Happy New Year!

DSCN2637, originally uploaded by Brockenbrough Photos.



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Red Hook style corn

Red Hook style corn, originally uploaded by Brockenbrough Photos.

The Red Hook food vendors that gather around the soccer fields there on weekends used to serve this corn. The sauce – what gives this corn that extra little kick – is a mixture of mayonaisse (several spoonfuls for 2 ears), paprika (about 1 or 2 tablespoons depending on how hot you want the sauce) and cilantro (chop into thin ribbons about 1 handful for every 2 ears).

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Elephant & Castle inspired Shrimp Sandwich

A couple weeks ago, some friends and I went to Elephant & Castle in Greenwich Village. Its a British publik house style restaurant that serves a lot of inventive dishes including a sauteed shrimp and bacon sandwich with basil vinaigrette and mayo. I was torn between ordering the sauteed chicken schnitzel with fresh basil and tomatoes and this sandwich – our waiter admonished me to get the sandwich. And a star was born!

In fact I so enjoyed this shrimp sandwich that it inspired a new version that is in quick rotation in my home dinner meals. For mine, I mix the basil vinaigrette (fresh basil about 1 cup, about 1/4 cup of olive oil and 1/4 cup of balsalmic vinegar) then saute the shrimp in garlic and olive oil. Then add red onions (in place of the bacon) and lettuce (hold the mayo). Switching out the white wine vinegar for balsamic vinegar adds a little extra kick to it – yeah, its looks less pretty but definitely tastes better.

Here’s my version:

Elephant & Castle
68 Greenwich Avenue (just East of 7th Ave.)
New York, NY 10011
Tel: (212) 243-1400
Website:  http://www.elephantandcastle.com/

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Custard Line Arrives!

For those of you wondering when the “B” Line – as its called at Shake Shack’s original Madison Square Garden location – would be arriving to the new Theater District location, it looks like the line is now here!  The Custard Line is generally much (much) quicker than the regular burgers, hot dogs and fries ordering line.  At Shake Shack’s newest location it looks like its going to be called the “C Line”.  Now we just have to wait to see if/when the Theater District location adds a “Shack Cam”.
Shake Shack – Theater District
691 8th Avenue (at W. 44th St.)
New York, NY  10036
Tel.: (646) 435-0135
Website:  http://www.shakeshacknyc.com/

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Letter Grades for NYC Restaurants – Saute Wednesday

As the Grey Lady (a.k.a., The New York Times) deftly points out, “by the end of (today), several restaurant windows in New York are quite likely to display . . .  a brilliantly colored placard bearding a letter grade.”  Grades for restaurants in NYC are about to be posted.  However, the vast majority of grades – particularly those with Bs and Cs – are not likely to be posted until the end of August.  So what exactly does all this mean?  How are these letter grades different from the infraction points the Department of Health used to post on their website?

First of all the main difference seems to be in visibility.  On the front page of the NYT, there is an article about corruption in the Russian police forces and how endemic it is.  One senior official, in response to a series of claims by Alex Dymovsky against corruption in the forces, responds that “the system is . . .  very transparent.”  The same is the goal with the new letter grade system – transparency.  Previously, restaurant ratings could only be found on the health department’s website.  Where exactly?  Well… here: http://www.nyc.gov/html/doh/html/rii/index.shtml Now, how many of you have honestly gone there to check a restaurant’s rating?  Right, very few.

Now, with the postings as visible as the Zagat’s/TONY/New York Magazine etc. reviews typically posted boastfully in the restaurant windows, the average person strolling down the street trying to find a good place to eat can know the cleanliness reputation.

How are these letter grades different from the previous system?  Well, according to the Times article, “the department (of health) removed many inspection categories from the scoring process”.  In other words, things like administrative errors – failure to post choking signs, failure to post “employees must wash hands”, etc. – are not factored into the grades.  Additionally, if a restaurant appeals a letter grade they received, their sign would read “grade pending”.  It is unclear how long the appeal process would be.

In terms of a one-to-one match up of the old inspection scores to the new letter grades, note the following.  An inspection score of 0-13 is an A, 14-27 points is a B, and 28 or more points is a C.  There are no grades given below a C.  These grade cards must then be posted in an area easily visible to passersby.  Each card is embossed with the department of health’s seal and has a unique serial number.

So what will be the outcome of this change to a grading system?  Right now the effect is unclear.  Restaurants receiving a grade lower than an A will automatically be reinspected before their grade is posted.  This may mean that those restaurants clean up their act in the meantime.  However, what does it mean for the restaurants that were inspected and received an A in the first round?  What if they slack off and let a crazy band of rodents infiltrate their kitchens after the grade is posted?  Will they then be demoted to a B or C?  As the inspections are to be conducted randomly only once per year, its hard to say.  The best bet may still be to read diner reviews of your intended restaurant online first before venturing out.

Waiter –  what’s this fly doing in my soup?
Well, it looks like he’s doing the backstroke.

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Filed under Brooklyn, Brunch, Food, Gothamist, Hell's Kitchen, New York, New York City, Queens, Restaurants, Uncategorized

Todd English’s CaVa moves into InterContinental Hotel in Midtown West

So Shake Shack just officially opened up in the InterContinental Hotel’s building this past Monday – ever wonder what is going in on the W. 44th st. side entrance?  Well its Todd English’s Ca Va.  Construction workers were putting up the restaurant awning this morning.  Most of the dining furniture and bar space seems to be in place. 

More details including a press release on the topic from English can be found here:


Plus, back in June they were apparently working hard on getting the place staffed:


Ca Va
302 W. 44th (@ 8th Ave.)
New York, NY  10036
Tel.:  (no tel. yet)
Website:  no website yet

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Shake Shack – Midtown

Shake Shack – The Theater District is now open! They had a soft opening yesterday and today is their first official day of business. FCB went there for an (early) lunch to check it out.

Arriving at 12:10pm, I entered an alredy out the door line. I moved quickly though with barely enough time to read through the first page of the NYT Business section – I was up to the counter to order by 12:18pm. The cashier handed me the buzzer and my receipt and indicated that my order would be ready in 7 minutes – odd as FCB doesn’t recall Shake Shack giving a time estimate at either their Madison Square Park or UWS locations. While waiting, the line to order begin to swell from the entrance out to the middle of the block – a Press photographer showed up – his credentials swinging around his neck a large camera poised to capture the line.

All told, the waiting time from getting my receipt to picking up the food was about 15 minutes – not so bad for a Shake Shack. Start to end – about 25 minutes. A couple people ahead chatted that they would completely be up for doing this again as the line really was manageable.

Shake Shack – Theater District
691 8th Ave (W. 44th St. @ 8th Ave.)
New York, NY 10036
Tel.: (646) 435-0135
Website: http://www.shakeshack.com/
Hours: 11am – 12 midnight
Open Daily 11:00 AM – Midnight

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