Tuesday, October 16, 2007

hungry, so very hungry, at Irving Mill

October 16

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.


LowerEatSide said...

Ha! I felt exactly the same way. What I finally had for dinner:

2 arepas from Caracas.

Thug Theories said...

Bret Thorn you may want to find a new job if what you are truely looking for is a free dinner. These parties are literally for people to SEE the restaurant. They are not a food show, or some miniature version of Iron Chef where amatures like yourself can come and critique the food three seconds after they have WELCOMED you into what is ultimately all they have to show for their blood sweat and tears from the past 6 months. What would happen if you by chance got a new apt and wanted to show your friends what you did with it, and all they did is bitch about how appauling it is that you weren't serving enough food for the event, instead of complimenting you for excellent taste and all the effort you put into your new place. Next time try and be more grateful for the sneak preview and the COMPLIMENTARY prosecco you spoiled twit!

Anonymous said...

You're an idiot. Bret Thorn is the ultimate restaurant world pro. Go back to cleaning grease traps, you jerk!

Sneak previews for the media are not a gift warmly given. They're a business decision, meant to raise awareness among food writers. Bret is totally right in saying that there should have been more food.

Anonymous said...

anitblogger... you are talking out of your ass. Why do you think restaurants throw these parties for media? It's not just to show the space, the food is important too.

If you open a restaurant and that's the way you have a preview for press, then you are being an idiot and wasting money. People do want to know something about the food too, not just how the place looks.

Bret Thorn said...

Now now, there's no need to start name-calling. I appreciate your watching my back, mugg mellish and ggg, and I hope you enjoyed your arepas, lowereastside. Although it does seem to me that a restaurant would benefit from showing off its food at an opening party, I have never opened a restaurant, so I don't really know.
I'm sorry for offending you, antiblogger, but as for gratitude, didn't I say it was a great party?
I admit to being spoiled -- really that's a major theme of this blog, isn't it? But a twit? That hurts.

Anonymous said...

There's an old internet adage for this discussion: Don't feed the trolls. Even better, turn on moderation for comments.

In any case, thanks for the fun food trends reporting, Bret!

- Anonymous Coward

Lex said...

I'd like to note for the record that it's a testament to the class of Bret's readership that no-one has asked what Ben Bratt ate.

I also wonder how writers are supposed to tell their readers what a restaurant is like without tasting food. I guess there are people out there who make a dining decision just based on the "space"?? Would a chef really want those customers? People who come for the food are fickle enough...