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Updates!

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Just a few updates because life is moving forward and Dirt Candy is moving with it!

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We’ve got an instagram account! I’m snapping pictures of stuff in the kitchen, dishes I’m working on, and the new space getting (hopefully) built. So if you want to see it all as it happens (or as it doesn’t happen) then that’s the best place to go.

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On April 15 (Tax Day!) Zagat closes the voting for last year’s restaurants, and then it uses the votes to assign overall ratings for their guide. Believe it or not, this kind of thing really helps Dirt Candy and it’s one of the ways that folks find out about my restaurant. So if you have a minute, I’d love it if you could head over there and rate Dirt Candy (good or bad – I’ve got a thick skin) and let Zagat know how your meal here was?

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Finally, Eater asked me to write a column for them, and the first one just went up. It’s called Dispatches from Dirt Candy and it’s my take on some of the current trends in restaurants and what’s going on in this industry. So if you’re interested in hearing me shoot my mouth off about stuff (alternate title we didn’t use for the column: “Someone, Please Make Amanda Cohen Shut Up!”) then it’ll be right up your alley.

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Future

The Future, here we come!

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Big Candy’s Got Money!

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The new Dirt Candy keeps emerging from my dreams and inching closer and closer to reality. Kind of like Freddy Krueger.

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The latest proof that this is no dream, this is really happening?

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Deposit Slips2

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New Dirt Candy’s bank accounts are OPEN!

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How to Be a Winner with Your Dirt Candy Reservation

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It sucks to make a reservation at Dirt Candy. Let’s just get that out of the way right up front. I know it sucks, you know it sucks and, objectively, it really does suck. Why? Because I only have nine tables. So a reservation for one of them becomes a savage exercise in winner-take-all gladiatorial combat. So let me say it right now: I’m sorry. I’m sorry my restaurant isn’t bigger. I’m sorry I can’t get you in tomorrow night to celebrate your birthday. I’m sorry I can’t get your boss in tonight even though he’s very famous. I’m sorry I can’t get you in this Saturday at eight o’clock even though you are coming here from Germany just to eat my food and your vacation will be ruined if you don’t get a table. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

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ReservationGhost5

I will even be sorry after I am dead.

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Right now, if you want to get into Dirt Candy at primetime on Friday night, it’ll take some doing. Try! Because you never know who just canceled, but you’ll have more luck if you do it two months beforehand. Now, I have no clue if I’ll still even be eating solid food two months from now, let alone where I’ll want to have dinner. But the only way this will change is if Dirt Candy magically gets bigger, and that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen anytime soon. So, for now you and I both have to put up with the Dirt Candy that actually exists, not the one that we both wish existed.

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But here are my tips that might help you make your Dirt Candy reservation better:

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Read the rest of this entry »


Best of the Blog: The Restaurant Business

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The Dirt Candy blog turns five years old this October, and that means that there are a lot of posts on here. 600 of them to be exact, and it was while looking at that insane figure that I realized that while there was some fun stuff buried in here, but it might be hard for people to find. So as the blog passes 600 posts this week, I want to offer some Greatest Hits guidance.

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 Best1

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Read the rest of this entry »


Should You Go to Cooking School?

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After “How do I become a chef?” the question I get asked most often is “Should I go to cooking school?” The short answer: maybe. The longer, more complicated answer: maybe, kind of?

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“Your opinion is vague and irritating.”

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Read the rest of this entry »


How to Be a Chef

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One thing I get asked a lot is how to become a chef, so I figured that I’d save everyone (and me!) time by putting my advice up here for the world to see. It all boils down to one word: don’t.

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It never ends well.

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If that doesn’t discourage you, then here’s my advice on what you need to do. This isn’t the only way, and it’s maybe not the best way, but I don’t know any other way. Like most people who own restaurants, I have tunnel vision and can only imagine doing things the way I did it.

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Read the rest of this entry »


Sandy Update

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(Update: as of Tuesday, November 6, Dirt Candy has re-opened! Seriously. We’re open. You can eat here! People have been confused, so be confused no longer!)

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I’m in the middle of re-opening Dirt Candy and so far the biggest problem (besides having to remake everything from scratch, all at once) is that my internet service is out. Verizon told me, “We don’t know why it’s out, we don’t know when it will be back, and it may never be back.” As you might imagine, these are not the words I wanted to hear. The biggest thing I need internet access for are Open Table reservations. To their credit, Open Table is being really great about this (a huge improvement over my last interaction with them) but for now, if you want a reservation (or need to cancel a reservation, or change a reservation) please call the restaurant (212-228-7732). I’m really sorry for the inconvenience, but just imagine: it’s only a single phone call for you, but I’ll be answering the phone all day long.

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Then there’s storage. Dirt Candy has off-site storage over on Avenue D, right in the middle of the flood zone. My storage unit: in the basement. This is what it looks like.

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My husband was over there yesterday and today digging it out, and what really sucks is that insurance doesn’t cover this loss. The policy I had through the storage place doesn’t cover water damage, and the coverage I have through my home owner’s policy doesn’t cover this particular location for flooding (because it’s in a flood plain). This was all news to me!

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Want to buy a Dirt Candy Cookbook: Special Superstorm Sandy Edition?

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The store is still open, and we’re still selling stuff, but we have no more men’s t-shirts (unless you’d like to buy a wet, mildewy one saturated in heating oil and raw sewage) and I won’t be able to ship any book orders until this weekend. I’ll keep you posted on developments.

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The Glamorous Life of a Chef!

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Swanky sparkles! That’s what it’s like every morning when I get out of bed at 8am. And when I drop my tired ass back into bed at around 1am, leaving a trail of filthy clothes scattered behind me across my apartment floor, I feel like a real celebrity. If you’re an actual working chef in your kitchen, the kind who’s running the line every night, there is no chance you’ll get a big head or become arrogant. Life keeps reminding you that you have the filthiest job on the planet. And you’d better learn to love that filth or you’re in the wrong business.

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Tres chic! Cleaning a clogged grease trap.
Don’t worry, it smells worse than it looks.

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Oo la la! Is someone in their storage space hunting through
months of past credit card receipts because a customer
called asking for a hard copy of it for their records? Oui.

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Open Table Back Up & Running

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Yesterday, an Open Table guy came to Dirt Candy and installed a new Open Table system, so we’re back up and running. Initially, I was told that the new system would be Fedexed to me, and would “probably” arrive on Monday. I asked if someone would install it, since I remember when it was first installed it took the guy from Open Table hours to set it up.

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“There’s going to be a set of instructions in the box,” the customer service rep told me.

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I was extremely glad that a person came to do it because, well, even a trained Open Table service tech had to spend 3 hours to get it up and running. I’m pretty sure I couldn’t have done it myself, no matter how great those instructions were.

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Open Table Fail

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Last night, my Open Table reservation system died. The CPU and screen in the restaurant just crashed and refused to restart. I called Open Table and they’re shipping me a new one…Monday? Probably Monday, but they won’t guarantee it.

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On top of that, here’s the message you get when you go to the Open Table system, since I can’t accept reservations via Open Table until they replace their crashed system:

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“Please accept our apologies on behalf of Dirt Candy. Online reservations are not available on this date at this restaurant.”

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I asked them to PLEASE put up a message that said, “The Open Table system for Dirt Candy is down. Please contact the restaurant directly if you’d like to make a reservation.” I was told that was impossible because – and this is my favorite part – Open Table does not want to encourage anything but online reservations. I pointed out to them that this was temporary and that it was only because their system had failed. Too bad, I was told. Open Table does not want to encourage anything but online reservations.

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So…if you want to cancel a reservation at Dirt Candy for tonight, please contact the restaurant directly by phone (212-228-7732). If you’ve got a pre-existing reservation for tonight, you’re good! But otherwise we have to do walk-ins. Thanks!

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menu


Menu

Snack

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Jalapeno Hush Puppies $6
served with maple butter
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Appetizers

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Mushroom $13
portobello mousse, truffled toast
pear & fennel compote

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Cucumber $12
roasted cucumber hot and sour soup,
black sesame, garlic chili oil, wood ear
mushroom, cucumber jelly

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Spinach $13
spinach & grapefruit mille-feuille,
with smoked pistachios and ricotta

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Potato $12
warm potato salad, crispy Japanese
yams, grilled sweet potato, olives,
bitter greens, apples

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Entrees

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Beets $20
salt-roasted beets, thai green curry,
beet gnocchi, whipped coconut galangal cream

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Pepper $18
fennel & pepper tofu,
parsley spaetzle, grilled
yellow pepper broth,
mustard crumbs

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Broccoli $21
smoked broccoli dogs,
broccoli kraut, salt &
vinegar broccoli rabe

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Corn $19
stone ground grits, corn cream,
pickled shiitakes, huitlacoche,
tempura poached egg

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- everything on the menu can be made vegan on request.

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Dessert

Rosemary Eggplant Tiramisu $12
grilled eggplant, rosemary cotton
candy, mascarpone

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Ice Cream Nanaimo Bar$11
sweet pea, mint, chocolate

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Popcorn Pudding$11
salted caramel corn

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Celery Cheesecake Roll $10
celeriac ice cream, peanut filling,

& candied grapes

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- vegan dessert selection changes regularly, please ask your server.

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Our wine list (and other beverages)

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Gift Certificates

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