Summer is always a slow time for openings, with only three this month. A number of places closed or will close temporarily (or so we’ve been informed) and one scandalous closing has been in the news. Fortunately, a couple of ice cream pop-ups have opened for the summer, joining the growing list of established spots and making the West Village a great ice cream destination.
Kubeh (464 6th Avenue, near West 11th Street): Melanie Shurka, chef and co-owner of Kubeh (with her husband), was born into a family with Israeli and Persian roots and grew up eating kubeh, a type of Middle Eastern dumpling with a shell made of semolina, bulgur, or rice and a filling of meat or vegetables. Kubeh has a long geographic reach (covering Syria, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, Kurdistan, and more) and different names (it also goes by ‘kibbeh,’ ‘kubba,’and ‘kokeba,’). Finally, it can be fried, baked, or boiled. This restaurant, which occupies the former Charlie Mom space, focuses on the boiled variety, served in a broth. However, the night we visited there was also kibbeh, a fried version with a beef filling as a special. We tried a variety of kubeh (there are five to choose from and four broth options), and my favorite was the Syrian lamb which had lamb in the filling as well as ground into the shell. Melanie honed her kubeh-making skills during a stay in Israel and has added her own flourishes to the traditional preparations. The delicious, vegetable-focused appetizers and spreads are made for sharing and come with addictive warm pita. For dessert, unusual ice cream flavors include turkish coffee and saffron.
Pineapple Express (Chelsea Market, 75 9th Avenue): This new stand in Chelsea Market sells dairy-free soft serve, which customers have likened to Dole Whip.
Icelandic Fish & Chips (28 7th Avenue South, between Morton and Leroy Streets): The first New York City location of the original Iceland-based outfit has recently opened in the space that housed the short-lived vegan restaurant Clean Table. The menu comprises a selection of fresh fish flown in direct from Icelandic waters (fried in a spelt batter and offered unadorned on a lonely plate) in addition to sides ranging from fried potatoes to a variety of salads, and an impressive wine list. The space is unique and bright, with typical Nordic design features.
The last restaurant to close in the Croman-owned building at the corner of Christopher and Bedford Streets is Karahi Indian Cuisine (118 Christopher Street). It follows the closures of Lima’s Taste and Pho Sure. When I spoke to the owner months ago, he had been trying to get out of his lease but was having difficulty getting Croman to approve someone to take it over. The sad building’s only remaining commercial tenant is a nail salon. The West Village and all other locations of Bar Works (47 7th Avenue South, at Morton Street), the co-working space that offered both work areas and a bar, are closed after it was revealed that it was just a Ponzi scheme masterminded by Renwick Haddow, a British citizen who was already in trouble with the law in Britain for cheating investors there. For this reason, he hid his involvement in Bar Works, but it later came to light and he is now charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and federal prosecutors with stealing over $37 million from investors. A number of civil cases filed by the unhappy investors are pending as well. Haddow’s whereabouts are not known at this time. Finally, French Roast (78 West 11th Street, at 6th Avenue) abruptly closed on July 25th. A few months ago, they had revamped the menu and the space and extended the hours of operation. It is surprising that they are gone given that they usually looked pretty busy. They will certainly be missed by their many regulars.
99 Bank Street (99 Bank Street, between Greenwich and Hudson Streets): We had been receiving reports of an empty restaurant during mealtimes, and after walking by and peering in, it looked to me like the furniture was gone and the china packed up. A call to the restaurant confirmed that it was not open, and that the future was uncertain. This is the second blow to a building that was once the envy of all co-ops in the Village; the restaurant and Mrs. Green’s (in the front) paid so much in rent that the shareholders barely paid any maintenance. Gourmet Garage (117 7th Avenue South, between West 10th and Christopher Streets) is celebrating its 25th anniversary, and in August, will be closing for a few months while the landlord adds three floors to the building. Delivery will still be available during the closure. In WestView’s Drink Pink book review last month, we exhorted everyone to go to Piora (430 Hudson Street, between Leroy and Morton Streets) to meet the author and sommelier, Victoria James, and get some wine advice from her. Now, we learn that the chef at Piora left the restaurant to move to the West Coast, and that Piora will be closed during the summer. In the interim, you can still see Victoria James at the recently opened Cote (16 West 22nd Street, near 5th Avenue), a Korean steakhouse from the owner of Piora.
An eagle-eyed reader noticed a sign in the window of the old Recette space (328 West 12th Street, at Greenwich Street) that indicates that a branch of the Italian wine bar Bar Veloce hopes to open there. They are currently in the process of applying for a liquor license and recently held a “meet and greet” with neighbors. The little Marc Jacobs space (298 West 4th Street, at Bank Street) has signage indicating that Gorjana, a California-based jewelry store, will be the new tenant there. The Greenwich Gallery Frame Shop, which lost its least at 462 6th Avenue (near West 11th Street) and then moved to a location on 3rd Avenue, is coming back to the neighborhood. Construction is ongoing at 109 West 10th Street (between 6th and Greenwich Avenues) where Stolle operated for a short while.
The CVS in Sheridan Square, at 75 Christopher Street, has expanded into the space that was formerly occupied by Chai Lait. At the beginning of the year, we reported that Akashi (14 Christopher Street, at Gay Street), the omakase restaurant downstairs from Dominique Bistro was closed due to a fire after only three months in operation. Akashi was supposed to reopen after repairs were made, but instead, the space has finally re-opened as Omakase Room by Tatsu (named after Tatsuya Sekiguchi who was previously at Sushi Yasuda). The new restaurant is still part of The Group, a restaurant organization that runs three other restaurants in the Village (Olio e Piú, Dominique Bistro, and Boucherie). The prices at the new spot are lower than at the previous incarnation. Chipotle has not made many changes to its menu since launching in 1993, but that will perhaps change with the opening of Chipotle Next Kitchen (504 6th Avenue, at West 13th Street). The company will use this location (which used to be just a normal Chipotle) to test new potential menu items as well as new technologies. The most-anticipated addition is queso, now offered at the Next Kitchen. However, Eater’s Robert Sietsema was not impressed, saying “Chipotle’s queso is notably bland, with virtually no heat or discernible chile flavor despite that it’s flecked red and green.” If you like items from the regular Chipotle menu, don’t come here as they most likely won’t be available. For a while there were two Gallo Nero Italian restaurants on 7th Avenue South, but the more northern location at 95 7th Avenue South, near Sheridan Square, became a Mexican restaurant, Taqueria Mez-A a while ago. Now, the remaining Gallo Nero (1 7th Avenue South, near Carmine Street) has also morphed into a Mexican restaurant, El Gallo de Oro. The ownership of the restaurants has not changed. In early 2015, DNAInfo and others reported that Alex Borgognone (of Sushi Nakazawa and Chumley’s fame) would open a non-sushi Japanese restaurant at 55 Grove Street (between 7th Avenue South and Bleecker Street). Over two years later, the spot has instead become Little Owl – The Townhouse, a catering space by the Little Owl folks who, in addition to the original Little Owl, also operate Little Owl – The Venue, Market Table,and The Clam.
Pop-Up Ice Cream
In the summer, one’s thoughts inevitably turn to ice cream. Luckily, there are additional options in the area during the warmer months. Dominique Ansel Kitchen (137 7th Avenue South, near Charles Street) features two soft-serve flavors, sold at the take-out window to the right of the bakery. I was not tempted by the signature burrata, however, the cold brew sounded and tasted amazing. According to Grub Street, it was only supposed to be there for June and then replaced by a peach ice cream in July, but in mid-July it was still available. Mah-Ze-Dahr (28 Greenwich Avenue, near West 10th Street) has also added soft-serve to its offerings. The flavors are vanilla and chocolate or a twist, but the reason to come are the unusual toppings like candied hazelnuts and mini meringues.
All photos by Justin Matthews.