Upper West Side bar under fire for not serving man wearing MAGA hat
Longtime Upper West Side bar Jake’s Dilemma is on crisis control mode after a man said that a bartender refused to serve him because of his Make America Great Again hat. The patron posted a video of him arguing with the bartender and then confirming that he couldn’t get another drink because of his hat, which carried the controversial campaign slogan of president Donald Trump that some argue is a symbol of hate due to appearances at white supremacist rallies. The bar, open since 1994, is now being flooded with negative Yelp reviews. In response, Jake’s Dilemma posted a statement to Facebook saying that it does not promote any political ideology, adding that the employee had been disciplined. In a similar case downtown last year, a judge ruled that bars can legally refuse to serve people wearing the hat. Update: This isn’t the first time that the patron, named Dion Cini, has riled people up with his Trump support. Disneyland and Disney World banned him after he kept unfurling a large Trump 2020 sign on rides, saying that demonstrations at the theme parks aren’t permitted.
Chipotle founder Steve Ells making a mess for West Village neighbors at $32.5M home
Steve Ells, founder and former CEO of fast-casual behemoth Chipotle, is one of several big name homeowners in the West Village who is apparently annoying locals with “construction hell.” He bought two buildings for $32.5 million and planned to add a pool and a steam room, and in 2016, a neighbor claimed that drilling caused a property next door to flood. Meanwhile, the “power block” also has ongoing construction from Sarah Jessica Parker and Matthew Broderick, as well as SoftBank chief operating officer Marcelo Claure. “It’s ugly and dirty and untidy and it’s been going for a long time already,” one neighbor says.
Hanoi House is adding seats, and other openings
East Village Vietnamese hit Hanoi House could soon be a little bit bigger. It’s applying for a liquor license in an accompanying space, which would add an additional six seats and an eight-seat bar. On 14th Street, a new cafe called Perk Espresso and Coffee Bar is opening tomorrow.
And on the border of Sunset Park and Borough Park, hot pot spot Xiang Hot Pot now has a new location. The Flushing restaurant — known for live performances and stock that looks like a teddy bear — has a similar menu at 5816 Fort Hamilton Pkwy.
Reviews of L’Avenue, Oxalis, and Standard Grill
Parisian celebrity magnet L’Avenue has a new NYC location, but Kate Krader at Bloomberg finds that despite a splashy opening with lots of fashionable visitors, the restaurant’s not quite ready for primetime yet. Spinach is too salty to eat, and chicken rolls are mushy. Dessert from Pierre Hermé, though, is glorious, and the space is nice enough that it could be a hit eventually.
Meanwhile over in Prospect Heights, New Yorker critic Hannah Goldfield visits pop-up-turned-permanent fine dining restaurant Oxalis. Like Pete Wells, she’s impressed by many of the dishes — pot-au-feu, “crackly-skinned” duck — but the menu doesn’t change enough. At $60, the tasting menu price point is reasonable and encourages repeat visits; the offerings end up being repetitive.
And Rocco DiSpirito’s comeback at the Standard Grill seems to be going well. Adam Platt at Grub Street says the chef — who left the NYC restaurant scene for TV for years — is still talented at cooking. “Richly textured” shrimp and truffle risotto, grilled baby chicken, sliced short rib, and Manila clam pasta all excel.
Hungry City highlights a Georgian restaurant in Sheepshead Bay
In writer Marian Bull’s second Hungry City dispatch, she writes about Pirosmani in Sheepshead Bay, a Georgian restaurant serving baseball-sized khinkali. The soup dumpling has “thick, memory-foam-squishy skin” and is filled with “a deeply savory mix of beef, pork shoulder, garlic, onion, Georgian red pepper and fresh cilantro.” New owner Manuchar Katchakhidze has been adding new menu items, and it sounds like it’s working. She also recommends the badrijanis pkhali, the Georgian salad, and the Gouda cheese.