Lately, Second Street Gallery has been running a rather complicated fundraiser for which 12 local restaurants have developed “Artinis”— variations on the classic martini that have some art-related twist. The 12 are to be judged by six local celebrity judges, who are out there pounding the pavement (and the booze) as we speak, in preparation for final judging at a big Ix Building dance party on June 23.
Kristina Cruise, NBC29 news anchor, is an Artini judge and, she was eager to have us report, not a big drinker. We know some of you are, though, so frequent imbibers take note: Rapture’s “This is not a martini” (based on Rene Magritte’s oft-reproduced painting of a pipe entitled “This is not a pipe”) contains, Cruise says, a positively embarrassing amount of alcohol—Absolut vodka, that is, with merely “a drop” of vermouth. “I couldn’t have finished the whole thing,” she says. “This thing was huge.”
There was also some historically appropriate confusion when the server at Rapture delivered the beverage to Cruise’s table, deadpanning, “This is not a martini.” Of course, it is a martini; it’s a vodka purist’s martini, as martini as a martini can be. Befuddled, Cruise inquired as to the drink’s contents, and then insisted that it was a martini, apparently not immediately grasping the irony of the concept. Well, Cruise may not be freelancing for Artforum anytime soon, but she does offer this critique: “That drink was strong, and very reasonably priced. Eight dollars for that much good alcohol is well worth it.”
Blue Light Grill’s creation, which contains Champagne, seems to have been more on Cruise’s wavelength—”fun and fruity,” as she puts it. Live Arts box office manager Darryl Smith, another judge, has also sampled Blue Light’s entry, and reports that it was, along with the Artinis at Escafé and Bang, “very sweet.” He adds, “They’re more like daiquiris than martinis.” Ouch! Well, no one ever truly understands great artists—or bartenders—during their own lifetimes. Smith did praise the presentation of Bang’s Monet-themed creation: “It looked like Monet’s painting with the floating lime in it—like a lily pad.”
Neither judge plans to sample all 12 Artinis in the field (Smith says simply, “I don’t have the money to do all 12”) but Second Street would like it if you tried at least a few of them (other restaurants with Artinis include the Boar’s Head Inn, Cassis, Fellini’s #9, Michael’s Bistro, Mono Loco, OXO, Starr Hill and Zocalo). And they’d like it even more if you came to their party. Bottoms up, art lushes!
Buck’s goes bunk
You’d think the Corner would be the perfect place to run a pizzeria, but Buck’s Pizza on 14th Street closed its doors as of June 5. What gives? Franchisee Suketu Tripathi wouldn’t comment, so we called Buck’s corporate headquarters up in Pennsylvania. Company president Lance Benton would only say there were “personal issues with the owner,” leaving us to speculate about some fierce, behind-the-scenes battle over the relative merits of anchovies and artichokes. Well, you can still get a pie at Mellow Mushroom or a slice at Bambina’s— and we promise to keep an eye on that now-vacant Buck’s space. (Samosa shop, anyone? Or maybe an all-dessert place. Oooh—how about a non-corporate coffee hangout? Or maybe…)
Cupcakes, like many other vaguely retro items, are currently in vogue. So it’s fitting that über-hip Downtown paper vendor Rock Paper Scissors is now hawking cupcakes. (Also fitting because, well, cupcakes are baked in paper.) They’re made by former Clifton Inn pastry chef Jason McKown, under the name Sugar Daddy. Stop by for a sugar buzz, in rotating flavors like chocolate peanut butter and carrot cake.
Got some restaurant scoop? Send your tips to email@example.com or call 817-2749, Ext. 48.