And yet several good restaurants persist in celebrating the wine's annual arrival. This year the stuff hits stores on Nov. 17, and L'Express, Les Halles and Tout Va Bien will all mobilize?as has become customary?at the stroke of midnight on that special day. L'Express: a prix fixe dinner, paired with overpublicized wine. Les Halles: live music, what we're assured are "special dishes" and overpublicized wine. Tout Va Bien: overpublicized wine, solus, although we assume you'll be able to order a la carte from the bistro menu of this Restaurant Row institution?at which at least one member of the Soup to Nuts staff ate his First Snail, stuffing the monster past preadolescent cheeks under the dispassionate gaze of the establishment's severe old waitress.
Bonus: See if you can find the above establishments' addresses and phone numbers in the overedited, anorexic 2000 edition of Zagat, that self-parodyingly obvious?Le Bernardin is still good?guide to city dining.
More Thanksgiving stuff. Molyvos, our second-favorite Greek restaurant?after Periyali?offers a prix fixe Thanksgiving Day dinner for a mere $35. The meal's to be served from 1 p.m. all the way through until 9, and it involves dishes of the sort that no Americanist, much to say Puritan, should be expected to pronounce, much less consume. Greasers in the festival tent, leering at Presbyterian goodwives of virtue and stuffing the candlesticks down their pants. Meanwhile, the severe Anglo-Saxon silence yields to a hullabaloo of gypsy squeezeboxes and demotic, sweaty Peloponnesian donkey-stomping and accordion frenzy, not to mention that crazy ululation that Greek women (or is it Arabian? Or both?) love to make with their tongues.
First course: yuvarlakia avgolemono (our favorite), which consists of tiny keftedes in a velvety egg, lemon and dill broth. Then on to zucchini and sweet onion pita?that Plymouth Rock specialité de la maison.
Then, finally, what's being described as a slow-roasted turkey a la grecque, which means the bird's encumbered with chestnut, sausage and rice stuffing, and served with roasted quince and braised wild greens.
Galaktoboureko is for dessert. Molyvos, 871 7th Ave. (betw. 55th & 56th Sts.), 582-7500.
Meanwhile, Tribeca's Independent, the restaurant that's established an identity for itself as the stylish lower W. Broadway bistro that's not the Odeon, is serving a Thanksgiving dinner that doesn't smell quite so goddamn foreign. Squash soup, field greens salad with warm goat cheese and pomegranate seeds and baked brie on puff pastry to start off. Then a choice between turkey, grilled salmon and grilled filet, and everything served forth with sauteed French beans, roasted sweet potatoes, cornbread stuffing, honey-glazed baby carrots and caramelized pearl onions on the side and other American food. Pumpkin pie, apple-cranberry pie, chocolate souffle cake and sorbets for dessert.
Dinner will be served from 1 p.m. until 10. p.m. Call 219-2010 for reservations.
Odeon itself?than which there is no restaurant in New York City that we'd rather visit?has put its name on the space that used to be occupied by another bodega, or rather the restaurant Bodega, on the other side of W. Broadway. Same menu (same steak frites, same lamb sandwiches, same roast chicken), same booze, same super-sophisto downtown energy that makes you feel good-looking despite yourself. The difference now, though, is that you might be able to squeeze yourself into the place on short notice. Here's hoping Odeon'll sneak around the Thomas St. corner and colonize Obeca Li.
A new establishment called Italian Wine Merchants?it's a wine store dedicated, as you'd expect, to Italian wines?has recently opened at 108 E. 16th St. And in conjunction with Becco, the excellent Bastianich-owned theater district restaurant, it's offering a series of Saturday wine seminars, dedicated?again?to an exploration of Italian wine. Nov. 20, Joseph Bastianich will lead guests through the white wines of Friuli; Seen Lippert, who used to cook at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, will prepare the accompanying food. Dec. 4 will be dedicated to "The Great Food & Wines of Il Sud and the Mezzogiorno," which means Umbria, Campagna, Sicily and Lazio. Sergio Esposito's handing the wine at this event; Lippert's doing the cooking. More to come as these events unfold; you could also call Italian Wine Merchants at 473-2323. The seminars last from 3 until 5 p.m., and cost $25 per person. Call Jane Barrett at 473-7998 for reservations.
Another excellent reason to visit the Grand Central Oyster Bar besides the pan roasts. Until, presumably, the season ends in March, the subterranean restaurant's serving Florida stone crabs, one of our favorite seafood delicacies, and perhaps the closest existent East Coast analogue to the West Coast's Dungeness crabs?which you never see around these parts, but Northwestern restaurants are lousy with them. Thirty-four ninety-five will buy you a 20-ounce portion. That's between four and six claws, and that isn't cheap. But you don't get these things up north all the time, and besides, if you've been eating all the underpriced Oyster Bar pan roasts you should have been all these years, you owe them a payday.
The claws are served lightly cracked with mustard mayo on the side.
Between Nov. 15 and Nov. 30, the Symposium, that Morningside Heights institution and Greek restaurant that Christo and Panagiotis Binioris?the owners of that neighborhood's Hungarian Pastry Shop, that great coffeehouse?purchased and improved last year, are offering 30 percent off of any and every bill. Sahanaki, souvlaki, exohiko, giouvestsi, spanakorizo, baklava, rizogalo, kadaifi, melinzanosalata and all the rest of it, well-prepared and inexpensive enough even before you haul off and shave a full third from your tab.
The Symposium's located at 544 W. 113th St., betw. B'way & Amsterdam Ave., though you probably won't go there if you're not a Columbia student, and if you're a Columbia student you already know where it is.
E-mail tips and comments to email@example.com or fax to 244-9864.