Autumn in New York

Autumn in New York

Jack Robertiello

“It’s amazing,” says one professional restaurant follower. “I can’t possibily keep up with them all.” The “All” she refers to is the undiminished restaurant boom, as New York City continues to see new bars and restaurants open at a record pace. Even neighborhoods previously unknown as hot dining scenes (like Smith St. in Brooklyn’s Cobble Hill) have suddenyl gone from food backwater to must-visit eating and drinking destination.

Meanwhile, well-established chefs like Matthew Kenney, Doug Rodriguez and others have opened or are set to open new places. Kenney’s Commune is bringing in the trendies at night with a SRO crowd that tumbles into the street. But it’s not only cocktails: Commune touts 30-something wines by the glass, including 7 sparklers, and Kenney’s prix fixe menu includes beverage parings; a recent set of prix fixe lunch matches included a Cotes de Provence rose with duck confit salad, ginjo sake with arctic char and braised greens in ginger-soy vinaigrette and Trappist Triple beer with buttermilk shortcake blueberry compote. Commune also takes contemporary liberties with the wine list, offering whites in groups that are said to be “crisp & clean,” “aromatic & floral,” “savory & exotic,” and “rich & opulent,” while reds are either “soft & sumptuous,” “rustic & spicy,” “bold & luscious,” or “deep & lavish.”

Rodriguez at Chicama is succeeding both in casual Nuevo latino food and fun bar scene, with South American wines, caipirinahs, mojitos and other latin cocktails, and he’s busy readying Pipa, a tapas-and-wine bar, for an opening this month.

Meanwhile, Jeffery Chodorow (China Grill, Asia de Cuba) is set to open another branch, urged on by success in Miami and Vegas, of the frozen vodka bar Red Square in midtown. And Alan Stillman, founder of the singles bar (he started Friday’s) and head honcho at Smith & Wollensky Group (S&W, Cite, Maloney & Porcelli, Post House) has teamed up with designer of the moment Adam Tihany to create another meat and wine outpost, this one in the Plaza Hotel, called ONEcps, one more outpost for the twice-annual Wine Week pourathon.

And the latest chef to come to NYC to cause a stir? Todd English of Olives and Figs fame, will be opening his first NY places, an Olives and OPM Bar, in yet another W Hotel.

Luvjuice

Meanwhile , clubs like 212 on Manhattan’s Upper East Side is packing them in with cocktails such as the Monte Carlo made with Alizil Passion Fruit, Stoli Strawberry and pineapple and orange juices (they serve 600+ each week), the Sgroppino (Stoli limonnaya, lemon sorbet and Veuve Cliquot champagne) and the 212 (equal parts Stoli Gold, blue curacao and Malibu rum, shaken with fresh pineapple juice, poured into a hollow pineapple, rimmed with coconut and garnished with strawberries and melon.)

Further up the east side, Lovebuzz has brought a touch of downtown to the slightly stuffy nabe. Serving Buzzcones–Margaritas, Mudslides and other concoctions as spiked sno-cones in plastic souvenir coconut cups, Lovebuzz made quite a buzz this summer. Their best selling cocktail? LuvJuice, a strawberry lemon martini made with Stoli Stasberi and Limonaya.

Wine bars also continue to boom, with Italian-focused Enoteca I Trulli, Francocentric Bateau Ivre and L’Ivre being joined in the “what did I do without this place” list among wine lovers by Morrell Wine Bar (nearing its one year anniversary), and more and more places, like Commune, incorporating dozens of wines by the glass onto their standard offerings.

Tea and more

But there’s more than alcohol to NY’s beverage boom.

Take the Saint’s Alp Teahouse, named for a location in northern Taipei where a legendary Chinese saint is said to have left his footprint. The main attraction that the tea-house offer in Hong Kong and now New York is a variety of what are called Taiwanese Frothy Teas made with pearl tapioca. The striking beverages (creamy consistency, purple or tan or lemony-hued and mottled with black tapioca pearls floating near the bottom f the sundae-like glass) are a cross between iced tea, milk shakes and dessert, and are only a few of the fun and festive coolers available at the shop; others include the honey dew melon shake (made with oatmeal), mango green tea or green barley with passion fruit juice.

The New York shop in Chinatown does a brisk business with as many curiosity seekers as regulars, and the company seems poised to expand its US franchise presence. Check them out at www.saints-alp.com.hk, especially if you are one of those who once said Americans would never pay $3 for coffee in a paper cup.

COPYRIGHT 2000 Adams Business Media

COPYRIGHT 2001 Gale Group