FOUND: dining in transit
Noksu, The Irish Exit, Per Se, NYC wine clubs, Decider, MORE
RESTAURANTS • First Person
Even as the stretch of Broadway north of 23rd Street has come up in the world, Herald Square? Not so much. It remains one of the least appealing places in Manhattan, ranking just above its decrepit subway station. Yet there we were last week, taking the stairs down to Nōksu, which sits behind a black door with a keypad lock.
Before the descent, our primary frame of reference for NYC’s subway-vestibule eating and drinking establishments (excluding major transit hubs) was Siberia, a legendarily divey dive bar originally located in the 1/9 stop at 50th and Broadway. There was nothing “tasting menu” about that place, Nonetheless, it was top of mind as we typed in our secret code and unlocked the door to Nōksu.
Nōksu is the opposite of Siberia. Through the keypadded door (the code changes daily) lies a sleek 13-seat black and white counter with plush bar seats. To the left, a spotless open kitchen, where chef Dae Kim and team prepare a 12-course, seafood-centric, Korean-inflected tasting menu.
If you’re the sort of person who hears about a new $225 tasting menu and gets flushed, you should go to Nōksu: press-friendly narrative notwithstanding, this is a serious entrant into the upper echelon of NYC counter dining. (Among the best courses: an oyster swimming in broth with fluke and prawn, and surf clam, buried in hen egg custard, scallion emulsion, and caviar.)
Even if you pointedly avoid this kind of thing, perhaps Nōksu should be the exception to your rule. As a New York City restaurant, Nōksu is very good. As a New York CIty experience, it’s excellent. Stepping from a battered and bruised subway station tunnel into a pristine jewel box of a restaurant: Not something you’ll forget anytime soon. (Also, “I had dinner recently in the Herald Square subway station,” a top-notch conversation starter in just about any situation.)
One missed connection: the discordant stream of ’80s pop and rock that didn’t pair with the youthful enthusiasm of Kim’s cooking. By course 12, we were ready to leave Steve Winwood behind for the evening. But that was okay, we had a train to catch, right outside the door, and back into the bowels of the city. –Josh Albertson
This fall, more of FOUND’s good stuff (from us and our growing community of hyper-informed subscribers) will be behind the paywall. Join us.
RESTAURANTS • Fine Dining Report
Not Per Se, per se
Back at Per Se after the restaurant closed nearly 10 weeks for renovations, there’s a fresh sparkle: new rugs, sofas, and chairs in The Salon, a brand new color scheme in the dining room (blue!), a overhauled private dining room, and new ovens and stoves in the kitchen. The restaurant turns 20 in February, and Thomas Keller is smartening things up before then.
The refresh brought a buzz to dinner service last Friday, the restaurant’s first night back, including a charcoal-grilled Miyazaki A5 Wagyu with twice-baked potatoes and a DIY assortment of whipped house-made ranch, medallions of crispy bone marrow, chives and pickled pearl onions. Simple, playful, and delicious.
Meanwhile, new chairs are expected in November. Brace. –Lee Pitofsky
NYC RESTAURANT LINKS: The son also rises: Max Chodorow bringing Noho Star-level energy to new restaurant on Lafayette • Surveying the Midtown restaurant leasing scene: reasonable rents but major avenue dreams • Is the future of your local hyperlocal? • Remembering Mars Bar, in this small way.
WORK • Tuesday Routine
I am the decider
MARK GRAHAM, founder and editor-in-chief, Decider
Neighborhood you work in: Midtown
It’s Tuesday morning, where are you working?
After spending 37 minutes on the Metro North and walking a few blocks from Grand Central — catching up on podcasts and emails all the while — you'll find me posted up on the 10th floor of 1211 Avenue of the Americas. I typically spend two days a week WFH in Westchester, and the other three living that commuter life. Commuting in and out of NYC every few days breaks up the week quite nicely.
What’s the Tuesday morning scene at your workplace?
There's always hustle and bustle on the newsroom floor of the New York Post, where Team Decider is embedded, so stopping off at Dunkies for a pick-me-up on the way into the office is a must. (We're in the waning days of Cold Brew szn.) It's not unusual to see famous faces in the hallways of our building, which always adds an element of surprise each and every time the elevator doors open up.
What’s on the agenda for today?
I try to keep Tuesdays (and Fridays) as meeting-free as possible, so I'm currently prepping a deck to review our team's first quarter results and gameplan for the adjustments we'll need to make in Q2. We've got some wind at our sails, coming off back-to-back record traffic months in July and August. We're also in the midst of spooky season, so I've got some time carved to edit some pieces for our annual cornucopia of Stream and Scream content.
What’s for lunch?
So many great options within a two-block radius of my office! Whenever the temp dips below 40, you'll find me slurping ramen at Ippudo or building up my spice tolerance at Mala Project. It's a crisp autumn day today, though, so I got some fresh air and braved the lines of the Lil Zeus food truck over on 50th. (Sometimes I find myself unable to resist the siren song of #StreetMeat.)
WORK • Commuter Report
Goodbyes are easy at The Irish Exit
There’s a food menu at The Irish Exit, a new bar in Moynihan Station from the team behind Wall Street cocktail den Dead Rabbit, but at 5p last Wednesday, no one sitting at the bar was eating. This was commuter drinking, focused and efficient.
We circled the bar three times before finding a pair of stools, right behind the bar-top espresso martini machine. The gentleman next to us drank Guinness, Airpods in, his two iPhones facedown on the bar.
Per the bartender, the specialty of the house is “whiskey,” but we opted for the cocktail menu, which is elaborate in a way perhaps unsuited to drinkers with trains to catch. Still, our “Last Class Pass” and “Lost & Found” were mixed and served in the time it took for the ticker with cheeky slogans above the bar to reset.
Over our drinks, we discussed whether the gentrification of train hall drinking and dining — from tallboys in ice chests to a cocktail list conceived by the owners of a former “best bar in America” — is progress or encroachment. Verdict: Maybe a bit of both. –Josh Albertson
→ The Irish Exit (Moynihan Train Hall) • Mon.-Sun. 10a-12a • 421 8th Ave.
WORK LINKS: Manhattan office vacancy dips for first time in two years • Flatiron-based therapy startup Headway raises $125M at $1B valuation • Rudin puts mostly empty 80 Pine in Wall Street on the market • Why no one’s going into accounting • New top editor is shaking up The Wall Street Journal • Gwyneth reflects on Goop’s 15th anniversary.
Hit reply or or email firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and/or answers.
A few FOUND subscriber PROMPTS for which we are still seeking intel:
We’re headed north for some skiing this winter. What is the best Vermont hotel/resort?
Do you know of restaurants in Manhattan that serve a memorable Thanksgiving meal?
Who’s serving the best martini in New York right now?
GOODS & SERVICES • The Nines
Strange days for NYC wine clubs
The monthly arrival of the white cardboard case from Stranger Wine is cause for celebration. Not only because the three bottles inside are always interesting and worthy, but also, because their accompanying informational cards evoke Hunter S. Thompson on the wine beat.
On September’s delivery: “With the summer season now behind us, and the cool air setting in, we are drawn to the communal fires, with ash and soot underfoot… This month, we focus on three wines, all from volcanic soils, whose character have been born from, and altered by, the interminable ash.” Inside, a white from the Canary Islands, a red from an island off Sicily, and another red from Mt. Etna itself. Hot, molten hot.
Wine clubs have been a thing since forever, but it’s the new class of (often pandemic-born) NYC entrants that have our attention. Stranger Wines — the Williamsburg shop opened by restaurateur Andrew Tarlow and Dennis “DJ” McNally — is one. Beloved wine bar Claud had another, but tragically got out of the club game in August. Yet, Soho newcomer Roscioli is now making a point of marketing its wine club to all restaurant-goers, along with the fact that the wines are shipped cross-Atlantic by sailboat. A poetic journey, no doubt.
Here now, nine wine clubs, seven of them based in NYC. –Lockhart Steele