Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The non-open opening

December 19

You must keep your eyes peeled as you walk down West 77th Street, west of Columbus Avenue, on the north side of the street, to spot Dovetail, the new restaurant of chef John Fraser (age: 31; favorite color: green). The entrance is easy to miss.
That might change once the restaurant is actually open. That was slated to happen last weekend, but you know how that goes. They’re still working on some gas issues — John says that at the moment they don’t have enough gas to both run the kitchen and heat the dining room, but they’re getting there.
The sherry cave isn’t set up yet, either.
But the opening party happened as scheduled, so there I was last night, sampling hors d'oeuvres of fish roe and cubed vodka gelée on spoons, of skewered duck, of little cucumber sandwiches to be served during afternoon tea service, of tiny puff pastry filled with truffled scrambled eggs.
There was plenty of heat, so I guess the kitchen wasn’t operating at full power.
John is a big fan of both sherry and tea, and so they have prominent roles in the restaurant.
I brought my friend Yishane Lee with me to the party. It was her first night out without a baby strapped to her body in five-and-a-half weeks, since her daughter Tashi Ming Lee-Garcia was born. Click here to learn a lot about Tashi and her family and their friends, and to see many pictures.
Yishane found it extremely amusing and interesting that Dovetail’s tea supplier is owned by a former boyfriend of hers. It’s not that interesting — he supplies many fine dining restaurants — but I suppose it is kind of interesting. And it’s very good tea.
It was a good party, too. Yishane and I were among the first to arrive, and John gave us a tour of the basement, where the kitchen and sherry cave are. Then I caught up with Chris and Catherine Matthews, a handsome, charming couple — he writes about wine and spirits, she about food. Thrillist’s David Blend was there, chatting with Jesse Gerstein, a publicist who worked with John when he was the chef at Snack Taverna some years ago. He also worked with John’s current publicist, Aurora Kessler, when she was at Baltz & Co., where Jesse still works to this day.
Penny and Peter Glazier, owners of Monkey Bar, Michael Jordan’s The Steakhouse, the country's various Strip House restaurants and other things, also were there. Penny says she doesn’t often go to restaurant openings, because she wants to give the restaurateurs space to spend time with the press. That’s nice of her.
The Glaziers gave me good information for some stories I’m working on. Pity that I didn’t have a pen, but I’ll give them a call.
Erica Duecy, formerly of Nation’s Restaurant News and now of Fodor’s, was there, too, and, because I asked, she updated us on her husband and his brothers, the Pandolfi boys. Husband Jono is working for a design company. Banjo playing brother Chris is doing well, too. His band, The Infamous Stringdusters, won all sorts of awards this year.
Littlest brother Nick has had his internship at Food & Wine extended, which is great news. That magazine’s Nick Fauchald was at the party, too, although I didn’t catch up with him until we were leaving. He expressed fondness for young Nick Pandolfi, which is always nice.

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