So you can't get a table...
Anywhere, everywhere, all at once.
Have you ever had a cocktail shaken, poured into a delicate-bordering-on-twee coupe glass, then inexplicably placed in a small wooden bowl, surrounded by a small gardens’ worth of fresh herbs and lit on fire? What about funneled into an empty glass Coke bottle, which had been previously frozen in a block of ice with mint springs, placed into a silver goblet, then the whole thing dusted with — again, inexplicably — powdered sugar before your eyes? Yeah, neither had we before this weekend. The whole experience left us confused and wondering why, how, and when this kind of performance became seemingly requisite for a $17 mixed drink. We couldn’t help but wonder… is this the influence of TikTok in action? Was our bartender waiting for us to whip out an iPhone and turn on the flash for a video that would later be dubbed in a bass-boosted voiceover and posted to an account with a handle like @twogirlseatingnyc? As I type this, I’m waiting in an ungodly line for a Scarr’s slice at 4pm on a Sunday and again, wondering, Is nothing in this city sacred anymore? What compelled them to add torched herbs as a garnish to something served in a wooden box? What did they do with the Coke in the Coke bottle from my cocktail before it was suspended in a mini ice sculpture? All very important questions that we may sadly never get answers to. So if are feeling equally jaded, or can’t get a reservation, or are just staying at home (by choice or thanks to Miss Rona), today’s newsletter is for you; with all the recipes that emulate the experience of some of NYC’s hottest restaurants, but none of the waits, crowds, or flash photography.
SO YOU CAN’T GET A TABLE AT
Bonnie’s: Despite this Resy article (yes, they have a blog), we hate to inform you from personal experience, there’s very little chance you’re getting into Bonnie’s without a reservation. So at home, you simply must start by recreating the famed MSG martini. Then, let’s say you move onto a janky version of their fuyu cacio e pepe mein by making this vegan miso “cacio” e pepe or this slightly analogous chickpea-miso-pepper pasta. To cap it off, take a stab at their brilliant and f*cking delicious cha siu McRib. If I’m being honest, I’d probably stop at the cha siu and eat it over rice, as I have done and enjoyed immensely in the past with this recipe. But if you want to go the extra mile, find the nearest Fay Da and grab a few pillowy milk buns, break out the bread & butter pickles, fish out a hot mustard packet leftover from some forgotten takeout meal, and make your own.
Via Carota or Misi: Some tables are eternally mystifying. That’s certainly the case at any of Missy Robbins’ or the Sodi/Williams duo’s joints. Luckily, once our fair coast’s produce starts to flourish, it’s easy enough to recreate their ultra-fresh, ultra-comforting Italian fare at home. Take, for example, Via Carota’s insalata verde; it is to die for, and shamefully easy to make at home. Famously, our friend and reader Lauren Goldstein once called the dressing “liquid gold” and loves it on seemingly everything: “Roast chicken! Canned cannellini beans! Thick slices of heirloom tomato from my garden!” Lauren also noted that red wine vinegar is a great sub for sherry vinegar. Then make some tonarelli cacio e pepe (are you sensing a theme here?) like the Pasta Grannies do, and a Sbagliato spritz or two or four. For the essence of Misi, make a meal of their exemplary fennel and celery salad and that oh-so-Instagrammable squiggly ricotta toast. The salad has paper thin slices of celery and fennel, shards of parmesan, and crunchy walnuts (that can also be pistachios if that’s what you have on hand). It’s perfect for serving with a cheesy pasta, mustardy pork tenderloin, or an entire loaf’s worth of chewy sourdough covered in ricotta.
American Bar: I'm sorry to report that this place sucked. It smelled like an old, wet carpet, our salads were severely underdressed, and the whipped ricotta didn’t come close to “changing our lives” as promised by The VIP List girlies. Still, there’s no chance you’re getting a reservation here. And that’s fine, because the best thing on the menu is the ice cream sundae, which you customize on a tiny sheet of paper with a tiny pencil, meaning you can make the same (if not better) version in the comfort of your own home. Start with the best version of a classic flavor, like Caffe Panna’s cookies and cream, then forage for your favorite crunchy toppings — Butterfinger, Oreos, peanut M&Ms. Sauce-wise, melted marshmallow fluff is the low to this homemade hot fudge’s high. No matter what’s underneath, every sundae must be topped with something light and fluffy, like this tart whipped cream situation I’ve been liking a lot, which is one part heavy cream, whipped + a bit of powdered sugar + one part greek yogurt whisked in at the end.
Court: When friends texted, asking if I wanted to go to Daughter’s 1st Birthday/Block Party with them, then threw in, “this chef is fiiiiire”, I was sold, sold, sold. They hadn’t even mentioned the ice cream yet. And it did not disappoint. In a week of VGB (Very Good Bites) including the Patti Ann’s blooming onion & Osakana’s chirashi, each bite of Alix’s food rose above the rest. Cooked over a narrow charcoal grill, everything was imbued with the charred, smoky flavor that lets you know summer is just around the corner. One particular bite of a German butterball potato salad with spring onions reminded me of Superiority Burger (and their infatuation with Potato Rick) in the best way. The kind of way that makes you happy and sad all at the same time; happy to be eating such a resplendent display of seasonal produce, and sad because it reminded me we still don’t know when TF SB is re-opening?!?!? Anywho, it was bomb as f*ck, as was the ice cream made by Cold Moon, which confirmed that even good things taste better when eaten with tiny spoons.
Gab: A lot of you are not going to like this, but I went to my first Passover Seder this year, and discovered I absolutely love gefilte fish? Maybe I was just starving, maybe it was because my best friend’s mom’s best friend’s mom made it herself, maybe it was because the fishy slices are magically firm, creamy, fluffy and spongy all at once. Ever since that night, I’ve found myself daydreaming about spreading some onto a thin piece of crunchy matzo for an afternoon snack.