FORKPLAY November 3, 2015

Pre-Theater Eats. Yunnan BBQ. Bake a Berry Pie. 
Dear Friends and Family,

       This was the big week. Benevolent friends had   found me two house seats to "Hamilton." A friend had taken me to see it at the Public. Of course, I would take him to "Hamilton" on Broadway. Usually when he takes me to the theater, I find a spot close by for supper before. Now, he invited me.
       I wanted to try the new Dos Caminos at the "W" Hotel. Blue Fin, upstairs in the "W" has been my usual for pre-theater supper. I like to be really close to where I'm ultimately headed, so I don't get run over by a tourist on the way. Depending on where the curtain is  going up, dinner could be at Esca, BondStreet, Aureole. Last winter, my theater friend and I shared a decent sirloin strip and very good hash browns up a rickety old stairway at Frankie and Johnny's in what was once a speakeasy. It was raining, but the theater was two doors away.
       Yes, Blue Fin and Dos Caminos belong to our advertiser, BRGuest. But that's not why my guy and I,
and now, just me and friends, have favored Blue Fin all these years. The menu lends itself to easy snacking. Half a dozen plump and icey cherrystones is my typical  starter and I might share a spicy tuna roll or a not very authentic soft shell crab-eel layering. In its new makeover (to make way for Dos Caminos) Blue Fin's kitchen sends out a warm, whole wheat loaf and butter drizzled with olive oil and Maldon salt My old friend chef Sam Hazen is a consultant and emerges from the kitchen to take bows. The miso cod spring roll was his idea. Am I imagining it? The prices seem lower. Blue Fin: 1567 Broadway just south of 47th Street. 212 918 1400.
       Dos Caminos, with its pastel doily flags and frozen margaritas, may not seem the suitably sober place to fuel for an evening of Hamilton. It occurs to me we should be having a shrub or some hard cider and maybe a mutton chop at Ye Olde somewhere. But is the spirit of rap that alien from guacamole? Click here for the recipe.

       I couldn't stop  eating the fabulous chopped salad with its hedge of corn crisps - all that green romaine, plus corn, pinto beans, olives, poblano chiles and ań ejo cheese in a toasted cumin vinaigrette. I felt fortified with veggies, as I put away half a carnitas taco and just tasted the mac 'n' chorizo (it would be so much better browned and crusty).
       The espresso was shockingly good. Dos Caminos Entrance on 47th West of Broadway. 212 918 1330. And there at the end of the block I could see the line moving into the Richard Rodgers Theater. That espresso kept me sitting tall and alert for hours. If you've got seats at Hamilton on order, you might be wise to reserve ahead for an early dinner too.
Yunnan BBQ Heats Up
       When it opened, Yunnan Kitchen was just a one-time stop on my rounds in search of a restaurant  good enough or bad enough to write about. That was three years ago. It was hardly memorable. I didn't even bother to type a few notes. It could be I weighed the long, treacherous detour to the far end of Clinton Street against a lack of rapture. A modest one star in the Times did not tempt me to return.
       Erika Chou had thought the restaurant world would be a stimulating haven from fashion. Early on, she recruited Doron Wong as a chef-partner. Neither of them had ever been to Yunnan, but then not many New Yorkers have been either, so they probably won't be  sued for strict accountability. 
       What seemed more important was that the two
agreed on a farmers market approach to shopping and a certain flexibility in marketing the menu. But that wasn't enough to keep the seats filled. A few months ago, the idea of barbecue loomed. Chou and Wong changed the name to Yunnan BBQ. That got attention from FloFab at the Times and Eater. And yes, me. Click here to read on and decide if you'll make the detour. 79 Clinton Street between Rivington and Delancey 212 253 2527.
His Mom Does Ben's Blueberry Pie
       Penny Baird and her husband Fred Deutsch always  baked with their three boys as they were growing up. Ben's pie crust became the house classic. It got him a story in Newsweek years ago.
       Penny was doing that very pastry with late summer blueberries recently when the freshly baked pie dropped. While her youngest Philip ate the shattered remains, Penny threw together another one and sent me the recipe. Click here to learn how to make this handsome covered pie your own.  
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Photographs of Blue Fin's cherrystones on the half shell, their miso cod spring rolls, and the spicy shrimp sushi roll, Dos Caminos' splendid chopped salad and its mac 'n' chorizo, Yunnan BBQ's whole prawns, and the Yunnanese rice noodles may not be used without permission from Gael Greene. Copyright 2015. All rights reserved.