, Benjamin Scheuer’s autobiographical coming of age musical. A compelling story in an intimate setting – and the perfect amount of time – 70 minute run time with no intermission! Runs through end of March.
Home in time to open a nice pinot and watch the snow fall in front of a fire in the fireplace.
The annual Palm Springs Modernism Week started last weekend and runs through Sunday, February 22. For those of you lucky enough to be in Palm Springs this week there are still a number of events with tickets available (I barely escaped the latest round of frigid weather to hit New York and am writing this on my patio overlooking the mountains and the pool in Palm Springs. . .)
The Christopher Kennedy Compound – situated on the golf course in the Indian Canyons neighborhood of Palm Springs this 1964 home has been “reimagined for today’s style of Southern California living by an unparalleled roster of celebrity designers.” Daily Tours. http://www.thechristopherkennedycompound.com
The Williams Residence Tour – Built in 1983, but designed by an architect with a strong mid-Century pedigree, E. Stewart Williams, for his son and daughter-in-law. The home is rarely open to the public and located on the hillside of the Las Palmas neighborhood, taking full advantage of the views the location offers. Williams was responsible for several significant properties in Palm Springs including the Palm Springs Art Museum, the Palm Springs Desert Museum and the Frank Sinatra House. February 18. http://www.modernismweek.com/event/details/248643/
Tour of the Dr. Franz Alexander House Designed by Walter S. White – While White is not widely known in the Coachella Valley, this will start to change with the first-ever exhibition of White’s work at UC Santa Barbara’s Art, Design & Architecture Museum this fall. Located in the secluded enclave of Little Tuscany, this is an unusual opportunity to tour this home. February 19.http://www.modernismweek.com/event/details/248453/
Jaffe House Tour Designed by William F. Cody, 1963 – the house was built during the phase of Cody’s career when his buildings were built of steel with ultra thin roofs and acres of glass. Located in Rancho Mirage on the Tamarisk Country Club golf course, The Jaffe House encompasses large expanses of glass with deep overhangs to blend indoor and outdoor space while offer some protection from the desert sun. This is the first time the house has been open to the public. February 20. http://www.modernismweek.com/event/details/248644/
Sackley Home Tours – While the 70s are not by definition mid-Century, Stan Sackley homes feature mid-Century touches and are a personal favorite (it helps that they are a bit more spacious than a traditional mid-Century). Tour five of his designs along Caliente Drive (one of which was his personal residence. February 21. http://www.modernismweek.com/event/details/248407/
For more information on other events during the week visit http://www.modernismweek.com as there are many more walking tours, lectures and films available.
And a few of my favorite restaurants while you are in town:
Tinto at the Saguaro – the Tinto is at the Saguaro hotel (under the same ownership and management at the painfully hip Ace Hotel chain). Probably the only Basque restaurant in Palm Springs (in fact the only Basque restaurant I have ever visited) it is run by Iron Chef Jose Garces. http://palmsprings.tintorestaurant.com
Spencer’s – Great food, ambience and wine list (unusual for Palm Springs restaurants which tend to favor cocktails with a generous pour). Weather permitting the patio is a lovely spot for dinner or a weekend brunch. http://www.spencersrestaurant.com/index.php
Workshop – located on north Palm Canyon in the design district, Workshop brings a healthy urban architectural feel to Palm Springs and a menu focused on local seasonal ingredients. http://workshoppalmsprings.com
Trio – located on north Palm Canyon in the design district, Trio is a popular spot which offers solid California contemporary cuisine. http://www.triopalmsprings.com
Le Vallauris – by far the most romantic of all the restaurants on the list, Le Vallauris is (perhaps obviously) French. Located off the main downtown strip in a restored historical landmark the location, food and service are all excellent. http://www.levallauris.com
LG’s Steakhouse – frequently seen on top steakhouses in the country LG’s (with a couple different locations in the desert) dry-ages its own beef on location. Steaks are terrific and the wine list is also good. http://www.lgsprimesteakhouse.com/index.html