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This Week in Food: Maker’s Mark Holiday Tour, Batali Book Signing, Conversation With Michael Twitty

Maker’s Mark Holiday Tour
Crosby between Spring & Broome; Vesey Street between West & North End Avenue; East 8th Street & Astor Place
Monday through Wednesday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Maker’s Mark will stop at three spots in New York City this week, offering complimentary brownies and biscuits from Butter & Scotch along with spiced cider. While the goodies are free, a suggested donation ($5 or more) is encouraged. Proceeds will benefit Share Our Strength, an organization which aims to end child hunger in America.

Taco and Tequila Tuesdays
El Toro Blanco (257 Sixth Avenue)
Tuesday, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.

El Toro Blanco is now offering a tequila and taco tasting experience on Tuesdays. Each week, guest speakers from tequila companies will stop by the restaurant guide guests through the tasting process. Get a load of poached lobster with corn avocado tacos or try pork with roasted pineapple. Wash it all down with tequila — offered as a tasting flight, specialty cocktail, or by the glass.

How Immigrant Cooks Shape American Food
Brooklyn Historical Society (128 Pierrepont Street, Brooklyn)
Tuesday, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Chefs Jonathan Wu (Fung Tu) and Mario Carbone (Carbone) will chat with food historian Sarah Lohman to talk about under-the-radar recipes that have shaped American cuisine. Reserve your $10 ticket.

Mario Batali Book Signing
Williams-Sonoma Columbus Circle (10 Columbus Circle)
Wednesday, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Mario Batali will be appearing live to sign copies of his most recent work, Big American Cookbook: 250 Favorite Recipes from Across the USA. A signed copy of each book is included in the price of a ticket.

Holiday Celebration
Gansevoort Market (353 West 14th Street)
Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Gansevoort Market vendors are offering complimentary bites at this mid-week holiday celebration, with events throughout the evening like a graffiti art show and Christmas carolers. Guests are encouraged to donate toys.

An Evening with Michael Twitty
MOFAD Lab (62 Bayard Street, Brooklyn)
Thursday, 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Culinary historian and author Michael Twitty will lead a talk and tasting on the history of African-American food and its impact on food culture in the American south. Tickets are $32 for general admission.

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Experience Derby Days at Maysville; Egghead Heaven at Chennai Flavors

Our own Tejal Rao appreciates the refined elegance amidst the southern hospitality at Maysville, the new Flatiron restaurant from chef Kyle Knall. The Gramercy Tavern alum shows his roots at his new spot. Rao writes, “Knall has [GT chef Michael] Anthony’s reverence for local vegetables, always accompanying moderate portions of meat with several kinds of beans, greens, mushrooms, and tubers, and often pickling whatever is growing at the moment to elevate and brighten a dish.” Maysville is a “restaurant to visit and enjoy immediately.”

Also at The Voice, Robert Sietsema checks in at Chennai Flavors, the South Indian cafe in Jersey City. The egg-centric menu is not for the faint of heart (or breath) as the “Chennai egg masala ($6.99) deposits the hard-boiled article in a creamy beige sauce with enough garlic to get you booted off OkCupid.” The dosas are worth trying as well.

Over at The Times, Pete Wells visits the Upper East Side nouveau steakhouse and sometime sushi bar, Arlington Club. While the place may suffer from a slight “identity crisis,” the overall effect is working. Wells writes that “the restaurant may not know what to call itself, but it knows what it’s doing.” He awards it two stars.

Stan Sanger, at the Daily News, enjoys the Filipino gastropub fare at Jeepney, in the East Village. Sanger finds that, while some of the menu is only for adventurous diners, “Jeepney still has plenty of lower octane adventures on hand. A good start is the Fried Tripe ($4), which arrives in a tangled heap of lightly battered strips seasoned with a sprinkle of salt and a side of jufran, a sweet-spicy banana ketchup.”

Time Out’s Jay Cheshes samples the slices at Krescendo, the new pizza joint from West Coast celebrity chef, Elizabeth Falkner. Before running to the Brooklyn restaurant, Cheshes warns, “though [the chef’s] blistered Neapolitan-style rounds feature excellent crispy crust, her pizzas are rarely on par with New York’s best–standard-bearers like Motorino and Kesté.”

Andrea K. Scott, at the New Yorker, deems El Toro Blanco a good place for “weekend warriors who just want to unwind downtown with friends over warm chips and cold margaritas.” The Soho restaurant offers Mexican food under So-Cal decor.

 

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Olive Oil on Tap at Le Midi; Not Everything’s Awful at Bill’s Food and Drink

Tejal Rao took a break from professional eating this week, but our own Robert Sietsema kept at it by checking in at Le Midi Bistro. Located in a former East Village Woolworth’s building and karaoke den, Sietsema notes in his review of Le Midi that the restaurant “is one of those old-school bistros where the food skews rich and salty, olive oil flows like tap water, and the portions make you think twice about ordering dessert.” And while some dishes at the Provençal restaurant appear “positively Alsatian,” geographic confusion aside, much of Sietsema’s meal was “utterly delicious.”

At the Times Pete Wells ushers in trendy Mexican cuisine at El Toro Blanco, the latest venture from prolific Soho partners John McDonald and Josh Capon. While the space evokes a Nixon-era dining room, the food won’t shock your palate. Wells writes of the tacos, tamales, and ceviches, “none of this is likely to alter your perceptions of Mexico, but put a few of these snacks together with a margarita on the rocks — the best, El Toro, is sweetened with orange juice and agave syrup, not liqueur — and the night will cruise along like a 707 to Acapulco.” He awards the restaurant one star.

Michael Kaminer, at the Daily News, dines at Super Linda in Tribeca and warns not to be “put off by cartoonish velvet-rope attitude at the front door.” While the restaurant’s initial buzz has died down, there is “a generous heart beat[ing] beneath the frosty downtown exterior; portions are massive, and service downright sweet.”

Time Out’s Jay Cheshes reviews L’Apicio in the East Village and seems satisfied, if not completely wowed. He finds that the “crowd-pleasing food isn’t chasing trends or setting them, but with its bold, layered flavors, it has enough personality to match [a] quirky wine list.”

Bloomberg’sRyan Sutton is not happy at Bill’s Food and Drink. While “not everything’s awful,” at the former speakeasy, Sutton is slightly appalled by the pricey entrees ($69 dover sole! $110 osso bucco!) and lackluster experience. He writes that “there’s something particularly dispiriting about Crown Group turning a storied Midtown bar into a spot as exorbitant in its prices as it is in its mediocrity.” He gives the restaurant half a star.

At the New Yorker, Lizzie Widdicombe observes that the Lower East Side’s Pig and Khao “is not Momofuku.” She finds the experience to be uneven but suggests saving room for dessert.

 

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Japanese Fast Food on Madison Avenue and Dreamy Gnocchi at L’Apicio

This week, Tejal Rao tries the pasta and polenta boards at L’Apicio, the new “glassy cathedral” on the Bowery from partners Gabe Thompson and Joe Campanale, where Rao says if you added a parking lot “it could be that one restaurant in every American town where the people with money come.” While she finds that the kitchen “tends towards overseasoning,” it also creates “esoteric pastas in unexpected applications” which are “perhaps the most successful and refined dishes on the menu.”

Our own Robert Sietsema explores the neighborhood around Madison Avenue and 41st Street, now specializing in Japanese fast food. He recommends venturing to the uptown location of Sunrise Mart for their rendition of “okonomiyaki–the gut-busting, mayo-squiggled pancake… stuffed with pork, shrimp, cabbage, and grated yam ($7.50).” Sietsema also snacks his way through Mai Cuisine and Cafe Zaiya.

NY Times critic Pete Wells has been actively covering the impact that Hurricane Sandy has left on the restaurant industry. This week, he heads down to Chinatown’s Royal Seafood Restaurant, and finds that “everybody was having lobster.” He awards the restaurant one star.

Adam Platt, at NY Mag, visits the modern, Midtown palace Sirio Ristorante, the latest venture from Le Cirque’s Sirio Maccioni. And, while the clientele is dressed to the nines, Platt argues that “the best things at Sirio are the more unadorned traditional dishes.” He also slices his way through Strip House Midtown, the latest outpost of the West Village restaurant. Platt is mixed on the food, but certain that the “menu is priced for the midtown expense account.” Both restaurants receive one star.

At the Post, Steve Cuozzo joins the “party scene” at El Toro Blanco, the inauthentic Mexican restaurant in the West Village. And while some might need earplugs to make it through an entire meal, Cuozzo suggests trying the “guacamole served with toasty-crisp chips” as it is “the spiciest [he’s] had in ages.

Bloomberg’s Ryan Sutton burned some cash at Blanca, the epic Bushwick offshoot of Roberta’s. The 25-course meal is built for those seeking a culinary adventure, as long as they’ve got the time. Sutton writes, “There’s no printed menu, and the bread course is timed to arrive around the 90-minute mark of a 3-hour grand tour through chef Carlo Mirarchi’s prodigious culinary repertoire.” He gives the restaurant four stars.

Jay Cheshes, at Time Out, visits the revamped “former den of New York iniquity,” The Beatrice Inn. But the party people have long since left and the reincarnated remains come together as a food establishment rather than a nightclub. But you’re there to bask in tarnished glamour, not to eat. Cheshes says, “the monochromatic fare is so tame you might call it postfoodie, and you might wonder if there’s a secret menu somewhere that plebeian diners don’t receive.”

Hannah Goldfield, at The New Yorker, visits Allswell, the Williamsburg gastropub from former Spotted Pig owner Nate Smith. She finds the food more delicate than the average “shire-in-style” bar. Goldfield writes, “A thin slab of gelatinous pork terrine, as beautifully translucent as stained glass, was served with a bright salad of crunchy celery, currants, and parsley; oysters, splashed with cream and prosecco, were flash-baked to an almost glittery sheen.”