Wednesday, May 26, 2010
BK v. the island
Whadda ya know... I was just at Prime Meats last night and we celebrated their review. Then I saw this post on eater . Really interesting and something my friends and I are always talking about. I used to live in BK on south oxford and atlantic right by Harlem Cake Man. Even though I was shit out of luck, broke as hell, it was the best time I had in NY. I lived there when we opened baohaus and all my homies are still out there. I really didn't want to move but I had to since closing Baohaus at around 3am and commuting back on friday/saturday was killing me.
Obviously, you have more choices in Manhattan, but there's more of a scene, it's more industry, and the expectations are weird. For instance, people feel entitled to your food, they have a customer is always right attitude... In Brooklyn, you fuck around at cake man and you will definitely get snuffed. The vibe is just a BK thing and why does manhattan care? You got your high-rises, your hotels, your 5-star chefs, let BK run that independent fuck the establishment culture and put up a few banners for it. Why you gotta win everything Manhattan? I just never understood people like that. So what if you think Prime Meats got an extra half star? Does someone else doing well really upset your universe? Prime Meats is dope. Give em fuckin 3 stars.
Look, I got restaurants in Manhattan. But if someone wants to set up shop in BK with taiwanese food, I'll support that shit. There is more than enough stinky tofu to go around. Just don't jack my names and copy my concept like Chairman Bao Truck. Be original. I think there is a tendency to pull for your neighborhood, brooklyn, the underdog so to speak, the more mom and pop places and I think that's fair. Its a lot harder for independent owners like myself and I do like it when someone comes out of the blue and sets up shop with something dope. Food is emotional so why wouldn't the reviews be? The story is part of the experience. To try and separate the food from the experience destroys the art of restaurants. Its the service industry. Its THEATRE. Why else would we have an open kitchen? Photos on the wall, music, etc. Anyone who thinks its JUST about the food is wrong. Even eating at night markets or trucks, you may think that there's no theatre to it or ambience, but there's EVEN MORE! Its just different. I hate the term high-end or low-end or even the star system. There are plenty of restaurants with no stars I'd rather eat at.
Now, on the other side, I do see how going to Brooklyn has become chic-chic and a corny gimmick. Just like last week where I didn't like the commodification of food trucks in SF, I don't like people in Manhattan going to Willy-B as a gimmick. That's the one part I do agree with the comment in the eater article:
"And yes, I believe MOST Manhattan restaurants are put together by a bunch of idiot consultants trying to capture the market. Pulino's, Breslin are but a few examples. They're for the Sex in the City crowd, not serious foodies."
YES! There are too many restaurants being put together by idiot consultants. Its become gimmicky to go BK. Brooklyn is a breeding ground that I think is best left for innovation and the new cats comin up. If you're established, you can do manhattan, leave brooklyn to brooklyn. Other people do brooklyn cause they HAVE TO. There's less barrier to entry and a lot more freedom to innovate in BK. I won't even say "standard" of service because service in BK is just different. Its not better, its not worse, its fuckin brooklyn. But yes, it does seem gimmicky when someone who's killed it in manhattan wants to go all Willy-B and set up a super restaurant. Yet, on the other hand, I even want to go set up shop back in ft. greene cause I loved the neighborhood. Its a tough call. I think I've made the mistake MANY times before assuming I know people's intentions. I don't want to do it again here because I see both sides. I can see where it seems gimmicky, but if you live in BK, you know. Mother fuckers just fallin love with that bitch.... Ask Andy Roddick.
P.S. To the hater above.... not that these people even need me to speak up for them, but.... Leave the Breslin alone! I can see why you would hate the scene at the Ace Hotel, but there's nothing wrong with the restaurant. The Breslin/Spotted Pig crew was at Prime Meats last night too. Great people and geniuses to boot. When I travel, the #1 restaurant that I see being ripped off is the Spotted Pig. Hands down. Everyone thinks they are original now opening gastropubs out in Cali or any other urban sprawl hell hole and April's the one that blew it up. Don't front on that group. Even her story about how she wanted to be a cop and became a cook is cool.