"I'd rather do this than talk about music any day of the week," says Daniel Kessler, the guitarist for Interpol. We're sitting at the chef's counter ofAldea, George Mendes's 17th Street restaurant, and Kessler is taking a break from promoting the band's new album, El Pintor. For a dude who's in a band that's known for brooding, Kessler's enthusiasm for restaurants is almost surprising. While trying to schedule the dinner, he quickly offered a full index of restaurants he wanted check out: Bâtard, Contra,Sushi Yasuda, Racines, and élan among them. “I’m a little OCD about stuff," Kessler says. "So once something’s on my brain I’m like, I must go and do. It’s very Rain Man-esque."
“Right now we’re off to the races,” says George Mendes, with the sound of clanging in the background. He’s standing at the Chelsea — or maybe we'll call it NoMad — construction site that will house his new, un-named restaurant scheduled to open later in the fall. It’s long been anticipated that Mendes, a Portuguese-American chef who just celebrated five years at his well-regarded Flatiron restaurant Aldea, would expand into a more casual style. Earlier this year, he popped up at Madison Square Eats with the highly enjoyable 100 Sardines, a lunchtime tent that served sardine toasts and salted cod croquettes, two classic dishes from his native Portugal that New Yorkers and visitors could not get enough of.