• The East Pole

    Food & Drink  

    The year is 1908. A young polar explorer by the name of Ernest Shackleton is leading a party of four across the frozen wasteland of Antarctica. Final destination: the South Magnetic Pole. For the next 374 days, they determinedly press into the center of the sub-zero desert. They never make it. The threat of starvation and a gap of 112 harrowing miles bring them to their frostbitten knees. What would later be deemed the Heroic Age of Antarctic Exploration ultimately lays claim to 19 lives. While Shackleton and his men escape such fates, their shortcoming haunts them long after they return to England within inches of their lives.

    A warm sunlight pours into the second floor of a prewar brownstone located at 40.7662355 latitude and -73.9658007 longitude…or more commonly known as the corner of East 65th Street and Lexington Ave. The East Pole, the most recent restaurant by Philip Winser, Benjamin Towhill, and the Brothers Martignetti (Anthony and Tom), has taken up residence in the historic row house.

    The gentlemen recruited Chef Nicholas Wilber to head up the kitchen. As one of the leading chefs in the Farm to Table movement, Chef Wilber has developed a simple yet thoughtful menu drawing on three years of experience at the helm of The Fat Radish. His passion for local, seasonal, organic produce and sustainably-sourced proteins are showcased in dishes such as the Long Island Fluke Crudo and the Fennel & Fish Pie with Lobster and Taragon arriving at our table. Other highlights include the mint lemonade, Peeky Toe Crab & Avocado Toast (Anthony’s favorite), a dozen Chattum Mass oysters with Mignonette Sauce, and the apple pie a la mode.

    We are holed up in the Map Room, the private dining room upstairs designed for intimate gatherings around a long wooden table. Old maps collected by the Winser family over the years line the walls while American walnut, copper, black steel, and white washed walls create a clean and simple point of view with an emphasis on high quality materials. The result is a two story space that harkens back to the age of Shackleton’s polar explorations while paying homage to The Explorers Club that memorializes it.

    While a trek to the South Pole demands endurance, an iron will, and a royal bankrolling, The East Pole requires only an appetite and a Lyft (Uber is old hat and more expensive) to East 65th Street. Gastronomical adventure calls north of 14th St. You will not be disappointed. The only thing you may be haunted by afterwards is the butternut squash cooked down with apples and onions almost to the point of soup, then tossed with rock shrimp and cavatelli for a pasta that tastes simultaneously rich and light.

    133 E. 65th St.
    New York, NY 10065

    Oct 27, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream

    Food & Drink  

    My brain is starting to freeze. But I don't care. I press my tongue up against the roof of my mouth and keep going. With the precision of a master surgeon, I carve out the strawberry careful not to touch the chocolate or vanilla. The rectangle carton of Neapolitan is all mine for at least the next 17 minutes—my own private Heaven. The blacks of my eyes shoot around the kitchen between bites. Mom hates this—me siphoning the strawberry third before anyone else has a shot at it. Such is life with two younger siblings—the Neapolitan catered to everyone…and yet no one. The year is 1993.

    The obsession with strawberry ice cream that takes me at the age of 12 eventually leads me here, Van Leeuwen’s shop in the East Village. It’s my go-to spot in New York for ice cream. What began in a Greenpoint Brooklyn kitchen in 2008 is now scooped out of six ’88 Chevy Step Vans and three storefronts in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Van Leeuwen’s commitment to celebrating all-natural ingredients is rapidly cementing their frozen concoction as the ice cream in the city.

    While strawberry is a classic ice cream flavor, it’s all too often ruined by artificial colorings and “natural flavorings” that come from sources other than strawberries. These are unpleasant but necessary ingredients when insufficient quantities of strawberries or bland-tasting strawberries are used. Yeah, that strawberry I fell in love with back in ’93, tainted love. It turns out it was a scientifically engineered bastardization of what God intended. And God knows ice cream, I assure you.

    Cutting corners is stomached by most in the industry, but for ice cream artisans and self-proclaimed foodies Laura O’Neill and the Brothers Van Leeuwen (Ben and Pete), it’s cringe-inducing. They do it right—only (fresh hormone and antibiotic free) milk and cream, cane sugar, egg yolks and generous amounts of sun-sweetened strawberries. It is the freshest strawberry ice cream that has ever hit my lips…and it delivers a hell of a brain freeze.

    Aug 20, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • The Leadbelly

    Food & Drink  

    by Tucker Chet Markus

    A heavy yellow glow, the tear of a harmonica riff, fresh oysters on ice. Peel off of Orchard Street, number 14, through the doors at The Leadbelly—a Montauk surf shack and gritty speakeasy simultaneous. Inhale.

    The place is hand-drawn—the childlike Garrett "People" Wasserman profiles of boys and girls greet you as you enter—and the rest is wedged between spinning vinyl and cracks in the plaster walls. Sit. Order a dozen on the half shell (selected weekly, the next seven days hold Shigokus from Washington, Ninigret Cups from Rhode Island, and Barcats from Virginia). Sip a Cucumber Julep or a Whiskey Ginger. Relax. Feel. The rhythms around you move on the ride cymbal of a Sonny Boy Williamson tune.

    Opened in September of 2012, it feels part mid-century Europe, part Americana. The interior was designed by Phil Winser and Kate Dougherty—the latter’s work includes set decoration on Wes Anderson’s Moonrise Kingdom. Happy hour is nightly from 6pm-8pm (Barcats are a buck-a-shuck) and if your appetite stretches into dinner, The Fat Radish’s kitchen across the street is at your service. It gets better. A rotating group of local DJs and musicians lay the vibe Thursday through Saturday night. Captured here by Winser and Dougherty is the brackish meeting point of an August breeze and the blues of Bourbon Street.

    Savor the senses. The weight in your chair, the music, the company. Have an oyster. Allow place to happen to you at The Leadbelly.

    14 Orchard St.
    New York, NY 10002

    Oysters are a buck-a-shuck every night from 6pm-8pm. It's the perfect time to split a couple dozen with friends while having the place mostly to yourselves.

    Jul 9, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • The Nantucket Lobster Trap

    Food & Drink  

    It's five o'clock and we have just ordered a two pound lobster. Carl and I, beyond a bit peckish, carry on debating the merits of five pounders. The bigger the better, right? Conventional American wisdom would think so. But not so with these crustaceans. The young man dropping off our beers chips in his two cents. We listen up. After all, he's the only one out of the three of us that has actually eaten a five pound lobster.

    It turns out, the meat tastes different. To a lobster connoisseur, significantly different. A little tougher...not as tender as a two pounder. In a world of the up-sell, we're delighted and surprised with his candid disposition. It's refreshing and rivals the sweating Modelo Especials freezing our brains.

    The Nantucket Lobster Trap has been serving up stuffed and boiled lobster for nearly four decades now. Locally owned and operated by the Brothers Weldon (there's three of them), it is a Nantucket staple. You'd come to expect any kitchen right on the water to serve up the freshest seafood. "The Trap" does not disappoint. They house two gigantic salt water tanks in the back that keep your lobster alive up until the moment you order. All you have to do is decide if you're up for two pounds or five.

    23 Washington Street
    Nantucket, MA 02554

    Jun 26, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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  • The Grog Tray

    Food & Drink | Prep Essentials  

    Drinking out is kind of a luxury. Think about it. A decent scotch will run about $14 a pour. Toss back three of those and you might as well have picked up your own bottle. Enter drinking at home. Not only is it economical (we like economical), but it's as good an excuse as any to fill your home with friends while also setting up your own home bar. It was William Morris who held, "Have nothing in your home that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful." We tend to agree—and a grog tray is both. What began strictly as a scotch bar has grown to include rum (El Dorado is a fantastic and not too sweet sipping rum), small-batch bourbon, rye whiskey, and chocolate.

    As with most things in your home, your bar should reflect your own style and tastes. Make it personal. Stock it with your favorite spirits. I gravitate toward the contradiction between masculine and feminine, old and new, and high and low in my personal style. For me, it's about the mix.

    One reason I love this mirrored grog tray and polished chrome stand is because it has a feminine refinement to it. It's very Upper East Side and lends a touch of nouveau preppy—a stark contrast to my red-blooded liquor tastes. The paper coasters I lifted from a memorable night at The Bowery Hotel, the quahog shell from Narragansett Beach holds match boxes from my favorite bars, while loving cups not only hold chocolate bars and wooden arrows (summer camp nostalgia) but evoke an air of victorious celebration...all memories worth raising a glass to.

    Apr 14, 2014 | Permalink (0) View/Leave Comments

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