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Dining Out: Where would you go?


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I don’t want to leave because I think somewhere else would be “nice”. I want to leave because I think American Death Capitalism is malicious and evil. 

At one restaurant, we picked the fennel flowers from the planter next to us and used them on our fried anchovies. Can't do that indoors!

As you might have noticed, I pretty much think this outdoor dining stuff is mostly a mug's game. We're getting told it's our responsibility as consumers to "support" the decimated restaurant indu

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Some new things happening down Two Bridges way...

L'Itos (or L'ito's?) - cute little soup n' sandwich takeout place in the shadow of the bridge on Henry St. A collaboration between the owner of Leisir Wine next door and the chef-partner from Sorella that wasn't the Hearst scion. Unfancy, straightforward. We only tried two sandwiches - the "Ash" (ham, pickles & mustard) and the "Stevie" (pastrami and slaw in a pita) and they were both solid, though the pita didn't travel well and had kind of dissolved from the dressing by the time it got home. It said Russian dressing but I swear I tasted something nutty in there, like tahini. Whatever it was, it was good if messy. I'll be back to test the matzo ball soup soon, I'm sure. Only to-go, no seating. But there's a park nearby. Smaller sammies than at, say, Regina's. But Regina's is on my shit list after they co-hosted that COVID petri dish block party a few months ago, so it's irrelevant. 

Leisir, it should be mentioned, is a good shop. Small but well-curated selection of pet-nats and such. Smart staff. Also, both places carry the new Amass (as in the gin) hand sanitizer, which is pretty good if you're into bougie craft hand sanitizers. It doesn't smell like gin. Kind of Christmassy.

Down the street on the other side of the bridge is Dreamers Coffee House, also cute. Maybe a year old. Trendy single origin stuff, run by a couple of Vietnamese-Chinese kids (I say kids, but they're probably in their late twenties) and an adorable dog named Milo. Snacks both sweet and savory, usually, made by one of their moms. Occasionally host pop-ups from local pastry makers. Super-friendly, great little place.

A block South on Madison is That Witch Ales You, a new brewery with four beers and two confusingly unrelated puns. There's a cement back "yard" to drink in with serious Eastern Bloc vibes. They aren't making uber-complex brooders or bitterness war hop bombs, just easy-drinkin' brews, each with something East/Southeast Asian in the mix: ginger, coconut, lychee, and jackfruit. The latter two I couldn't really taste in their respective beers (a red ale and a kolsch) and the ginger was mild in the IPA. The coconut was the most prominent and unmistakable, in what they called a porter but I wouldn't. Wasn't bad, just wasn't a porter. Anyway, probably not a place that'll get added to a Beer Advocate tour but kinda cool to have in the neighborhood. A little annoying that the to-go options start at a four-pack and they won't do mixed packs. Food options weren't terribly interesting, just a few random items (fries, fried dumplings, fried pickles...) to meet the legal requirements. I didn't try any. I could see them doing all right once people can congregate again, if they get better food options. Even just setting up a grill out back and doing burgers, or something not-fried.

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19 hours ago, Seth Gordon said:

Some new things happening down Two Bridges way...

L'Itos (or L'ito's?) - cute little soup n' sandwich takeout place in the shadow of the bridge on Henry St.

You certainly get around. In addition to the shadow of the bridge, you forget to mention the shadow of the junk yard that's on its right (northerly?) side. God, I have to hand it to anyone opening anything on that stretch of Henry. Including the Golden Diner, where 2 people were sitting at a table outside, and where no less than 3 trains passed overhead during my 1-minute hustle under the bridge. Different strokes, I guess.

A couple of new places to look forward to perhaps?

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This little Thai place (7 elephants) is opening (I guess in October, though I think it's currently October?) in the shop formerly known as Malt & Mold. Which evidently still exists on 2nd Avenue and 21st - and there's a story there somewhere. 7 elephants is in between Ice & Vice and Eastwood.

Manousheh, reported on elsewhere by @small h, seems fully open and operational. 

Manousheh.thumb.jpeg.6aa5be14e0f5d2627d40271f9a60125f.jpeg 

And they have a little grocery area too, which is always fun for me. Everything Lebanese. Expect I'll try it soon.

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Wu's outdoor seating area is probably larger than most restaurants' indoor seating areas. And now pretty well covered; they were working on it yesterday.

Also, you'll be able to get your shoes repaired while dining at Wu's, or awaiting your takeout I guess...

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We did end up getting a table at Ko Extra Place last night (it wasn't busy). Very well designed experience (of course, having that alley to themselves is an advantage). Almost contactless, starting from QR code menus; personalized bags of utensils; plenty of hand sanitizer.

The small plates were very good: sea urchin with a chickpea hozon, and what looked like a green and murky bowl of thin soup but contained good diced scallops, basil seeds, and pineapple.

We had to share the duck pie because it was there. Much more rustic than the appetizers, but nice flaky pastry. The duck stuffing is rich; we thought we tasted cheese, and research suggests it incorporates Vermont Tubby. It took some digesting: it really is ample for two people. I'd say the salted eggplant was a bit too salty, but my daughter observed that it balanced the richness. ETA: Never mind the menu, that wasn't eggplant; some kind of green bean?

The Cote-Rotie was good with the pie.

 

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So, emboldened by their claim of having a Needlepoint Bi-Polar Ionization System (usually it's only me and my dates who are bi-polar) that some hospitals can't afford, I went to Le Bernardin.

What was interesting was that the formal Old Skool service style employed there solved one of the big problems with COVID dining at most of the places I've gone to:  the awkwardness of interacting with masked service staff members when I'm not wearing a mask.  (Of course, some places deal with that problem by requiring guests to put on their masks whenever interacting with staff members.  While I totally agree with that requirement in theory, I find that in practice it is so inconvenient that I'd rather stay home than comply with it.)

Most restaurants I go to follow the Brooklyn Style of service:  the wait staff are assumed to be social equals to the guests, and interact with them as such:  your interactions are chummy rather than deferential.  In general I support that, socially and politically.  But now, it makes it seem really awkward when the server is masked and I'm not.  At LeB, though, there's no question that the staff are providing a service and the customer is the patron.  So it seems perfectly natural for the staff to be wearing protective gear that the customer isn't.  This is bolstered by the fact that the staff is uniformed:  they're different from the customers, not part of the same crowd.

Ryan Sutton will whine about how restaurants like LeB are relics of a dead social age.  (I'd say he should stop focusing on superficial bullshit and pay attention to underlying circumstances -- but we can't talk politics here.)  But during the Pandemic, this antiquated service style simply makes more sense.

Fun fact:  with reduced staffing, you even get Aldo Sohn as your Somm!

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Food any good?

I have a slightly different perspective on formal service, which is that the entire set-up of somewhere like Le Bernardin has historical roots in performance -- or feigning, one might say. That tradition of dining was a representation of how the gentry ate in their stately homes, democratized for the urban middle (and upper) classes. The uniformed servers are playing the role of servants; guests are playing a role too (which they should dress up for). Within those roles, command and deference make sense. This relationship does not, of course, exist outside those roles. I agree of course that this is all dying out.

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I am curious for counter-service type places what the chefs are wearing as far as PPP. Someone posted pictures at Noz and all he is wearing is a plastic shield that only covers his nose and mouth. And he blows on the food! No thank you! Have not been able to find pictures of any of the other similar places that are open (other sushi counters, atomix, brooklyn fare, etc). 

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25 minutes ago, Tubbs said:

I am curious for counter-service type places what the chefs are wearing as far as PPP. Someone posted pictures at Noz and all he is wearing is a plastic shield that only covers his nose and mouth. And he blows on the food! No thank you! Have not been able to find pictures of any of the other similar places that are open (other sushi counters, atomix, brooklyn fare, etc). 

The sustainable sushi counter down the street from me is entertaining a handful of guests at the counter, and the chef is wearing a mask. Hopefully gloves.

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1 hour ago, Tubbs said:

I am curious for counter-service type places what the chefs are wearing as far as PPP. Someone posted pictures at Noz and all he is wearing is a plastic shield that only covers his nose and mouth. And he blows on the food! No thank you! Have not been able to find pictures of any of the other similar places that are open (other sushi counters, atomix, brooklyn fare, etc). 

Mostly the same ineffective masks as everyone. Many of them put a plastic barrier up that allows sushi but not spittles through. I haven't seen many gloves and as always, your protection is in the low infection rate and nothing else.

There was also much confusion over the executive order banning counter service. The city militia is interpreting it to read that it's fine if it's dinner. 

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27 minutes ago, Tubbs said:

Low infection rate seems like less comfort when you have someone standing directly in front of multiple unmasked customers for 1-2 hours twice a night. 

Still unlikely to serve an infected individual among rich white folks in Manhattan. 

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