Archive for June, 2013

PUB 1842 Opens: Optimism Is a Fool’s… something.

Oh yes my dears, a pub has opened, and with it comes it’s selection of lazy burgers, cutesy little “reimagined” things, a primarily Sam Adams and Blue Moon “craft” list and OH WAIT that’s not this place at all.  No, I’m thinking about half the other pub-concepts out there that think they can just strip the hokey Irish Disneyland nonsense from your generic Irish Pub stamped into every walking mall, and you can call it a Gastro-Pub to justify the $30 nachos.  That would be inaccurate.  This place is more… Take Public House (the real one, with the Cicerone), shake the front end of Comme Ca liberally over it, and inject some pretty impressive talent into the menu.




The more I heard about this place, the more my stony wall of cynicism was chipped away.  “A burger with peanut butter on it?”, I asked myself, “Pish-Posh!  That kitschy jive won’t bend my ear!”  I forgot to mention I talk to myself like an old Land Baron.  But of the few mini-versions of things I tried, I was so surprised that I dropped my monocle.  I won’t speak much to the food because even the curmudgeonly of critics know these practice bites just aren’t an indicator of future quality.  So what I’ll say is that this light balance of spice, salt, and sweet does what a city full of onion-jams and garlic aolis WISHES they could do.

Now, cocktails.  I’m pretty clued into the cocktail scene, at least enough that I know a name like “Carlo Splendorini” is one that puts out either great cocktails or a so-so acrobat troupe.  For example, the Nacho Libre is a mix of Epsolon Blanco, ruby port, lime, agave, and ginger beer.  The corporate head of mixology is definitely putting a stamp on what will be a definitely cocktail-heavy experience.

Like I said, this is just a preview, so I’ll save the tastebud-tickling alliteration for when I (or likely, Mr. Curtas) gives a thorough shake-down of the joint.  I’ll leave you with this: their raw bar had a lobster tail the size of a shrimp (a step up from “not at all”, at least), but a crab leg the size of a can of frigging Red Bull.  Seriously, I felt I should start cutting slices and passing them around.  I could have made a pretty serious crab salad foot-long po’ boy.  This crab leg was like a carnival novelty jumbo cigar.  It was a really big crab leg is what I’m getting at here, sorry for being so obtuse.

Oh yeah and here’s me giving the thumbs up because Micheal Mina sprayed a bunch of journalists with Prosecco at an event I attended, and it was hilarious.  Same day Robuchon rustled my jimmies, that was a funny day.

Your pal,

Mitchell Wilburn

CIRCO to Close In 1 year: Don’t Cry for Me, Semolina

Despite my terrific pun in the title, this is sad sad news for lovers of was was basically the Earth 2 version of Le Cirque.  In my eyes, it could have been the same restaurant with a big “I Love Lucy” line painted down the middle separating the French from the Italian, with a little Swiss host stand in the middle.

The story officially broke by our very own lovechild of Walter Cronkite and and Gene Shalit, in perhaps the most zeitgeist-y way you can, via Facebook Status Update.  While the ability so spur a veritable whirlwind of flying rumors is enviable, I can confirm with John that it is the Lord’s truth:  We’re losing a good one.  The reasoning, still quite murky.  The murk may go deep, even to the thick black oil that pumps through a casino exec’s cold, unbeating heart.


Pictured, the person who marshals your dining choices.


Because I am not one to save my mourning until the last minute, and because I have always felt Circo to be one of the most woefully under-appreciated of the fine dining sect, I took in some of the new things to be had.  I’ll do it in few words, because we’re not all H.L Mencken over here.  Consider it Exhibit A through C on why you should make up the rest of your lifetime’s worth of Circo in the next year.

Their octopus salad has the hipster-cred of being done before everyone and their danged knuckle tattoos started tossing whatever cephalopod they could onto the grill.  After what  must be a downright Swedish tenderizing, these little tentacles are about as tender as a king crab leg and go perfectly with a simple pancetta and garbanzo salad and topped with shaved “bottarga”, the cured whole caviar-sac of a Grey Mullet.


Now you just KNOW I don’t like the term “comfort food”.  It’s an odd idea, like food is supposed to make me uncomfortable unless it’s some fried junk crusted in a breakfast cereal.  The “Salmone e Caviale” however, fits the bill of being very physically gratifying as well as mentally stimulating.  The smoked salmon and marscapone cream makes a kind of “carbonara” experience, while the paddlefish caviar stands out with bursts of that delicious salty goodness.

Submitted for your approval like Rod friggin Serling was your waiter, a citrus cured, smoked swordfish carpaccio.  With technical bravado in removing the less desirable qualities of the massive fish and complimenting the meaty flesh, it is served with a stunning and complexly layered bite of shaved fennel, watermelon radish, vodka cream, and caviar dressing.  Swordfish has always come off as sort of a showy, pushy thing people grill up as steaks, but Chef Micheal Vitangeli dresses up this cockney street urchin into a real Pygmalion.

Chef Michael has never disappointed as an Executive Chef, and clearly hasn’t disappointed in any position since working his way from prep.  Did you note a theme up there?  This guy has more chops in his aquatic fare than some entire seafood-centric restaurants have in their entire menu, and he gets can drop such a problem ingredient like caviar into it like it comes naturally!  He gets a Blingee.

If we’re seeing this caliber of food close a restaurant, burger concepts being foisted upon us in place of possibly game-changing charcuterie places, I only wonder what the future will bring…





Your pal,