'Succession' May Be Going Away but Cousin Greg’s Real-Life Restaurants Are (Hopefully) Here to Stay
No bodega sushi on the menu at Nicholas Braun's NYC hotspots.
Cousin Greg may be the runt of the Roy family litter in the HBO show Succession, always Gregging and doing the absolute most to earn favor with the siblings (remember when he testified in front of Congress on behalf of the company?). But in real life Nicholas Braun, the actor who brings such lines as, “If it is to be said, so it be, so it is” and “She’s a firecracker man, she’s crunchy peanut butter” to life is not only a great actor but also a man who — like many of us — worships at the altar of food and drink.
But Braun actually puts his money where his mouth is by investing in venues including Pebble Bar, Ray's, Jac's on Bond, and S&P Lunch. Luckily Braun, unlike his character, seems to have great business acumen because every project he’s involved in is backed by a stellar team to ensure the product they’re putting out is actually a solid buy.
Related:How Much Would You Be Willing to Pay for the Meal of a Lifetime?
Given that the end of Succession is nigh, it's high time to check out what Cousin Greg has been up to outside of Waystar Royco, try all the food and drink on every menu, and give you the intel on what dishes and drinks from his projects are all killer, no filler.
Where's all your kids, Uncle Logan? You’ll find Kendall and posse posted up at Johnny’s surrounded by seafood towers and caviar-everything, rounds of whatever's priciest, and nouveau riche Tom eating absolutely everything in sight.
Way nicer than the outer sanctum: Pebble Bar, Braun's fanciest endeavor, is a very welcome addition to the previously blah bar scene near Rockefeller Center — so much so that Food & Wine's readers voted it one of the best bars in America as part of our inaugural Global Tastemakers awards. The bar opened in 2022, occupying an entire townhouse at Rockefeller Center that housed Hurley’s Saloon from 1892 to 2000, and poured drinks for the likes of Johnny Carson, Jack Kerouac (whose musings on Hurley’s inspired the Pebble Bar name), David Letterman, and many Saturday Night Live cast members until it moved to its current location. In its current incarnation, Pebble Bar spans four floors, with the second being a raucous, standing-room-only bar for after-work drinks, the third a well-appointed dining room, and the fourth an event space and invite-only lounge called Johnny’s.
I would just think anyone would be wise to order: The third-floor food program here is overseen by chef Luis Cuautle who’s developed a menu that’s all about high-roller Rockefeller energy; think oysters, shrimp cocktail, and a French onion dip that can be topped with caviar. But the crown jewel is a dish featuring an ingredient that’s unexpectedly become somewhat of a luxury item: phenomenal deviled eggs topped with chili crisp, chicken brittle, and breakfast radishes.
Of course, there are other highlights like lobster rolls (served with mayo, not butter) and Pebble Sliders which, thanks to ingredients like sumac and yogurt, taste more like merguez than your average burger. A salad with perfectly textured croutons is also as worthy of your attention as the Grand Gougère — a Kendall’s ego-sized puff stuffed with Gruyere, Comté mornay, and black truffles. For a touch of sweetness, the Pebble Cup is a chocolate mousse with hazelnut praline that tastes not unlike a deconstructed Ferrero Rocher. And if you’re out celebrating, uh, I dunno, selling your father’s company to a Scandinavian hottie (or messing up the deal, whatever floats your boat) then you’ll definitely want to order The Rock which comes with a whole lobster, oysters, shrimp, scallop crudo, crab salad, tuna spread, and caviar, baby!
Things that are normally drinks: The options are endless. Want something tropical? Get the Tiki Blinders. Digging a little frothy egg white option? Try the Crimson and Clover. In the mood to be refreshed? A Green River will do. But above all, order The Last Waltz, a gin drink with green Chartreuse, lime, orange, and brine that is equally sweet, salty, and so good it might even impress Logan.
Related:How "The Bear" Chocolate Cake Became the Star of the Show
Where's all your kids, Uncle Logan?: Stop in to see Connor reconnecting with his “constituents,” penniless Greg downing a couple of Miller High-Lifes when no one is around, and Tom eating mozzarella sticks and reminiscing about the Midwestern life he left behind. You might also catch Kerry popping in to lick her wounds before taking the subway to her little apartment.
Way nicer than the outer sanctum: Ray’s is a celebration of “hometown” bars around the U.S., culminating in a manicured but believable dive bar filled with classic Americana. (“Ah America, I missed you!”) Think checkered floor tiles, disco balls, a pool table (with glass where the balls come out so they don’t get pocketed), an old TV, posters, photos, and kitschy decorations galore. Perhaps the greatest difference between Ray’s and Braun’s other projects is that this bar leans into the Succession connection and hosts viewing parties every Sunday with drink specials and karaoke after. ("Little bit of karaoke?") They also sometimes have sports and stream the Kentucky Derby and have mariachis for Cinco de Mayo — why not? All of this would make Ray's seem a spot that would decidedly not have food, let alone good food. But that could not be further from the truth.
I would just think anyone would be wise to order: Headed by chef Torrin Emory, the menu at Ray’s is small but mighty and filled with all the fried things that make a night out on the middle-of-America town (but in New York!) spectacular. You cannot miss the fries which come in the only acceptable form — shoestring — and are seasoned with chicken salt for a little extra oomph. Pro tip: If you stick around until the kitchen closes (around 10:30 p.m.), leftover freebie fries come trickling out. Buffalo chicken taquitos are crispy, salty, cheesy winners — the perfect hand-held snack for a night at a crowded bar.
If you need something a little more filling, the all-American royale with cheese is the way to go, made with a single or double thin, smoky, smash-style patty. If a burger isn’t your speed then the hot dog is a solid bet. Butterflied and cooked on the griddle, it’s got a nice charred crust that’s made even better with caramelized onions.
Related:Everyone Wants This Classic Cocktail Again, Thanks to 'Emily in Paris'
Things that are normally drinks: Ray’s has a motto of no fancy cocktails; it is a dive bar after all. Options include all kinds of beer and whatever mixed drink your bartender is up to making but it’s probably best to stick to the classics like a Moscow Mule or Gin and Tonic.
Jac’s On Bond
Where's all your kids, Uncle Logan?: Find all the siblings here plotting some way to ruin their dad’s company while Willa starts with a non-alcoholic Beets Me and then switches to the boozy version as Connor wears on her nerves.
Way nicer than the outer sanctum: The newest feather in Braun’s cap, Jac’s on Bond is casual-but-cool. It’s kind of hidden from view, but it’s where everyone wants to be. This bar also occupies a townhouse that used to house The Smile and is now named after Jack Champlin, a Smile regular and a cornerstone of his community lovingly dubbed “the mayor of Bond Street.” The bar is meant to be a thoughtful neighborhood hangout that’s an ode to the NoHo area of New York with photos of iconic hip-hop artists by neighboring artist Janette Beckman and employee uniforms by Angelo Baque of AWAKE NY. There’s also a pool table here, though this one is a lot sexier than the one at Ray’s.
I would just think anyone would be wise to order: Despite its cool factor, Jac’s on Bond doesn’t coast on aesthetics alone. The menu, created by Food & Wine Best New Chefs chefs Jeremiah Stone and Fabian von Hauske Valtierra, has lots of sophisticated winners. Do not skip the salad, featuring shrimp, avocado, and a bit of French cocktail dressing — a little retro and a whole lot of refreshing. Also order an artichoke tart, encased in a light, delicious pastry and featuring a touch of black truffle. It’s on the smaller side so if you’re hungry or with a big group you might want to order a couple. Meatball skewers are also a great option, served with piparras, puff pastry, and an herb and pepper salsa.
Related:Every Food & Wine Best New Chef Ever, Since 1988
The thing that everyone is talking about, though, is a creamsicle pie served in massive slices that are citrusy, creamy, and evocative of a simpler time when we were all chasing down ice cream trucks instead of repeatedly stabbing our family members in the back (whoops, not you?). I also encourage you to splurge on chocolate mousse, studded with toffee pecans for an amazing mix of soft and crunchy textures and accompanied by a whole mega-yacht of whipped cream on the side so you can slather on as much as Tom Wambsgans would (i.e. the whole boatload).
Things that are normally drinks: I was really impressed with the vodka-based Beets Me with the titular beets, pistachio, dill, and a coconut yogurt rim that almost evoked a post-workout juice as much as a delicious tipple. The Bitter Love — a bourbon cocktail with Campari, Carpano Antica, cold brew, and orange served with that pebbly ice we’re all weirdly fixated on — was also a highlight and proof that coffee-based drinks aren’t going anywhere any time soon. There are four Martinis on the menu, and the one on everyone’s lips is a Caprese Martini featuring olive oil, tomato and basil-infused vodka, and balsamic vinegar. If you’re into a sweeter take on a ‘tini, grab a black SUV to Jac’s or get the recipe here.
Where's all your kids, Uncle Logan? This is where Logan comes to eat a burger, check on the price of a gallon of milk and relish in the peace and quiet away from his f—ing kids.
Way nicer than the outer sanctum: S&P is a no-frills, old-school, you get what you get (but it’s going to be amazing so no one’s getting upset here) diner that feels like it belongs in a classic New York rom-com. Like so many others on this list, it’s got a bit of history too. First established in 1928 as S&P Sandwich Shop by Austrian Jewish immigrants Charles Schwadron and Rubin Pulver, the address has changed ownership many times over, eventually coming to a close as Eisenberg’s during the pandemic. Eric Finkelstein and Matt Ross of Court Street Grocers, armed with support from fiercely loyal regulars (Nicholas Braun among them) took over to give it new life.
“We, like a lot of people, just didn’t want to see this place disappear and thought that we had, in addition to our love and reverence for the place, a strong set of tools in place to reopen the space and to try to retain what it was that made it special,” Finkelstein told me. The S&P team has done just that, making no major changes to the space or menu and keeping the retro feel of the sandwich counter untouched. You’ll find a counter with cherry-red stools, daily specials, and announcements taped to the walls; cake stands with cookies and baked goods that beg you to order them; wood paneled-walls framing green banquettes; and a non-nonsense staff that while friendly and proud of their jobs, doesn’t care about your Instagram.
I would just think anyone would be wise to order: The sandwich pros (if you haven’t checked out the Vegitalian at Court Street, fix that) added a couple of items to the menu, but according to Finkelstein, “More than anything, we worked to try to make the food taste the way it existed in our idealized memories.”
Now before I tell you what you should order, two caveats: 1. They were sold out of the pastrami when my team of ravenous editors and I got there so don’t fault me for omitting it but if anything, take it as a sign that it must be that good. 2. This is the only place where I didn’t try everything on the menu. It’s huge and varied and really I don’t imagine you could go wrong with any of it and at the end of the day this is a choose-your-own-adventure kind of deal. 3. We arrived too late for breakfast so no Greggs were broken to make a Tomlette here.
Related:The Best Breakfast in Every State
Definitely get a tuna melt, so gooey that assistant editor Lucy Simon proclaimed, “You don’t even have to chew.” Egg salad, chopped olives and cream cheese sandwiches, and a triple-decker turkey club — stacked with actual pieces of thick-cut turkey, not that refrigerator deli meat nonsense — are all solid choices. Do not turn up your nose at the peanut butter and bacon sandwich; it is salty, sweet, exciting, and all things good in the world. Definitely order kreplach when you need a little comfort and always get a side of the french fries, which are cut pickle-chip-shaped and served generously. The S&P Burger is absolute perfection and so good that my previously mentioned colleague ordered it three times in less than a week.
Finally, dessert. The carrot cake (served that day as a special) is made by owner Matt Ross’s parents Karen and Ken and has a perfect consistency, with frosting that gives it the perfect amount of sweetness. The Dusty Miller, a dessert of ice cream, marshmallow fluff, chocolate syrup, and malt powder for the signature “dust” is something I haven’t stopped thinking about. But my biggest recommendation of all: Get a banana split. It’s a classic, so fun, and everyone in the restaurant will go wild when it comes out.
Things that are normally drinks: This is a diner, so get some coffee or an egg cream if you’re feeling nostalgic, or heap your plate until it groans and then chase it with a Martini on the PJ.
For more Food & Wine news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!
Read the original article on Food & Wine.