Tag: midtown

Canadian Front

Saturday, March 15th, 2008 | All Things, Eats, Film

Back at the MoMA theaters for “Canadian Front, 2008” — a collection of feature films from our neighbors to the North. Last year’s opening film, Sarah Polley’s Away From Her went on to earn Catherine Deneuve a Best Actress Oscar nomination for her portrayal of a still vibrant woman ravaged by Alzheimer’s.

This year’s festival featured a week-long engagement of Poor Boy’s Game, directed by Clément Virgo and co-written with Nova Scotian writer/director Chaz Thorne. The film premiered at the 2007 Berlin International Film Festival and was selected later that year for inclusion at the Toronto Film Festival. It stars Rossif Sutherland, the 6’5″ dark eyed, half-brother of Kiefer and son of Donald.

Sutherland plays Donnie Rose, a brooding young man recently released from prison, where he has served nine years for a brutal beating that left a black teenager handicapped for life. Nine years later, Donnie is a changed man, but his gritty, racial tension-filled surroundings in Halifax remain much the same. Sparked by the desire to settle old scores, a local boxing champ from the black community (Flex Alexander) arranges a grudge-match with Donnie. And although it’s clear that the intent is bloody vengeance, Donnie accepts the challenge and the $20,000 payment to fight. The victim’s father (Danny Glover), moved by a desire to overcome the violence of his and Donnie’s shared past, forms a tortured and unlikely alliance with the ex-con, leading up to a climactic showdown in the ring.

MoMA sculptures

I’ve seen my share of mass destruction on film, but something about boxing movies always makes me cringe behind my fingers.

After dinner, we did some date location scouting in Midtown — no, not for me — passing Elmo along the way.

I’d been intrigued by Kyotofu, the Hell’s Kitchen branch of a Kyoto dessert bar and cafe chain, since it opened in October 2006, touting Japanese-inspired, homemade tofu-rich desserts. New York magazine called Kyotofu “a magnet most nights for dainty, delicate females and chirpy, dessert-nibbling aesthetes of the opposite sex,” which described the clientele inside architect Hiro Tsuruta’s mod, white jewel box of a dining room pretty accurately. We settled into stools around the front bar, in full view of the glass enclosed kitchen, to sample two desserts from chef Ritsuko Yamaguchi’s menu of sweet and stylish tofu, fruit, green tea, chocolate and sesame creations. (The cafe also features an extensive cocktail and beverage list, light savory bites, and on occasion, Sunday tea service.)

Kyotofu desserts

The Tofu Cheese Cake, topped with candied ginger, was wonderfully airy with a hint of tanginess, but I loved Kyotofu’s “Signature Sweet Tofu,” served with a shallow boat of kuromitsu black sugar syrup, candied apricot and a crispy black sesame tuile. The silken texture was reminiscent of the Chinese doufu fa, but creamier, with just the right amount of sweetness. Ed Levine called the dessert “strangely beguiling.”

Downtown location coming this summer.

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Famously good burgers

Monday, January 14th, 2008 | All Things, Eats

J had tickets to Carnegie Hall tonight, so we decided to meet for a quick dinner nearby before the concert. But where? We were about to fall back on our usual pre-Carnegie Hall standby — the Burger Joint inside Le Parker Meridien hotel — until we recalled that another burger joint had opened in the neighborhood recently.

The extraordinarily well-loved, family-owned Virginia-based chain of Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries arrived in New York City last year — the East Coast’s answer to In-N-Out — opening branches in College Point and Brooklyn Heights. In early November, the first Manhattan outlet opened on 55th Street between Fifth and Sixth Avenues; the company plans to open 29(!) more in the borough over the next eight years. (That’s a lot, but nowhere near Starbucks’ level of ubiquity. But I digress…) By their second day of business, midtown lunch crowds had pushed waits for burgers and fries to an hour and half. Oh, what New Yorkers will endure for a good burger! Or good pizza!

At just past 7PM on a Monday, though, it is a decidedly less chaotic scene.

Five Guys counter

J had visited the Queens location before — they have a MySpace page! — but this was my first time sampling the famous burgers. Each one is made to order, and Five Guys provides all the shelled peanuts you can eat to tide you over while you’re waiting for your order number to be called.

Five Guys peanuts

The corporate policy is to cook all beef patties to well done — eek! — in spite of which the burgers do retain a surprising level of juiciness. Usual toppings include lettuce, tomato, pickles, fried onions, sautéed mushrooms, ketchup, mustard and mayo; other less standard fixins include relish, jalapeño peppers, and green peppers, and all are included in the price. I ordered what’s listed on the menu as the “little hamburger,” which didn’t seem so “little” to me; roughly the same size as the ones at nearby Burger Joint, and at $2.00 less, a much better value. (The standard Five Guys burger comes with two 3.3 ounce patties, stacked one atop the other.) Five Guys fries are hand-cut, skin-on affairs. $4.50 for a large order (plain or cajun) seemed disproportionately expensive — a quarter more than my burger was, even — but are very generously proportioned; we essentially received double what we expected: inside our grease-stained brown paper bag was a tall styrofoam cup brimming full of fries, with roughly the same amount thrown in loose over our foil-wrapped burgers. Easily more fries than we could finish in a single sitting — and I love fries. Nice touch: bottles of malt vinegar on the tables. Goofy touch: announcing the provenance of the potatoes on a whiteboard by the registers. (“Today’s potatoes are from Ririe, Idaho.”)

Five Guys burger

Peter Meehan of The New York Times had good things to say about those fries in his assessment of the Brooklyn branch (“Generously portioned… with an honest potato flavor”), but was less impressed with the burgers themselves, declaring them “not particularly salty or griddle-charred or beefy.” New York magazine was more effusive in its praise, recently naming Five Guys among the city’s best burgers; theirs was just one more article mounted along a long wall lined with glowing write-ups.

Non-press folks love them, too.

Five Guys testimonials

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