Posts for February 27, 2013

Groupon Stock Continues to Drop After Sad Earnings Report

Insert joke about $10 for $20 in stock here.

Groupon, once upon a time a beacon of deal-site glory, continues to get battered as a public company: Yet another dismal earnings report got released today. The news of a fourth-quarter net loss of $81.1 million hit the airwaves after the markets closed, but it's already sent the company's stock price tumbling in after-hours trading — it's down at $4.46 as of this writing, a full 25 percent drop from its closing price of $5.98 just an hour ago. Things had been looking slightly up for the company since hitting an August low amid some media mumbling about the public having serious "deal fatigue." Maybe too many people are sick of the unused scuba lesson coupons staring them in the face every time they open their junk drawers. [Chicago Tribune, Reuters, Earlier]

Isa Launches Lunch Service; Verso Officially Reopens

Isa is now open for lunch. Starting March 4, the Williamsburg restaurant will offer service from noon to 4 p.m. Lunch classics will get an ISA makeover, à la its rustic, home-style Mediterranean cuisine. Feast on muffeletta and milanaise sandwiches on homemade focaccia and six types of rustic lunch pizzas. [Grub Street]

• Celebrate the first day of spring with the Meet the Farmer dinner at Foragers City Table on March 20. The event starts at 6 p.m., and during cocktail hour, representatives from farms and wineries will share a little background about their operations and upcoming harvests. Chef Nickolas Martinez, who recently took over the kitchen at Foragers, will prepare a three-course dinner with wine pairings. Tickets are priced at $135 and must be purchased in advance. E-mail for seats. [Grub Street]

• More fro-yo hits the city! Pinkberry is coming to the Upper West Side. The new, certified-Kosher location opens at 93rd and Broadway on March 13. [Grub Street]

• Tonight, Verso is reopening. The Italian bistro was hit hard by Sandy. [EV Grieve]

Customers Weirdly Not Cool With Porn-Browsing Pizza Hut Worker

Several Pizza Hut customers in Richmond, Virginia, who encountered a worker spending his break looking at pictures of naked women on his laptop in the restaurant's dining room were nonplussed when management told them it wasn't their problem. "It was personal time," a shift manager tells the local NBC affiliate, explaining it's really Larry the mozzarella guy's right to spend his downtime any way he chooses. "He wasn't on the clock." The employee apparently spends many of his three-hour breaks out in the dining-room booth, which doesn't really seem to freak out Pizza Hut management, who say it doesn't affect his "job performance" and that they "had a talk" with the guy after the incident. Ten bucks says he was looking at pizza-delivery-guy porn.

Break time's over! Let's get back to work! »

Shiraz Noor Replaces Eamon Rockey at Aska


Partner and general manager Eamon Rockey of Williamsburg's critically acclaimed Aska is leaving the three-month-old restaurant to pursue a new project, reports Eater NY. Rockey's next endeavor will be announced in the near future, and meanwhile, beverage director Shiraz Noor has been named Aska's new general manager. "The news is not as drastic as it may seem," Noor tells Grub Street. "We'd been planning it for a while now. I'm very excited to continue to maintain the same level of wine service, and also offer our guests one of the most unique dining experiences in the city." [Eater NY, Earlier]

In Utah, Restaurants Still Can’t Pour Alcohol in Front of Customers

Home of the sober.

Close your eyes, kids! Don't look at the scary bottle of chardonnay! People in Utah apparently think it's harmful for children to see servers pour alcohol. In 2010, the state lifted a mandate that required bars to operate as members-only clubs, but there was a compromise: At restaurants that have been open for less than three years, servers can't pour alcohol in front of patrons. Now lawmakers are considering repealing the ridiculous "Zion curtains" rule, which requires bartenders to make drinks out of sight, like they're cocaine dealers. (One of the bill's notable opponents, Republican State Senator John Valentine, says, "Alcohol is a drug.") The law is crippling for new restaurants; not only do they have to waste money building special service bars, they also have to cut back on tables to make room for them. And pouring booze in the back causes customers to think a restaurant's being shady. "It lessens consumer confidence," says Melva Sine, president of the Utah Restaurant Association. "We have got to stop feeling like everyone who drinks alcohol is doing something wrong." Preach. [AP]

Ryan Hardy’s Soho Restaurant Gets a Name and Opening Date

Warming up as we speak.Photo: Ryan Hardy

Four-time James Beard Award-nominated chef Ryan Hardy will open the 60-seat Charlie Bird in the old King space in Soho in May with sommelier Robert Bohr. Hardy describes the menu as "urban Italian" (no, not that Urban Italian), and a rep for the project says the kitchen will be making cheese and curing meats — two pursuits Hardy explored previously at Montagna at the Little Nell in Aspen.

Take a first look. »

Did the Marrow Really Rip Off Le Bernardin? Harold Dieterle Responds

The Marrow's uni marrow on the left; at right, Le Bernardin's bone marrow with uni and bacon.Photo: Melissa Hom, infinism/Instagram

Many critics, including New York's Adam Platt, visited Harold Dieterle's the Marrow for their columns this week. In his review, Platt called out the restaurant's "stodgy, ­canoe-size marrowbone, topped, less elegantly than at Le Bernardin, with smudges of faintly overcooked uni." Because of the similarities between the two dishes, but moreover perhaps because Dieterle's version is emblematic of his West Village restaurant on the whole, some eagle-eyed diners were also quick to suggest that the similarities between two marrow-and-uni plates was more than a coincidence. One is garnished with celery leaves and the other has crisp bacon spokes, sure, but could the Marrow have based its marrow on a very similar dish served at Le Bernardin?

Dieterle responds. »

Nightmare Scenarios: Tainted Burrito Leads to Brain-Invading Tapeworm

Watch out!Photo: Corbis

It's like a scene from a particularly vile VH1 Behind the Music. Jay Whalley, the front man for Aussie punk group Frenzal Rhomb, suffered seizures, headaches, and feared he had a brain tumor. But his woes had nothing to do with sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Instead, it was because Whalley consumed a tainted burrito while on tour in Central America, and then pork tapeworm eggs jaunted from his intestines to nestle in his brain.

Read more »

Macy’s Gives Emeril Lagasse the Boot

At a trial for Macy's case against Martha Stewart and JCPenney, the department store revealed that it will no longer sell Lagasse's cookware line. Stewart’s company owns and designs Lagasse's products, which it purchased in 2008 for $50 million (along with his franchises). Macy's is suing Stewart for violating their exclusivity deal, but claims that dropping Lagasse's line from 800 stores has nothing at all to do with the lawsuit. The decision apparently stemmed from weak sales performances; customers have been panning his pans. [NYDN]

The Yeastmaster: Flowers Foods Is Buying Wonder Bread

There was supposed to be an auction tomorrow for the portfolio of bread brands — including Home Pride, Merita, and Nature's Pride — that used to belong to the now-defunct Hostess, but since it appears that no other bidders are going to show up for this whole-wheat party, Bloomberg reports a crusted source tells them the Thomasville, Georgia-based Flowers Foods will snap the brand up for $360 million, which sure is a lot of bread. We're now, of course, just counting down the days till PBR buys Twinkies. [Bloomberg, Earlier, Related]

IACP Awards Food Writing Finalists Announced

The International Association of Culinary Professionals announced the finalists for its annual food writing awards this morning. Nominees include the heavy-hitting Bouchon Bakery cookbook, but also Nancy Singleton Hachisu's excellent Japanese Farm Food and Naomi Duguid's great Burma: Rivers of Flavor. Friend of Grub Street Ian Knauer got a nod for The Farm, and the always thoughtful Rebecca Flint Marx was recognized for her "Modern Love"-esque, Gilt Taste essay "From Sex Cake to Spurned Salad," which you should go read right now. [IACP, PDF]

Mother and Daughter Crack Coca-Cola’s Bottle Cap Contest


A family of computer criminals manipulated Coca-Cola's bottle cap contest and ended up costing the company over $200,000. After Carrie and Sarah Jones from Albany, Oregon, figured out the winning codes, which awarded prizes such as concert tickets and gift cards, they grouped their earnings and sold them on eBay. The women have to pay Coca-Cola back $50,000, but no one's quite sure how much they actually made off the prizes, as they claimed thousands (thousands!) of codes. Kind of genius, no? This is like a modern-day version of Heartbreakers. [HuffPo]

The Other Critics: Platt, Wells, and Sietsema Divided on the Marrow; Sutton Pans the General

Inside the Marrow.

This week, Adam Platt visited Harold Dieterle’s German-Italian restaurant, the Marrow, finding its namesake dish to be a “stodgy, canoe-size” affair. Citing the clumsy heft of other dishes, he gives the West Village spot one star. What are other critics’ takes on their meals? We serve that up, straight ahead.

Reviews of Tribeca Canvas, Café Tallulah, and more. »

21 New York City Restaurants That Could Save Your Life

Le Bernardin specializes in pairing fish with wine — just what you're looking for.Photo: Melissa Hom

An unusually unambiguous study was published this week by the New England Journal of Medicine — and widely reportered in a front-page story in the Times — that seems to prove once and for all the real, life-extending benefits of the Mediterranean diet. It can prevent 30 percent of heart attacks, strokes, and deaths caused by heart disease. What you're looking for: "A high intake of olive oil, fruit, nuts, vegetables, and cereals; a moderate intake of fish and poultry; a low intake of dairy products, red meat, processed meats, and sweets; and wine in moderation, consumed with meals." With so many good Greek, Spanish, and seafood-focused restaurants around town, this diet's actually not hard to follow. We've rounded up great restaurants that champion this kind of life-extending dining.

How about citrus-cured salt cod at La Vara? »

Are These the Six Best Ramen Shops in the Country?


Food writer Keizo Shimamoto is a ramen obsessive: Exhibit A is his blog Go Ramen! and the tangential claim that he's "probably slurped more bowls of ramen than any other American." The peripatetic noodle guy is now also the subject of Michael McAteer's short documentary Ramen Dreams, an odyssey of broth and chashu. Shimamoto has been hitting up East and West Coast shops in the last year, and in no particular order, he tells the Asia Society's Asia Blog that his current top five are Totto Ramen in Manhattan, Dassara Ramen in Brooklyn, Tsujita in L.A., Shoki Ramen House in Sacramento, and Foo-Foo Tei in Hacienda Heights. Though not a dedicated ramen shop, Grant Achatz's high-end Chicago bar Aviary ranks as a bonus pick, if only for its "molecular ramen." [Asia Blog]

Watch This Homemade Robot Go to Town on an Oreo Cookie

Portland-based artist, copywriter, and Rube Goldberg machine builder David Neevel lost out on some quality time with his dog, risked cold hands, and skipped some potentially good lunches all in service of building this robot that separates the cookie portion of Oreo cookies from the cream, which Neevel dislikes and dispatches with an automated hatchet. It's a Nabisco ad, of course, but a fun one. "I don't have a catchphrase for my machine," he says. "But I guess if it did have one, it could be something like 'let's get that cream out of there,' or like, 'this cream's no good let's get it off the cookies,' or something."

Let's see what this baby can do. »

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