Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bits & Morsels goes to Gallagher's and Boqueria

A salt cod croquette at Boqueria Soho.

Pal Joey and Gallagher’s. Saturday night I went to a preview performance of Pal Joey at Studio 54. The show features the stunning music of Rodgers and Hart. The two hit songs that came out of the show are “Bewitched Bothered and Bewildered” and “I Could Write a Book.” Pal Joey isn’t the typical sunny, happy-go-lucky musical, but dark and stormy, which makes it all the more relevant these days. The original show opened in 1940 and Gene Kelly played Joey.

In this production Joey is played by Christian Hoff and Vera is played by Stockard Channing. Before the show, I had dinner at Gallagher’s steak house. Located at 228 West 52nd Street, Gallagher’s has been open since 1927. In the 1920s, restaurants were quite different than many of today's interpretations; they were more formal establishments with sort of a European flair and style. In contrast, Gallagher’s is and always has been a no frills joint outfitted with wood walls, floors, and rafters and decorated with red checkered tablecloths. The dining room is practically unchanged from when it first opened over 80 years ago. And with that, the quality of the food is much better than it needs to be. Countless restaurants in the theater district take advantage of the theater crowd (read: tourists) with inferior food and high prices.
Gallagher's dining room.
If you're a steak eater, the place to go is Gallagher’s. In 1964 Jerome Brody bought the restaurant and installed the meat aging room behind the front window so people could see it from the street. A novel idea in 1964, and it's still pretty cool even today.

Steakhouses usually have the freshest of fish and Gallagher’s is no exception. So if steak doesn't appeal, order the fresh and (simply) grilled salmon. To counteract the health benefits of the salmon we ordered, we added a side of hash browns, which were well seasoned, crunchy on the outside, and buttery smooth inside. Gallagher’s also has a lobster tank. It’s always fun (and a little gimicky) to see the lobsters fished out. All of the food is served in hefty portions and could easily serve two.

For dessert, order the retro rice pudding. Rice pudding is one of my favorites and it’s not too common on menus these days. A fun fact: One could have eaten at Gallagher’s after seeing the original Pal Joey in 1940. I'm sure many did. [Gallagher’s] & [Pal Joey]
A view of the aging room. Gotta have some greens.
Baked potato with a heaping side of sour cream. Hash browns -- nice and crispy.
Sauteed mushrooms. Onion soup.
The lobster tank. Michael Clayton with a fresh lobster.
Clockwise from top left: Bread basket; Seafood platter; Grilled salmon; Homemade potato chips.
Filet mignon. Prime rib.
Maître d' Tim Donnelly Lamb chops.
The bar scene. Packs of Gallagher's matches at the bar.
Steaks and more steaks ...
Rice pudding. Warm apple pie with vanilla ice cream.
The minute the new Boqueria (named for the famous Spanish market) in Soho opened up at 171 Spring Street, I was there with my trusted dining partner Sam Hamadeh. The new space is bigger than the other location at 53 West 19th Street, but it's still pretty tight. Even when you are sitting at your table you inevitably get bumped into. But, the bustling energy is part of the whole experience and who wants to sit in an empty tapas restaurant? If you go, just be prepared to wait. Boqueria specializes in tapas, so you can order a selection of small bites and it’s never too expensive. The tapas menu includes everything from bread with tomato, croquettes, lamb skewers (Sam’s favorite) to spinach with raisins and garbanzo beans. However, the highlight of the new Boqueria is the chef’s counter. The kitchen is open and you can watch chef Seamus Mullen work his magic. [Boqueria]
Boqueria Soho, 171 Spring Street, 212-343-4255. Inside Boqueria Soho.
Chef Seamus Mullen. Dates stuffed with almonds and Valdeón, wrapped in bacon.
Sautéed spinach, garbanzos, pine nuts, garlic, raisins. Lamb skewers with salsa verde.
Pan con tomate. Boqueria's Kevin Ashlee and my dining partner Sam Hamadeh.
Clockwise from above: A bottle of Rioja; Creamy croquettes; Churros with chocolate dipping sauce.
Surprising information about cheese on the Feedbag. Raw milk cheese is actually safer than people think. The laws that state that cheese must be pasteurized were written before modern day refrigerated trucks! [The Feedbag]

If you are feeling ambitious
and you like your food spicy, try making your own hot sauce. The recipe is not too difficult and the only "real" ingredients are peppers and white vinegar. But it does take time and requires you to work with lots of spicy peppers. [Bitten]

Admission to Bartending School
is on the rise. Due to layoffs and the poor state of economy, people are looking into becoming bartenders to make a little extra money. You can be sure people are going to be drinking so being a bartender is a less risky choice. [The Daily News]

As if we could not get any lazier ... Now you can order Domino’s pizza through your Tivo. You don’t even have to talk to anyone. All you have to do is pay when it arrives. [Gizmodo]

Until we eat again,
Jordana Z.

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