Saravanaa Bhavan & Joe’s Shanghai

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I have the good fortune to be friends with a guy named Dan Fortune, a DJ with an incredible knack for hunting down obscure tracks–mostly show tune oriented–performed by unexpected artists (Stevie Wonder singing “Hello Young Lovers” from “The King & I,” Nina Simone singing a medley of songs from “Hair,” James Brown singing “September Song.”) Dan’s talent for weaving these songs together into a cogent stream of music has won him a large New York following; and because of that following, Dan often gets asked to DJ celebrity events. And, being his friend, he’s now invited me to two: one was Chris March’s book party (remember Chris March from “Project Runway”?) and the other, more recent event was Michael Musto’s party celebrating 25 years at The Village Voice.

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Brunch at The Breslin

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April Bloomfield–the chef of The Spotted Pig, the late John Dory and now The Breslin–cooks bold food. That’s what everyone loves about her; her food is never, ever boring. It’s the metaphysical opposite of the boiled peas and carrots you remember from your middle school cafeteria. Her peas and carrots, if she ran a middle school cafeteria, would be browned and salted and spiced and acidified. Kids would be so energized by them they’d stop beating each other up, earn straight As and all go on to win Noble Peace Prizes. That’s the power of food cooked by April Bloomfield.

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Café Sabarsky, Company (Pizza) & Billy’s Bakery

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I don’t have a fast answer to the question “what’s your favorite restaurant?” (it’s a tie, at this point, between Blue Hill Stone Barns & Prune) but I do have an immediate suggestion when someone is coming to New York for the first time and wants to know where to go: “Cafe Sabarasky,” I almost always say. “It’s one of my favorite places in the city.”

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Omakase at Sushi Yasuda

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Craig’s birthday has always been an excellent excuse to splurge at a high-end restaurant, the kind of place I couldn’t justify going to the rest of the year. Usually I pick a place that piques my curiosity, or a place I’ve been dying to try for a long time. Last year we visited Momofuku Ko, the year before–and it was quite a year–Per Se and, the year before that, Blue Hill.

This year, it finally occurred to me: all this time, I’d been choosing places I really wanted to go to without really factoring Craig into the equation. Sure, he loves food and loved all these meals, but would he have picked these places himself? Probably not (reading over my shoulder, he says: “I would’ve picked Blue Hill.”) Regardless, there’s one kind of food that Craig absolutely loves and that I just enjoy which, if this birthday was going to be about him, I would have to pursue: that food is sushi.

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Marea

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It’s rare to find a restaurant that strikes a perfect balance between sophisticated grandeur and homey comfort, but Marea is such a restaurant. It’s the newest restaurant from Chef Michael White, whose other restaurants–Convivio and Alto–are justifiably revered for their highbrow Italian food. I’ve been to Alto, and liked it ok, but there was something a little fussy about it. Not so, Marea. The food at Marea is robust and deeply flavorful, as comforting as any Italian food you’ve made at home, but far more accomplished and enjoyable.

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Dinner at Whole Foods

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I met my grandparents for dinner last night at the Whole Foods in the Time Warner Center. My grandparents are here in the city for the next week, and choosing a place to eat can be a bit tricky. Once I took my grandmother to The City Bakery for lunch, and when she saw the price tag–$13 a pound for the salad bar–she nearly fainted. But my grandmother does like salad bars, as does my grandfather–it affords them choices and control–and so a good option for them both is Whole Foods.

They’d been to this Whole Foods before. Last time they visited New York, they stayed in my Chelsea apartment (I used to live in Chelsea) and took the bus up there on a regular basis. So that’s why Whole Foods in the Time Warner Center was the perfect place to meet them, last night, for dinner.

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The Pó Panini

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Pó isn’t a restaurant that I frequent, but it’s a restaurant that I should frequent more. After all, this is where Mario Batali got his start, and however much distance now exists between him and this restaurant, every time I eat here I’m reminded of all the things I loved about Mario when he first came on the scene: his exuberance, his intelligence, and, mostly, his bold way with food.

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Porchetta

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My Twitter followers are a fervent bunch. A few weeks ago, I mentioned that I was in the East Village, getting a haircut at Sei Tomoko (the best haircut deal in town), and thinking of going to Porchetta for lunch. “Ooooh!” they cheered, “you’ve gotta go!” “I’m jealous!” “Porchetta is AMAZING.” Then, later, when I confessed that I skipped Porchetta for Hummus Place–where I had a lighter, healthier lunch–the Twitter crowd was not happy. “Boooo!” they booed. “Grrrr!” they growled. “Hiss!” they hissed. (Wow, this post sounds like a children’s book.) I thought they’d unfollow me and spurn my name forever, but now they should be appeased: I went with Diana to Porchetta for lunch last week and now I get what got them so worked up.

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