I have a deep-seated reverence for the concept of Last Call. I am chronically late everywhere, to everything, but when it’s my last chance to get something to eat or to drink before a place closes for the night, I do not miss it.
So, imagine my feelings about restaurants and markets that are preparing to shut down operations for good. It just so happens that the next year will see the shuttering of three iconic spots around the world, places that have been synonymous with their cities: Union Square Café in NYC, Noma in Copenhagen and Tsukiji Fish Market in Tokyo. Just to be clear: None of them are closing permanently—they’re all moving. But still: All will undergo a transformation in the process. That’s why you need to hit all these places in their original locations. And then, let’s compare notes when they’ve reopened.
René Redzepi, the world’s most influential chef, recently announced he is closing his storied Scandinavian restaurant and moving to a far different, groovy and graffiti-ed neighborhood, where he’ll serve extremely farm-driven food. You have a little more than a year to try to snag a seat at the original location. (Good luck! Noma reportedly receives 20,000 calls on its monthly reservation day.) Last Call at the current Noma: New Year’s Eve 2016.
Tsukiji Market, Tokyo
The biggest, most famous fish market on the planet is also making a move. The 80-year-old space is reopening in new, more modern digs in November 2016. (There’s a big digital sign that’s counting down the days.) But especially for anyone who hasn’t witnessed the chaotic scene at its current location—1,600-odd rickety stalls, with hundreds of varieties of glistening fish and the spectacle of a huge side of tuna being sliced with a samurai-styled knife—you’ve got to go see it before it goes modern world.
Union Square Café, New York City
Danny Meyer opened this groundbreaking new American restaurant in 1985. It’s closing 30 years later—having transformed a neighborhood and made the Union Square farmers' market the coolest place to be on a Saturday morning. The last service is December 12, 2015. In 2016, USC moves to a space that’s still considered to be Union Square (phew! Same name). I’m going to let Meyer tell you what his plans are for the final weeks of the current iteration of his restaurant; I plan to follow his lead:
“I'm planning to dine at Union Square Café at least twice before we say goodbye to 21 East 16th Street. One of those dinners will be at Table 67 (on the balcony overlooking the bar) and the other will be at the bar. We'll try to go on a Friday or Saturday night, when so many of our veteran servers and bartenders are working. My wife Audrey and I used to have our date night at the bar every Friday night. We almost always begin with a glass of Billecart-Salmon, and then we share a Gruyère salad and a pasta. Of course we finish with the banana tart!”
And here’s Danny’s all-time favorite Union Square Café meal for two.
Black Bean Soup with a shot of sherry
Pappardelle al Sugo di Coniglio
Grilled Smoked Steak with Mashed Potatoes
USC's Roast Chicken
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