Double Happy Hour at the Writing Room; Taste of the Lower East Side Tickets

• On April 24, restaurants like Beauty & Essex, L'Apicio, and wd~50 will join forces for the annual Taste of the Lower East Side. General admission tickets cost $195, and a VIP tasting preview costs $300. [Grub Street]

• Shake Shack announced today that it's opening its first location in Baltimore. [Baltimore Sun]

The Writing Room now offers a double happy hour, with 20 percent off everything daily from 4 to 6 p.m. from Monday to Saturday. The same offer extends to diners visiting after 10 p.m. [Grub Street]

Blue Hill bartender Weisi Li has created a series of farm-to-table cocktails to celebrate the upcoming Earth Day. His off-menu concoctions include the Spring Suite (vodka, pea puree, Meyer lemon marmalade, lemon juice, and mint) and the Freshly Pick(l)ed (vodka, green garlic juice, and beet juice). [Grub Street]

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Donatella Replacement Heartwood Opens Next Week

Donatella's signature gold oven is now red.

Restaurateur Nick Mautone, former Daniel baker Mark Fiorentino, and chef Bradford Thompson tell the New York Times not to expect red sauce or mozzarella cheese on the pizzas served at Heartwood, which opens Monday in the former Donatella space in Chelsea. What's more is that the flashy gold oven in the center of the open kitchen is now red, and the partners say the menu will more often be "more American than Italian." Mautone told Grub last month that he planned to serve a selection of whole-roasted meats, as well as seasonal vegetables and breads. [NYT, Related]

Hawaii Legislators Learn Their Charity Bake Sale Runs Afoul of Health Department Rules

Lawmakers from the state House have been plastering elevator walls with flyers offering food for sale — everything from $8 Filipino plate lunches to root beer floats to brownies à la mode — as part of a traditional weeklong sale that doubles as a benefit for the Hawaii Food Bank fund-raiser. But the health department is now warning the group that they may become sick, or sicken their constituents, if they consume food that wasn't prepared in inspected kitchens. Worse still, legislators selling food without permits can be hit with fines of $1,000 per day, but that's obviously not going to happen. "We will send a courtesy letter to the Senate president and the speaker of the House, just to let them know that all the lawmakers are affected by this law also," a DOH official tells KITV News. [KITV]

‘Ultra Low Fat Gourmet Doughnut Shop’ Opening in the West Village

The upstart.

No doubt in response to the collective full-fat awesomeness represented by America's greatest doughnut shops, a decade-old online company called Holey Donuts! will open its first brick-and-mortar store on May 4 at 101 Seventh Avenue South. Owner Frank Dilullo refuses talk about his patented 22-step process in detail, except to say that his 26 doughnut varieties, which contain a mere 3 to 5 grams of fat each and will retail for $3.85 a pop, will be kept in "four special chambers" maintained at 105 degrees and 95 percent humidity. In other words, part of the secret recipe is hot air. Future locations are already in the works. [Official Site, Related]

Grocery-Aisle-Synched Apps May Soon Influence the Way You Make Spaghetti

Tech company inMarket, which deploys tracking beacons in retail settings in the name of hypertargeted advertising, has enlisted Epicurious on an ambitious plan to e-dispatch recipes and "timely offers" to Safeway customers as they wander stores aisles. It all starts next month as an update to the Epicurious app, Ad Age reports, but by 2015 there may be as many as 40,000 of these "air freshener"-size Bluetooth devices embedded among all those Granny Smith apples and chunky-peanut-butter displays.

Cheesy? »

Eater’s First 2 Restaurant Reviews Cover Roberta’s and Mapo Korean B.B.Q.

Three stars and up-to-temp.

One month ago, Eater announced its bold new foray into the realm of restaurant criticism with the hiring of food writers Ryan Sutton and Bill Addison, along with the promotion of Robert Sietsema. Today, the former Village Voice critic files a dispatch from Flushing's Mapo Korean B.B.Q., where he finds there is "so much meat in an order [...] you may find yourself indulgently eating it with no accompaniments at all." Sutton awards three gold stars (out of four) to Roberta's, meanwhile, noting in his debut that the Bushwick restaurant's duck ham is "one of the world's great luxury goods," the torchetti and clams is "one of the city's best bivalve pasta dishes," and the $160 Wagyu flank is among the "country's great steaks."

Beta reviews. »

Watch the First Episode of Food Club, a New Show From Aziz Ansari and Eric Wareheim

What's most interesting about this food show — hosted by Aziz Ansari, Tim and Eric's Eric Wareheim, and Jason Woliner — is how straightforward the food coverage is. It's pretty good. Watch as the guys grab bánh mì, visit Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo at Son of a Gun, and manage to get seats at the Wolvesmouth supper club, which required advanced email techniques in order to score an invite: "If you want to get into a secret, special place," Wareheim advises, "put a funny JPEG in there." It's just sound advice.

Jokes and food porn, right this way. »

Massive Oklahoma Gun Range Will Have Attached Bar and Café for Some Reason

"Any misconceptions or joking aside, beer and bullets, guns and alcohol, they do not mix." —Entrepreneur Jeff Swanson, whose 40,000-square-foot range, bar, and restaurant complex opens this spring. The plan is for workers to use ID scanners that will help separate drunk people from gun-toting people. [FOX 25, Related]

The Polar Vortex Led to a Serious Gefilte-Fish Shortage

Pike place.

Passover is underway, and the bad news is that the Spam of Jewish food is apparently in extremely short supply this year, thanks to the polar vortex. It's gotten so bad that industry giant Manischewitz was forced to dip into its strategic frozen-whitefish reserves for production, and, meanwhile, stores are getting deliveries at a tenth of their usual volume, sending shoppers schlepping in all directions.

Oy. »

David Tanis Cooking at Estela Tomorrow Night

Tanis.

This sounds fun: Estela chef Ignacio Mattos tells Grub that tomorrow night, April 16, he'll invite David Tanis into the kitchen to cook a few special dishes. Tanis, of course, is a former chef at Chez Panisse and the author of books like A Platter of Figs and Heart of the Artichoke. He's also a frequent guest at Estela. Dinner will be business as usual — meaning walk-ins are welcome — but Tanis will contribute four additional dishes to the regular menu: fava-bean toasts, arroz negro, charred asparagus with scallions, and fried quail with sage. Mattos says he just wanted to do something casual, but that if all goes well he wants to do more guest dinners in the future.

The Commodore’s Stephen Tanner Opening El Dorado in Bushwick

Tanner, the chef and restaurateur who co-founded the original Pies 'n' Thighs and achieved subsequent heights of fried-chicken greatness at the Commodore is working on a new one called El Dorado. The bi-level space, set to open later this year at Ingraham and Bogart streets, will also have a rooftop bar, our friends at Bedford + Bowery report, and will be decked out in what designer Joe Foglia describes as a "’50s-to-’70s California motel aesthetic." [Bedford + Bowery]

Boston’s O Ya Reportedly Opening in Park South Hotel

Eater hears that restaurateurs Tim and Nancy Cushman, along with former No. 9 Park barman Ted Kilpatrick, are preparing to open two space inside Gramercy's Park South Hotel, one of which will be a bona fide outpost of their acclaimed Boston restaurant O Ya. The deal is reportedly "almost finalized," so there's been no official confirmation from Cushman, who won a Beard Foundation Award for O Ya in 2012. Kilpatrick's Twitter bio states he's working on "a couple bars in a hotel in midtown," however, and the hotel's website indicates "exciting transformations" are underway. If true, the Cushmans will be following the lead of James Beard Award-winning chef Ken Oringer, who opened a branch of his Boston restaurant Toro with Jamie Bissonnette in Chelsea last year. [Eater NY, Related]

Crumbs Bake Shop’s Cronut Knockoffs Headed to BJ’s Wholesale Clubs

That's not a Cronut.

Last year was a rough one for the venerated Great American Frosted Cupcake, what with various indicators of industry turmoil and the improbable ascent of Dominique Ansel's Cronut. Businessweek reports that the 11-year-old Crumbs Bake Shop chain, which has shuttered 17 of its stores since 2013, is now trying to reinvigorate itself by licensing its brand to outside bakeries and placing its products on supermarket shelves, including big-box retailer BJ's Wholesale Club. "I don’t know that cupcakes by themselves are a big enough classification to run a substantial business on," says new CEO Ed Slezak, who also says that the company's copycat pastry is "the last great thing that we put out there." [Businessweek]

Chipotle Allegedly Fired Domestic-Violence-Victim Employee Who Had ‘Too Many Issues’

A former employee of an Upper East Side Chipotle filed a civil-rights lawsuit in Manhattan Federal Court claiming management told her she had "too many issues outside work" when she returned to the restaurant following an altercation with an ex-boyfriend. Natasha Velez says she was choked on New Year's Day 2013 and sustained a fractured finger, which left her unable to prep burrito ingredients. The lawsuit alleges she was dismissed weeks later, after she returned to the job and presented an NYPD report and "other related paperwork" to a manager at the restaurant. [NYP]

04/14/14

Celebrate Cinco de Mayo at Salvation Taco; Easter at Reynard

• On April 17, "secret bar" La Isla Escondida will open its doors at 149 Mulberry Street. The Latin spot will feature an outdoor patio and garden, as well as film screenings, cocktails, and Sunday pig roasts. [Grub Street]

Reynard will host a $47, three-course Easter brunch on Sunday, featuring dishes like braised artichokes, spring lamb two ways, and ham Benedict. Reservations at fox@wythehotel.com, or call 718-460-8004. [Grub Street]

• On May 5, Salvation Taco will celebrate Cinco de Mayo with food and drink specials like frozen margaritas, chicken tinga, and chiles rellenos tamales. The restaurant's rooftop will open at noon. [Grub Street]

Read more »

Philly Bar Employee Fired for Posting Domestic Violence ‘Joke’ on Sidewalk

Over the weekend, a woman tweeted a photo of a chalkboard sign stationed outside Bar-Ly, a beer garden in Philadelphia's Chinatown, that read "I like my beer like I like my violence … domestic." The local NBC affiliate investigated, and the employee, who apparently was unaware that that joke has never been funny, was dismissed for "very poor judgment." [NBC]

Il Mulino Chefs Opening Long Island City Restaurant [Updated]

Segundo Tinishanay and Bolivar Perez, who have a combined 50 years of experience cooking behind the line in kitchens throughout the ever-expanding Il Mulino empire, are leaving the restaurant group* to open Il Falco in July or August at 21-50 44th Drive in Queens.

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Taco Bell Testing Quesadilla Served With Crushed Flamin’ Hot Fritos ‘Dip’

This is happening.Photo: Courtesy of Taco Bell

Bakersfield, California, Taco Bell outlets are right now test-marketing a new menu item called Quesadilla Double Dippers, which seem to exist just to prove that the chain is deeply committed to its recently announced corporate partnership that aims to Doritofy and Mountain Dewify just about everything on Earth. This time around, however, the chips aren't getting dipped: The Flamin’ Hot Fritos are the dip.

Nacho cheese and crushed Fritos, together at last. »

George Mendes’s Mad. Sq. Eats Stall Sounds Fantastic

Aldea chef and owner George Mendes will debut a stall called 100 Sardines at this year's Mad. Sq. Eats, Eater reports, which will presumably take the modernist-leaning chef's food a few notches down with its menu of "Portuguese-influenced soups, salads, sandwiches, and rice dishes made with both meat and seafood." In other news for the outdoor market, LES restaurant Pig and Khao has joined the lineup, which also includes return vendors Roberta's, Red Hook Lobster Pound, and the Cannibal. [Eater, Related]

Public-School Chicken Nuggets Way Grosser Than Anyone Imagined

Mystery meat indeed.

Chicago writer Monica Eng, who's investigated that city's public-school system's lunch program for some time, recently filed a FOIA request in order to obtain a detailed ingredient list of the offerings, which was met with a hilariously terse response. She's now received a more comprehensive report: It turns out those food-service chicken nuggets contain at least 28 ingredients — including soy protein and maltodextrin — a figure that doesn't even take the "breading" into account. In fact, all of the selections billed as "chicken," which Eng has taken to calling "food-like nubbins," are composed of "dozens of ingredients." Alice Waters, however, as usual isn't surprised by the broader, thoroughly dismal state of the school-food business. “The schools have really been hijacked by the companies who are benefitting when children are fed and digest the values of fast food,” she says. [NPR, WBEZ, Related]

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