In the News: The Happiest Meal of the Year

••• Writing the New York Times‘s Critical Shopper column must be challenging—how many ways are there to say you liked something or you didn’t?—but today’s about Brookfield Place is truly bizarre. Presumably in an effort to make this column be about something different than the last one, the writer gets positively inflamed with Big Thoughts because the World Trade Center site is across the street. The lede:

Like many people, I shop to forget.

When trauma creeps close and threatens to suffocate, I don’t retreat to books, or music, or television. I find my way to a store, actual or virtual, and burn off tense energy by asking useless questions about fabrics and measurements, by trying things on just to feel simple renewal, by using the thought of new clothes—and more often than I care to admit, the reality of them—to imagine my way to a new self.

This is one of capitalism’s many tricks, and one of its best: the notion that you might rewrite your emotional life via acquisition. The endorphins that a good shopping excursion can trigger are real, but they are distractions, instruments of avoidance and denial. Is it any wonder we chase them so relentlessly?

How else to explain Brookfield Place, the luxury mall, of a sort, now flowering at 200 Vesey Street, across the street from ground zero? It is a testament to the resilience of our real estate developers, if not our national mood. Here, at the heart of the city’s suffering, we are being told to shop: To spend is to be healed.

And yet the tragedy here is too vast, too diffuse, to be coated with a hard shell of spending.

Brace yourself, sugar, because they’re building an even bigger mall underneath the World Trade Center.

••• “Members of the Democratic County Committee from Silver’s 65th assembly district in Lower Manhattan will effectively crown the next legislator early next year when they select the party’s nominee for the April 19 special election, since the district is overwhelmingly Democratic and the Republican nominee stands little chance to win. But at least the public can easily see who the committee members are, right? Well, no.” It gets worse from there. —Downtown Express

••• A New York Times “essay” about how people claim their dogs are service dogs when they’re not includes an anecdote about an unnamed couple taking their unnamed dog into an unnamed Tribeca pub.

••• The folks at Eater included me in their series of year-end round-up posts, which is always a treat, even if makes me think I need to eat more widely. (Anyone looking for restaurant advice would do well to review the series—the links are in the intro—not for my suggestions but for everyone else’s.) Anyway, today’s post was about where you had your best meal in 2015. My response: “Semilla was the most impressive meal, for the second year in a row. But two nights ago, at North End Grill, I had the dinner that made me happiest: Gaslight cocktail, Bien Cuit miche with room-temp butter, roasted artichoke with anchovy aioli, half the T-Bone for one (which comes with duck fat fries and more of that aioli), a side of sauteed spinach, the butterscotch pot de crème, (half) a bottle of excellent Barbaresco, and a glass of Pedro Ximénez. (It sounds like a lot when you write it all down like that….) Plus: I could hear my companion, and the service was sharp and warm. At the risk of sounding even more like an old fart, I wish more restaurants would learn to do it right before reinventing it.”

North End Grill chefs counter



  1. I think the writer should reach out to a professional to discuss his emotional state and spending habits…preferably not a therapist who has an office near the WTC though. Bizarre indeed.

  2. I don’t really do Brunch but had my best brunch meal this year at North End Grill. Need to try dinner there now.

    • I have to agree with Erik and Alex, North End Grill is consistently delivering top notch quality. Despite setting the bar high for brunch, lunch and dinner I started to frequent the bar more often. Their service there is as impeccable as in the restaurant, something that is hard to come by.

  3. I don’t think the Critical Shopper goes far enough. She should ask developers whether or not, in their view, 9/11 was the best thing to ever happen to lower Manhattan.

  4. Anyone have any news about what will become of the space formerly occupied by City Hall Restaurant with its nice rooms in the basement? Please not another Gap or bank branch.