The Alliance For Downtown New York — also known as the Downtown Alliance — was founded in 1995 to enhance the quality of life in Lower Manhattan. Among its popular community offerings are the Downtown Connection Bus, the Canyon of Heroes Markers, free Wi-Fi and the upkeep of numerous parks and plazas. Beyond those local contributions, the Downtown Alliance is also known to be very involved in the culinary world, orchestrating some key happenings among prominent restaurants and chefs.
One event helmed by the Downtown Alliance is Dine Around Downtown. Launched 20 years ago, Dine Around will this year feature more than three dozen restaurants in the plaza of 28 Liberty between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. on May 23. New participants for 2017 include Danny Meyer's Blue Smoke, the Major Food Group's Parm, and The Tuck Room, from James Beard Award-winning chef Sherry Yard. Participants from last year, like Iron Chef Jose Garces' Amada, Mario Batali's Eataly, and Peter Poulokakis' Pier A Harbor House will return to Dine Around following their 2016 debuts.
One week later, on May 30, the Get Low promotion returns. Offering deals and discounts — such as buy-one-get-one offers on drinks, free appetizers, and 20 percent off checks — Get Low will be in effect on Tuesdays after 4 p.m. through Labor Day. Thirty-five Lower Manhattan restaurants will be participating in the 2017 edition, including Wolfgang Puck's Cut, the North End Grill, and many of the participants from Dine Around Town.
The Daily Meal spoke with Cut executive chef Raymond Weber, Atrio Wine Bar I Restaurant executive chef Gerron Douglas, and Blue Smoke chef de cuisine Andrew Sherman about their involvement in these Downtown Alliance events. More information can be found at the Downtown Alliance website.
The Daily Meal: How did you first wind up getting involved with the Downtown Alliance?
Raymond Weber: Earlier this year I had a chance to work with chef Daniel Boulud on a video shoot with the Downtown Alliance. For me it was great to know we have an organization that works so closely to support this growing neighborhood, especially the culinary aspect of that growth.
Gerron Douglas: I first got involved with the Downtown Alliance my first year working with the Conrad New York.
So I understand that you will be working with the Downtown Alliance on a couple events later this month…
Raymond Weber: Throughout the campaign we will be offering our full menu at a discounted rate every Tuesday after 4 p.m. It’s a great way to experience our full menu if you have yet to join us!
Gerron Douglas: You can look forward to a great, seasonally-inspired menu that has something for everyone.
Andrew Sherman: During Dine Around Downtown, Blue Smoke will serve three of their most popular Southern menu items: Alabama White Wings, New Orleans-style beignets, and Texas-inspired Brisket Burnt Ends.
Aside from that event, what's coming up for your restaurant?
Raymond Weber: We have a few events coming up, including Taste of Tribeca and Meals on Wheels at Rockefeller Center. We also have our summer menu rolling out in a few weeks.
Gerron Douglas: Atrio will be participating in the NYC Food & Wine Festival in October.
Andrew Sherman: Patio Season! Down in Battery Park City, Blue Smoke boasts prime patio dining on Vesey Street. Blue Smoke serves a rotating frozen drink — currently a frozen Mint Julep — and more than 80 whiskeys. We’ve also launched a $5 Happy Hour from 3 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, just in time for the warmer weather. Blue Smoke will also sell whole and half briskets during summer holiday weekends, so guests can enjoy Blue Smoke barbecue at their barbecue.
What is your favorite item on the menu?
Raymond Weber: Right now it’s our soft-shell crab with red Thai curry and toasted peanuts.
Gerron Douglas: My favorite item on the menu is our gnocchi. I enjoy making them by hand, as it’s a labor of love, but the end result is well worth the effort.
Andrew Sherman: While it’s impossible for the Blue Smoke team to choose a favorite, we always look forward to May and June, as it’s crawfish season! The crawfish are flown in from Louisiana every week, and Blue Smoke serves them in a traditional boil-style on Wednesday evenings. The season for crawfish is short, so take advantage and eat as many “mudbugs” as possible.
Finally, any last words for the kids?
Raymond Weber: Working with the Downtown Alliance has been great and the team has been very flexible and professional to work with!
Gerron Douglas: We welcome you all to join us in Atrio.
Andrew Sherman: It’s been incredible to see how much the neighborhood and greater Downtown Manhattan has grown since Blue Smoke opened its doors five short years ago. The neighborhood really comes to life in these warmer months and we love the opportunity to welcome so many new guests into our home.