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2/27/2003: Few things in life are as glorious as a profoundly botched press event. So it was with wings on our feet and malice in our heart that we headed south yesterday eve to Grand Street and Bowery, home of the former Bowery Savings Bank and now hotspot du moment Capitale. The event: a press gig titled D.C. After Dark. The idea was to promote nightlife in Washington, D.C. by hosting an event on the Lower East Side of Manhattan (don't ask). As a draw, they'd bused in Thievery Corporation to DJ an "exclusive set." That this whole event was held the self-same day Capitale's owner, David Marvisi, hit the front cover of the Village Voice in a fantastic takedown article, was just one of many beautiful subtleties we noted. Yes, the Thievery boys were there, looking like they wanted to light themselves on fire. And in a lucky bonus (credit SA), we scored a tour of the entire premises. Conclusion: MONEY HAS BEEN SPENT HERE. Big moolah. And it's beautiful -- dance areas, private dining rooms, bank vaults cum wine cellars (see pics) -- all carefully done to avoid altering Stanford White's historically protected 1893 design. And yet... something isn't right. We can't just put our finger on it. We'll need to return, but so far, Capitale has only been accessible for private parties ("We're doing ten a month," our source claimed). In any case, we love the smell of apocalypse in the morning -- and at Capitale, it hangs in the air even deep into the night.

2/26/2003: The Times launches the PR wave for WD-50 with a great article today about Wylie Dufresne -- who, come to think of it, does look like he'd fit right in with Widespread Panic -- and friends. Highlights: Menu will list ingredients only (sample: "oysters, Chinese sausage, green apple, pistachio")... Prices will be more expensive than 71 Clinton, averaging $25 for entrees... Green salad? There will be no green salad... "I'm not trying to be a jerk," Mr. Dufresne notes... Opening day set for March 15. (N.B. Six months later than original plan.)

2/21/2003: The WD-50 Progress Update from the lens of Brad W.


On: 2/18/03 | Status: Windows in! | N.B.: Snow.

2/20/2003: Ah, Tenement. Mocking the botched opening of this Ludlow eatery has become a cottage industry around here. Last night, when pondering the question, "Where can I grab a quiet bite to eat, alone?" thoughts naturally turned to the vast expanses of empty dining territory in this three-story wonder. Sure enough, when we walked in around 8, we found a few folks chilling by the bar but no one dining. The manager couldn't have been friendlier: "Sit anywhere." We sat. And ate. Scallops to start that were nothing special, but great mac and cheese. A party of six women across from us looked like they were having a blast. By the time we left, the place was half full. Tenement, we repent. You deserve better. We'll be back, maybe even with some friends.

2/19/2003: Speaking of velvet ropes, Greg emails of the time before time in the East Village: "Your post about Mission reminded me of The Mission, a small club on 5th between A&B in the late 80's/early 90's. I went there when we'd come visit from college, then when I moved here. It was a dump, but it kept serving the Femmes and Smiths well beyond their fashionable expiration date. Matt Dillon was there a lot. Around 1992 or so, they had a commercial on the radio, though, with the unironic tagline, 'If you like new wave music and wearing black,' which was a buzzkill, of course, but we were on to Jackie 60 by then anyway"... Francesco offers his own historical revision: "Wouldn't Delia's on 3rd & B predate Tapis Rouge? It flaunted red ropes & doormen as far back as 1992 for sure"... As long as we're setting records straight, Let It Be Known that Tenement finally has procured a liquor license. Wheee!

2/14/2003: Back in 1997, Shep wrote a seminal article titled Velvet Ropes on Avenue A that chronicled with no small amount of fear and loathing a landmark event: the first doorman establishment in Alphabet City. (Trivia buffs note that it stood on the site of the current Tapis Rouge, a lounge that, as we would have said back then, puts the ass in class.) Half a dozen years later, the ropes have come to the lower Bowery with Mission, a new bar/lounge/DJ space opening across the street from Pioneer at the intersection of Bowery and Rivington. Given the heritage of the owners (Orchard's B&T haven Rivertown Lounge, among others), we know the place is going to be cheesy and packed to the gills, even if in its nascent state it appears cool and chic. But a new low has been reached with the name, which echoes that of the Bowery Mission located just a few doors down. An upscale hipster club wryly mocking one of the city's oldest organizations for the homeless... Now that's chill.

2/12/2003: Hey hey kids, rock and roll. MC Palmermix himself, Michael Oates Palmer, is bringing the Below 14th (a.k.a. "this sideblog;" also answering to "The Vertical Presence") concept to Los Angeles (a.k.a. "L.A.") with a new food-and-drink weblog, eatLA. Looks terrific. So go, tell all your L.A. friends. They need to know this stuff.

2/11/2003: On the topic of Chinese restaurants... We recently dined at Supper, as we are wont to do. The waitress asked us to sign a petition for a liquor license for a new restaurant the Frank empire plans to open up around the corner on Avenue B. Unlike Frank, Lil' Frankies and Supper, however, this is going to be a Chinese place. Hmmm. Remind you of anyone else?
2/11/2003: It was cold last week and we wanted to order in Chinese food. Where better to order from, we reasoned, than LES landmark Congee Village (Allen @ Delancey/Broome), a porridge heaven the Village Voice termed "New York's best all-around Chinese restaurant." Alas, we couldn't find a menu -- but we did have our cable modem fired up. Do they have a website? Oh yes! And it's not just any website, but a flash paradise of swirling leaves, resonant gongs, chill tunes, and interactive menus. We surfed to our heart's content before realizing the site lacked only one thing... the phone number. [Postscript: later, much later (as in, actually, this morning), we found the phone number way back on the 'select html/flash' homepage. It wouldn't have mattered: we tracked down the digits from the friendly folks at Sprint PCS only to learn that CV wasn't delivering at all last week because of Chinese New Year's.]

2/10/2003: JVG is now offering alcohol reviews. First up: his father's scotch of choice. Can an online beer log* be far behind?
*failed LS/JVG project, circa 1994

2/6/2003: Finally, some West Village love... We have a soft spot for West 10th from the year we lived near its intersection with Bleecker, and we always enjoyed the strange little dining spot Cafe Asean (W. 10th @ 6th Ave.), which serves affordable Asian-influenced cuisine in a casual, low-key setting. A few months back, the owners of Asean opened up another restaurant two doors down called Jefferson that's Asean's mirror image: sleek, hip and expensive. Ate there last night. Conclusion? Not a bad show, especially if you like Asian-influenced cuisine cross-polinated with American fare. But we'd go back to Asean before hitting Jefferson again. (Random shoutout to old fave Thali just around the corner, one of the coolest Indian hole-in-the-walls in NYC.)
2/6/2003: The weekly WD-50 Progress Update from Clinton's own Brad W.


On: 2/4/03 | Status: Slate floors going in. | N.B.: Skylight.

2/5/2003: Odds and Ends... New LES resident and faithful scribe Margit, the managing editor of AOL Digital City New York, emails us this tip from this week's NYMag Intelligencer: "Rumor has it that Keith McNally, of Pastis and Balthazar, will open a German Jewish restaurant, tentatively named Schneiderís, on Rivington Street this summer." Wow. No word on location, though maybe this is what's going on under all that plywood on the corner of Rivington and Norfolk... The Manhattan User's Guide finally hits the web [via gawker]. Dare we pray that it will become "Daily Candy with a brain"? Here's hoping, even if the recent review of The Tasting Room (1st St. @ 1st Ave.) makes the absurd claim that "to eat at the Tasting Room is to enjoy the work of the most underexposed, underrated chef in town." (Recall that the Tasting Room prompted one of William Grimes' funniest reviews ever: "It would be a lot easier to like the Tasting Room if I did not feel that I had to love it.")... We'd be remiss not to link one more NY Mag article about a party at grimy hangar Idlewild (Houston @ Eldridge) which, the promoter is quick to point out, "is not an orgy."

2/4/2003: Should we be nervous for the NY restaurant industry? It crossed our mind yesterday eve as we stepped into Sen (Ave C. @ 7th St.) for dinner. The place came recommended by folks like Felix Salmon, and it's the brainchild of the kids behind uberhip scenes Canteen, Thom and Bond Street. The decor is gorgeous, the food's fine and the overall experience solid. But the restaurant was empty when we arrived and had only two other couples when we left. Not good times. And not a good sign.

2/3/2003: New York magazine trots out its 50 Best Bars report today, begging the question: which makes us cringe more, their picks or their prose? (Sample line: "If New York is a martini, then alcohol is the olive.") We note five LES joints on the list: Pianos ("best new overcrowded hipster bar"); Essex ("best sloppy drunk brunch spot"); Punch & Judy ("best new wine bar"); SX137 ("best high design on the Lower East Side"... uhrm); and The Magician ("best bar to take over with 20 friends"). We'll be seen nowhere near any of these bars for the next 30 days, alas for The Magician and Punch & Judy, which deserve better.


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