Charlie Trotter Details Emerge; Frank Bruni's Cross-Country Trip

The first details on Charlie Trotter’s still-unnamed restaurant on Madison Square Park emerge: It will have 80 seats as well as a bar and lounge. [NYT]

Merkato 55 may be turning New Yorkers on to African cuisine, but there have been plenty of excellent, albeit under-the-radar, restaurants offering the continent’s cuisine for years. [TONY]
Related: Merkato 55’s Most Popular Dish: Doro Wat

The Modern’s new wine director, Belinda Chang, is the kind of sommelier we want to be someday: “I’m definitely obsessed with magnums. They’re so fun to pour!” [NYS]

Frank Bruni’s been busy sweeping the country lately to assess some of the best new restaurants out there. His trip “didn’t shake my conviction that New York is the finest restaurant city in the nation, with an unrivaled range and depth of options. But it was a fresh reminder of all the exciting dining experiences that aren’t duplicated here, and it was a challenge to the smug superiority New Yorkers sometimes feel.” [NYT]

Also, Bruni notices that outside of New York diners pay a whole lot less on average and there’s a lot more room between tables, “leading you to experience a kind of feng shui dissonance, reflected in intermittent impulses to rearrange the restaurant furniture.” [Diner’s Journal/NYT]

Gotham Bar and Grill’s Alfred Portale “started cooking in high school when I found it was a good way to get girls to the house.” [Restaurant Girl]

The new unexpected food and wine pairing? Oysters with red wine. [NYT]

Joël Antunes, a rising star chef in Atlanta, has been tapped to run the kitchen at the Plaza’s Oak Room when it reopens this summer. [NYP]

Marco Canora and Paul Grieco, the gents behind Terroir, have a healthy working relationship: “There’s no more dysfunction in our relationship than there is in a marriage,” says Grieco. [NYO]
Related: What You'll Eat and Drink at Terroir

The folks at Eater pointed out yesterday that Restaurant Girl uses the word “beguiling” far too often in her reviews, but now Eater is being called out for its penchant for the word “shitshow.” [Feed/TONY]