Hungry for Suck

| 16 Feb 2015 | 04:22

    Or should open. Our experience with restaurants opening when they say they will is that they rarely do. Still, this sounds impressive: a new design by David Scheffer, who's responsible for Moomba and Veruka; a chef who used to work at Harvest and Universal Grill; a general manager from Cafeteria; and so on. The chairs will have been designed by Eero Saarinen.

    The food? It sure isn't Ukrainian anymore. We're hearing things like "pierogies of roast duck and leeks with chive creme fraiche," which might work, but that, on the other hand, might represent a tremendous crime against the East Village's cultural memory. Tuna club sandwiches with sprouts, tomato, applewood-smoked bacon and lemon thyme aioli; shrimp croquettes over mixed greens; a braised lamb shank with wild mushroom and onion spaetzle.

    We remember old Mr. Leshko, the restaurant's original proprietor. A sweet-natured gentleman, and, were he still alive, one who we'd hope would have a sense of the irony of time.

    New York's awash in hordes of the affluent young, hungry for companionship and solace and suck, and maybe that's what's responsible for what according to the evidence seems a dawning industrial age of dating. Or better: of rationalized dating. The 92nd St. Y, for example, has been presenting events titled gracefully?winsomely, really, with a respect for the ability of the English language to charm?as follows: "Saturday Night Singlespeaks: For Those 40 Years and Under."

    But we're under 40, too, and our way of picking up sex partners is to spread out and kick back on the subway, ostentatiously scoping a copy of Penthouse Forum. The chicks flock, and trust us: we get to screw. From the 92nd St. Y publicists' flackery: "Saturday night fever with intellectual foreplay. Brenda Stiefel Sherman facilitates an evening that combines socializing and debate in a relaxed, friendly environment. The evening begins with a mini-social, followed by discussion of issues related to being single, music and refreshments." Do you think they'll get around to discussing feng shui?

    Here's another culturally conscientious 92nd St. Y meet-and-greet affair to which we haven't yet been invited: a champagne tasting, on Tuesday, Nov. 30, from 8 until 10 in the evening, at which you'll get to?and we could only be quoting?"learn about the bubbly, meet others and raise a glass of this beverage synonymous with celebration and fellowship."

    Robert Castleberry, beverage director of Carmine's and Virgil's restaurants?establishments we actually like, for which we've never managed to summon the requisite sophisticated disdain?presides. The event costs 50 dollars. For tickets and information call 996-1100.

    Ideya, the fashionable West Broadway pan-Latin establishment that typified that new breed of pan-Latin and "neuvo Latino" restaurants that was rumored to be about to conquer Manhattan about six or eight months ago?remember all the press those restaurants received? It was almost alarmist. The Hispanics were coming to get you, whitey, and never again would a bird be roasted or an egg fried in the absence of jicama or chimmichurri or something such else gnarly and equatorial...

    But as we were saying, Ideya?one of the harbingers of a trend that, like Aesthetic Realism and the early-90s "green" movement, didn't significantly develop?persists. And it's offering, on Dec. 1, a class on making holiday cocktails "with a Latin twist."

    And all this time we'd thought nothing could beat the greatest Hispanic Christmas beverage of them all. Which is, of course, that wonderful, cloyingly sweet, stunningly alcoholic "Puerto Rican eggnog" served at what we're still convinced is the Hispanic diaspora's most worthwhile contribution to Manhattan's culinary culture: La Rosita, the great institution of a Cuban diner on the corner of 108th St. and Broadway. But who knows? It's possible you'll learn something extremely worthwhile at this class, which will be led by mixologist Fernando Pena and that's to be held on Wed., 12/1, from 6 until 7:30 p.m. The fee's $30. Learn how to make traditional holiday punch, as well as not seasonably contingent drinks such as mojitos, pisco sours and caipirinhas, all of which are consumed year-round in Soho establishments by viscounts. Ideya's at 349 W. Broadway, betw. Broome & Grande Sts. Call Lauryn at 625-1441 for reservations.

    Serafina, the Upper East Side upscale pizza restaurant we patronize alongside older Mediterranean guys who steam-press their jeans, has opened a Lafayette St. location in the shadow of the Public Theater. A useful new first-date place: cheap and unpretentious food, including wood-oven pizza, served amidst an ambience that makes those of most of New York's comparable sit-down pizza restaurants (John's, Grimaldi's) look even drabber than they are.

    There's not only pizza. Also fish, salads, carpacci, pasta and some heavy-duty meat entrees, like osso buco and filet mignon. And a pretty bar filled with downtown people, if you can stand them. The restaurant's at 393 Lafayette St. near E. 4th St. Phone: 995-9595. A good addition to the neighborhood, and a good fallback to Mario Batali's new Lupa in the West Village, the scene around which is already insufferably crowded.

    Actually, the situation around Lupa makes you think that something's got to give. Batali opens what he's describing as a neighborhood place, a casual restaurant into which people are supposed to feel free to stop on weekday evenings, in a square neighborhood, and the hysteria and elbowing starts as soon as Batali first unbolts the door? All for a plate of pasta? It's too much.

    Cobble Hill's Delicatessen has been the corner deli we've visited for a couple of years?since, that is, the two sour old women who ran it were usurped by a consistently pleasant guy named Christophe. There's a food revolution sweeping that elegant Brooklyn neighborhood (in accordance with that temporal conundrum known as the Brooklyn Time Lag, a phenomenon that taxes the capabilities of the nation's finest physicists, that revolution's hitting New York's Second Borough fully seven years after it did Manhattan) so you'll find neither steam tables nor salad-bar green beans drowned in vegetable oil nor anything else nasty. No. There's just a small, excellent meat counter, an extensive array of mostly French cheeses (Morbier, Tomme Savoie, Brebis, St. Nectaire, some others), buttercup-colored walls lined with crackers, Lorina lemonade and teas...

    And sandwiches. Roast beef with horseradish, red onion and tomatoes; prosciutto, goat cheese and arugula with truffle oil on focaccia; roast turkey with cranberry relish and mixed greens. And H&H bagels, Krispy Kreme donuts, good coffee.

    Best, though, are Christophe's prepared dinners, which he must spend all day on. The menu varies, but you'll often find grilled chicken cutlets Dijonnaise; chicken/apple or sun-dried tomato sausage; roasted potatoes with scallions; celery root salad; potato galette; provençal ratatouille; oven-roasted beet salad. Christophe wraps them up; you just slam them in the oven for a few minutes when you get home. You won't get fleeced, either. We usually shell out about 12 bucks for dinner for two. The delicatessen's next to Brooklyn's Cobble Hill Park on Clinton St. at Verandah Pl. Delivery's available. So is catering. Phone: 718-852-1991.

    Contributors: Beth Broome, Andrey Slivka. E-mail tips and comments to or fax to 244-9864