Buvette: Chicken, Au Courant

It is never easy to lose something you love.

For me, this moment in New York restaurants occurred in late 2009, when the storied Pink Teacup, a soul food spot that had drawn celebrities ranging from Whoopi Goldberg to Mick Jagger (and had the autographed photos plastered on its walls to prove it) suddenly shuttered after 55 years. For years, this sleepy rose-hued cubby hole along slender Grove Street in the West Village was my go-to place on many a weeknight and lazy Sunday afternoon. Strawberry pancakes, smothered pork chops and — in my opinion — the best fried chicken in New York, the Pink Teacup had it all. Astronomical property taxes and rising food costs ultimately sealed its fate, however. (The restaurant has since reopened in a different spot but the scene — massive, clubby and loud — is different and sadly, so is the fried chicken.)

Just over a year later, a new restaurant has shoehorned its way into the old Pink Teacup’s sliver of a space, however, and it could not be more different. Billed as a “gastroteque,” Buvette, by chef Jody Williams (formerly of Morandi and Gottino), is a lot of things its predecessor was not. Packed with a crowd that looks as if it would be completely at home on the set of “Gossip Girl,” the place is French, constantly burbling with loud chatter, downtown chic and anything but homey and comforting.

When chef Simpson suggested we check it out, I was instantly dismissive. Surely, I couldn’t possibly like my old sweetheart’s replacement. Why waste my time?

Curiosity is a powerful thing, however. And soon enough, I found myself reluctantly sliding into a seat at Buvette’s jammed bar …

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English Muffins: This Story Will Bore You


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Like bagels, English muffins had always been in the category I call “So easy to buy — why bother making them?”

But for the Bread Baker’s Apprentice challenge, I’d already tackled some key standards — challah, cinnamon buns, brioche. So I figured, what’s one more?

And besides, it turned out, making English muffins is easy — so incredibly easy, in fact, that nothing eventful happened.

As I whizzed through the steps, I began to wonder if I should have blindfolded myself or tied one hand behind my back while making them, just to have something fascinating to say about baking English muffins. Oh, the trials that could have happened! The tribulations! The smell of burnt cornmeal filling my apartment again!

Alas, none of that occurred.

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A Mouth Full of Booger


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Slowly and carefully, Greg and I chewed, on the verge of both laughter and disgust as we tried to put a name to what it was we were tasting.

“It’s like a bad taco,” Greg said.

“Tequila or margaritas — regurgitated,” I said, thinking suddenly of a college night long, long ago.

It was actually vomit that we were sampling — vomit-flavored jelly beans, to be precise.

When we had passed a display of rather unappetizing-sounding new Jelly Belly flavors at the Fancy Food Show in New York City, we had known it was a silly gimmick but hadn’t been able to resist. And so we spent some unpleasant minutes with mouths full of centipede (which tasted like grass and earth), skunk spray (as billed) and canned dog food (think Chef Boyardee). (Canned dog food and centipede are new this year.)

Drawing the line at Baby Wipes, we decided to walk away while our tastebuds were still intact.

“I still taste Booger in my mouth,” Greg whispered as we slunk away.

Well, somewhat intact, I suppose.

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