August is winding down, but restaurant season (a.k.a. fall) is only ramping up. I’m always getting my restaurant bona fides in shape, and thankfully you all sent me some wonderful questions to keep me spry. This week, we have a reader asking for L.G.B.T.Q.-owned businesses, another seeking recommendations for wine bars that don’t “phone it in” on the food and a query about supper clubs.
As always, please keep sending your recommendations and questions to email@example.com, and you may see your message here. Let’s dive in!
Supporting L.G.B.T.Q. Establishments
A friend of mine is coming into the city next weekend, and while we have some places to visit lined up (thanks to this newsletter!), my friend mentioned he likes to support restaurants/bakeries/cafes owned by members of the L.G.B.T.Q. community. If possible, could you share some options? — Mackenzie W.
Without a doubt, the tasting-menu restaurant HAGS in the East Village is the moment. It’s nearly impossible to get into, but you should definitely try. In Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, the bar Oddly Enough has a lot of community-based programming like comedy shows and Queer Brunches. I loved the reporter Melissa Kravitz Hoeffner’s recent interview in Grub Street with Kristin Dausch, known as Dave, who created the Queens-based pop-up Dave’s Lesbian Bar and recently organized what they believe was the first queer food festival in New York. Don’t forget Kopitiam in Manhattan’s Chinatown, Via Carota in the West Village, Jungle Bird in Chelsea, Daughter in Crown Heights and Lilia in Williamsburg, which are all L.G.B.T.Q.-owned. This is just a taste of what’s out there, but hopefully it puts your friend on the right track.
Wine Bars That Take Food Seriously
It seems that many wine bars “phone it in” when it comes to cuisine. I’d much rather hang at a place with great ambience like a wine bar, as opposed to a regular bar, and love drinking and snacking at restaurant bars. Could you suggest places that not only have incredible wine but also amazing food? — Lacey B.
I have a rule: I won’t go to happy hour unless there’s good food. That goes for wine bars, too. There’s Ruffian in the East Village, serving primarily vegetarian fare, including a soul-warming khachapuri. On the Lower East Side, try Gem Wine, a tiny, walk-in-only spot. Go for the artichoke. I’m very interested in the two-month-old restaurant Chambers in TriBeCa, which counts the sommelier Pascaline Lepeltier among its owners and a Gramercy Tavern veteran as the executive chef. And in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, I highly recommend Rhodora Wine Bar. They have a lovely menu of small plates (nuts, cheeses, cured meats), but I especially enjoy the pop-ups they routinely host, like the Jamaican pop-up Big Chune and the Filipino pop-up Pica Pica.
Go Supper Clubbing
Love the newsletter! Been looking for a great NYC supper club-type dinner — any recommendations? — Ari S.
Though the energy is a bit corporate, I do think that Resident, a New York City-based company that hosts dinners in luxury apartments, has its moments and is an excellent way to try food from up-and-coming chefs. And in Fort Greene, there’s the year-old restaurant Dinner Party, where, unless you request a private dinner, you’ll be seated with other patrons at either a large communal table or a smaller table nearby. The four-course menu changes every service. Finally, dinner at Dept. of Culture, the Nigerian restaurant in Bedford-Stuyvesant, is served at a communal table, a nod to its origins as a pop-up dinner series.
In Other News …
Two weeks ago I asked about recent memorable meals, and a few of you wrote in to share yours! Brittany S. said, “I’d have to go back to check out their menus for particular dishes, but my meals at Shukette (the breads and dips!), Llama San and Crown Shy have delighted me most this year.” Kat L. got into specifics, highlighting the Grand Rocher dessert at Hawksmoor and the pulpo de roca at La Vara, which she called “octopus carpaccio that redefines how octopus ought to be eaten.” Absolutely lovely. 😊
This week, Pete Wells reviewed Cafe Spaghetti in Brooklyn, where “you can take kids and grandparents, get sauce on your shirt and wave to flag down a waiter without anyone thinking you’re rude.” In other words, the anti-Carbone.
Openings: The space that was Stinky Bklyn cheese shop in Cobble Hill is now Bee’s Knees Provisions, a new wine bar with a retail section; the owners behind Congee Village have opened Congee Dim Sum House at 207 Bowery; and Rabbit, a vegan raw restaurant, is the latest project from the restaurateur Ravi DeRossi.
The chef David Kinch announced that he will sell his Los Gatos, Calif., restaurant Manresa after 20 years and three Michelin stars, Tejal Rao reports.
Next month, the dive bar Milady’s, in SoHo, will get the craft cocktail treatment under Julie Reiner of Clover Club and Leyenda, Robert Simonson reports.