2013 May 22
Bon Appetit's Grub Crawl: A Delectable Preview Of Its NYC Stint!
Dean Kaufman; Billy Farrell Agency; Patrick McMullan View Gallery
(NEW YORK) Every fashionette's gotta eat, and what's tastier than sampling the hautest new spots...in a curated and condensed few hours worth of feasting? Let The Daily direct your attention to the New York stop on Bon Appetit's second annual Grub Crawl, arriving on June 1. There are more than enough morsels to go around: the day option moseys through the West Village, hitting up The Standard's Biergarten, Anfora, Takashi, Perla, and Cole's, while the evening route treks through the Bowery, including stops at The General, Pearl & Ash, City Grit, Madam Geneva, and The Wren. Before you scamper off to score your tickets to all this deliciousness, check out what Bon Appetit restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton and two of the day roster's wunderkinds, Perla's Gabe Stulman and Anfora's Joe Campanale, had to say. Also! Check out our Gallery from a glimpse at last year's Grub Crawl. Mangia!
BY ALEXANDRA ILYASHOV
FIRSTLY! Bon Appetit restaurant editor Andrew Knowlton gives us the thoroughly tasty scoop on what a Grub Crawl is, exactly, and what to expect from its sophomore effort…
Hey, Andrew! So what’s the gist of Bon App’s Grub Crawl?
It came out of the desire to do a food festival that wasn’t traditional, with aggressive people elbowing you to try to get their money’s worth in wine and food. Those are the kinds of tastings we’re all used to, and there are still events like that that are good. At the Grub Crawl, it’s not just going to a restaurant and eating. The chef is there, you get to try things that aren’t on the menu, and hopefully you meet likeminded people as well!
Have you ever done a crawl of your own, given that your job involves lots of restos?
When I was first starting out in the business, I used to print out neighborhood maps of New York City and write down all the places I wanted to try within a 10-block radius. With my girlfriend at the time—who’s is now my wife—we’d pick a night, start at 6 p.m., and check out six or seven places in one night. That’s how you learn restaurants—it’s also just a fun night out.
How did the NYC ‘hoods get selected?
Last year we did Red Hook, Carroll Gardens, and Williamsburg, so we wanted to obviously go to Manhattan this year. We started with the lower West Village area, then Bowery area. Obviously the Bowery has had a huge resurgence recently; same thing in that whole West 4th Street lower area.
What’s the standout spot of this year’s Grub Crawl for you?
Takashi is a small place, and it’s one of the harder restaurants to get into right now. They grill the whole animal; it’s really eye-opening. They serve four or five types of stomach! There’s this beef stomach that I could serve to my 85-year-old grandma, who’s probably never had anything but beef tenderloin, and she’d think it was so delicious. I’m sure they’re going to be doing some fun, crazy stuff. I think people will really dig it.
How adventurous! Can’t wait. Any highlights on the evening Crawl itinerary?
The dark horse on this is Pearl and Ash. It’s this young chef, Richard Kuo, who was at Frej, a pop-up restaurant in Williamsburg. He doesn’t have any gas in his kitchen, so he’s only using induction and sous vide. I’ve been there multiple times, and we’re considering it for our top 50 restaurants in America issue this year. It was reviewed in the Times two weeks ago and got 2 star. I think he’s doing some of the most interesting food right now in New York City, and it’s kind of flying under the radar. That’s going to be the diamond in the rough! They’re all great restaurants, but if I had to pick…And then along the way there will be music, we’re figuring out what the music is going to be.
How does a Crawl work, exactly? Sounds like a lot of hungry people.
For the daytime crawl you’ll meet at the beer garden at The Standard; during the evening you’ll meet at The General. There will be 200 people at each starting place and that’ll get broken into smaller groups of 40 people, which will go to the five places in different orders so it’s staggered and feels more intimate. A group of 200 people walking around at once sounds like a nightmare to New Yorkers, so we figured out another way to do it!
How’d you pick the other cities: L.A., Chicago, Miami, and Charleston?
We’re really excited about Charleston right now. It’s probably one of the most exciting American food cities, and it’s a great walking city. I’m actually flying down to Charleston to lead those Grub Crawls around. Chicago is such a cool city made up of neighborhoods, so that was an easy choice. L.A. is a hard one, because people don’t always think of it as walkable. But we figured out a way to do it downtown and in Santa Monica and Venice. Hopefully next year we’ll be able to expand—and even go into smaller cities people might not think of as food destinations.
Are you on tour guide duty for the Crawl?
In New York, I’ll be stationed at one of the restaurants; then I’ll probably hop around. Our editor-in-chief, Adam Rapoport, is going to be going around also. I’ll be in Charleston, and I’ll go to Chicago just because I love Chicago. We fight over which editors get to go to which events!
Any words of wisdom for pacing properly?
The good thing is that it’s all snacks and bites. Just don’t blow it and have three cocktails at the first restaurant, because we’ve all been there before. Drink water, too. Nobody is getting into a car, though, so that’s good.
What’s the recommended attire?
Nothing?! Ha. No, it’s like you’re going out on a Friday or Saturday night to impress people. You never know who you’re going to meet on these Grub Crawls. I haven’t picked out my outfit yet. I don’t know if in the fashion world they make the pants that we all wear in the food world, but it’s always good to wear pants with an expandable waist. We call them our fat pants. [Ed. Note: He’s kidding. At least we think so.] Don’t try breaking in your brand new jeans that you bought four sizes too small while you’re on the Crawl.
Sounds like a big pick-up scene!
It’s going to be people who are interested in meeting other people who are into food. Who’s not into food in New York?! I’m sure there will be a lot of iPhones out, shooting Instagrams and Vines and all that.
NEXT UP! The scoop from West Village resto savant Gabe Stulman of Perla (…and Fedora, Jeffrey’s Grocery, Chez Sardine, Joseph Leonard, and Montmartre)
Firstly, who’s Perla?
My grandmother—my mother’s mother.
Why are you in the Grub Crawl mix?
Because Bon Appetit invited us! Why they invited us is a question they’re better suited to answer. We said yes is because we love the magazine. I’m a big fan of Bon Appetit as a piece of literature, and I’m a big fan of the people I’ve met that work there, and we appreciate the support they’ve shown to our restaurants over the years.
How are you prepping for the big day?
It’s not a normal night, like what happens the other 360 days a year, where we open the doors, you enter, we have menus, and we serve you dinner. It’ll have more of a party atmosphere. We’re also doing something called “Little Sous Chef” on Sunday—a cooking class for kids—that’s part of the collaboration with Bon Appetit, though it’s separate from the Grub Crawl. It’s a busy weekend!
Who picked out the Crawl’s menu?
It was in the hands of our chef at Perla, Michael Toscano; our director of operations and partner, Matt Kebbekus; and Bon Appetit. I trust explicitly what Mike wants to cook. He’s been making me happy with his food for years now so I don’t think it’s my place to get involved in dishes!
Why do you think the mag chose Perla over your (many!) other eateries?
The physical space is most conducive; there’s a practical reason. Joseph Leonard or Chez Sardine can’t hold that many people, for example. Perla’s Italian slant fits, by offering a offering a different taste than the other restaurants. Also, Mike has gotten a lot of praise for his food, and Perla, out of all of our restaurants, is one of the newer ones that’s gotten a lot of praise.
Which of your restaurants do you spend the most time in nowadays?
I’m currently spending a lot of time at Montmartre. It is the newest—and we’re a week away from opening our garden. We don’t have an outdoor space at any of our restaurants, and Montmartre’s garden is actually going to be quite the big deal. We have a bar in our garden, which is very uncommon. There are around 35 seats outside, plus an eight-foot bar. That’s bigger than Joseph Leonard, Chez Sardine, and Jeffery’s Grocery! The garden almost feels like a whole other restaurant; I’m beyond thrilled about it.
If you can’t pick a single fave on the many menus, what would a crawl of your restos taste like?
I’d start at Jeffery’s Grocery with the raw bar, go to Joseph Leonard and have duck rillette, move from there to Chez Sardine for sushi, then have pasta at Perla, next up, I’d go to Montmartre for steak and moules frites, and close out with dessert and cocktails Fedora and close out with dessert and cocktails.
The Grub Crawl is kind of like a tailgate or progressive…with more food than booze. Any great tailgating memories?
Any tailgates are from my college years and I don’t think there was any sophistication there. Those memories would not be sober!
PLUS! Discussing libations with dashing mixology master Joe Campanale, beverage director and co-owner at Anfora (…as well as L’Artusi, dell’anima, and L’Artusi)
What got you involved with the Crawl?
We have a good relationship with Bon Appetit and I’m a big fan of the magazine. When they asked us it was kind of a no-brainer! They’re bringing all these great people by, and it lets us do something fun and unique in the afternoon—a a time that we’re generally not open, anyway.
So what’s on the docket at Anfora?
We’re going to have a blind wine tasting station, with guidance from me or one of our staffers. I went to Greece last year and since I got back I’ve been a big fan of Greek wines, so we’ll have a station with Greek wines. And, since it’s a big, fun, festive afternoon: what’s more festive than sparkling wines? We’ll also have one of our signature cocktails, the Niko.
Any tips for successful daytime drinking?
I always go by what the Italians do. When you learn to drink, people always say to make sure you have water—in Italy they make sure they always have food, too. As long as you’re eating while you’re drinking I think you’ll be OK!
Besides vino, what do you usually tipple on?
At the end of a shift, I really love a beer. There’s a brewery up in Massachusetts called Pretty Things, and they have this this funhouse style Belgian beer that is so beautiful!
What’s exciting in the drinks realm as of late?
I love that people are making their own tonics and vermouths! People are using better quality ingredients in the well nowadays, too. I really like that trend.
Could the Crawl be a way to test out being open in the afternoons?
Potentially! We’re open really late, so it’s also just a scheduling thing. If enough people say they love Anfora during the day, that might be something to look at.
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