What follows the most important restaurant of this century?
Jazba, Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare, Metropolis, omakase pop-ups, PDT to-go, holiday sundries, the envy office, MORE
RESTAURANTS • First Person
Rock the Jazba
Walking into Jazba, a new Indian restaurant on the corner of 2nd Ave. and E. 13th St. in the East Village, my mind sprang back in time to the space’s former inhabitant: David Chang, in the kitchen of Momofuku Ssäm Bar.
After Ssäm Bar blew up, Chang converted the small, adjacent room up a sloping hallway into the first Momofuku Milk Bar. There, for a time, one could procure Christina Tosi’s fresh-baked cookies and cakes right from Tosi herself. Then Milk Bar blew up, too, and moved across the street (and eventually around the world). The original Milk Bar became home to another legendary Chang joint venture, Booker + Dax, a bar manned by crazed cocktail creator Dave Arnold.
So goes the indelible fact of living in New York City: spaces we fall in love with — because of their occupants — will often pass into other hands. And so: mid-pandemic, Momofuku shuttered Ssäm. The entire space sat empty until work began on Jazba earlier this year. I feared for the newcomers: To follow the original Ssäm Bar — the most important restaurant of this century — is quite a task. But let’s see.
We arrived twenty minutes late courtesy of an Uber mishap, but the maitre’d whisked us into that same back room (now a proper dining room) sans attitude for our lateness: a lovely start. The restaurant, all vibrant yellows and oranges — the kind prevalent throughout India — with watercolor murals of Indian street hawkers on the walls, was packed and loud. And just like that, the past was painted over, and we were in a new epoch, experiencing its new joys.
Chef Akshay Bhardwaj opened the more upscale Junoon with his father Rajesh over a decade ago. Here, they’ve gone deceptively casual, with dishes inspired by dhabas, casual roadside eateries found throughout India. Though the menu offers adventurous detours (consider bheja fry, pan-fried brain masala), we went more straightforward, choosing as starters the stuffed onion kachori and butter chicken served on the bone. The sauces of both were drinkably good. For mains, the Press Club korma (baby goat served with roti) and seafood biryani, both excellent.
As the maitre’d sent us off as warmly as he greeted us, we left in that elevated mood that comes from a great meal at an ambitious new restaurant. Only something completely different from Ssäm Bar would work in this space. You’ll find that something different in Jazba. –Lockhart Steele
RESTAURANTS • Intel
→ JUST DESSERTS: At the recast and reopened Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare (Hudson Yards), there are multiple supplements to be had on top of the $430 per person entry price. Should one elect to add all of them ($325 for truffles on two courses and $87 for additional caviar), the tally jumps to a cool $842 per. At this price, your meal will conclude with an ice cream sundae of Alba white truffle ice cream (above), hoshigaki persimmon sticky toffee pudding, Yamazaki 18-year whisky-soy caramel, and a blanket of shaved white truffles. It’s uncomfortably extravagant, and also delicious. –Lee Pitofsky
→ OMAKASE POP-UPS: Tokyo-based onigiri (rice ball) specialist Taro Kiso is running a very good $180 omakase at Kissaki on the Bowery through Dec. 5. The menu is on the shorter side with some impressively delicious and creative bites like watermelon radish accented yellowtail and chef’s signature ikura onigiri. Reserve. And beginning Dec. 5, former Sushi Yashuda head chef Mitsuru Tamaru is in residence Tuesdays through Thursdays at the Lower East Side wine bar Parcelle. Seats are $200 per and special pairings are available. Reserve. –Kat Odell
→ NOT THE TICKET: The Swedish fish that arrives with the check at Metropolis (Wall Street) at the new Perlman Performing Arts Center is a microcosm of the meal: flavor off, texture wrong, something very promising flung far from the rails. That was the story here through and throughout on a recent weeknight, unfortunately. Our group of four mostly laughed our way through the service mishaps starting and ending our evening, enjoying a great new room in a dazzling new building. It’s a shame that the experience otherwise doesn’t yet match it. –Lockhart Steele
NYC RESTAURANT LINKS: Big-name chefs (Daniel, JVG) preparing to open new restaurants in December • Speaking of JGV, The Mark Chalet brings fondue to the Upper East Side • Stalwart Red Hook outpost Fort Defiance closing Dec. 3 • Meet the beverage directors behind NYC’s new wave of Korean fine dining restaurants • Modern tiki bars are a sum of their whims.
GOODS & SERVICES • FOUND Gift Guide
The initial appeal of Please Don’t Tell, the secret cocktail lounge behind a hidden door inside a hipster hot dog joint in the East Village, was its novelty. But anyone who settled into one of the faux-speakeasy’s dark banquettes long enough to pay proper attention to the cocktails came to realize that the real secret of PDT is the drinks.
This holiday season, the secret is out and available in 750 ml bottles. PDT is pre-mixing and selling its Gold Standard — Hibiki Harmony whisky, French Cognac Guillon Painturaud Pineau des Charentes, Austrian brandy (Ginger Eau de Vie from Hans Reisetbauer), and Vermont honey. It’s a trip around the cocktail world, straight from inside a hot dog joint in the East Village to your brother-in-law’s stocking. –Mark Healy
→ Shop: available after Dec. 1, in person at Please Don't Tell, 113 St. Mark’s Pl. (East Village), or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org • $195 for 750 ml.
GOODS & SERVICES LINKS: Delays push Eataly Soho opening to next week • Boutique gym Club Studio coming to Maiden Lane • Sahadi’s opens Manhattan outpost at Pier 57 • Gift guides: A Continuous Lean and Yolo • Should clothes never go on sale?
CULTURE & LEISURE • Tuesday Routine
Sting like a bee
It’s Tuesday morning, where are you working?
In my office (above) in my apartment in my cooperative apartment building in my neighborhood in Manhattan.
What’s the Tuesday morning scene at your workplace?
Caffeinating, breakfasting on alternate days, on eggs and bangers or Cumberland sausages from Myers of Keswick, or granola from Struesli with fresh fruit my local fruitmonger, The Professor (1st Ave. and E. 49th St.), reading the dead tree New York Times, and then the cyber Washington Post, New York Post, and the Guardian.
What’s on the agenda for today?
Reading blogs and answering email, checking my schedule, and lately, promoting Flight of the WASP: The Rise, Fall, and Future of America’s Original Ruling Class, my new book on (did you guess?) 15 significant and symbolic white Anglo-Saxon families over the last 403 years. If there’s a new write-up or review of the book, I’m posting something about it on my website and social, then scratching Agrippina, my West Island White Terrier, then thinking about what to have for lunch.
What’s for lunch?
If I’m eating at home, could be Tan Tan Ramen from Nishida Sho-Ten, rotisserie chicken from Poulette, chicken cutlet in the best red sauce in Manhattan from La Traviata, and wishing Pho Saigon, my favorite local Vietnamese, hadn’t closed its doors.
Any plans tonight?
Well, yes, in fact, dinner with upstairs neighbors, an architect and a stylist, and two walks with Agrippina, who will hopefully want to stroll through Peter Detmold Park, up the long staircase to E. 51st St., down Beekman and Mitchell Place, and then home.
WORK • Office Report
Vacationing at the office
It’s been a hard year for work. Nobody wants to come into the office. Everybody’s unhappy. Per a recent survey from BambooHR, job satisfaction is down 10% this year, below pandemic lows. Ping pong tables and tap beer are over. Free snacks aren’t working.
New solution: a fresh coat of paint. Au courant office designers are chasing what The Times calls “Envy Office,” or “what happens when companies try to combine the comforts of a living room and the glamour of a vacation.”
Dream scenario: an enterprising young employee posts the perfect angle of the artificial-plant-draped corner of the pastel conference room on IG, which burnishes the corporate brand, which attracts a higher caliber of job applicant and boosts sales.
Maybe. More likely: The employee is the social media manager, who cropped out the colleague slumped over her laptop, two screens deep in a Slack rant about how an empty “Ibiza” on the 3rd floor is the entire office’s only quiet workspace with an outlet and real chairs.
If pastels and plush couches aren’t the keys to employee happiness, there’s one more card to play: a statement Christmas tree. Workplace satisfaction, guaranteed. –Josh Albertson
WORK LINKS: New Norman Foster-designed Penn Station entrance open on 7th and 32nd • 32 Ave. of the Americas has plans to ‘amenitize’ with ground floor retail • Law firm Quinn Emanuel takes 132k SF at Textile Building • NYU out, UK hedge fund in at Puck Building • ‘Double dipping’: why managers worry that staff have a second job on the sly.
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GOODS AND SERVICES • The Nines