Fancy seeing you here. If you’ve only started reading “Where to Eat” in the last four months, then you may not know me: I’m Nikita Richardson, and I’m freshly returned from a stint on The Times’s Live team covering breaking news. (Thank you so much to Pete Wells for covering for me while I was away. If you’d like him to keep appearing in your inbox, be sure to subscribe to the Restaurant Review newsletter so you can keep up with his way-more-official eating adventures.)
I learned a lot working with the Live team, and the experience reinforced my belief that the work we do on New York Times Food is important, too. We live in a tough world, but its rough edges can be smoothed, even just for a moment, by a good meal, a meaningful conversation, a nice glass of wine.
And, lucky me, I was still able to squeeze in some of those lovely moments while I was away.
Comfort is a potpie
On the rare occasion when I wasn’t completely zonked from working on coverage of the Sam Bankman-Fried trial verdict in November (guilty) or a hurricane in California in August (rare), I went out to dinner with my favorite dinner companion: my sister. Just before Thanksgiving, I sent her an Instagram post from Bar Blondeau — the sixth floor bar and restaurant at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg — of a chicken potpie.
Our shared love of chicken potpie goes back to our childhood, when frozen Marie Callender’s potpies were a post-school snack. Unlike those store-bought versions, the potpie at Bar Blondeau is less heavy on the liquid-y filling and more rich in flavor, filled with roasted chicken and earthy wild mushrooms. The best part: cracking the flaky puff pastry top and mixing it all together. On a cold and rainy November night, it was a salve. The Tuesday before Thanksgiving has now been officially dubbed Potpie Tuesday.
The elusive all-day restaurant
I went to Raf’s in NoLIta for breakfast, only available, along with lunch, since September. How exciting is a three-meal-a-day restaurant? It’s a dying breed. The breakfast sandwich with Italian sausage and funky caciocavallo cheese could fuel an army, and you’d be remiss not to order a pastry basket (think: savory and sweet croissants, seasonally inspired danishes and tarts) created by the pastry chef, Camari Mick. And did you know you can order a cake to go with your dinner reservation? Raf’s really does it all.
Loyal readers may remember that back in May I shared a list of the restaurant dishes I wanted for my kitchen, including a tardivo salad with pistachios and citrus from Raf’s that stopped me in my tracks. Many of you were equally excited, flooding my inbox with calls for the recipe. After adapting it for viewers like you, we finally published it in early December — just in time for tardivo season!
What’d I miss?
Four months is a lot longer in restaurant time, and I feel like I have so much to catch up on. For instance, Blanca, the Michelin-starred restaurant behind Roberta’s in Bushwick, is back with the chef Victoria Blamey at the helm. (You may remember her from a stint at Chumley’s and her short-lived restaurant, Mena.) The beloved sandwich shop Regina’s Grocery opened a new location on the Upper East Side, and the actor Michael Imperioli now co-owns a walk-in only bar, Scarlet, on the Upper West Side. Hamburger America on the Greenwich Village-SoHo border is serving the most hyped new burger since Red Hook Tavern. And speaking of Red Hook, Fort Defiance closed after nearly 15 years, which is several lifetimes in New York years. The restaurant is survived by an incredible lentil soup recipe, perfect for the season.
I’d love to hear from you all about the restaurant goings-on that you’d like me to look into or just a restaurant you visited this fall that brought you a moment of happiness. Direct all messages to firstname.lastname@example.org. And thank you for having me back.
What I’ve been into lately
If you love clothing as a form of self-expression, you’ll love the “Shop Rat” newsletter by Emilia Petrarca dedicated not just to what we wear, but how and why we wear it, with lots of tips along the way. In one of my favorite editions so far, Emilia tracked down a stylish woman she saw on the subway and ended up befriending a fascinating New Yorker in the process. You can sign up for the newsletter here.