A Few of Gail Simmons' Favorite New York Restaurants

Gail Simmons was one of my favorite people to interview - she deserves every ounce of success she has, and worked damn hard for it! Her new book, "Talking With My Mouth Full," is so inspiring and I read it straight through on a recent flight.  Thanks to my friend Dana for making the introduction.

I chatted with her about her favorite hotels for Forbes and the interview is here.  But we had a great, long conversation and I couldn't fit it all into that piece. So here is some more!

Gail Simmons - Photo by Melanie DuneaWhat are some of your favorite restaurants in New York?

I love Morandi in the West Village and I go to Westville a lot because it's easy and they have great vegetables. The Meatball Shop just opened on Greenwich Avenue and I love the guys that started it. Pearl Oyster Bar is a favorite, as is Cookshop on Tenth Avenue. And I love Perilla and Kin Shop, both by Chef Harold Dieterle who won the first season of "Top Chef."

I try to cook at home at least two nights a week when I'm not traveling. I love roasting tons of vegetables and making a simple sauce like tahini & lemon, or a chimichurri, and putting them over brown rice. In the winter, I make really great veggie and grain soups and bean stews. There's nothing better in summer than corn on the cob with olive oil and butter.

Where do you want to travel next?

Latin America is the next major place on my list, especially Buenos Aires and Brazil. I also really want to go to India.

What's your last meal?

A smoked meat sandwich with mustard on rye and a pickle, which is the Montreal equivalent of New York deli pastrami.  There's a pasta I crave all the time from Sicily, which is pasta with sea urchi, chiles and olive oil and the sea urchins melt in your mouth.  Years ago, I worked for Jeffrey Steingarten at Vogue and I had never tasted them before but he did an article and would get flats of sea urchins.  I went to Sicily and would make it for us when I was working.  Jeffrey took me to Nobu once 12 years ago and the chef would make us sea urchin tempura.

I'd also have onion rings, corn on the cob, and would need something very nostalgic for dessert like a big bowl of butterscotch pudding, or a hot, gooey chocolate chip cookie.

What do you always take with you on the road?

I was just on the road for 4 weeks straight.  "Top Chef" films in a different city every season. I'll try to bring a meal with me - there's no denying that almost all airplane food is terrible and getting worse. I'm never without snacks, and I like to bring things like nuts and Trader Joe's makes really good dried fruit like apricots and flattened bananas (not banana chips, which has a lot of sugar). Also little bars of dark chocolate!

Two Amazing NYC Restaurants: Prune & Kin Shop

When I get home from a long trip, I usually like to nest and cook at home. But this week, my favorite food writer and good friend Carrie Vitt of Deliciously Organic was in town, and we also had a double date with Good People that had been planned for weeks. So when I drove up from Colonial Williamsburg, I drove straight to meet Carrie at Prune in the East Village. Because of how popular Prune is and how much press it's received due to its excellent, talented chef Gabrielle Hamilton, I thought it was going to be a typical New York hot spot-dark with loud music, where you can't move without bumping into someone.

It was tiny, but light and a casual bistro-style place with amazing food. I tried bone marrow for the first time, and got grilled head-on shrimp and a lentil salad.  Of course, good company makes any dinner better!

Lentils at PruneBone Marrow

PruneThe next night was far from healthy but one of the best dinners I've had in New York recently. Best thing is that it is in my neighborhood, the West Village.  I interviewed Top Chef: Just Desserts judge Gail Simmons last week (to be posted soon!) and she mentioned Kin Shop as one of her favorites. Owned by Season One Top Chef Winner, Chef Harold Dieterle has created a Thai menu where every dish is familiar and completely new at the same time. I could go on about the spicy duck laab salad, fried broccoli & chinese sausage, and crab noodles. Tough to get a reservation but easier to get in during lunch.

Steamed Egg Fried RiceKin Shop
Kin Shop Fried Broccoli & Chinese Sausage