What to Eat During Frieze Week When You’ve Had Your Fill of Art
artnet News' art fair dining guide.
When Frieze crossed the Atlantic two years ago, its inaugural New York edition made a big splash. In addition to its relatively exotic, picturesque location on Randall’s Island (the allure of the ferry, free for all in the days of yore!), the event turned heads with its impressive list of food vendors, taking art fair cuisine to the next level with a reservations-only VIP dining room from Frankies Sputino; Brooklyn’s most popular pizza, courtesy of Roberta’s; the trendy Fat Radish; the Standard Biergarten; and coffee and dessert from Sant Ambroeus.
In its second year, Prime Meats, Mission Chinese, Court Street Grocers, and Blue Bottle joined the party, with Marlow & Sons running the show in the VIP Room. With the bar officially and permanently raised, Frieze’s proliferating number of satellite fairs have had no choice but to respond in kind. Aspiring collectors now have an increasingly impressive range of (often pricey) dining options at their fingertips. Here to help you plan your Frieze week meals is artnet News with our first ever dining roundup.
The Rundown: This year, Roberta’s and Frankies are back (the latter with a fancy new sushi outfit called Furanku that may or may not be a test pilot for an upcoming establishment), along with Marlow & Sons and Danny Bowien (while Mission Chinese is currently closed, he’s brought his newest venture, Mission Cantina). Basically, it’s an embarrassment of culinary riches.
The Verdict: Frieze started New York fairs down this food-obsessed rabbit hole for a reason. They’ve got a great venue, and have assembled a crack team of vendors serving up some top-notch eats. That said, just as it is easy to be overwhelmed by the event’s seemingly never-ending tent full of art, the sheer variety of food available can lead to paralyzing indecision—and as tempting as it may be, this is not the best venue for a food crawl.You’re best off going in with a game plan to ensure you get to experience what you want, both food and art-wise.
Marlow & Sons – cheese plate, assorted cured meats, appetizers (including asparagus with bottarga and egg, nettle crostini, and turnips with goat cheese and currants), arctic char a la nage, braised beef with peas and carrots, saffron pea risotto, brick chicken with spinach, chocolate caramel tart, hazelnut dacquoise cake.
Court Street Grocers – assorted sandwiches.
Furanku – edamame, seaweed salad, tako salad, vegetarian bento, sushi box, sushi deluxe, combo box.
Frankies Spuntino – antipasto, cured meats, crostini, olives, soups, salads, sandwiches, pasta, eggplant parmigiana, rib eye, sausage and peppers with polenta, meatballs, burrata, roasted chicken, branzino.
Mission Cantina – veggie, lamb, chicken, or carnitas super burritos, chips, guacamole, salsa, chicken wings, fried rice.
Roberta’s – pizzas, additional toppings.
Momofuku Milk Bar – cookies, crack pie slice, cake truffles.
Marlow & Sons – coffee and tea, cocktails, beer, wine
Furanku – juice, water, beer
Mission Cantina – beer, wine, Mexican Coke, San Pellegrino, water
Momofuku Milk Bar – cereal milk, Arnie Palmers, water
Roberta’s – beer, wine, water, soda, San Pellegrino
An assortment of food being served by Tacombi at Fonda Nolita, at NADA New York this weekend. Photo: Sarah Cascone.
The Rundown: Leading the charge among the satellite fairs is NADA, which features 87 galleries, and, unlike the big kahuna, boasts free shuttle bus service and admission. Also impressive? The concessions, provided by Tacombi at Fonda Nolita. The restaurant, which recently expanded from Elizabeth Street to a new full-service restaurant in the Flatiron District, will have one of its iconic Volkswagen buses on site at the fair, as well as a bar and a traveling beer cart.
The Verdict: artnet News stopped by the Nolita location to sample the restaurant’s offerings before the opening and was duly impressed. As general rule, Mexican food lends itself to a party atmosphere, and the vintage bus should help imbue NADA with a fun, laid-back vibe well-suited to its Lower East Side digs.
Food: chicken, beef, and veggies tacos, guacamole con totopos, corn esquites.
Drinks: sangria, beer, watermelon juice.
The Rundown: Veteran event Pulse was one of the first fairs to get wise to the growing cachet a trendy restaurant can lend, featuring the Hester Street Fair in 2013. This year, the unassuming looking Pulse cafe is staffed by Monterone, which also runs Lower East Side Italian/Asian hot spot Louie & Chan.
The Verdict: Pulse has been slightly revamped this year, with galleries being asked to pare down the number of artists they are presenting to offer a more streamlined event. The cafe’s food seems similarly designed to please, and comes with some pleasantly affordable beverages, including $4 beers for those on the lookout for bargain booze at the fairs.
Food: salads, quiches, Grand Daisy vegetarian pizza, veggie wraps, crispy chicken wrap, caprese sandwich, black forest ham and fontina cheese sandwich, roast beef sandwich, croque monsieur, curry chicken salad sandwich, beef or vegetable lasagne, pastries from Ceci-Cela, assorted fruits, cakes, and snacks.
Drinks: domestic beer, imported beer, wine, mixed drinks, soda, juice and water.
The Rundown: Los Perros Locos turned down a chance at the big dance, Frieze, in order to go it alone at the Contemporary Art Fair (although they are wisely supplementing a menu of their signature Latin American-inspired hot dogs with an array of pastries and coffee from Balthazar Bakery). They are keeping things simple with just three hot dogs (all of which can be ordered in veggie versions).
The Verdict: artnet News sampled all of the decked out Colombian hot dogs Los Perros Locos will have on offer during the Contemporary Art Fair this weekend: the pineapple and apple chipotle-slaw-laden Pablo Escobar, the spicy, Frito-topped Mexi-Max, and the No Típico, with its four salsas and crumbled potato chips. While we approved of the hot dogs’ judicious mix of tastes and textures—creamy, crispy, and chewy; salty, sweet, spicy and umami—we had one major misgiving: the overloaded dogs were supremely messy.
Food: No Típico, Pablo Escobar, Mexi-Max, Balthazar pastries.
Drinks: assorted flavors of Latin American soda.
The Rundown: Hailing from Paris, Cutlog has stuck to its European roots by hiring Nordic Preserves to cater its second go-around in the Big Apple. Intriguingly, the fair brought on venerable New York City dive bar McSorley’s to provide beer for the event. Quite a blend of the high-brow and the low.
The Verdict: The artnet News team couldn’t get over how elegant and refined these dishes were. We know the word is verboten in foodie circles, but we couldn’t help marvel at Nordic Preserves’s elegant take on fusion. Lending a hint of Latin flavor to its Nordic cuisine isn’t an obvious choice, and it’s all the more impressive when you consider how easily the fair could have resorted to predictable French fare.
Food: gravlax, white bean hummus with Moroccan dry-cured olives, beet and feta cheese pie, cold smoked tuna salad nicoise, Adobe style chicken drum sticks and sweet hot dip, Scandinavian-style hot dog.
Drinks: Perrier, Wine, McSorley’s Famous Lager and Cream Stock Ale.
The Rundown: It’s hard not to get excited about a beer garden at an art fair, and as the Germans have long appreciated, there’s something undeniably wonderful about washing down a hearty sausage sandwich with an ice cold brew. On that count, SELECT is off to a good start.
The Verdict: The “garden” (actually in the fair’s lower level) will be offering both smoked all-beef hot dogs and cheddar bratwurst. The hot dogs were snappy and delicious, and the generously-sized brat was the most successful implementation of the cheese-studded sausage we have ever experienced. When it comes to art, SELECT is positioning itself as a venue for young, up-and-coming artists (they are welcome to participate even without gallery representation), so a casual, no-frills beer garden featuring hip Brooklyn vendors seems like a good fit.
Food: smoked all-beef hot dogs, and cheddar bratwurst.
The Rundown: The Downtown Fair is the latest offspring of the Art Miami machine, which already has a New York-area foothold with July’s Art Southampton, so it’s no surprise that the Amory’s latest fair has gone with the Southampton Social Club, a ritzy catering outfit from Long Island’s East End. (Southampton also provides catering for Art Southampton.)
The Verdict: Of all the fairs that artnet News visited personally, Downtown Art Fair has the most unexpectedly pleasant dining area.The Lexington Avenue armory, while historic, isn’t actually the most elegant of venues, but the cafe on the lower level has been decked out with clear plastic chairs and white tables topped with simplistic calla lily centerpieces, lending an air of refinement to the space’s wall-to-wall Depression-era murals.
Food: Little Italy, vegetarian, reuben, and chicken fajita paninis, lobster roll, roasted turkey breast hoagie, chicken sandwich, honey ham and Swiss, vegetarian corn chowder, fresh fruit salad, mixed baby green salad (with grilled chicken or lobster), tomato mozzarella salad, grilled chicken Caesar salad, snacks and desserts.
Drinks: soda, coconut water, bottled water, coffee or tea.
The Rundown: The Epicurean catering outfit is run by the owners of dell’anima, L’Artusi, Anfora, and L’Apicio restaurants, all of which are pretty highly thought of. Unlike the art, its safe to say that their Italian-based dishes are pretty solidly rooted in established culinary traditions.
Food: short rib, lamb ragu, pollo diavolo, sausage and pepper, and roasted mushroom ricotta paninis, lambi spiedini with yogurt chickpea cucumber salad, grilled shrimp with kale slaw, grilled asparagus salad, quinoa salad, minestrone soup, assorted pastries and snacks.
Drinks: no alcohol, but soda, bottled water, and limonata.
Collective Design Fair: Monterone
The Rundown: Collective’s appeal as a fair is its appreciation of pure aesthetics, and based on what little we know of their menu, we guess that translates to the food as well, especially since its being served in two settings: an everyman cafe and a VIP lounge. We imagine Collective serving dishes that reflect the fair’s purported mission to present high-end luxury design with undeniable appeal. Based on how much we liked Monterone’s food at Pulse, artnet News is confident that Monterone (and pastry provider Ceci-Cela) will deliver at Collective too.
Food: “Italian dishes including charcuterie with organic honey;” pastries from Ceci-Cela.
Drinks: espresso bar, Scandinavian inspired cocktails on Friday evening.
Follow Artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.