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Holey Donuts!

May 2, 2014

Donuts have been relegated to the proverbial back seat in recent years, as 12 different types of cupcakes have fought for the sweet-tooth spotlight, but now a company that was launched online has settled down roots in Manhattan and is hoping to bring back the donut.

No, I’m not talking about Dominic Ansel’s trademarked Cronut, but an entirely new take on the classic pastry favorite. Rather than mixing it with another breakfast specialty, Holey Donuts! has found a way to take something out: the fat.

Long-described as the fat free donut, Holey Donuts! has taken their largely virtual business and put down brick-and-mortar roots in the West Village, with an invite-only launch this week ahead of their public launch on Sunday.

Taking out more than just the hole: Holey Donuts! use a secret recipe that leaves each donut with a fraction of the normal amount of fat found in a standard donut

Taking out more than just the hole: Holey Donuts! use a secret recipe that leaves each donut with a fraction of the normal amount of fat found in a standard donut

Founder Frank Dilullo, whose father was one of the first Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owners, told me how he thought of the idea when he was trying out a different recipe and “walked away from the deep fat fryer” and tried a new, secret recipe.

“I tasted one and I said ‘Holy s*** this is really good!’ and that’s where the name comes from. That’s the exclamation point,” Dilullo said.

The closely-guarded recipe and non-fryer, non-baking cooking formula results in a donut that, even when topped with the most sugary of sticky frostings, comes out to about half the calories and less than a fifth of the amount of fat as it’s standard counterparts. Standard donuts have between 30 and 40 grams of fat and upwards of 500 or 600 calories; the Holey Donuts! alternatives all have below 5 grams of fat and calorie counts that range from 180 for their caramel crumb donut to 234 for their double chocolate Boston Creme.

Sweetness in the frosting: The Classic Vanilla Frosted (left), Chocolate Frosted (center back) and Double Chocolate Boston Cremes (front and right) will all be available when the store opens on Sunday

Sweetness in the frosting: The Classic Vanilla Frosted (left), Chocolate Frosted (center back) and Double Chocolate Boston Cremes (front and right) will all be available when the store opens on Sunday

After a quick sampling, I feel confident in saying that this is not the type of fat free experience where you’re pretending a Luna bar tastes as good as a Snickers. These donuts definitely stayed true to their name, and did not taste as if they were missing some magical flavor-filled serving of fat: these look and taste like quote-unquote real donuts.

True nitpickers will point to the texture of the donut itself: there is something slightly different there- not bad-different, just lighter and less doughy than your standard diner-counter cruller. But who is to say that is a bad thing?

This lightness made it seem more fitting for Holey Donuts! to be compared to the light-and-airy cupcakes at any number of bakeries, but in this case, rather than be ladeled down with heavy cream cheese or butter cream frosting, the donuts are topped with a thin, glistening layer of frosting made with, as Dilullo describes them, “wholesome Pillsbury ingredients,” without giving any further clues into the secret recipe.

Made by hand: Founder Frank Dilullo is determined to have his customers eat fresh donuts, so each is made to order

Made by hand: Founder Frank Dilullo is determined to have his customers eat fresh donuts, so each is made to order and then topped accordingly

“We’re not really a Dunkin’ Donuts competitor, we’re more of a cupcake killer,” he said. “94% of our customers are women. Women are closet donut lovers and they just absolutely freak out over our brand.”

Said frosting, which is topped with any number of add ons- pink sprinkles, cinnamon sugar, or Oreo crumbs to name a few- are applied after the order is placed and made directly in front of your eyes. Even though they launched in 2008 and have been largely shipping their donuts across the country for the past six years, the company strongly encourages people to order the donuts in person and eat them immediately. That way, the frosting and the donut are extremely fresh (and photo friendly).

“Unless you’ve owned a Dunkin’ Donuts or grew up in the back of a Dunkin’ Donuts, you have no idea what it’s like to bite a donut so fresh so that the frosting is still literally wet on the top and we’ve designed it so that the frosting is just slightly above body temperature so it’s not too hot,” Dilullo said.

More than 31 Flavors: So far, Holey Donuts! has  32 offerings, including Cinnamon Bun Middles (back), Raspberry Fudge Crumb (left) and Vanilla Coconut (right)

More than 31 Flavors: So far, Holey Donuts! has 32 offerings, including Cinnamon Bun Middles (back), Raspberry Fudge Crumb (left) and Vanilla Coconut (right)

As for his father, the former Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owner who turned his son on to the art of making pastries at a young age, Dilullo said that though he died several years ago, he was able to try the donuts and gave his hard-earned seal of approval.

“My dad passed away a couple of years ago but he absolutely loved the donuts. And my dad was the toughest guy to please: you could pave the streets with gold and he would say ‘What about the curbs?’ And that’s what has driven me to create something from nothing,” Dilullo said.

Address: Holey Donuts, 101 Seventh Avenue South, just off Grove Street and near the Sheriden Street subway stop

Website: See the Holey Donuts! Facebook page for updates or their website for orders

Price: Most donuts cost $3.95

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The Doe Fund’s sweet:New York event

March 14, 2014

Food prepared by experienced chefs from established restaurants and men trained through the Doe Fund were served side-by-side at Thursday’s sweet:New York fundraiser held at the Bowery Hotel.

The charity known best for tackling New York’s homelessness problem by putting ‘Men in Blue’ to work cleaning the city’s streets showed how their culinary arts program is helping to give direction and a possible profession to those without a home.

I wrote a preview profile of the event for Edible earlier this week and was not disappointed.

The Doe Fund's third annual sweet:New York fundraiser was held at the Bowery Hotel on Thursday

The Doe Fund’s third annual sweet:New York fundraiser was held at the Bowery Hotel on Thursday

The spicy tuna on crisped rice with a tangy aioli kick from the chefs at Tao was the perfect mix of flavors and textures- all while being small enough for a normal-human-sized bite.

Some of the other best dishes took the opposite approach to size. Pescatore offered up plates with a ricotta and spinach gnocchi topped with pecorino and parmesan, but by no means was this your grandma’s gnocchi. These were giant, overflowing pieces of pasta that were somewhere between the size of a golf ball and a tennis ball.

The Kobe beef meatballs that are a trademark item on Lavo’s menu were similarly sized, with the restaurant’s head Chef John Deloach behind the table heating up the meatballs and creating a wafting, enticing aroma surrounding their table.

Chef John Deloach of Lavo, who served hundreds of Kobe beef meatballs at the event, said that he was happy to return to the event for the second time this year

Chef John Deloach of Lavo, who served hundreds of Kobe beef meatballs at the event, said that he was happy to return to the event for the second time this year

Spicy bite: The spicy tuna on crispy rice from Tao was one of my favorites

Spicy bite: The spicy tuna on crispy rice from Tao was one of my favorites

While those three morsels made up my top three, no list of the most generously-portioned offerings would be complete without the BurgerFi burgers.

The chefs at the Upper East Side restaurant know that no burger is complete without their side of fries, but they took a creative approach to the concept by spiking each burger with a frie and using a mini hash brown patty as the base of the burger.

The extras didn’t stop there, as the burger also came with cheese, a fried quail egg and specially spiced mayonnaise.

I somehow managed to make my way through one of the juicy burgers without getting it all over myself, and while that may seem like an accomplishment, the true award-winners were Yelena and Vito Granovsky who loved it so much that they had three each.

The batches of BurgerFi burgers went like hot cakes- and perhaps because they were: the medium rare patties were placed on top of a layer of hash browns, and then topped off with cheese, quail egg, and a seasoned mayo

The batches of BurgerFi burgers went like hot cakes- and perhaps because they were: the medium rare patties were placed on top of a layer of hash browns, and then topped off with cheese, quail egg, and a seasoned mayo

It was easy to get overwhelmed by the rows and rows of food tables, but lest you forget, there were reminders of the cause all around: the Doe Fund’s ubiquitous blue trash cans.

Many functions stumble with a dearth of trash disposals, but this was clearly not a problem on Thursday. It was almost symbollic in a way, because while the trash cans were scattered throughout-  much like how many New Yorkers immediately equate The Doe Fund with their work cleaning the streets- the hidden gems of the night were the men of the Culinary Arts program.

Once the initial rush slowed down slightly, pairs of the chef’s whites-clad men started appeared from out of the busy kitchen.

Focus of the night: The Doe Fund founder George McDonald spent time with some of the culinary arts program graduates- Richard Harkluy (center) and William Crafton (right)

Focus of the night: The Doe Fund founder George McDonald spent time with some of the culinary arts program graduates- Richard Harkluy (center) and William Crafton (right)

“It’s a really emotional night for us,” Derrick Bouknight said. “We’ve been up since 3am prepping for this and we’re going to be here all night but it’s definitely worth it.”

Mr Bouknight and fellow program participant Jemel Tinsley were on the team who produced the cold appetizers which were circulated around the event space. They said their favorite of the seven types of appetizers that the Doe Fund team made was their white fish on cream cheese puffs (which their team was in charge of).

This was Mr Bouknight’s first time working at the event, which is now in it’s third year. He is three months into the nine-month program, and like many of the graduates, hopes to continue to work as a chef- either with the Doe Fund as a part of their catering service or in a partner kitchen. A number of the restaurants that participated in the sweet:New York event have hired Culinary Arts graduates in the past, and others- like Chef Deloach from Lavo- were open to the idea and will be considering it in the future.

One of the most popular restaurants that has hired Doe Fund graduates in the past is Magnolia Bakery, and they led the dessert pack of vendors that evening. Their mini cupcakes were being handed out (with to-go containers in case you wanted to save some gluttony for when you got home). 

The ‘sweetest’ surprises for me- aside from meeting George McDonald, the charity’s founder and a former mayoral candidate- were the more creative desserts like the peanut butter and salted pretzel whoopie pies from Batter And Cream, and the unexpected but delightful ‘crepe cake’ from Lady M Confections. 

Cake full of crepes: Lady M Mille Crepes is the confectioner's signature dessert which features at least 20 thin crepes stacked on top of each other with a lightly-whipped cream between each

Cake full of crepes: Lady M Mille Crepes is the confectioner’s signature dessert which features at least 20 thin crepes stacked on top of each other with a lightly-whipped cream between each

“A Conversation about Art and Food” at Red Rooster

January 22, 2014

Last Wednesday, Red Rooster Harlem launched their first salon-styled evening in the underground lounge, Ginny’s Supper Club and I profiled the evening for Edible. The event was dedicated to a collection of six pieces by local artist Derrick Adams and as his work showed themes of deconstructing his subjects and their surrounding environments, the dishes were deconstructed into unexpected forms in order to match.

“Great recipes — like this meal — you don’t have to know what’s in it. You just have to like how it tastes,” Mr Adams said during one of the conversation points.

A corn bread slab with herb poached quail egg, spinach puree and hollandaise powder

A corn bread slab with herb poached quail egg, spinach puree and hollandaise powder

Last week’s event was the first in an expected series of such evenings, with tickets open to the public for about $75-per-person for a four-course meal with wine pairings. The host for the evening was supposed to be the restaurant’s acclaimed chef and culinary personality Marcus Samuelsson, but a family emergency the day before caused him to leave the country suddenly. While he was missed, local art curator Thelma Gordon stepped in to help moderate the talk.

Manhattan chowder that was deconstructed into its elementary parts, with tomato glazed pork belly, shelfish ragout and smoked potato cream

Manhattan chowder that was deconstructed into its elementary parts, with tomato glazed pork belly, shelfish ragout and smoked potato cream

Taking cues from the brick drawn in one of Mr. Adams’s pieces, the first dish was based around a corn bread “slab” topped with a poached quail egg, spinach purée and a hollandaise powder. Arguably the best dish of the night was the Manhattan chowder: rather than bringing out a bowl of red soup, it was as if any and all liquids were intentionally left in the kitchen — and they weren’t missed. The dish was broken down into its elementary parts, with a generous piece of tomato-glazed pork belly surrounded by a seafood ragoût on top of a smoked potato cream.

The main dish was named for three famous Men: the southern-inspired molasses lacquered duck leg with mustard greens for Martin Luther King, Jerk spiked yams for Bob Marley and foie gras ganache with black currant topping, which chef Joel Harrington connected it to the Black Panthers and Malcolm X

The main dish was named for three famous Men: the southern-inspired molasses lacquered duck leg with mustard greens for Martin Luther King, Jerk spiked yams for Bob Marley and foie gras ganache with black currant topping, which chef Joel Harrington connected it to the Black Panthers and Malcolm X

While the “chowder” combined a number of variables to create one joint dish, the main course purposefully tried to display three very different styles. Kitchen director Joel Harrington took literal inspiration from one of Mr. Adams’s performance art pieces called “M Is For” which calls upon Martin (Luther King Jr), (Bob) Marley, and Malcolm (X). As such, the main was split into three, with a Southern-inspired molasses lacquered duck leg with mustard greens for Martin, surprisingly spicy jerk-flavored yams were added for Marley, and the black currant topping added to the creamy foie gras ganache was in homage to Malcolm’s Black Panther connection.

'The Good Stuff' desert was a perfect blend of textures, with green apple sorbet on top of a white chocolate fennel cream

‘The Good Stuff’ desert was a perfect blend of textures, with green apple sorbet on top of a white chocolate fennel cream

The wine pairings helped the crowd become more talkative as the evening went on and it ended with a dessert appropriately called “The Good Stuff.” The dish was a masterpiece in texture combinations with a delightfully fresh green apple sorbet was placed on top of a white chocolate and fennel cream and finished with a wafer-thin, crispy sugar flake.

The restaurant host theme nights on a weekly basis- like Latin Tuesdays, World Beat Wednesdays, Renaissance Thursdays and Midnight Brunch Fridays- but salon-type evenings like last night will be held on a more special basis. For listings of future events, be sure to check out their website here, and read the full article on Edible with other pictures from last week’s event!

Cookie Takedown at The Bell House

December 12, 2013

Emails from editors can be a very good or very bad thing, and when I got my latest assignment for Edible‘s blog, it definitely fell in the first category: I was asked to attend a cookie competition. Sign me up, coach.

This weekend's Cookie Takedown was only the latest such event at The Bell House in Gowanus as they hold similar showdowns for chili, tofu, ice cream and meatballs throughout the year

This weekend’s Cookie Takedown was only the latest such event at The Bell House in Gowanus as they hold similar showdowns for chili, tofu, ice cream and meatballs throughout the year

The event was called the Cookie Takedown and dozens of home cooks volunteered to show off their skills for strangers for the prospect of winning Cuisinart contraptions and knife sets. Christmas cookie swaps have been around for ages, so I thought that this would just be a more hip version (since it was held in Gowanus, Brooklyn) of the same but that was not the case. There was barely any hint of any holidays around the corner, with only one of the contestants making their cookie explicitly Christmas themed.

The 'Last Call Choco Taco' was designed to be a combination of bar snacks (pretzel and peanut toppings) and a classic cookie (a lace cookie filled with Grand Marnier cannoli cream)

The ‘Last Call Choco Taco’ was designed to be a combination of bar snacks (pretzel and peanut toppings) and a classic cookie (a lace cookie filled with Grand Marnier cannoli cream)

The venue- the Bell House- was a great space that could easily be used for small concerts or raucous dance parties, with only a few high tops towards the back and a bar off to the side. The clearest indication that they were trying to steer clear of the holiday hoopla, however, was the choice of heavy metal music that was blasting through the speakers during the early afternoon event. It was so loud at points that I actually couldn’t hear the chefs when they were listing off their ingredients.

Each competitor was asked to bring 250 cookies and attendees did not stop at seconds.

Each competitor was asked to bring 250 cookies and attendees did not stop at seconds.

Now, moving past the parts of the Takedown that made me feel like an old lady, let’s move on to the fact that all of the attendees were basically kids in the proverbial candy store as we shuffled along from one stand to the next, collecting cookies on paper plates. The traditionalist in me loved Kira Nightingale’s “Christmas Swirl” cookies that were red and white dots of cookie dipped in chocolate with peppermint chips added on top. Another winter-themed favorite were the “Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate” cookies   topped with a cinnamon and marshmallow meringue.

The Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate cookies were topped with a cinnamon and marshmallow meringue

The Peanut Butter Hot Chocolate cookies were topped with a cinnamon and marshmallow meringue

There were peoples’ choice winners and the judges verdicts, and both groups awarded their top slot to the same cookie: the Vermonster. The glob of a cookie was packed with chocolate chips, salted pecans, extra sea salt and topped with a brown butter maple syrup glaze. It was undeniably sweet, but it wasn’t my favorite. The Cap’n Wilson’s Everything Cookies- with an oatmeal base and chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and cranberries- were robbed by not even getting an honorable mention. Robbed I say!

Cap'n Wilson's 'Everything cookies' were oatmeal-based and had chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and cranberries among other ingredients.

Cap’n Wilson’s ‘Everything cookies’ were oatmeal-based and had chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and cranberries among other ingredients.

To read the full write up on Edible, click here. Be sure to keep an eye out for upcoming takedowns like the meatball competition that will be held on January 27.

Gotham Bar and Grill

November 26, 2013

If the true star of Thanksgiving dinner is the turkey, seasonal cocktails play just as important of a role as creamy mashed potatoes or crispy stuffing. For some inventive seasonal options, I turned to Jeremy Hawn, the mixologist at Gotham Bar and Grill in Greenwich Village. Before revamping the menu at the storied restaurant, Jeremy worked at other city favorites like Parm and Marea.

Man with the plan: Jeremy Hawn of Gotham Bar and Grill shared some versions of two signature cocktails that are perfect for impressing guests and relatives over Thanksgiving

Man with the plan: Jeremy Hawn of Gotham Bar and Grill shared some versions of two signature cocktails that are perfect for impressing guests and relatives over Thanksgiving

After waiting out this year’s unexpected warm spell (as he told me that he “waits until the weather actually changes” to change the cocktail menu), he put on a whole host of concoctions with a fall feel to them. The ones that I took a closer look at were The Franklin and The Pilgrimage- the first of which brings some history and pizzazz to the table while the latter is sure to be a crowd pleaser.

The Franklin is a bourbon milk punch, and before that makes you grimace as if something has curdled, the drink is surprisingly delicious. One of the first-recorded recipes of a Franklin comes from the namesake himself, as the Founding Father himself wrote down his directions for making milk punch back in 1763.

In his honor: The Franklin is named after the Founding Father of the same name who first recorded his own version of a milk punch in 1763

In his honor: The Franklin is named after the Founding Father of the same name who first recorded his own version of a milk punch in 1763

While the process that Jeremy uses at Gotham is significantly more complicated than the home chef would like to whip up (Who wants to clarify some milk? Nobody? I didn’t think so), there are some short cuts that could leave your diners impressed and avoid self-inflicted stress.

The straightforward ingredients are whole milk, bourbon, amaro and nutmeg. The more complicated good: the first being a sweet syrup called falernum (ideally velvet falernum)- but this can be simply bought at a specialty liquor store. The second is honey syrup which is often used in Prohibition-era cocktails. You can make this beforehand by simply boiling equal parts genuine honey and water until it is fully dissolved. Store this in the fridge until cold before mixing it into the cocktails.

Final touch: Adding shaved nutmeg to the froth on a bourbon milk punch adds an aesthetic and aromatic kicker

Final touch: Adding shaved nutmeg to the froth on a bourbon milk punch adds an aesthetic and aromatic kicker

Getting the ingredients together is the hard part for this cocktail. Once you have everything collected, mix a serving of the bourbon, an almost-equal serving of the whole milk, and then a half-ounce of each of the rest of the velvet falernum and the honey syrup. (If you didn’t have time to properly make the honey syrup, just use a quarter-ounce of the genuine honey and do the next step even harder.) Shake the concoction aggressively, and then serve over ice. There should be a bit of foam and the color will change from a shade of white to a darker brown as everything settles. Top it off with some nutmeg shavings and you have a drink that will leave cocktail neophytes in awe!

While the collection of flavors- and backstory- was impressive for the Franklin, I personally preferred the Pilgrimage. The simple way of looking at it would be to see it as a vodka cranberry, but it is so much more than that.

Crowd-pleaser: The Pilgrimage puts a flavorful and grown-up spin  on a vodka cranberry

Crowd-pleaser: The Pilgrimage puts a flavorful and grown-up spin on a vodka cranberry

“I started thinking about Thanksgiving and the flavors of Thanksgiving, and cranberries were an obvious choice,” Jeremy said. “I was hesitant to go in that direction because vodka cranberries are so synonymous with teenagers and the bottle service era that came before this more recent cocktail renaissance.”

In order to avoid night club culinary comparisons, Jeremy incorporated another Thanksgiving flavor: sage. He brings that in by using sage-infused vodka, which can be made by simply adding leaves of sage into a bottle of vodka for 24 to 48 hours before the party. After taking out the leaves (or just avoiding them as you pour out the vodka), mix that with a serving of pure cranberry juice- so steer clear of the more mass-produced Ocean Spray options in the grocery store and choose an organic brand that has as little added sugar as possible. Mix the two together and serve over ice. Bring the flavor home by topping the drink off with a whole sage leaf and serve.

Red Rooster

November 7, 2013

Red Rooster has been on my hit list since it was opened in 2011 and when I finally made the trip uptown for their special annual ‘Chicken and Champagne’ night, I got a chance to sample until I was stuffed. The whole concept of the restaurant is an enticing one that has been forcing diners and critics uptown: Run by esteemed chef Marcus Samuelsson, the restaurant infuses high quality cuisine with the down home cooking that is synonymous with Harlem.

Classic: The chicken and waffles is a staple of historic Harlem cuisine and Red Rooster gives a version that old-timers would approve of

Classic: The chicken and waffles is a staple of historic Harlem cuisine and Red Rooster gives a version that old-timers would approve of

Sylvia’s has long been considered the place to go for authentic chicken and waffles, and no one is challenging the fact that it is an institution. The truly special thing about Red Rooster, however, is that they have been able to create a really delicious serving of the famous dish without seeming like an impostor.

Chicken three ways: Chicken and waffles (left), chili orange glazed wings (center), chicken BB 'roo' bites (right)

Chicken three ways: Chicken and waffles (left), chili orange glazed wings (center), chicken BB ‘roo’ bites (right)

From there, the menu keeps it’s ‘southern comfort’ feel but in a less traditional way because the chef has incorporated a number of different dishes from a variety of cuisines. Yes, they do have an amazing mac-and-cheese (called Mac-and-Greens because of the small side salad) that can add bacon or lobster thrown in, but they also have Tandori salmon on roasted cauliflower that packs a spicy punch.

Not your normal barbeque: The BB Roo bites were my favorite, made with a Red Stripe sauce and apple slaw

Not your normal barbeque: The BB Roo bites were my favorite, made with a Red Stripe sauce and apple slaw

The Chicken and Champagne night is an ongoing nod to a Harlem tradition (with a murky and unspecified root- but who is going to complain?) and as such they offered four of their chicken dishes on small plates. The chicken liver spread over crostini was predictably rich, while the chili orange glazed wings were far lighter than most iterations of the football-friendly dish, with the orange giving an unexpected flavor. My favorite was their spin on barbeque chicken called chicken BB “roo” bites done in a Red Stripe sauce with apple slaw; each bite had a mix of textures (crispy from the chicken, smooth from the slaw) and tastes (creamy from the slaw, tangy from the BB “roo” sauce).

Eat your greens: Bacon mac-and-cheese is healthy if it comes with a side salad, right?

Eat your greens: Bacon mac-and-cheese is healthy if it comes with a side salad, right?

Many restaurants focusing on Southern fare may have trouble keeping customers coming back since they run the risk of being a one-note wonder. Red Rooster, however, nails it by mixing the lighter and more inventive dishes with the classics that diners will be looking out for and expecting when they come to 125th Street. The fried chicken and waffles, though missing the bourbon maple syrup on this particular visit, struck the perfect point where the skin was crispy but not greasy and the meat was flavorful and moist. While delicious, that didn’t take the proverbial cake, as the overall, best-I’ve-ever-had reaction was earned by the cornbread which can only be described as divine. It melted in our mouths and left us wanting our own individual plates.

This may not look like much, but trust me when I tell you that the corn bread was out of this world

This may not look like much, but trust me when I tell you that the corn bread was out of this world

Aside from the delicious food, the restaurant has a very cool vibe to it with a live jazz band playing on a regular basis (Monday nights are a sure thing, but always check before you book). The basement ‘supper club’ has its own roster of live acts with some big names scheduled making that an entirely separate experience. The lively bar up front and the Southern-hipster-prepster look sported by the friendly waitstaff makes it a great people watching spot. Another great sign is that, even two years in, Chef Samuelsson is regularly in the kitchen and takes frequent breaks throughout the night to come out and chat with diners. His big grin and friendly demeanor helps you to have a great meal, as if he really is just having a bunch of soon-to-be friends over for a meal.

Address: 310 Lenox Avenue (at 125 Street), Harlem, New York 10027

Contact Information:  http://redroosterharlem.com/ 212-792-9001

Dress: Fun. The upstairs is totally casual but that is no need to be sloppy- it’s a night on the town that could break out into a jazz fest or have you swizzling cocktails with an eclectic group of fashionistas. Come prepared.

Perfect for: People looking to travel for a great meal, good music and a glimpse to a neighborhood’s heydays.

Price: On the nicer side (and priced accordingly). Starters between $11 and $20, mains mid $20s to mid $30s. Cocktails and wine all north of $10.

Overall Grade:  A. Rather than getting weighed down in the traditional and expected, the menu honors both the old and new with different twists on classic dishes.

Not My Day Job

October 31, 2013

On Sunday I got to attend an event that showed a different side to the restaurant industry. Rather than peeling back the curtain and give me a peek into any actual kitchens, Not My Day Job showed the community spirit that exists among the servers and chefs in some of the city’s top restaurants.

The event had a very family-friendly feel to it, as it was celebrating the community of chefs and servers who make the city's restaurants tick.

The event had a very family-friendly feel to it, as it was celebrating the community of chefs and servers who make the city’s restaurants tick.

The event was a food and music showcase, where a number of restaurants offering up their signature items. I wrote about the whole event for Edible Manhattan, so you can read it in full over here, but some of the highlights included the bourbon pumpkin pie frozen custard from Shake Shack, whose creaminess was coupled with an autumnal flavor you wouldn’t believe.

L'Apicio served up portions of polenta with braised short ribs topped with parmesan.

L’Apicio served up portions of polenta with braised short ribs topped with parmesan.

For the heartier fare, L’Apicio served up polenta topped with braised short rib and meat purveyor Pat LaFrieda had a beef stew with poached egg and country biscuits. Carnivores had the best options, as both Lugo and Willow Road had meatball-based offerings and Khe-Yo plated up some particularly flavorful and fresh beef jerky.

Meatballs were the popular component of the day, and Willow Road presented theirs as sliders with a whole anchovy on each portion.

Meatballs were the popular component of the day, and Willow Road presented theirs as sliders with a whole anchovy on each portion.

While the culinary offerings would easily keep any attendee entertained, the food and drinks were not the star of this particular show. The event was developed four years ago by the Epicurean Group, the restaurant group behind hotspots like L’Artusi anddell’anima, as a way to highlight their staff’s talents outside of the kitchen. One such star was Jenna Lee Barber, a server at L’Apicio, who gave a Broadway-worthy performance of such songs like “Maybe This Time” from Cabaret to Pink’s “Glitter in the Air.”

The annual event is held in end of October at the Prince George Ballroom so be sure to check for tickets next year if you weren’t able to make it!

Shake Shack brought a custom flavor of frozen custard, while Marzano Bakeshop (pictured) handed out a variety of cheesecakes for those with sweet tooths in the crowd.

Shake Shack brought a custom flavor of frozen custard, while Marzano Bakeshop (pictured) handed out a variety of cheesecakes for those with sweet tooths in the crowd.