I like Hall Company parties. The publicists always manage to get a fun crowd and they keep everyone well liquored.
But they don’t feed them.
You’d think if you managed to draw a nice group of influential media types into a restaurant, understanding that it might be the only time they’ll set foot in the place, you would want them to sample the food.
Now, any self-respecting food writer understands that you can’t judge a restaurant by the food it serves at its opening party, but you can at least get a vague idea of what the place is all about.
But only food writers with the greedy, grasping hands of travel writers would have gotten much to eat last night, at the opening party of Irving Mill.
More than one person at the party asked me what I thought about the space, which until recently was the restaurant Candela.
I shrugged. I don’t know from space. It seemed fine. There was lots of freshly stained wood, and, you know, tables and chairs. A bar. I don’t know, and if I did I wouldn't have the words to describe the design features. Hanging from the ceiling were these round lamp things that I don't think were chandeliers. “Wagon wheels?” someone suggested. It might have been Josh Ozersky, but I can’t really remember because I was drinking Prosecco without eating.
My colleague, Sonya Moore came, too, and I introduced her around to some people, including Katy Sparks, a chef-consultant who was there with a new business partner. We took a tour of Irving Mill’s private space and chatted with executive pastry chef Colleen Grapes.
Executive chef John Schaefer was popping in and out of the dining room, going back into the kitchen clearly to cook something. He seemed really nice. I can’t tell you anything about his food except that he has been cooking at Gramercy Tavern for the past dozen years.
So there was no food, but it was a great crowd, with an unusually large number of celebrities. Benjamin Bratt was there for practically the whole night. He got there shortly after I did and was still there when I left, chatting with John Leguizamo and that actor who played the scary Irish-American prisoner in Oz. You know, the one with the brain-damaged brother. He also played a cop on Homicide: Life on the Street, but only very briefly, until his character murdered his ex-girlfriend or something like that. You know the guy.
I looked it up: Dean Winters.
Tom Colicchio was there, too, clearly to support his young protégé. People were commenting on how much thinner the Top Chef head judge looked in real life. I figured that was because cameras add 15 pounds, but I mentioned it to Tom and he said that he had, in fact, lost 15 pounds recently because he had been cooking on the line at his new Los Angeles unit of Craft.
So I guess if you’re chef, being on TV really does add 15 pounds.
What I finally had for dinner:
A barbacoa fajita burrito from Chipotle with red tomatillo salsa.