Thursday, June 01, 2006

Restaurants and their previous names, and fugu

May 31

Brasserie Ruhlmann has a new chef, and it threw a party to celebrate. Laurent Tourondel now is in charge of the kitchen there as well as at his three BLT (Bistro Laurent Tourondel) restaurants (listed in the order they opened): BLT Steak (at the space that housed, over the past decade, Le Chantilly, Restaurant David Ruggerio, Sono and Pazo), BLT Fish (which was AZ) and BLT Prime (where Union Pacific once stood).
Brasserie Ruhlmann opened, for breakfast at least, at the end of January, when Georges Masraff, formerly of Tavern on the Green, was in charge of the kitchen. Laurent Tourondel's involvement in the place was announced in April.
It was a crowded but convivial party, with many of my favorite food-scene people in attendance. I spent the first half hour or so trying to remember the name of the restaurant that occupied the space previously. It was a Provençal-Tuscan restaurant that was a joint venture among celebrated French chef Roger Vergé Roberto Ruggeri's Bice Restaurant Group, and Italian fast-food chain Sbarro. It was a cheery place with bright yellows and blues, but despite its choice location, just north of the Rockefeller Center skating rink, it failed to thrive. It opened in late 2001, which of course was bad timing, and limped along for a while before shutting its doors. The space remained vacant until Brasserie Ruhlmann opened this year, according to a guy I talked to at the party who's involved in operations of Rockefeller Center. He also was nice enough to remind me of the former restaurant's name: Medi.
I also ran into my friends Shigeko Fuke and Miguel Cardona. Somehow the subject of fugu, Japanese blowfish, came up. Fugu's famous for being potentially poisonous if not prepared properly. I've never had it, but I'd love to give it a try. Shigeko said a Japanese company was trying to find export markets for pre-prepared, pre-sliced fugu that already has been sliced properly to remove the poisonous bits.
So it was a fun party, but, it being my first post-Memorial Day party, I was wearing an off-white sport coat and felt disinclined to battle crowds and risk spilling things on it, so after Champagne and a few nibbles, I left and contemplated dinner as I wandered to the subway.
I had long known that Carnegie Deli was very close to a Q train station, but for some reason — its iconic status, maybe — I had never thought of it as a dinner option until tonight. I got a corned-beef sandwich on rye and had half of it for dinner, which was a very big dinner. The rest will make for a fine lunch, maybe two.

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