Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bits & Morsels

Rotisserie spiced rubbed half chicken with chili, tamarind, and jalapeno at the Ember Room.

by Erin Frankel

Barbeque cuisine has many styles and forms in New York, but none rival Ember Room, the new Asian-inspired Barbeque joint. Ember Room is not your typical and tattered, seedy American BBQ joint. The large bi-level space is fancy, refined, and some might even argue, a bit garish. The menu replaces America’s red-state deep-fried and over-sauced standards with a sophisticated Far-Eastern flair.

The man behind the Ember Room is Todd English, notable for his multi-faceted roles as celebrity chef, restaurateur, entrepreneur, author and TV personality. Over the past year he has made a name for himself in New York with the openings of The Plaza Food Hall and Ca Va, and, now, with his newest and most interesting venture, Ember Room.
Inside Ember Room's loud interior.
Ember Room bills itself as American-influenced Asian Barbeque. The American, Mr. English, has teamed up with celebrated Bangkok-born chef, Ian Chajermkittichai, to create a menu that intermingles tastes and textures that reflect Asian traditions with American sentiments.

Everything on the menu is thoroughly premeditated. It is no surprise that English and Chajermkittichai have a ten-year history of dining, traveling, and cooking together from which they have drawn their inspiration.

Take for instance the roasted sea scallops garnished with crispy, burnt bacon bits and Asian-inspired pea shoots and kohlrabi or the Thai chicken wings where English and Chajermkittichai take a favorite American barbeque staple and infuse it with Asian-styled mint, thai basil, and sweet palm sugar caramel.
Shrimp satay with finger chili, cilantro, and lemon grass.
Oven baked heirloom beet salad with frisee, pumpkin seeds, and lily bulb.
Thai chicken wings with mint, Thai basil, and palm sugar caramel.
Mushroom salad with lola rosa, ginger-goat cheese, curry puff rice.
As for the entrees, the most appealing twist on classic American barbeque is the Rotisserie Spiced Rubbed Half Chicken, which is garnished with spicy Celeriac, Red Chili Paste, and Gailan.

According to Roy Nachum, Ember Room's designer, the restaurant's interior comes from “the inherent beauty of natural materials." However, the volcanic rock, clay bricks, and “natural” stone placed around an open kitchen in addition to the bright, intrusive “Chinese-influenced” lights above ... is all a bit much. But then again, the Ember Room is owned by the Chace restaurant group who claim to always remain on top of the trends, in ‘chace’ of the next big restaurant idea.
Roasted sea scallops with smoked bacon, pea shoots, and kohlrabi.
Clay oven roasted NY Strip with Szechuan glaze, celery, and red wine vinaigrette.
Crispy duck confit with red curry, eggplant, and pineapple.
Ember Room
647 9th Ave
What else I ate this week:

One of my favorite ways to spend a warm Sunday afternoon is eating brunch outside, grabbing some cold gelato and wandering around the streets of New York City with close friends.

Gusto's Bloody Mary.
I started the first warm day of Spring with a special three-course Easter brunch al fresco at Gusto Ristorante. As most of you know, I ate dinner here just a couple of weeks ago, but I have never tried Gusto's brunch until now...and just couldn't resist.

Glamorous at night, Gusto becomes an idyll sun-dappled refuge at brunch. And, ambiance aside, the friendly staff here delivers innovative Italian twists on the standard brunch fare.

The special three-course brunch menu offers dishes that satisfy big appetites (like mine) without sacrificing small details like the classic Easter standby — deviled eggs — highlighting a rich creamy, paprika flavor, the soft, delicious burrata with tomatoes lightly seasoned with olive oil, and the nuanced combination of hollandaise sauce and grilled garden vegetables on top of delicately poached eggs.

All of this was complemented with a morning cocktail. I recommend Gusto's Bloody Mary, which has the perfect combination of citrus and spice.

Gusto Ristorante
60 Greenwich Avenue
Deviled eggs.
Burrata with tomatoes and truffles.
Poached eggs with fresh vegetables and hollandaise sauce.
As we strolled through the West Village, we stumbled upon a new gelateria on 8th Avenue called Love Gelato. Love Gelato is a new boutique gelato shop serving 16 different flavors of ice cream in addition to coffees and pastries. But, the reason to come here is for the small batches of delicious frozen dessert. The fresh, natural ingredients set apart the Italian style gelato and sorbet. Love Gelato offers a nice blend of classic flavors (vaniglia, cioccolato bianco, Nutella, caffé, Tiramisu) but also makes some unique and strangely delicious creations like the nocciola, cream caramel, zabaglione, and marron glace, to name a few. Our favorite was plain old pistachio; not too sweet, but incredibly rich and creamy.

Love Gelato
167 Seventh Avenue South
Love Gelato's exterior.
Love Gelato interior.
Love Gelato gelato.
We ended our day with the NY Knicks, chicken wings, and ice cold beer at an old New York standby, Brother Jimmy's. The Brother Jimmy's empire has expanded at a rapid pace in New York City, probably due to the quality of the bar food, the size and scope of the drinks, and the overall fun factor.

Although most people come here for the large flat screen TVs and the cheep beers, the pub grub (while fried, greasy, and fatty) is tasty and satisfying. And the portions are large. We opted for a bucket of 20 spicy Northern style chicken wings. They were perfectly crispy, spicy, and hot. And, washing it down with a cold Bud made the wings that much better.

Brother Jimmy's
Multiple locations
Brother Jimmy's wings.
Photographs by Erin Frankel.
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