It started off pretty well, as far as trips go. A visit with Patrick and a glass of Champagne at Cru, where another bar guest insisted that I try a bit of the wine he and his friends were about to be served. Romanée St. Vivant something-or-other 1995… you know, just a little something. “We’re thirsty,” said the only man in New York City apparently not affected by the recession.
Dinner at Barbuto was as good as ever. A grand board of prosciutto, typically lively salads, a sizzling baked pasta with cauliflower, a fantastic duck breast with butternut squash risotto, that skirt steak, and more cauliflower, fried crisp and served wtih spicy mayonaise: I will always go back.
I woke up the next morning with three things on my mind: Ippudo, Ippudo, and Ippudo. I’ve heard rumors that this Japanese ramen chain will be opening in Paris, and when that day comes I may actually cry in my café crème because in my mind, there aren’t many better foods than a steaming bowl of spicy tonkatsu broth, curly noodles, and tender pork.
For lunch the next day I met a friend at Daniel Boulud’s DBGB, a sort of Franco-American brasserie where iceberg lettuce and matzoh ball soup rub shoulders with charcuterie from Gilles Verot. We slurped down a few plump Bluepoint oysters and then shared a boudin Basque over a potato purée and the Viennoise, a cheese filled pork link with saurkraut. These are just two of the “Links, Bangers, Saucisses, and Wieners” offered on the menu, and along with some seriously tempting burgers (the “Frenchie” is topped with pork confit and Morbier), I am going to officially declare this beer food. Good thing there are 22 craft brews on tap, including a couple from Lefthand and Avery which made me a little nostalgic for my Colorado days. Others eating at DBGB might find themselves nostalgic for the Bowery that existed before fancy French chefs and high-end retail took up residence here. Then again, I’ve read that Patti Smith wears Prada.
Lunch the next day was at the counter of Mary’s Fish Camp.
Dear Mary: I wish you hadn’t changed the bread on the fried cod sandwich. Maybe some people found that crusty loaf a little difficult to wrap their mouths around, but it stood up to the fish, tomato, and tartar sauce mightily, absorbing the juices without falling apart. I can’t say the same thing about the soft roll it comes on now. I’ll always come back, Mary, but my love affair with this sandwich might be over.
Finally, a visit to the new wine bar The Ten Bells, on the lower east side. The natural wine trend has been going strong in Paris for while now (and winemakers have been making untreated, unfiltered, uninoculated wines for much longer), and now the movement seems poised to take hold in New York. Eric Asimov recently gave The Ten Bells his blessing, and it was packed. I saw some familiar names up on the board (Villemade, Gonon, Foillard, Overnoy), and we loved “le P’tit Blanc”, from Sablonettes in the Anjou. If you can get someone’s attention, order the duck rillettes, some Spanish ham, and the papas bravas. If you can’t, well, maybe go back on a weeknight.
Or go to France.
Barbuto 775 Washington St. (b/w 12th and Jane), New York, NY (212) 924-9700 website
Cru 24 5th Ave. (at 9th St.), New York, NY (212) 529-1700 website
Ippudo 65 4th Ave (at E. 10th), New York, NY (212) 388-0088 website
Mary’s Fish Camp 64 Charles St. (at W. 4th), New York, NY (646) 486-2185 website
The Ten Bells 247 Broome St. (b/w Orchard and Ludlow), New York, NY(212) 228-4450 website