food 01.10.11

Just Add Snow
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When it's blustery outside, we're drawn to places with crooked lines, a wobbly table or two, a little age, wafting kitchen aromas, and, in a perfect world, picture windows to watch the snow fall. What better way to celebrate the cold than with old friends, slow food, and a vigorous Gigondas? Your culinary Slanket may differ; this is ours.

The front room of Gramercy Tavern hasn't got any crooked lines, but it's got the kitchen aromas thing down. If you can snag a table, opt for anything smoked: ham, pork shoulder, kielbasa. For a more private communing with the snow—along with more rough edges—head out to Vinegar Hill House, set on a block where you wouldn't be surprised to find apartments still using a single, black, rotary telephone. The cast-iron chicken (or the Red Wattle pork chop) is the way to go before your return to the 21st century.

You can warm up with a nice red, an entree of lamb, and the body heat of your neighbors at the teensy Le Gigot and the weensy Café Condesa, both in the West Village. Le Gigot, a sliver of Gallic pride, is entering long-run status, in part, for its eponymous roasted leg of lamb with flageolet beans and roasted garlic. Café Condesa features American cooking with Latin accents; case in point: a first-rate roasted rack of lamb with chimichurri sauce.

Snow? Soup, obviously. Minestrone, maybe, but ramen definitely. You'll get an argument from some noodleheads as to who's got the best one in town, but Ippudo has a full-throated tonkotsu with few peers. Totto Ramen, too, in the Theater District, will do a fine job of warming you up, something you'll need after the long wait to get in.

For a pre-hibernation graze, you can't go wrong with the Italian tapas/appetizers at Il Buco, the charcuterie, cheese, and beef marrow at Blue Ribbon Bakery, or the mac and cheese at Casellula (it goes well, as does everything, with the Pig's Ass Sandwich). We never tire of the simple pleasures provided by the bucatini all'Amatriciana at Lupa or the rock-your-world Brussels sprouts and pancetta pizza from Motorino. Top it off with meatball sliders at Little Owl and you should be ready for your next meal when the Forsythia blooms.

And don't underestimate the pleasures of Keens Steakhouse, now spanning three centuries, with its mutton chop (steaks and lamb chops, too) and—crucially—its collection of 200+ single malts. That means you could drink a different one every night and, by the time you finish, you'll have sailed out of snowstorm season well past the 4th of July.

Blue Ribbon Bakery, 35 Downing [Bedford] 212.337.0404
Café Condesa, 183 W. 10th [7th] 212.352.0050
Casellula, 401 W. 52nd [9th/10th] 212.247.8137
Gramercy Tavern, 42 E. 20th [Bway/Park Ave. S.] 212.477.0777
Il Buco, 47 Bond [Bowery/Laf] 212.533.1932
Ippudo, 65 4th Ave. [9th/10th] 212.388.0088
Keens Steakhouse, 72 W. 36th [5th/6th] 212.947.3636
Le Gigot, 18 Cornelia [Bleecker/W. 4th] 212.627.3737
Little Owl, 90 Bedford [Grove] 212.741.4695
Lupa, 170 Thompson [Houston/Bleecker] 212.982.5089
Motorino, 349 E. 12th [1st/2nd] 212.777.2644 and 319 Graham [Devoe] Bklyn 718.599.8899
Totto Ramen, 366 W. 52nd [8th/9th] 212.582.0052
Vinegar Hill House, 72 Hudson [Water/Front] Bklyn 718.522.1018

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