Hola amigos, I know it’s been a while since I rapped at you, but I got involved in some non-food writing. But it’s been a while since I updated you on my quest for the Eater 38, and I owe that much to you. When I left you last, Eater had dropped a bomb by totally redoing the rankings even though I was 6 meals away from having been to every restaurant on the list. But, in workmanlike fashion, I’ve made it back to being only 13 away from the Eater Slam. Here’s how
I’m torn on whether Benoit belongs on the Eater 38. On one hand, the food is not head and shoulders above the French bistro fare you can get elsewhere. It’s still pretty good; the cassoulet is fatty and earthy and soaked with gravy and the hangar steak is succulent (but its steak frites are pretty average). The rillettes and pied de cochon are good, though not earth-shattering like you would find at other venues specializing in offal. But what really sets Benoit apart is the atmosphere. It’s in Midtown, so it draws an inordinate share of out-of-towners, but these people are returning to CDG and not CHO. The waitstaff are the passive-aggressive Frenchmen you’d expect; doting when they take the time to notice you. And the restaurant itself looks like it was plunked down from Paris. It’s airier than most of the other bistros downtown where you barely have room to move. Maybe it’s not worth a spot on the Eater 38, but I can think of worse ways to spend an evening.
Back when I didn’t live in Brooklyn I needed an excuse to go to the borough for food, and one of the few people I knew who lived in Park Slope was my college girlfriend (GF0). Franny’s clam pie is one of the best pizzas I’ve had in the city, and it was even better having it while talking to someone who was a Manic Pixie Dream Girl before that was cool.
Anyway, that was it until the April re-working of the list, which knocked me down a peg by replacing I Sodi with Red Farm, as well as adding two new Queens entries in Danny Brown’s Whatever (I really don’t care about it and will wait for it to drop from the list) and Totilleria Nixtamal. But I soldiered on!
I wonder if politics comes into the decisions on including entries on this list. Like, this is a fine place for decent Italian food but it’s in the middle of nowhere (South Street Seaport, who goes there?) and has the ambiance of a hotel restaurant. Not, like, a New York hotel, but a Des Moines hotel. Whoever pushed to have this on the list is trying to make FiDi happen.
Kin Shop, on the other hand, most certainly belongs on the list. It’s got amazing food, decent prices, lots of Thai beer (underrated beer country in my opinion) and a killer ambiance. When you’re here, you KNOW you’re somewhere cool. Must be all the David Bowie that they play.
Red Farm is a hard table to get because it’s popular and there’s no reservations for small groups. So how did I eat here at 8 on a Saturday? Easy. A huge party had reserved the main table for 9, and when I showed up with GF5 at 8:00 they said we could eat there as long as we were out in an hour. We grabbed the chance and, friends, it lives up to the hype. The Pac Man dumplings alone are worth the wait, and the place itself has a mini-ABC Kitchen vibe.
Went here with GF5 for her birthday. Marea’s the priciest entry on this list, but if you’re not going to spend money on the finer things then what’s the point of having it? The crudo was transcendent, the bone marrow fusilli as good as advertised and the wine list will cripple your bank account. Word to the wise, girls really like bottles of wine on their birthdays. Don’t know what the fuck Vouvray is but that shit is expensive.