• The Spotted Pig sells an estimated $1.2 million worth of cheeseburgers a year, making it NYC's top-grossing dish. Balthazar's steak frites is No. 2. [GS]
• Frank Bruni doesn't have too many good things to say about the food at Monkey Bar in his one-star review today, not surprisingly. Graydon Carter's "social pulpit," Monkey Bar merely "affirm[s] his ordination as the high priest of a certain fame-focused, power-obsessed sect of Manhattan society." [NYT]
• Related: Illustrator Edward Sorel talks about his Monkey Bar murals. [Zagat]
• Other reviews today: Danyelle Freeman gives three out of five stars to DBGB; Time Out's Jay Cheshes hands over four out of six to Marea; and Alan Richman makes the case that Bruni should make Marea the Times' first four-star Italian restaurant before he steps down next month. [NYDN, TONY, GQ]
• Chodorow is denying that he ever considered reuniting with DiSpirito. [TFB]
• 7-Eleven says it plans to open 44 new stores in NYC this year. Ugh. [NYT]
• State tax agents shut down H&H on the UWS for three hours today over an outstanding tax bill, but it's now back in business. [NYT]
• Zoë in Soho has filed for bankruptcy protection. [Crain's]
• Sad: A roundup of recent closings around town. [Eater]
• Happy: A roundup of places opening in the Hamptons this weekend. [Curbed]
• David Burke's Fishtail and the Oak Room come up short in this week's New York: Adam Platt calls the former "decent," while the latter goes away with no stars and is described as "overpriced," "outdated" and "oppressive." [NYM]
• There's a new chef at the meatpacking district's 5 Ninth. [TFB]
• Karen and David Waltuck's Chanterelle is offering an à la carte menu. [TONY]
• Balthazar's bathroom attendants are back, thank goodness. [GS]
• A report from Above Allen, the new lounge at the Thompson LES. [DBTH]
• Mark Birnbaum and Eugene Remm have tapped former Sheridan Square chef Franklin Becker to run the kitchen at Abe and Arthur's. [TFB]
• A tour of the White House kitchen, courtesy of Michelle Obama. [NYT]
• Tom Colicchio starred in a Coke commercial during last night's Oscars. [GS]
God, Ben Widdicombe—could you be any more obvious in that "blind item" in today's Daily News? Um: "Which inexplicable media star (blame www.Gawker.com for that) likes to boast that she let a certain handsome men's magazine editor, who is also much in the gossip columns, get to third base during a dinner at [downtown eatery] Balthazar?"
Balthazar has this seasonal bread thing called Stollen, a Dresden specialty. It has fruit and nuts and is coated entirely in sugar. It might be the most delicious thing to emerge from Balthazar's kitchen since the first banana nut donut burst forth years ago and certainly the best thing to happen to Dresden ever. It costs $12. Go. Update: I just finished the 2kg loaf in around 10 minutes and now feel really really sick. Related: Nigel Slater has an exceptional recipe for Stollen in the Guardian from the other week! Make it yourself and see!
Last time we checked in with the Banana Walnut donut at Balthazar, we cast on it an appreciative, almost saccharine, glaze. "Even if you're not a fan of donuts in general, you will be won over by the Balthazar banana variety," we claimed. But times have changed. FOR THE WORSE. When we sauntered up to Balthazar's marble counter this morning, the Banana Walnut donuts seemed somehow sadder and definitely smaller than before. In fact, they're tiny. Using the only measuring stick we have in the office (a Winston Light), you'll see they are laughably Lilliputian—and for $1.50, probably the most expensive bite you'll eat all day. The good news is that there are presumably fewer calories per donut.
Spotted! Harper's magazine editor Roger Hodge ordering an iced coffee. He was holding a small Barney's COOP bag and was incredibly attractive. Says Mr. Hodge: "Gawker hasn't taken any potshots at Harper's recently. I'm beginning to feel neglected." Don't. Any number of women on our editorial staff and all the men would love to take care of you, handsome latte-drinking cowboy! [Ed. Note: Except Choire, who totally thinks you're a moron who doesn't know how to admit when he's wrong! Oh and say hi to Celia Farber!]
A citizen journalist noted this duo in action: "Jake Gyllenhall and Mario Batali having breakfast together at Balthazar, one much cuter than the other! " Now what Batali is doing at a rival's restaurant, out in the open, is a mystery. And what he's doing with Jake Gyllenhaal, the Jean Paul Belmondo of our generation, is equally mind-fuzzying. Maybe he heard Jake's sister likes to pose topless or maybe we have a Jake + Mario restaurant in the offing. Brokeback Poutine anyone?
Last night marked not only the 10th anniversary of Balthazar but the opening of FR.OG, a French fusion a few doors down from the birthday boy. Clearly, FR.OG's Didier Virot was sending a message to the ancien r gime. But must McNally fear that his French dominion is threatened? After an opening night visit, we'll have to go with mais non!
It's Balthazar's birthday today and like the good friend we are, we dropped by. Well, like an acquaintance, really, we crashed the party, assured that our presence would be much appreciated. To celebrate his baby turning 10, Kieth McNally is giving away free champagne. a fact that all but ensured that the place would be fully booked through the day into the night and stuffed with tipsy giddy diners.
A summit of angry internet types took place last night; it may have ended in a lasting peace. Not since Yalta have three leaders as large as Lockhart Steele (who is at least technically our boss) and Ben Leventhal from Eater and Abbe Diaz, the Koreshian mercurial leader of PXthis (the forum-land for nightlife, hospitality, and seedy underbellyness) been in the same place at the same time. Diaz, who bears a grudge against Gawker ranking somewhere between Mayweather v. De La Hoya and Red Sox v. Yankees, met the two for a late dinner at Balthazar. Later she triumphantly reported on the evening to her minions.
Our inbox here is constantly inundated with press releases announcing such groundbreaking news as a Bulgarian legend going on tour or an interview with some dude from Maroon 5 on Sirius. That is to say, each day we lose our love for life a little more. But some days—one or two a year, if you're lucky— there's a little gem that lodges itself there that makes the other 12,000 Cialis emails worth it. Here's one for the ages. "To celebrate the success of the past 10 years, Balthazar will be offering diners lots of complimentary Champagne." Yes, c'est vrai. On April 23rd, Keith McNally is giving away more flutes of Champagne than Marie Antoinette ever did.
Nevermind the jackets or the parapluies, notice anything different about the exterior to Balthazar, the most important dining establishment of our time? That's right, no canvas vestibule. Cue the Vivaldi. Ready Jesus for his resurrection. The spring, man, has cometh. No longer will one have to fling open those annoyingly flimsy canvas-and-plastic doors. No longer will one struggle fruitlessly with the physics of two doors opening into each other. Away with tarrying in the cold confusing antechamber! Spring has sprung. We are all free now!