Taylor would've eaten here
Figure Eight, Café Carmellini, a velvety balm, holiday homewares, Naks, Poppy's, The Bacon Brothers, MORE
RESTAURANTS • First Person
The new pearl of Cornelia St.
In the time before Taylor Swift moved in, the one-block stretch of Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village was best known as one of downtown’s defining restaurant rows.
Despite the tourists who now stop for selfies in front of Swift’s (long since vacated) townhouse, it remains a formidable restaurant block, anchored by Le Gigot, a timeless French bistro that’s blessedly avoided Lucien’s crushing popularity, and Silver Apricot, a New American Chinese restaurant that opened in the summer of 2020 and, despite those odds, has settled in as a neighborhood go-to.
Now, between these two restaurants in the space long occupied by the late, great Pearl Oyster Bar, appears Figure Eight. A sister to Silver Apricot, initially conceived as a casual alternative to its next-door neighbor, but punches far above that weight class: With dark-hued walls, exposed brick, and outrageously delicious food, the month-old spot is a late-breaking contender for the best date restaurant of 2023.
Emergent restaurateur Emmeline Zhao — also Silver Apricot’s sommelier and co-owner — is doing something special at Figure Eight, melding the food cultures of the places she grew up, Shanghai and the American South (North Carolina, to be exact). It’s as unlikely as it is brilliant, and it absolutely works.
Start with the seafood tower, which smashes the paradigm with a brown-butter lobster tail, pickled mussels, stone crab claws, and Shanghainese smoked fish salad (among other bites), all served with homemade cocktail sauce and spicy mustard alongside fried saltines. Our table added the crab and pimento cheese dip to the tower, a very good idea. Also on the table, another must-order: hush puppy waffle bread, made from cornmeal in a waffle iron, its unique texture inviting dipping in any of the sauces.
But the very best thing we had was a family-style main course of soy poached half chicken atop collard greens and hoppin’ John, the classic Carolina rice-and-beans staple. Served with lettuce wraps, chili crisp, and ginger-scallion sauce, the dish took the evening over the top — and onto my meals of the year list.
The cocktail program at Figure Eight is as good and different as the food. (The wine piece isn’t yet up to speed, though bottles are available from the Silver Apricot list.) Reservations are quite easily available, though at a spot this sexy and storied, they won’t be for long. –Lockhart Steele
RESTAURANTS • Intel
CARMELLINI’S SKYBOXES — The mezzanine level of private tables overlooking the main dining room at Café Carmellini (Nomad) opened for service this past weekend. Each table is separated from its neighbors with a wall, making these balcony tables the place to see (and not be seen) this holiday season. Reserve.
NYC RESTAURANT LINKS: Why is the Frick Collection planning to party so hard on the Upper East Side? • Inside subterranean Negroni bar, Sotto, in Nomad • Paulie Gee's Slice Shop coming to the East Village • How hot new LES bar Tigre is bringing mist back to cocktails.
GOODS & SERVICES • FOUND Gift Guide
This post originally appeared in last week’s edition of FOUND LA. Looking for a little more West Coast in your life? Subscribe to FOUND LA, with new issues dropping each Thursday.
Beauty entrepreneur May Lindstrom formulated her cultish natural skincare collection as a result of having sensitive skin as a child. This blue tansy balm, which smells like cacao and melts into skin, has become her signature item and an instant hit. Get it for anyone and everyone on your list. –Zoe Schaeffer
→ Shop: The Blue Cocoon (May Lindstrom Skin), $180.
For more holiday inspiration, consider the FOUND Objects archive.
GOODS & SERVICES • The Nines
Holiday shopping, unique homewares, Manhattan
Scully and Scully (Upper East Side), luxury home goods and gifts on Park Ave.
William-Wayne & Co. (Upper East Side), ‘a tasteful friend’s pleasantly cluttered home,’ for accessories of all sorts
Bergdorf Goodman (Midtown), for the expansive home collection on the seventh floor
Jung Lee (Nomad), luxury goods for home and entertaining from noted event planner
The Gray Pearl (Greenwich Village), design-driven home goods and tableware
Il Buco Vita (Noho, above), home decor and Italian glassware from the restaurant owner
John Derian (East Village), decoupage, plate-wear, linens, and unique holiday finds from the noted designer
Coming Soon (Lower East Side), vintage furniture and gift finds from up-and-coming designers
November 19 (Lower East Side), home and lifestyle goods gathered in travels around the world
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GOODS & SERVICES LINKS: New to the Tribeca Design District: BaBoo • Roll of the dice: luxe board games from Prada, Hermès • Can you get away with a holiday party robe? • The year of the mega sleeve • Ikea unveils Dajlien, its new home training equipment line • The best store-bought eggnogs.
GOODS & SERVICES • Tuesday Routine
All in the Brooklyn family
JAMIE ERICKSON • owner • Poppy’s
Neighborhood you work in: Cobble Hill/Brooklyn Heights
It’s Tuesday morning, where are you working?
Tuesday morning starts at my café and market, Poppy’s, in Cobble Hill. I bike over from Red Hook, check in on the team, get to see and chat with some regulars, then I’m off to our new outpost in Brooklyn Heights.
What’s the Tuesday morning scene at your workplace?
Most of our management work Tuesday-Saturday, so it’s a day where we dive back into the week together. Today, I’m going to stop in and help with an order of custom gift boxes. The kitchens are always buzzing with people working hard, but our cafes are a bit more chill on Tuesday, a day for the locals. And for our catering/events team, Tuesdays are busy with getting orders in and plans made for the events for the coming weekend.
What’s on the agenda for today?
This Tuesday is special, as we’re throwing our first latke party tonight. We have an intimate event space on the Columbia Street Waterfront that we rent out for private parties, but also host ticketed community dinners like this one. Fire pit in the backyard, hot toddies, latkes and caviar— can’t be bad, right? I’ll be heading over to get set up and will be there hosting the evening.
What’s for lunch?
I’m almost always at Poppy’s for lunch — our chicken cutlet sandwich or hot soup is top of my list. But if i can sneak away, I love going to Hibino for their incredible lunch specials.
Any plans tonight?
Most nights I’m running home to be with my kids but tonight I’ve got the latke party. Later this week I’m meeting up with some girlfriends and going to our Brooklyn Heights neighbor, Ingas Bar, owned by another local Brooklyn family.
WORK • Corporate Culture
My best work holiday party came during the first dot-com boom, when I was a cub reporter for SmartMoney.com (RIP). We were a fledgling operation, but the corresponding magazine was a Hearst glossy. In 1998, both teams gathered at Webster Hall in the East Village for a boozy affair crowned by a live performance by The Bacon Brothers.
Twenty-five years later, that fête has not been topped — and likely never will be. This season, it’s hard to shake a braid of garland without hitting a story about the decline of the decadent December corporate bash. Some of the shift is a natural extension of the diminished status of the workplace social (in the era of hybrid work). Employees would rather have the cash than party with co-workers they’d just as soon not see in the first place.
For those who do gather with colleagues, alcohol and glitz are under siege, which makes some sense. But their replacements, per this Bloomberg report — pickleball lessons and team guacamole-making competitions — feel more like a clever troll than a party.
As a measure of corporate strength, though, holiday parties remain relevant. Law firm Fried Frank, an NYC real estate power player, brought back its annual holiday bash last week for the first time since Covid. The packed room at Cipriani 42nd Street was noted by the Post as “the best informal barometer of the industry’s mood” (surprisingly, good!).
For the record, FOUND will be celebrating the season this year with lunch at Ci Siamo. Bring on the mortadella, hold the Bacon Brothers. –Josh Albertson
WORK LINKS: Foundation underway for Rolex Headquarters at 665 Fifth Ave. • Is Kastle underreporting NYC’s RTO numbers? • SL Green wants full tax abatement for Third Ave. conversion • The holiday boom in New York is back — sort of • The long goodbye: why laid-off employees are still on the job.
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RESTAURANTS • First Word
The Skinny: Naks is a hands-on ode to Filipino food from the boundary-pushing team behind Semma and Dhamaka.