New York foodies are the worst kind of pretentious: lusting after hotshot butchers and pastry chefs, one-upping each other with knowledge of molecular gastronomy techniques. People who were, not too long ago, preaching the pork belly gospel are now declaring the cut of meat too commonplace. But extravagant dishes are already falling off menus, and 2009 will likely be a humbling year for obnoxious eaters.
Out: Eclectic Comfort Foods
Can we call a moratorium on truffles in unrefined cuisine already? From grilled cheese (at ‘wichcraft and Gilt) to mac & cheese (at The Waverly Inn) to bagels & schmear (at the Times Square Westin), the fungus is too often among us.
In: Actual Comfort Foods
No novelty needed: you can still pick up a classic grilled cheese (at Murray’s), mac & cheese (at DuMont Burger) and bagel & schmear (at H&H, Barney Greengrass, and countless other spots. This is New York, for chrissakes). This year saw the unfortunate closing of Florent, but its replacement, R&L Restaurant, has mostly revived its menu of simple staples.
LA sensation Pinkberry had barely opened for business in Manhattan when countless fro-yo purveyors (Red Mango, Yogurtland, Yolato) began showing up on every Avenue. There’s been a whole heap of hysteria, with the chain suing for logo ripoffs and yogurt fanatics feverishly debating the merits of each. Leave it to LA to produce a food fad with the same drama quotient as The Hills.
In: Originals Gray’s Papaya copycat Clinton Papaya closed down at the end of 2008 to little protest from the neighborhood, as it never matched the character of Nicholas Gray’s institution, and neither do the dozen other imitators.
Out: Obscure Locations
Brooklyn’s Moto is a delight, but I suspect the dining room in the middle of Nowheresburg was a strategic effort for underground-chic status. Unmarked doors are one thing, but a view of the BQE is a real appetite-killer.
The Upper West Side saw several respectable openings this year, from the upscale Bar Bouloud to the new outpost of Shake Shack. Hopefully, the trendy spots will bring more attention to the area’s underhyped offerings, like tiny Caribbean café A. It’s no longer a dining taboo to venture above 34th Street.