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Mimi From the Block

Food writer Mimi Sheraton has been a Greenwich Village resident for 67 years, and with her husband, retired importer Richard Falcone, lives in a West Village townhouse. Sheraton, who served as restaurant critic for The New York Times for eight years, grew up in a food-loving Brooklyn household. She studied marketing and journalism at NYU, and began her career writing about home furnishings before switching to food writing for The Village Voice, Town and Country and New York Magazine. She joined the Times in 1975. Among her 16 books, my favorite is her 2004 memoir, "Eating My Words: An Appetite for Life¸" which evocatively describes the “pleasantly shabby” Greenwich Village of the ’40s and ’50s, stuffed with more than its share of Abstract Expressionist painters, psychoanalysts, potters and weavers. She also wrote a lovely tribute to our shared street, "West 12th Street by the Numbers." Here, Sheraton shares her thoughts on the West Village dining scene, New York City dining trends and other food-related topics.

What are a few of you and your husband’s favorite places for a quick lunch and nice dinner in the West Village?

Elephant & Castle for lunch. Tougher to pick for dinner. Between Gotham Bar & Grill, Wallse, Da Silvano, Perry Street...depends upon what you mean by "nice."

What foreign country or region do you most enjoy eating in?

China.

In a recent interview in Capital New York, you made some tart comments about Brooklyn restaurants, food trucks, David Chang and Times critic Sam Sifton, which created quite a stir on the internet. What has the fallout been from that article, and do you have any further thoughts on those topics?

The fallout has been a lot of publicity and further blogging by others. Great exposure for me. I still mean what I said, but I did go to Brooklyn on March 12th to see "Diary of a Madman" at BAM…worth the trip, but I did not go to a [Brooklyn] restaurant.

What ethnic cuisine do you think New York City does best and worst?

Italian is best. Mexican is worst.

If you could pick one global chef you would like to see open a restaurant in New York, who would it be?

Fergus Henderson, nose-to-tail chef of St. John restaurant in London.

What do you think of the global restaurant empires that so many chefs seem to aspire to these days? Who does it well and who doesn’t?

It is okay with me if they do them well, but I can't remember going to one when abroad, as I prefer to go to strictly local places when traveling, even within the U.S.

Do you ever order take-out? If so, what is your favorite place?

We rarely order take-out but if so, do it quite locally, which means Good or Benny's Burritos on Greenwich Avenue., or Tartine on 11th Street at West 4th. Have not found good Chinese or pizza take-outs. I'm never totally pleased with anything take-out…the food always seems to have lost its soul and is soggy and tepid, even from the best places. I’d rather prepare scrambled eggs or spaghetti with olive oil and garlic, or maybe even oatmeal with butter, salt and lots of black pepper.

Who is your all-time favorite food writer?

A.J. Liebling.

What is your food guilty pleasure?

Not sure I feel "guilty," but I suppose that might mean hot dogs and salami of all kinds.

What bygone New York restaurant do you miss most?

Lutece, because it had wonderful authentic French food prepared by chef-owner Andre Soltner, who was totally dedicated, all in a pleasant but unpretentious setting with service to match.

What current food trend do you find appealing?

Southeast Asian, especially Thai and Vietnamese. I like the crunch and the spiciness. But I wish we saw more of the serious, elegant dishes I had in Hanoi and not only the cheaper street-type food, however entertaining and satisfying that can be.

 

Nancy Matsumoto is a freelance writer and West Village resident. She blogs about the West Village and other topics at www.nancymatsumoto.blogspot.com.