Category Archives: NYC Food Scene
Silver Spurs Diner Closing on March 29

The closing of any eating establishment is a sad time, especially for those who pay their bills with the money earned by working at them. Such is the case for the employees of the Silver Spurs diner, which recently announced that they’d be closing their doors at the end of business on March 29, citing a precipitous drop in business.

It wasn’t always that way for Silver Spurs, which opened the first of its two stores way back in 1979. The original, housed on Broadway and East Ninth, closed up shop on December 22, 2013, due to the expiration of its lease that came about after the building’s landlord increased the rent. Instead of another New York original in its place, yet another Starbucks took over.

This closing is for the diner that opened on Houston and Laguardia in 1996 and went on to thrive for 20 years. However, two years ago, clear signs of a business dropoff became evident, enough so that the 24-hour weekend availability came to an end. Not sensing any uptick was in the offing, ownership decided to throw in the towel.

The manager of Silver Spurs, Kiki Bourekas, became so ubiquitous within the diner that the locals who found a comfort zone there unofficially changed the name to Kiki’s. Others who found the place to be a welcoming haven were students from the local colleges and universities. Bourekas’ uncle, an aficionado of Westerns, came up with the theme nearly 40 years ago, with the concept managing to thrive in an urban environment.

While no official information is available on exactly what type of place will inhabit Silver Spurs former home, rumors are swirling that plans for a high-brow ice cream store are in the works. In other words, something foreign to Silver Spurs’ marketing focus.

Grub Street’s 2018 List Of Top NYC Eateries Is Quite Appetizing

One of the best things that NYC has to offer for foodies such as myself, is the huge selection of restaurants that are located there. It’s good to see that the popular NYC food website Grub Street has recently released its ‘Best of New York Eating” list article for 2018.

For the best burgers in the Big Apple, Grub Street declares a tie between Flora Bar and Cafe’ Altro Paradiso. Both of these restaurants are co-owned by acclaimed chef Ignacio Mattos, and offer Wagyu blend burgers that are available with a range of incredible condiments.

Garlic bread lovers are urged by Grub Street to try the garlic “dots” that are served at Pasta Flyer at 510 Sixth Avenue. For fried pickle plates in the city, the plate at MeMe’s Diner gets top-rating in the 2018 list.

The chicken wings from the Lobster Club at 98 East 53rd Street have assumed a spot on the list of best foods in NYC, largely due to the flavorful dipping sauce that they are served with.

The brunch served at Chez Ma Tante is highly ranked by Grub Street. Although there are lots of tasty items available at this brunch spot, their pancakes alone are worth visiting this Greenpoint establishment.

The luscious flapjacks served at Chez Ma Tante are made with extra egg yolks in the batter, which gives them a delightful richness that is unsurpassed. The pancakes here are cooked until they are almost blackened and are served with real maple syrup and high quality butter.

As far as pizza is concerned, Loring Place at 21 West 8th Street takes the top honors for its delicious “Grandma pizza.” Served in a mini sheet pan, this pie features a particularly appealing crust that is made with a combination of specialty flours.

Boru Boru Brings Kosher Japanese Cuisine to Manhattan

Since opening in February, Boru Boru has added a touch of kosher flavor to Manhattan’s Asian cuisine scene. With its kosher ramen bowls and pork-free braised meats, the Japanese-inspired eatery is the brainchild of Daniel Zelkowitz.

A graduate of Yeshiva University, Daniel Zelkowitz has extensive experience in the restaurant industry and has helped open several restaurants and sports bars. However, due to the strict kosher diet that he follows as an Orthodox Jew, Zelkowitz was never able to eat at any of his business ventures. Frustrated at being unable to enjoy Japanese and Chinese cuisine, he decided to launch Boru Boru, an Asian restaurant for patrons who follow a kosher diet. Instead of eschewing traditional dishes based heavily on pork and seafood, Zelkowitz developed kosher alternatives. The restaurant’s menu features chicken and vegetable-based concoctions that have been retooled from non-kosher pork-based broths.

Boru Boru officially launched on February 11 on Amsterdam Avenue. It is located in the space previously occupied by Joon’s Westside Fish Market, which closed in November after 30 years of operation. The space has been extensively renovated, and the new dining area now features plush leather booths, exposed red brick and Japanese-style murals. In keeping with its Jewish roots, the restaurant is closed on Friday and Saturday in observance of Shabbat.

Boru Boru’s dishes are primarily drawn from Japanese cuisine, although the menu does include Korean-influenced dishes like Korean-style fried chicken wings and Chinese-style baozi, succulent Chinese buns given a kosher twist by being stuffed with pastrami and mushrooms. Boru Boru has become known for its kosher and vegetarian ramen bowls, seasoned with mushrooms, chicken, cauliflower and tofu instead of pork. The menu also features a tasty char siu brisket, a fusion of Jewish and Chinese culinary traditions.

Caroline Fidanza New Culinary Director for Firth and Tarlow Group

Looking for a great sandwich in New York became a little tougher toward the end of 2017, when Saltie closed its doors. However, the proprietor of that establishment, Caroline Fidanza, who was also responsible for the many creative sandwiches on the menu. has taken on a new role that will get the attention of diners.

Fidanza has reportedly been hired as the culinary director for a restaurant group that includes Roman’s in Fort Greene. Tasked by the owners, Mark Firth and Andrew Tarlow, with giving some zip to their five restaurants, a butcher shop and bakery, her most prominent presence figures to be with Roman’s.

While there’s no guarantee that some of her past classics like the Clean Slate and Scuttle butt will find their way onto the restaurant’s menus, Fidanza will work with each establishment’s chef to forge new paths. Prior to that, she apparently is helping Roman’s introduce her former legendary Big Italian.

Though nothing other than a statement released to the media about that sandwich being introduced on St. Patrick’s Day has been announced, it’s clear that Fidanza’s fingerprints are already busy. That particular date is when the restaurant’s brunch will make a triumphant return, giving diners roughly a week to whet their appetites.

As opposed to chains, which rely on standard ingredients, Fidanza looks far beyond that scope to provide items like hot soppressata, sesame focaccia and agrodolce squash. That focaccia, along with cornichon has helped her set herself apart from competitors.

The reunion with Firth and Tarlow renews a connection that first began roughly two decades ago, when Fidanza was based at Savoy. Spotting her talent right away, the duo hired her to work at Diner in Williamsburg. There, something as simple as the lettuce sandwich was created along with uniquew items like oatmeal-caraway cookies.

Chef Hemant Mathur Adds to Restaurant Empire

Indian chef and restaurateur Hemant Mathur announced on Wednesday that he is planning to open a new eatery called Saar Indian Bistro. The successful chef, who already owns five other Indian restaurants in New York City, has not finalized the menu, but it will likely be based on cuisine specific to a particular region in India.

Saar will be located just off of Broadway on West 51st Street between the Neil Simon Theatre and the Gershwin Theatre. Like his other restaurants in Manhattan, Mathur plans to have a bar and a dining area with 64 seats. The eatery will also serve Indian-style tea to patrons and offer a catering service.

Mathur has become one of the most prominent Indian chefs in the country. A native of Jaipur, India in Rajasthan, he honed his cooking talents in opulent luxury hotels in India like the Maurya Sheraton in New Delhi and the Taj Bengal in Kolkata. He immigrated to the United States in 1994 and began working his way up the ladder at various restaurants like Tamarind and Diwan Grill.

In 2004, Mathur opened his first restaurant, Devi. In 2007, the Union Square restaurant became the first Indian restaurant in the United States to receive a Michelin star. Mathur left Devi in 2010 to open Tulsi, which became known for its signature dish of tandoori grilled lamb chops. In 2014, Mathur branched out and launched Fine Indian Dining Group, which manages a stable of five Indian restaurants in Manhattan.

Mathur’s specialty is focusing on certain regions of Indian cuisine, rather than forming pan-Indian menus. Each of his restaurants covers a certain region. Dhaba, his restaurant in the Curry Hill area around Lexington Avenue, offers Punjabi dishes like Amritsari fish and Punjabi murgh. Nearby, Chote Nawab focuses on Awadhi cuisine from Lucknow and Deccani-style dishes from Hyderabad. Mathur has not revealed which part of India he will draw on for the menu at Saar, but expects to make his final decisions in time for the resturant’s grand opening in April.

Marc Murphy Shutters West Village Restaurant

Chef Marc Murphy announced on Monday that he has decided to close Ditch Plains, a popular seafood eatery in the West Village. Citing the skyrocketing cost of space in the Greenwich Village Historic District, Murphy hopes to reopen the restaurant in a new location. Murphy was previously forced to close another branch of Ditch Plains in 2014. Located on the Upper West Side for three years, the restaurant also fell victim to the city’s rising rental fees.

Murphy was exposed to Italian and and French cuisine from an early age. Born in Milan, he also lived in Paris, Rome and the French Riviera commune of Villefranche-sur-Mer as a child. He trained at New York’s Institute of Culinary Education and gained experience at multiple restaurants in Europe and New York. In 2004, he opened Landmarc, a Tribeca bistro that drew on his European training. In 2009, he was introduced to a wider audience when he began appearing on the Food Network’s Chopped cooking competition series as a judge. He has since become a fixture on television, judging adolescent chefs on Chopped Junior and making dozens of guest appearances on shows like Rachael Ray, The Best Thing I Ever Ate and The Today Show.

Despite his success behind the stove and on television, Murphy has struggled to expand his restaurant empire in New York. In addition to closing two branches of Ditch Plains, he also was forced to scale back operations at Landmarc Tribeca in July. Currently, the restaurant is not available to the public and is only open for private events. However, Murphy still retains his Landmarc location inside The Shops at Columbus Circle.

Manhattan Chinese Restaurant Receives Zero Stars

The New York Times caused a stir Tuesday when food critic Pete Wells reviewed Manhattan Chinese eatery DaDong and gave it zero stars. Citing tasteless dishes and high prices, Wells expressed his displeasure with the Chinese chain’s first foray into the United States.

DaDong began life as a single restaurant in Beijing, China. Specializing in Peking duck, DaDong Roast Duck was founded by chef Dong Zhenxiang in 1985. Dong developed a special roasting method using a circular wood-burning stove to cook his version of a crisp, juicy Peking duck. His take on the traditional Beijing favorite proved to be popular and helped propel Dong to the position of one of the most famous chefs in Beijing. Due to this success, his flagship restaurant in Dongcheng District was soon joined by other branches in the city. Dong has since spread his eateries into Shanghai, where two of his DaDong restaurants have earned a Michelin star each. In 2017, he expanded DaDong into Manhattan.

Located near Bryant Park in Midtown Manhattan, DaDong’s newest location opened in December 2017. Spread over two stories, the eatery’s menu is built around its Peking duck. However, due to New York City regulations, the duck is cooked over gas instead of traditional Chinese wood-burning stoves. The restaurant also offers other dishes like Pacific geoduck clams, sweet and sour pork ribs, steamed king crabs, Kung Pao chicken and shrimp, and Wagyu beef.

However, the New York eatery’s extensive menu has not impressed reviewers. Pete Wells wrote in his review for The Times that he found DaDong’s famous Peking duck dish dry and tasteless. He also cited an overabundance of sweetness in many of the restaurant’s dishes. Adam Platt of GrubStreet gave the restaurant a similarly uncomplimentary rating in January. Although not quite as dismissive of the Peking duck, Platt also cited an overuse of sugar in the menu and bemoaned the $98 price tag for the duck dish.

Brooklyn Barbecue Quality Becomes a Source of Debate

The growth and popularity of barbecue has brought with it more competition around all areas of the country. Some these locales are more recent with their improvements when it comes to crafting this delicious menu item and has given rise to the belief that such avid fans translate into better quality.

That led an online site, Munchies, to tweet about the rapid development of Brooklyn as a hotbed of barbecue, going so far as to state that it was taking over the world. Inevitably, those on social media took notice of the item and debated the merits of such a statement, with many taking issue that the New York borough has surpassed such havens as Texas, Kansas City and the South as a whole.

The restaurant used to make this claim was the Williamsburg-based Fette Sau, though the linked article that was included in the original tweet was nearly four years old. Besides the dated reference, some other social media users took issue with the photo included of the restaurant’s contribution to barbecue.

The photo included some pieces of meat, a pair of pickles, a pair of small rolls and a beer. The meat was considered to be below the quality that the more traditional venues serve to their customers. In addition, the simple fact that the pickles had not been sliced, a customary sight in barbecue-oriented restaurants, was pointed out. Finally, the presence of rolls indicated that sliced bread was usually what was offered to those seeking a sandwich.

There were also some more caustic responses, though the fact that Fette Sau continues to make its mark in the borough of Brooklyn will likely negate such disparaging remarks. In all likelihood, the rivalry with this particular meat will continue in the years ahead, with personal opinion the ultimate judge.

Basement Raises the Roof in the Beef Game

Meat is definitely on the menu at Basement, yet getting to experience is something that requires a little creative scheduling and a willingness to venture into new surroundings. It also requires a hefty wallet that will rule out the casual drop-in crowd, though those that venture into will likely be pleased with their decision.

The restaurant’s name is an acknowledgement of its actual location, underneath the much-more prominent Tetsu. The concept is the brainchild of Masa Takayama, who not only runs both of these establishments, but also the iconic Masa. Even though Takayama is considered among the finest sushi chefs, there’s no reason to be concerned that he’s stretching himself too thin in the highly-competitive world of beef-oriented restaurants.

That’s because his concept of meat omakase delivers ohmi, ranked among the finest beef from Japan, and adds in proteins that are rarely glimpsed by diners. Capping this storied list is the always-alluring sight of caviar. Given that equation, the price tag for the meals offered of $350 and more sounds about right, even if it does rule out a good-sized portion of the population.

That scheduling aspect comes into play because the restaurant is only open from Wednesday thought Friday. Those shying away from healthy portions of beef can try some surf to counter the turf, such as crunchy garlic and steamed shrimp. Still those who like chicken won’t be disappointed by offerings like shanghaiese drunken chicken and chicken-neck skewer. In the latter case, these are definitely menu items that won’t be seen at your local KFC.

The elite dishes on the menu both combine beef with one of two combinations. The first has wasabi that’s joined with black truffles and rice that’s tantalizingly immeresed in garlic butter. The second has beef tartare and caviar on top of garlic toast.

The Old Soup-and-Sandwich Gets a New Look at Pasta Flyer

Creation by committee might be the best explanation of the origins surrounding a new option for those looking for soup-and-sandwich lunch offering something new. Both components are a convergence of delicious options, with the diner coming into Pasta Flyer the ultimate beneficiary of this culinary curiosity.

The chef at Pasta Flyer, Mark Ladner, gets credit for bringing the creation to life, though he can also thank some of his cooking brethren for supplying some subtle touches to the overall approach. It also provides an alternative to a city that’s been inundates with the concept of fired chicken sandwiches that tend to focus strictly on the chicken itself.

As far as the soup portion, a small cup of beef-and-turkey broth might be enough to satisfy the casual diner. Yet Ladner and company manage to also add some stelline into the mix,a nod to the restaurant’s Italian brand. Meanwhile, the sandwich has as its center a cutlet of chicken parmesan that combines melted provolone and arugula with tomato sauce. The bread, which has a generous slathering of garlic butter applied to it is essentially blow-torched in order to offer something new in the area of toast,

The individuals offering their contributions include Sul,livan Street Bakery’s Jim Lahey, whose bread mimics that which makes up most pizzas. For the broth, Marco Canora spared time from running both Brodo and Hearth to provide the liquid sensation. That blow-torch is actually the Searzall that was created by Dave Arnold and has taken the cooking world by storm. It’s so popular that it’s available on Amazon.

The order is unique enough that the restaurant is only offering in on Thursdays and Fridays beginning at 11 a.m. The cost to order is $13, with availability simply dependent upon whether or not the two items are still available.

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