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Spying on Tiki Barber at Café Boulud


I don't often get any farther uptown than 44th Street (the northern border of Food & Wine’s offices). So it felt like a big adventure when my awesome colleague Salma Abdelnour and I went to Café Boulud on the Upper East Side. We were there to see one of our beloved 2007 Best New Chefs, Gavin Kaysen, who recently took over the kitchen and is just now putting his own menu in place. If you’ve spent a lot of time downtown eating pork chops and burgers (and who hasn’t?), then you feel like you’re on another planet at Café Boulud. And a super-deluxe one—we had perfect tuna tartare with the tiniest quarter of a hard-boiled quail egg on top, and the prettiest peekytoe crab salad you’ve ever seen, surrounded by thin slices of watermelon radish. My favorite thing of all was roasted, herb-glazed monkfish with parsley emulsion. Of course, when you’re a visitor to the UES you have to people-watch, and luckily for me, Tiki Barber, the former New York Giants all-star running back, whom I worship, was sitting at at the next table. He wasn’t alone; besides his wife, there were six other people who could have been coworkers from NBC, where he’s now a commentator. I couldn't tell you what they talked about (although I overheard some animated discussion about Barack Obama), but I did notice that Tiki has absolutely perfect manners and held the chair for every woman at the table returning from the bathroom. Which I didn’t see any other guy in the place do.

Go Giants.

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Congratulations to Nicholas Elmi, winner of Top Chef: New Orleans, the 11th season of Bravo's Emmy-Award winning, hit reality series.

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