Cafe Cluny

Saturday night I had dinner at the newly opened Cafe Cluny, a French bistro from Lynn Wagenknecht (an owner of Odeon and the former wife of Keith McNally). The menu consisted of about 5 appetizers and 8 entrees. The starters we sampled included the baby beet salad with black mission figs and aged goat cheese ($12.50) which was applauded by Mark & Suz, and the frisee salad aux lardons with poached egg. I had the sea scallops with cauliflower puree and beet jus ($13) which I thought was a bit overcooked and underwhelming. For main courses, the guys had braised short ribs with Hudson Valley foie gras, potato puree and root vegetables ($28), which was enjoyed, but with the comment "it's not as good as the short rib at Extra Virgin". I had the cod with piperina and creamy polenta which was very good - especially the piperina which is kind of like a ragout of peppers. For desert we went for the chocolate pudding (light and yummy) and the profiteroles (top notch!). The space has 2 small dining rooms with a tiny bar separating them. The decor is very cream with lots of French country details.

The only problem with the whole meal was a mishap with the bill. When the waitress split our bill onto 2 credit cards she ended up overcharging us by about $125. I realized once we left and went back and they were very nice about taking care of it. I'm not so sure thougth that the manager knew how to handle the credit card machine so we'll see if we end up being double-charged.

The place was packed dinners (including Elizabeth Berkley) and many were making reservations on their way out to return (I didn't personally think it was THAT good). If you have any interest in trying this place out, I'd book it now before you can't get in. The 411: Café Cluny is located in the WV at 284 West 12th Street, corner of West 4th Street, 212-255-6900.


A Killer Show

Last night I went to see The Killers at The Theater @ MSG. First off - it was my first time at this venue and I REALLY liked it. It felt very intimate and I think most seats in the place are good ones. And I was happy to have seats since the mosh pit at the front by the stage seemed annoying. My question is - why do people have to be such idiots and throw their glow sticks into a crowd at people?

Anyway, the show was great. They played all the hits including "All These Things That I've Done" and "Mr. Brightside". I also loved "Enterlude" and "Exitlude" from their latest CD Sam's Town. Basically, they just rocked it. Much of the material actually came from their first cd Hot Fuss which made the crowd really happy. My only complaint was that the set was pretty short (like an hour and 15) and I really would've liked to have heard more.

Poor Nobu

The 2007 Michelin Guide dropped this week. From what I hear Nobu lost it's Michelin Star. I hear it's because they say Nobu is "very inconsistent" and that they "don't care" about their food anymore. It's a sad day.


Running With Scissors

Last night I went with Kimmi K to see the film adaptation of Augusten Burroughs memoir Running With Scissors. I have been waiting a long time to see this and was very excited. Sadly, I'm not sure if I can recommend this movie. See here's the thing - I think the only people who will really like this movie will be fans of the book. If you haven't read it, then a lot will be lost. It's not that it was bad AT ALL. In fact, it was very true to the book and visually very fun. The casting was pretty dead on, although I felt at times that some of the actors were a bit too old for the roles( i.e. Gwenneth Paltrow as Hope). The acting by all was superb, especially Annette Benning (who plays Augusten's psychopathic mom Dierdre) who will undoubtly be nominated for an Oscar, if not win. Plus I love Evan Rachel Wood who played Natalie Finch. One of the main problems with the script was that it was SUPER DARK (and I usually love dark) - MUCH darker than the book. A lot of the comedic elements in the book tended to either be left out or didn't translate well enough to the screen. Also, this felt like more of the story of Dierdre than Augusten (I think this really had to do with the fact that Annette is so strong in the role and kind of swallows up Joseph Cross who plays the young Augusten). It's strange, the story felt completely different from the book while at the same time feeling exactly the same. Ah, the powers of editing. In this end I'll give this one a bipolar thumbs up. I'm now just hoping they will continue on with the series and bring "Dry" to the big screen.


Free Robbie!

If you haven't yet, be sure to download the new Robbie Williams track "Kiss Me" - it's free this week from iTunes! Robbie's new cd Rudebox releases (as an import) next Tuesday!


Check It Off & Toss It Out!

Had dinner with The Lady last night at Osteria Del Sole on W. 4th across the street from Gwennie's old place. This restaurant has been on my list forever since it's right in the hood on a quaint W. Village corner. I started with a Caesar (the dressing was too fishy for me) and The Lady had the Caprese salad (it had an entire 1/2 of a tomato instead of slices which was just weird to me). Then we split an order of the gnocci (the gnocci themselves were fine but the tomato sauce was very bland and the so-called "spicy" mini meatballs in the dish reminded me of the ones in SpaghettiOs). Oh well, at least the bread was good. One of the only other positive things I can really say is that we had a table outside (which is why we went there in the first place) . Spotted strolling on W. 4th taking advantage of the good weather were Cynthia Rowley (with children), S.J.P. and Sean The Apprentice #5.


Zagat's Ring The Bell

It's that time of year again - the release of the new Zagat Survey. In honor of the release, Tim & Nina rang the bell at NASDAQ this morning (and Mark cheered them on!)


Are We All Getting Too Old?

Saturday night I went to see The Pet Shop Boys at Radio City. I've seen the Boys numerous times and I have to say this was my least favorite. Yes, they played the majority of their hits including "West End Girls", "It's A Sin", "Always On My Mind" and "Where The Streets Have No Name". And they played the majority of their new album Fundamental (which by the way, I think is QUITE good and very reminiscent of their old stuff). My big problem with the show (and I hate to say it) was that I think Neil Tennant is getting a little to old in the tooth to be dressing up in cheesy costumes and dancing like a white-boy on stage to dance music (see pic). I always liked the outrageous costumes and sets of their previous shows, but this time it seemed a bit embarrassing for them. They opened the show with one of their new singles "Psychological" and it may have very well been a funeral dirge. Oh, no wait, the funeral dirge showed up later in the show when they played "Dreaming of the Queen" while showing footage of Diana's funeral procession on the screens behind them. Another big problem was that Radio City swallowed them up. Sadly, the show was not "big" enough to command that space. I think something like Hammerstein (where they played on the last tour) might have been better suited. On a positive note, I will say that Neil can still sing. I just wish Chris would've turned down the base a little on some of the new songs so Neil's vocals could have really shown through. The highlights of the show for me where actually the new songs "The Soddom And Gommorah Show" and "Integral". In all, even with all of this bitching, I did have a good time. Maybe I'm being overcritical and jaded here. If I had never seen them before, I'm sure the review would've been much better.


Friday Night Lights

Friday night was a busy one. I started off after work with a quick stop off for the opening of the Lia Halloran show at DCKT Contemporary. It was a great show of oils on acryllic exploring the physical forces of nature and the possibilities of how these forces interact with, intersect and fragment the body. Pretty cool stuff!

From there we raced over to The China Club to see Nick Lachey "Up Close & Personal" courtesy of the free tickets I won from WPLJ. I wasn't so keen on going but Kimmi K. wanted to go like crazy so we went. The whole thing was quite hilarious. One thing I noticed is that Nick loves to grab his heart when he sings and also reach out to the audience - over and over again. Very amateur night (not to MENTION the crowd - although what did I expect!). And the $10 Heinekens were not really helping. Luckily he only played a brief 5 songs (although he did sound good), which he followed up with a Q&A. Truthfully, my favorite part of the show was when Kimmi kept yelling for him to take off his shirt (which he didn't do AND rudely didn't acknowledge her!) Really, with Nick it's just all about that killer smile of his (since he didn't show his other asset - the abs).

Capping things off was dinner at Breeze, a Thai restaurant in Hell's Kitchen. This place had been on my list for awhile and went in since we happened to stumble upon it. I don't think I can give this place a very good recommendation. We started off with what was supposed to be a "crab roll" which came out looking (and tasting a bit) like dog food. This was followed by Pad Thai (which had WAY too much fish sauce in it for my liking) and chicken cashew (this was the best of the 3 dishes - nice and spicy - although it barely had any chicken). Breeze is cheap and cheerful, so maybe a fairly decent option if you are looking for a quick bite in that neighborhood. If you want to go for cheap hip Thai though, go to Sea or Spice instead.

Gordon Ramsay

Today marks a big day for NY foodies - it's the day that the reservation lines finally open for Gordon Ramsay's first state-side restaurant in The London NYC Hotel.

The restaurant will have 2 sections. The 12-table main dining room based on Restaurant Gordon Ramsay in London will have a 3-course a la cart menu for $85 and the 7-course prestige tasting menu for $115. Dress code for this one is jacket requested, ties optional and no jeans. They will also be offering seats at the chef's table in the kitchen which seats up to 8 guests.

The more casual "London Bar" dining room will have many more tables with more flexible seating times with a menu based on Ramsay's Maze. The London Bar offers a 4-course tasting for $55, a 6-course tasting for $75 and an a la carte menu with small dishes starting at $12.

Reservations can be made by calling (212) 468-8888 for the main dining room or (212) 468-8889 for the London Bar (actually though it appears that will book you into either on either number). Keep this in mind - today getting through is like trying to get tickets through Ticketmaster. After booking 2 reservations this morning, I have discovered that if you get a busy signal that sounds really far away hang on for a minute and somehow you will probably put on hold and then patched through!


Dish Of The Week

The other night I visited my favorite restaurant in the West Village Deborah. I realized that I have never really blogged about it so I will now. For those of you who still haven't been there, Deborah is a tiny gem with an open kitchen, brick walls and long banquettes - a perfect setting for a Fall night in the Village. Chef Deborah Stanton (formerly of Galaxy and Woo Lae Oak) helms the kitchen and breathes new life into her reasonable priced New American comfort food. Throughout my years of eating at Deborah I have always ordered the same way - find a dish I LOVE there and then stick to it until I either tire of it or discover has replaced on the menu. Since the later was the case on this recent visit, I decided to venture with the Alaskan halibut “en papillote” - a gorgeous piece of flaky white fish crisped on the outside and served with herb infused sweet mashed and caramelized brussel sprouts. And this, my friends, is the D.O.T.W. As is the case with most items at Deborah, it was Phenomenal! I ended up have a conversation with Deborah about the brussel sprouts and she filled me in on one of her cooking philosophies - she like to pairs items that people THINK they don't like (i.e. the brussel sprouts) to items that like to try to get them to try something new. She also prepares them in a way that she hopes that people will love - in this case, I certainly did. She kinds of keeps that mantra with all aspects of the restaurant. Another instance was the Chianti - Deborah herself doesn't really like Chianti so she tried them until she found one that she did like so that it could be included on the menu. Overall, this place is never disappointing. Some other of my favorite dishes there include the Cobb Salad, the Mac 'N Cheese with turkey kielbasa and the mussels. Brunch there is fun too - the shired eggs are out of this world. So if you haven't been to Deborah yet, will 'ya go already? !?!?!?!?!?!


Simply Barbra

So it is true! After you see a Barbra Streisand concert you really DO feel like one of the luckiest people! (at least that's how I felt last night when exiting the Garden). I've always enjoyed making fun of Barbra and her fans (and believe me, there were some sites to see there last night!). But when it comes right down to it, what it's really about is the music - and Barbra proved that she is truly worthy of all of the praise that people give her.

The show felt very intimate. A minimal set - a stage shaped like a sideways 8 with a 50-piece orchestra in the 2 middle spaces - and the icon herself in a spotlight. Throughout the 3 hour show Barbra commanded the audience. Everyone sat in their seats intensely listening to every word she sang and then would errupt into a roar and standing ovation at the end of EVERY song. I can't go into detail on the set list. From what I am told a lot of the songs were ones rarely played that only die-hard fans would know. I will say that my favorite, though, was "Don't Rain on My Parade" - and I was actually really happy that she played it twice - once during the show and again during the encore. Of course "The Way We Were" was great as well. And I enjoyed the verse she did from "Stony End" - a song not on the rehersed set list but a request that came from an audience member during the Q&A portion of the show.

I only have one complaint about the show. I wanted MORE Barbra! Yes, there, I said it! I'm not sure what quite made her incorporate the 4 tenors from Il Divo into the show, but for me it didn't work AT ALL - to the point of being annoying. They accompanied her on "Evergreen" and "Somewhere" (from West Side Story) and in the middle of the show performed 3 of their own songs (including the sappy "Unbreak My Heart"). It all really made me cringe. Barbra more than held her own over the 4 overpowering voices but I wish she had thought better of including them and had filled that time with a few more of her own songs. And then of course there was the Bush "skit" where the impersonator came out and exchanged banter with her. I realize she had to get the politics in there somewhere, but honestly I would have rather listened to a speech than this embarrassing display. I guess in the end it just shows that Barbra really is human and a bit dorky.

Enough about the bad stuff. The rest was amazing and well worth every penny. She sounded virtually flawless and looked AMAZING for 64. And in the end, I now recognize Barbra for the true legend that she is.

One last note to close on. Of course any Barbra concert wouldn't be complete without a room chock full of celebrities and last night was no exception. My sightings included: Fran Drescher, Rosie O' Donnell, Hugh Jackman, Katie Couric (who was chatting with former beau Chris Botti during intermission), Sting & Trudie, Bill & Hill, Regis & Joy, Bebe Neuwirth, Sarah Jessica Parker, S. Epetha Merckson and the most distinguised Stephen Sondheim. There were definitely more, but that's all I can remember. I was too busy singing "Don't Rain On My Parade" as I ran out into the torrential rains on 7th Avenue.


Street Cred

One of my favorite NY news reporters, Lisa Evers, was recently harrassed by punters at a concert on Randall's Island. This clip made it onto The Soup so I have to show it here - it's hilarious!

Wine Bargains

Looking for a deal on some wine? Check out Wines 'Til Sold Out. Each day the site features 1 bottle of wine at a 30-70% discount complete with tasting and producer notes so that you better understand what you are buying. Starting in 2 weeks they will have "marathon mondays" where more than one bottle - usually those high in demand or low in stock. Many times they offer free shipping as well.


Gimme Some Lobsta!

For those of us lucky enough to live south of 14th St., you can now add freshly cooked lobsters to your delivery options. Opening tomorrow, Urban Lobster will feature items like the urban lobster meal (1 1/2 lb. steamed lobster - served with drawn butter - with 2 sides, $24.50), the urban lobster roll ($19), steamed clams ($9.50) and clam chowda ($6). Apparently they'll have a few tables there too (they're located on Houston & A) for you uptowners.


Fish Fry Update

I went to the fish fry at the Mermaid Inn last night. It was delish. The fish was some of the best cod I've had and it was complimented well by the hushpuppies, corn-on-the-cob and slaw. Oh, and the $2 ice cold can of PBR rocked too! HOWEVER (as there always has to be one), it turns out the chef at the Mermaid doesn't believe in tartar sauce. So a note to those planning on going, B.Y.O.T! I also overheard as I walked past the kitchen at like 8:30p that they had run out of almost everything (it appeared that everyone in the place was ordering the special) so make sure to get there early! Oh, and it turns out they do take reservations now!


Ring It In With Sandy!

If you happened to miss her off-Broadway show "Everything Bad & Beautiful" last spring, Sandra Bernhard returns to the NY stage, this time at the intimate Joe's Pub with 2 shows a night on December 29-31. Tickets are $45 for the 29th & 30th and $85-$150 for New Years Eve. Get them by calling 212-967-7555 (or 212-539-8778 if you want to make a dinner reservation at the same time).

Fish Fry

One of my favorite East Village spots, The Mermaid Inn, is holding a good old fashioned fish fry every Wednesday night throughout the month of October. For $19, you get North Atlantic cod, hushpuppies, corn on the cob, slaw, and honey butter. In keeping with the hometown feel, they will also offer $2 PBR, Old Milwaukee, and Schlitz beers. If the weather cooperates, head out to the great garden/pation space in the back!