An early contender for restaurant of the summer
Libertine, I Sodi, omakases under $150, e-bike rec, leather repair, more
THE ASK • FOUND Objects
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RESTAURANTS • First Person
Libertine, an attention-grabbing bistro
Last week, sipping my second Negroni (served over a single giant ice cube) in a leather booth at bustling new French bistro Libertine in the far West Village, I looked around the dining room and realized: not one person was on their phone. Everyone at Libertine was only at Libertine — not still-kind-of-at-work, emailing; or kind-of-hanging-out-with-their-friend, texting; or taking top-down table shots for the likes.
Most of the credit for the collective focus on the moment must go to the food at Libertine — on our table: gougeres, chicken liver mousse, gnocchi Parisienne, duck two ways — all the sort of unfussy French bistro cooking that seems like it should be easy to find but somehow isn’t. The menu is hand-written daily on a chalkboard. You could call Libertine a neighborhood restaurant, but then that’s just another reason why the West Village is the neighborhood it is.
At the end of the meal, my wife and I answered “yes” in unison when asked if we wanted to see the dessert menu. Three years ago, I would have suggested a final glass of wine instead of dessert. Now: Let’s have both. The rice pudding is incredible, with toasted nuts hidden on the bottom of the plate. And then the owner brings over two glasses of dessert wine, Domaine de Sau Rancio Sec, on the house. (When asked what the space had been previously: “A ‘brick oven pizza’ joint where they actually just warmed up frozen pizza in a toaster.”)
The only place we cared about on this night was this one, an early contender for restaurant of the summer. –Lockhart Steele
RESTAURANTS • The Nines
Omakase, $150 and under
Gouie (Lower East Side), $120, Essex Market’s lower-level, sake-focused sushi counter
Noz Market (Upper East Side), $145, Sushi Noz sister spot at lower price
Sanyuu West (Chelsea), $78, caviar and gold leaf-laced nigiri found here
Thirteen Water (East Village), $75, 60-minute, umami-heavy meal thanks to abundant uni and foie
Sugarfish (multiple locations), $43-$72, California export known for warm rice and buttery fish
Matsunori (Lower East Side), $68, Masa vet serving somewhat traditional nigiri at 10-seat counter
Ume (Williamsburg, above), $125, authentic, serene environs with referral-only "traditional" option
Kissaki (multiple locations), $65-$150, creatively accented bites in a boisterous space
Jōji Box (Midtown East), $59, Daniel Boulud-approved to-go outpost
Chef’s choice menus with pricing for one, excluding beverages. See also High-end Omakase Nines. Intel on either list? Hit reply or email email@example.com.
→ FAREWELL TO I SODI 1.0: Over the weekend, I Sodi quietly said goodbye to the 900-square-foot space at 105 Christopher Street that it’s called home since 2008. The restaurant is moving to a much larger location at 314 Bleecker St. (at Grove). “It’ll probably be open within weeks,” one staffer assured us on (the original’s final) Saturday night. That certainly softens the blow, though I suspect the diehards will have a harder time separating the restaurant from that room.
In any case, our final dinner at 105 ruled: white Negronis; a salad of favas, pecorino, radishes, basil, and mint; a special of smoked stracciatella, sliced bresaola, and balsamic; the lasagna; and the thickest, most perfectly executed version of the restaurant’s cotoletta alla Milanese I’ve ever had. Chef-owner Rita Sodi may have had something to do with that. She was sitting at the bar at the beginning of the evening, but eventually slinked back into the kitchen to make room for a couple who’d managed to snag two seats for the last time. –Gabe Ulla
→ W. 4TH ST. PLYWOOD: Via a West Village spy, word of a curiosity of sorts at 239 W. 4th St., aka that venue of legend, Fedora: “Recall that it closed in early 2020, having been reanimated and then operated by small box nibbles impresario Gabe Stulman for just short of a decade. It seems that plans have changed for what was to be an NFT-powered sister club to 4 Charles Prime Rib. There is an eviction notice in the window now, which you do hate to see. But, W. 4th Street giveth as it takes away: Following half a decade of decay, there are signs of life at the old Riviera Cafe & Sports Bar. The crumbling exterior patio tile is gone, the walls are being spruced up and it recently got gas, so the branch of Ruby's that is coming can't be too far off.”
NYC RESTAURANT LINKS: Andrew Tarlow planning rooftop events scene in Vinegar Hill • Frenchette Bakery replacing Untitled (RIP) at the Whitney • Tyson Cole bringing Austin’s Uchi to Nolita by 2025 • What is Ella Funt and why is everyone talking about it? • Natural wine comes for spirits.
GOODS & SERVICES: FOUND Object
An extra gear
My e-bike, a Tern cargo in polished chrome, has changed my relationship with this city. On weekends, my daughter and I explore all of NYC; it’s made everything an adventure and accessible. I bought my bike at Propel Bikes in the Navy Yard — they’re the absolute experts in E bikes and I can’t recommend them enough. –Philippe von Borries
→ Shop: HSD S+, Tern, $5,699.
GOODS & SERVICES LINKS: Inside cool kid curiosity shop Biggie’s Bodega in Dimes Square • Six-seat omakase counter opening inside Saks Fifth Ave • Chelsea Piers field house, fitness club set for grand opening in Brooklyn • What happened to DTC cookware brand Great Jones? • 200k Marriott points offer on new Amex is a wow.
WORK • Starter Jobs
Big law dreams deferred
The law firm deferral stipend is back. Cooley LLP, a Silicon Valley-headquartered firm with offices around the world, including at Hudson Yards, is offering incoming first-year associates $100k to delay their start dates for a year. The firm, which laid off 150 lawyers late last year, had already pushed new lawyer start dates until January.
Law firm salaries climbed in 2021 and 2022, with most big law first years earning north of $200k (before bonus). Meanwhile, most of these new lawyers were first hired by their firms as summer associates almost two years ago. It’s not a flexible hiring process!
Hundreds of firms turned to deferrals in 2009-10, after the Great Recession cratered corporate deal-making, and it became cheaper to pay expensive new lawyers not to work. So far, the 2023 list is much shorter. But law firms are pack creatures. Watch this space.
NYC WORK LINKS: The Massey Knakal mafia • Ride share service Revel cruises into Long Island City lease • 2045, members-only professional network, raises $4.2M pre-seed • 111 Wall Street tower epitomizes commercial real estate crisis • Claim: the power of gossip will draw Manhattan office workers back.
WORK • Tuesday Routine
Crack a locally farmed egg on top
WEN-JAY YING, Local Roots NYC Boss
Neighborhood you work in: Carroll Gardens, Chelsea
It’s Tuesday morning, where are you working?
A mix of places, but it's usually a hybrid of being at the Local Roots cafe in Carroll Gardens (above), stopping by our Chelsea kiosk at the new Pier 57 food hall, working at a corporate event, or at home with the laptop.
What’s the Tuesday morning scene at your workplace?
Our cafe design was inspired by my travels to Japan, Mexico City, and James Turrell — so the scene is a bit art deco, mixed with natural elements.
What’s on the agenda for today?
I'm meeting with some people to plan an educational farming workshop at the cafe, planning a dish special to offer during Pride, then following up with some clients about catering opportunities and corporate experiences. It's summer and our bubble tea happy hours are poppin’ right now.
What’s for lunch?
We catered an event last night and one of the dishes was vegan nachos with vegan cheese made by my friend Eric See, owner of Ursula in Bed-Stuy. I try to cook most of my meals, so I'm making a vegan pasta with asparagus and mushrooms from the Local Roots farm box, and will probably crack an egg on top — I eat an egg from our Local Roots partnering farm pretty much every day.
Any plans tonight?
I'm meeting a friend for dinner at LaRina, my friend's Italian restaurant in Fort Greene. I'm going to Italy soon, so I'm pre-gaming for my trip by eating a ton of pasta.
First, a quick reminder on how this works: You send us the pressing questions of the day (on dining, services, living in NYC and surrounds). We all put our heads together (us, FOUND, + you, FOUND subscribers, who are also FOUND) in a search for truth and beauty. Please do not be shy — hit reply or or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q: Where do FOUND readers go for their most finicky leather repair work (Chromexcel, etc) on irreplaceable goods?
A: FOUND subscriber suggestions from the field:
“I still go to a place I discovered back in the day via Daily Candy: Modern Leather Goods on West 32nd St. Experts at shoes, bags, and accessories. Highly recommend.”
Leather Spa (West 55th St. and multiple other Manhattan locations): “Pricey but worth it.”
Andrade Shoe Repair (320 Bleecker St., plus multiple other Manhattan locations and Englewood, NJ).
PROMPTS, one new, one for which we continue to seek more intel:
Pre-pandemic, abcV had the best breakfast scene — Manhattan creatives, The Wing members, publishing notables, a few suits, tourists, Jean-Georges taking meetings out front. I miss this breakfast so, so much. What are some other suitable breakfast scenes I might visit to dull the pain?
Speaking of law firm newbies ↑… Back when I was a summer associate, we used to go out for long, fancy lunches with partners. Is that still a thing? What are the new hot spots?