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The Day | What’s in a Nog?

EAST VILLAGE mural (colors)2Gloria Chung

Good morning, East Village.

In yet another reminder that the clean-up work after Sandy continues, the East Village is set to regain its R train connection with Brooklyn before the holidays. Spare a thought too for the Nuyorican Poets Cafe. After long struggles to renovate the fabric of its old building, its heating system was taken out by the hurricane. It plans to hold a fund raiser at Joe’s Pub on Thursday evening.

The SantaCon backlash just gets worse. Meanwhile, EV Grieve continues to compile a list of impending business closures, including the distinctive (and large) Bargain Express on the south side of East 14th Street, and Whole Earth Bakery on St Mark’s Place.

Finally, to prompt a holiday mood, here’s the Village Voice’s veteran food critic Robert Sietsema on the history of that strange, sweet, sticky stuff, eggnog.

Japanese Spot Bound for St. Marks


On Monday The Local heard a rumor that a sushi restaurant would take over the long-vacant storefront next-door to Whole Earth Bakery. That turned out to be partly true. Gary Auslander, the broker who handled the deal, said that a “very exclusive” 15-seat Japanese restaurant would be moving in. Like another newcomer, Bugs, it will indeed serve sushi, among other things. Mr. Auslander added that it won’t be competing with Sushi Lounge a few doors away, rather, it will be “more like Momofuku.” The owners of the restaurant, who will appear at this month’s Community Board 3 meeting, are bringing over a well-regarded chef from Japan, according to the broker.

Dog Day Afternoon: Sausage Party in Union Square, New Judges for Crif Dog Classic

The truck at Union Square.Mary Reinholz

In Union Square today, a semi-truck doubling as a barbecue smoker offered free chicken and beef sausage links to pedestrians as part of the History Channel’s “Cross Country Cookout.” The truck will be serving free grub till 6 p.m.

Of course, it may be a little late to get in on the feeding frenzy, so here’s something else to chew on: Dexter Holland, lead singer of The Offspring (yes, they’re still around, and have an album out today) and Evette Rios, correspondent on ABC’S “The Chew,” have been added to the judging table at the Crif Dog Classic, an eating contest taking place at Roberta’s, in Bushwick, on the Fourth of July.

At Union Square.Mary Reinholz

The contest, hosted by the East Village’s own Crif Dogs, will feature ten renowned eaters, including Takeru Kobayashi – the legend who famously became persona non grata at the Nathan’s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest –  as well as beats from Finger on the Pulse and performances by Wild Yaks, Andy Suzuki & The Method, and The Electric Mess.

As for the Coney Island competition, East Village roommates Timothy “Eater X” Janus and Crazy Legs Conti are gearing up for it, and we’ll have more on that later.

Sushi Spot from Jewel Bako Alumna

Grub Street reports that Sho Boo, a former chef at one of the neighborhood’s finer sushi spots, Jewel Bako, will open Bugs at 504 East 12th Street in July. The fifteen-seat restaurant will serve “sushi and Japanese small plates like chicken saikyo yaki.” Elsewhere in the sushisphere, Iconic Hand Rolls is now hiring.

Jum Mum Now Serving Buns on St. Marks

Stephen Rex Brown

Jum Mum, a restaurant specializing in steamed buns, has opened in the former Hottie space at 5 St. Marks Place.

The business, which sells two pork belly buns for $5.50, is run by the owners of Spot Dessert Bar a few doors down. Several other varieties of buns and rice dishes are available as well.

Jum Mum is open from noon to midnight Sunday through Thursday, and noon to 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday. See the menu…

Mile End Is Now Open, Just Five Blocks From Katz’s

Photos: Lauren Carol Smith

Today, Noah Bernamoff and his wife Rae Cohen, the owners of Montreal-style deli Mile End, opened their first Manhattan venture – a sandwich-only storefront on Bond Street near Bowery. Don’t be surprised if it ends up luring fressers away from the lines at Katz’s.

The menu reprises many of the deli sandwiches (including the classic: smoked meat) that quickly gave the small restaurant instant golden-child status when it opened in Boerum Hill in 2010. There will also be hand-held twists on plated classics: instead of in a bowl, chicken liver will come loaded onto rolls with pickled eggs, duck jus and parsley salad. Read more…

Born B.A.D.: Masco Butts Heads With C.B. 3 Again

Stephen Rex Brown The electrifying scene at last night’s meeting.

The always-colorful Community Board 3 liquor license committee recommended on Monday night that one of its more outspoken critics not be allowed to serve beer and wine at his restaurant.

The board denied the beer-wine license for Keith Masco’s 24-hour B.A.D. Burger, citing the proximity of other booze-selling establishments, similar restaurants that operate without licenses, and “consistent community opposition.”

“B.A.D. Burger, bad neighbor. Deny them,” said Shawn Chittle, who lives above the restaurant at 171 Avenue A.
Read more…

On First Avenue, One Filipino Pop-Up Pops Up Next to Another

maharlika1Daniel Maurer Sign boards at Bar Kada and Maharlika on Sunday afternoon.

Maharlika has received its share of attention since it went from being a roving pop-up to a proper brick-and-mortar restaurant on First Avenue back in August. “Could it be that Filipino food, the underdog of Asian cuisines, is having its moment at last?”, asked The Times in its $25 and Under review. It would seem so: Recently, yet another Filipino pop-up quietly opened up in the East Village – on the very same block as Maharlika.

Few seem to have noticed, but last month, Bar Kada took up a Sunday residence at Ugly Kitchen at 103 First Avenue, just a few doors down from Maharlika between Sixth and Seventh Streets. The pop-up is the brainchild of Aris Tuazon, 37, who was until recently the chef at another nearby Filipino restaurant, Krystal’s Cafe 81. Yesterday, Mr. Tuazon said he planned to serve a Filipino menu at Ugly Kitchen every Sunday from 11 a.m. till midnight while he looked for a permanent space in the neighborhood.  Read more…

Sao Mai Opens, Serving Vietnamese: How It’s Looking, What It’s Cooking

Photos: Daniel Maurer

Less than a month after Quantum Leap closed, its successor, Sao Mai, has opened at 203 First Avenue between 12th and 13th Streets. Ronny Nguyen, the executive chef, told The Local that he opened Saturday.

The chef, who migrated from South Vietnam in 1984, said he was eager to test the East Village waters after five years at Xe Lửa on Mulberry Street. “There are more American people here,” he said. “In Chinatown, there’s a restaurant on every corner. Over here, I don’t see many Vietnamese restaurants.” Read more…

The Day | Gavin DeGraw Hospitalized After Beating

down to the 6Michelle Rick

Good morning, East Village.

The Post reports that singer Gavin DeGraw was attacked by a group of men on First Avenue between Fifth and Sixth Streets around 4 a.m. Monday. He was scheduled for a concert in Saratoga Springs today, but instead Mr. DeGraw, who owns The National Underground with his brother Joey, is under observation at Bellevue Hospital.

The “outlook is dim” for the last of the lighting businesses along the Bowery. “Store owners point to gentrification, the downturn in the local housing market and the rise of online shopping as having taken a toll on their businesses,” writes The Wall Street Journal.

More change on the Bowery: The folks at Bowery Boogie and The Lo-Down recap last night’s CB3/SLA meeting. According to The Lo-Down, a “slightly more affordable” version of midtown steakhouse Quality Meats has been green-lighted for liquor at 199 Bowery. Bowery Boogie reports that the owners of Peels at 325 Bowery were given the nod for some alterations.

Correction: August 12, 2011

An earlier version of this blog post misstated the name of a neighborhood blog. It is The Lo-Down, not The Lo-Side.

Restaurant Week’s Appeal Narrows

Restaurant WeekMeghan Keneally The logo for Restaurant Week.

The economics behind Restaurant Week means that a surprisingly small group of East Village restaurants are participating in the program.

The city-wide promotion, which runs for two weeks starting Monday, offers a prix fixe menu for $24.07 at lunch and $35 for dinner, the idea being that diners have the chance to get fancy meals at a lower cost. Because the majority of the East Village’s restaurants are less expensive already, many don’t see the need to participate.

“Our price point is extremely low — everything here is under $12 — so we don’t really fit the restaurant week model,” said Craig Koenig, one of the partners at Whitman’s restaurant on East 9th Street who is not involved in the promotion.

Yerba Buena, a Latin restaurant on Avenue A, is one of the five restaurants in the East Village that is offering Restaurant Week menus.

Participation in the East Village is low “because the restaurants are very small and a lot of people like to hit the really big places, like Gramercy Tavern and Nobu,” said Angel Deleon, the manager of Yerba Buena. “Those places may not give you the same value because the portions are small.”
Read more…

Yippie Cafe to Reopen This Month

IMG_0004Khristopher J. Brooks Work is underway at the Yippie Museum Cafe.

Earlier today, EV Grieve reported that the Yippie Museum Cafe is under renovation. We now have more details about what the place will look like when the work is done.

When customers walk in, they’ll notice that the carpet, which dated back to the 1980’s, is gone. That’s because the cafe’s manager, Robert Payne, had the carpet pulled up and thrown away. Now after stepping in the front entrance, customers will see a black, rubber mat covering the hardwood floor.

After taking a few more steps into the cafe, customers will see stencil designs on the wood floor. Customers will also notice that the loft that loomed over the cafe’s cash register is gone. Mr. Payne, who plans to create the designs for the floors, decided the loft was taking up too much space. On the walls, customers will see the same Yippie posters and psychedelic art that was there before, but Mr. Payne will have the art restored, so the images will look like new.
Read more…

Please Don’t Call It a Cup of Joe

photo.JPGTodd Olmstead Some of the selection at Van Daag.

For many coffee drinkers, the morning brew is a ritual, an essential start to the day whether consumed at home, work, or somewhere in between. But for coffee geeks, the experience is so much more than adding fuel. It’s a precise, scientific process in which beans cultivated with care on small farms in far away countries are ground specifically for that single, perfect cup. Many are coming to drink coffee with the same attention as fine wine.

Joining the movement is Van Daag, with a new coffee menu featuring beans from two renowned Scandinavian micro-roasters.

“Van Daag wanted a coffee program that would be something different, something that New York hadn’t seen yet,” David Latourell of Intelligentsia Coffee & Tea told me. He helped assemble Coffee Collective of Copenhagen and Tim Wendelboe of Oslo along with Ecco Caffe, a small California roastery that Intelligentsia owns.

One patron described the former World Barista Champion as “godlike,” but Mr. Wendelboe, who is tall and has boyish features, doesn’t carry himself like a star. This event felt more like a gathering of old friends – though they were also happy to dispense their considerable coffee wisdom to anyone eager to slurp the brown nectar.
Read more…

The Many Flavors Of Pumpkins

Jack-o-lanterns have come and gone, but pumpkins are still lighting up menus around the neighborhood. Some people look forward to pumpkin spice lattes, but I’m always excited to see what creative offerings local restaurants come up with each year. I set out on a mission to find the East Village’s best dishes — both savory and sweet — starring autumn’s iconic vegetable.

pumpkin pancakes at Cafe OrlinCarolyn Stanley Pumpkin pancakes at Cafe Orlin.

Cafe Orlin
41 St. Mark’s Place, 212-777-1447.
At Café Orlin, I was able to get my fix before noon with pumpkin pancakes with cinnamon-spiced yogurt. The pancakes are dense and not too heavy on the pumpkin or the sugar (though I was happy to make use of the side of syrup).
Read more…