Posts for February 21, 2012

Masten Lake Closes Seven Months After Opening; Scott Conant Hits the Stage

East Village: New gastropub The Toucan & the Lion has opened, with roots in Latin American and Southeast Asian cuisine. [Tasting Table]
Koreatown: This year’s North East Regional Barista Championship will be held in conjunction with the annual Coffee and Tea Festival NYC. Baristas representing thirteen Northeastern states will head off in two competitions: the Barista Championship and the Brewers Cup, for espresso and pour-over preparations, respectively. Onlookers are invited to come and enjoy fresh brewed espresso while they watch the competition on a big screen. [Grub Street]
Midtown: In honor of Mardi Gras, La Silhouette’s chef Matthew Tropeano has created a Fat Tuesday prix-fixe special ($46) available tonight only. The meal includes an appetizer of crawfish or crab bisque, followed by shrimp etouffee as an entrée, and topped off with Mardi Gras beignets for dessert. [Grub Street]

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Pete Wells Isn’t Really a Fan of Shake Shack’s Burgers, Gives the Chain a Star Anyway

If you opened a small but growing chain of burger joints in New York City, and the restaurant critic from the Times said that your burger was often "cooked to the color of wet newsprint, inside and out, and salted so meekly that eating it was as satisfying as hearing a friend talk about a burger his cousin ate," you might not expect to last very long in this burger-saturated city. If you are Danny Meyer, and the burger chain is Shake Shack, you will apparently get a star and a full review that says, in essence, "Hey, the fries suck, and there are better burgers out there, but at least the employees are friendly!" We'd say this bodes well for North End Grill, but between this Shake Shack review, and last week's three-star rave review of Il Buco Alimentari, we're not even sure if Pete Wells is interested in reviewing actual restaurants anymore. [NYT]

Benihana Midtown Reopens, Paul McCartney Rocks the Veggies

He loves a midtown bite.

A few months ago, it was reported that Tracy Morgan's home away from home, the hibachi chain Benihana, had closed its midtown location for renovations. Now we hear the restaurant's doors are back open and stir-frying for the likes of Sir Paul McCartney, his three friends, and their suburban palates, who just this week ate spicy tofu steak, cucumber rolls, and a Garden Delight dish. Let it be ... teppanyaki.

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Tables Available at Fish Tag, Millesime; Within the Hour at Fishtail by David Burke, Esca

It's 4 p.m., and that means it's time to play Two for Eight. We just asked ten restaurants the best time they can squeeze in a couple for dinner; you need only make your chosen reservation. (As always, we make the calls but don't guarantee the results.)
Today: Seafood Experts.

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Now Kin Shop Is Serving Thai Fried Chicken, Too

Photo: Melissa Hom

Grub Street's fingers are still sticky from pigging out on Pok Pok's Asian chicken wings, and now we learn the LES shop isn't the city's only new source for Thai-style poultry: Kin Shop's Harold Dieterle recently added a fried fowl to his nightly specials menu. The toque marinates his Bell & Evans birds in ginger, garlic, lemongrass, oyster sauce, and "super, super funky" Thai shrimp paste for 24 hours. They're then dredged in rice flour and an Asian cereal and deep-fried, with herbs, fish-chili sauce, and coriander nam prik on the side.

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Bobby Flay Likes to Bump ‘n’ Grind

"You know, I’m a guy who always enjoys a party. I love to dance, and I love music you can dance to. I don’t mean the tango; I mean, I grew up in New York City, and I spent a lot of time hanging out on the street corner with my friends. Urban-style dancing music is what I’m into." — Bobby Flay to Melanie Dunea in his interview about the music he'd choose for his "last supper." [My Last Supper]

First Look at Wahoo’s Fish Taco, Bringing California Skate Culture (and Tacos) to NYC

West Coast and Texas types probably know Wahoo's, which has 60 locations on the western end of the country, primarily in California. Now the fast-casual chain, which opened yesterday near Madison Square Park, is bringing its breezy skate and surf theme, plus fish tacos and teriyaki "Maui" bowls, to NYC. Scope out the menu of "Banzai burritos" and more below, and check some food and sporty interiors straight ahead.

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Don’t Stop ... Till You Perfect Your MJ Latte Art

Some flexible-wristed barista didn't. If you thought leaves and hearts were impressive, check out the King of Pop, rendered in latte foam. We're not saying it'll heal the world, but it's pretty cool. [Baristart/Tumblr]

Double Seven’s Royal Brawl Was Started in ‘Self-Defense’

Small news bump in yesterday's story about former nightclub owner Adam Hock clobbering Grace Kelly's grandson, Prince Pierre Casiraghi of Monaco. Hock, who's now wearing a sling, says, "I acted 100% in self-defense. I felt I had to defend the honor of the women I was with." Something tells us this is not the last we'll hear from the supermodel-hero and the Double Seven saga. [NYDN]

Even Old Moonshiners Knew the Value of Branding

Popcorn Sutton's mug shot: How you want your moonshiner to look.Photo: U.S. Marshals Service

Branding is big in the booze biz. As New York once put it, "The man behind Grey Goose vodka understood that Americans want to pay more — You just have to give them a good story." And a story in today's Times makes it clear that even moonshiners from the Tennessee backwoods know the power of branding.

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James Beard’s 2012 Chef and Restaurant Semifinalists Announced

The James Beard Foundation has named the first batch of restaurant and chef award semifinalists, which will be narrowed down again on March 19 (along with the announcement of the nominees for book; journalism; restaurant graphics and design; and broadcast and new media awards). Winners will be awarded the ultimate bragging rights during the May 7 gala at Lincoln Center. Check out the list of potential winners and leave your own thoughts in the comments.

See all the semifinalists here! »

More on Dale Talde’s Second Park Slope Joint: Think Roadhouse

Aunt Suzie's is getting a "mullet-friendly" makeover.

Grub got its hands on some more details about the place Dale Talde and his Talde partners are planning for the old Aunt Suzie's space on Fifth Avenue, and there's nary a pretzel dumpling on the horizon. "It's going to be real, real, real casual place," Talde said. "The place I've always wanted to go [after work], to shoot a few rounds of pool, watch Sports Center." The toque and partners John Bush and David Massoni plan to offer pitchers of beer, "cheap whiskey," and "really chill bar food" till 2 a.m., seven days a week. And this one won't lean Asian: "At the end of the day, I'm just an American chef," Talde said. Also, there will be a Patrick-Swayze-in-Roadhouse feel (think: chicken wire), and the place is going to be "very mullet-friendly," so if you're angling for a job, better start growing that party in the back, stat. Talde was coy about his menu and the opening date, but he did mention, "we don't want to miss the blue crab for the summer."

How to Survive the SOBE Wine and Food Fest

There's a way to skip this line, if you know what you're doing.Photo: South Beach Wine and Food Festival

This Thursday marks the kickoff of the SOBE Wine and Food Fest, Lee Schrager's annual Miami gathering of food lovers, celebrity chefs, food and booze marketers, and fans just hoping to meet a Food Network star in person. The festival gets bigger every year, and 2012 won't be any different. That means anyone going can also expect, in addition to networking and revelry, maddening crowds and endless lines. But, if you follow a few guidelines from the experts, you'll cut down on the headaches and cut through the foodie fray a little more easily.

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Kardashians’ QuickTrim Kontroversy

Kim and Khloe Kardashian could face a class-action lawsuit over QuickTrim, the weight-loss product they personally endorse because it helped both girls lose 15 pounds in about 15 seconds, resulting in $45 million in revenue for the company. Turns out, QuickTrim, in all its speediness, is kind of terrible for you. [NYP]

Bar Veloce Suing Employee Over EV Flyer Smear Campaign

A note to disgruntled restaurant employees: Taking out a telephone-pole flyer smear campaign may not be such a hot idea. You'll recall that one party did just that in the East Village recently, attacking Bar Veloce, and now Veloce is fighting back — with a lawsuit. Inveterate wage-violation opponent Maimon Kirschenbaum sent over his latest suit, and this time, Bar Veloce is suing one Andrew Preston for defamation. Uh-oh. It seems Preston and two others had brought suit against Veloce last spring for wage violations, and then he decided to undertake the flyer tactic. If Preston ends up paying, we can think of at least one person who will be pretty happy. [Earlier]

Americans Don’t Know How to Lose Weight; National School Vending-Machine Rules Loom

• Here's a non-shocker: Americans don't know how to lose weight; we may in fact focus on cutting calories too drastically. [NYDN]

• Wal-Mart is eyeing China, having just taken a controlling stake of Chinese online retailer Yihaodian, which sells groceries, among other things. [USAT]

• Some flowers regenerated out of nuts that had been buried 30,000 years ago by squirrels and remained frozen. This sounds like something René Redzepi would use as a garnish. [Not Exactly Rocket Science/Discover Magazine]

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