RUKA, RUKA, RUKA

What, another great restaurant in Boston?  Huh?  What?  This one is RUKA, a Peruvian-Japanese place, and it’s inside the new Godfrey Hotel on Washington Street, which also houses a George Howell coffee salon.

(That salon sells coffee for $20 to $80 a pound.  Eighty dollars a pound, that’s right.  Howell was the owner of Coffee Connection, long ago, which he sold to Starbucks, long ago, and no one knows more about coffee than him.  The people selling cups of coffee seem to identify with his finesse as their movements and speech suggest that they are selling diamonds rather than coffee.)

So, RUKA.

Preston Miller is the executive chef at RUKA.  The food is a lot liker what’s served at NOBU, which makes sense since both are Peruvian-Japanese in many ways.  NOBU nods more to Japan and has much greater focus and specificity, while here there’s a menu that highlights the chef’s skills.  That makes sense since Miller was the executive chef at The Breslin, April Bloomfield’s terrific place in NYC.

The food is terrific, from fresh noodles to toro to chicken thighs to scallops ceviche to sea bass.  Great textures, beautiful presentations, small plates meant for sharing.

A first-rate menu of sake and cocktails.

Beautiful room that looked a lot like David Rockwell.

It all cost about $90 per person, including everything, and it was well worth it.

Dining in April

The Automat, in Kendall Square, Cambridge, opened in November, but I’d never heard of it before looking for a place to eat on Saturday before going to see and hear Cécile McLorin Salvant at a jazz club in Boston.

The Automat is the perfect restaurant for this town, what with good bowls of chili, chicken wings, mussels in broth, slices of ham, and grilled, hot peppers.  Nothing memorable about it, but it is a refined diner and, bonus, the portions are small and well-priced, and you can share the food.

It’s a lot like another restaurant, Night Market, which is even better and is memorable.  This is the kind of low-key izakaya you find in Shinjuku or East Village.  Delicious, pan-Asian dishes, a really positive vibe, and good digs.  The one thing missing is beer on tap and cocktails, but liquor licenses in Boston are notoriously pricey and sparse, which is another reason why the dining scene in this town is so dismal.

But there’s hope, and these two places are an indication that while lunch around here is second to none, dinners might catch up, though it’s very doubtful.

NYC, Dining, April, 2017

The trend is that equity and higher rents are changing the type of restaurants opening up in town.

Stalwarts are closing.  Prices are going up.  Places are popping up and then closing months later.

You can go high end, lots of places where, for about $800-1200 a couple, you can dine with refinement and complain over dinner about Donald Trump.  Where else is context so removed from reality?

It’s time to stop patronizing these high-end places that collude with the investors who support the regime.  Either that, or quit the lip service, and support the regime.  Who do you think supports these joints?

(Same with low end, like Shake Shack, which is part of an enormous equity fund.  Burger and fries?  You’re paying for the top 1%.)

You can go low end, and for a buck a slice, have a delicious piece of pizza pie.  Great value for the pizzeria because the cost of that slice is about ten cents.

I’ve been going to favorites, and am never disappointed.

Service in Manhattan is especially good, which is refreshing compared to Boston where  front-of-the-house is uniformly dreadful or adequate.

But of course it’s the food where restaurants in NYC excel.

So this weekend it was Via Carota, Yopparai, Ivan Ramen, Cafe Altro Paradiso, Brandy Library, and Schiller’s.

In order: First rate rustic trattoria; delicious hole-in-the-wall sake bar and izakaya; terrific noodles; refined Italian; arguably the best whisky bar in the country; and, a nice, neighborhood American restaurant.