We love a restaurateur that no doubt has hospitality in their blood. Jud Mongell – owner of Five Leaves in Brooklyn, partner in L.A. Chapter in L.A. and Amigo Room in Palm Springs – seems to be just that. The man has always had his hand on the pulse of hospitality real estate, opening in about-to-blow-up areas like Greenpoint and Downtown L.A. right before they, well, blew up. We decided to be timely and plug Mongell for ways not to break the bank in Palm Springs and where to go for chia pudding and evening cocktails…
From start to finish, what would be your ideal food day?
I’d start with pour over Parlor coffee and make ricotta pancakes with my kids. For lunch, Ken Addington’s Lamb Pho Dip sandwich with salad. For dinner, New Zealand snapper, with bok choy and some good white wine.
Heath Ledger was a partner in Five Leaves; could you tell us a bit about that story?
The first two times we met, we were both taking a break from New York. We were at dinner parties – originally at a hillside house in Sydney, and then at a wedding in Mornington Peninsula. We talked a lot about food, and the differences between Australian and New York café/restaurant environments. We were both enamored by the casual style of Sydney spots and the simple, sophisticated execution of food. We set out to bring something similar to New York.
You worked at Cafe Gitane as brunch was becoming a culture. What are the top spots people should have brunch outside this weekend in New York?
Five Leaves and Nights and Weekends have great Brooklyn energy. Café Moto and St. Mazie are classics. I love Vinegar Hill House, Café Gitane (the original, with outdoor seats opposite a beautiful church) and Buvette.
What about Los Angeles?
L.A. Chapter at The Ace Hotel has the New York energy. I also love Gjelina and Chateau Marmont. G&B coffee at Grand Central Market is great for brunch. I love Pedalers Fork for chia pudding, cyclists and cappuccinos. Sqirl is also great.
If people want to get away to Palm Springs this time of year without breaking the bank, where should they stay and eat?
The Ace Hotel is where I begin and end all plans while I am in Palm Springs. If I do venture out, I head to Caffe Cielo for coffee and pastries, Workshop or Pappy + Harriet’s for dinner, then I race back to have evening cocktails at Ace.
What’s your personal grooming regimen?
Fellow Barber for haircuts and styling cream and any products my wife leaves around…
What are your favorite cities for food? What restaurants do you go to in each?
In New York, I go to Estela, Buvette, Roman’s and Five Leaves. I love Sydney. Bill’s is great for breakfast and brunch. I love Longrain for dinner and Frankie’s Pizza for a fun night out. I love Baxter Inn for cocktails.
If you’re ordering in Italian, what would your order be?
Cured meats, Peperonata, and any slow-cooked meat ragu pasta.
In the same vein as what is the new black in fashion, what’s the new potato in hospitality?
Technical prowess and thoughtful design.