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The LES Slips a New Bar by the SLA

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a Lower Eastpacking District bar opening with full liquor license! Naked Earth coffee-shop owner Shuki Kazaz has teamed up with first-timer Stephen Schuler to open a “classy dive” with a fifties pinup-theme in the diminutive space that once housed Lulu’s Gourmet Coffee. Turns out the owner of Lulu’s had a liquor license up his sleeve, and the new proprietors are using it to prepare variations on classic cocktails, as well as a “bubblegum martini” created by a bartender at Schiller’s (rest assured, the concoction doesn’t contain Juicy Fruit). Delivery from Schiller’s is also available. So why can’t you order from the neighboring Tides? “Pinups and seafood don’t really mix,” Schuler says. —Daniel Maurer Nurse Bettie, 106 Norfolk St., nr. Delancey St.; 917-434-9072. Opens fully January 18.

East Village, Get Ready for ‘Pan-Asian/New American’

Anyone who remembers short-lived Secretes might have doubts as to whether high-minded global fusion can survive in the Tompkins Square Park vicinity. Nevertheless, last week Hong Kong–trained Kevin Chan, most recently of Cafe Lika and Yaffa Cafe, opened what's described as a Pan-Asian/New American joint in the space that was formerly Tenth Street Lounge. The menu is an international mélange of $20-and-under dishes (kalbi beef ribs in plum sauce, penne with Shanghai vegetables, roast duck, paella, eel avocado salad, etc.), hence the name: Kaleidoscope. In time there will also be colorful projections on the walls and — knock on wood — beer, Korean plum wine, and sake. —Daniel Maurer Kaleidoscope, 212 E. 10th St., nr. Second Ave.; 212-420-8822.

Another ‘Izakaya,’ to Our Chicken Heart's Delight

Following the lead of newcomers Izakaya Ten and Zenkichi, the once-formal Takayama has reinvented itself as Ariyoshi, an izakaya with a sushi bar boasting a lengthy menu of tempura, yakitori, noodles, and assorted plates like veal-liver sashimi. Though sake barrels and light boxes decorated with bamboo give the narrow, high-ceilinged space a serene vibe a world away from the noisy Japanese St. Marks dives (there’s also a small private room in the back), the prices are reasonable: $2 for two gelatinous hunks of beef tendon in a stock of octopus, egg, radish, and tofu (there are ten other varieties of oden stew, too), and $2 for a skewer of salted chicken hearts. The toro tartar, one of the priciest dishes at $13, is a tuna portion large enough to feed two, topped by a quail egg sitting in a nest of flying-fish eggs. They're not serving cod sperm yet, but the manager says he’s considering it. —Daniel Maurer Ariyoshi, 806 Broadway, nr. 12th St., 212-388-1884.

Papaya King Plots Hot-Dog Imperialism

The recent price hike at Gray’s isn't the only change afoot in the papaya world: Gray’s predecessor Papaya King, which recently opened locations in La Guardia and JFK, is poised to open two more stands — the first next month in Clifton, New Jersey, in the Corrado's shopping center, and another one in the middle of the year near the Sears store at Fordham Road and Webster Avenue in the Bronx. President and CEO Dan Horan says he thinks the city can absorb 35 to 40 Papaya Kings and has already earmarked fifteen potential locations. Not only that, he’s opening another stand in Baltimore's BWI airport in early 2007 and looking at opportunities as far west as Los Angeles. So why are there currently just three Manhattan locations? Apparently, rising rents and competition from banks eyeing the same 500-square-foot corner spaces are to blame. We’d much rather blow $1.79 on a Papaya dog (handmade from bull's beef, unlike those of his competitors, Horan points out) than on unsavory ATM fees. — Daniel Maurer Earlier: Bummer Indeed: Gray's Papaya Finally Raises Prices

Cain's Secret Project to Bring a Whole Lotta Bling to Little Italy

Cain's owner Jamie Mullholland says he isn't spilling the beans on his new Nolita joint Gold Bar until it opens in January, but James Famularo, broker for the space's former tenant, Odea, reveals that designer Robert McKinley (PM, Cain) has completely draped what's to be a Pangea-like restaurant and bottle lounge in its namesake element: Gold-leaf ceilings, gold chains separating railroad-style rooms (unlike Odea's enclosed areas), and the coup de grace, 3,000 gilded fake skulls covering the walls. Plus, there will be captain chairs at a low-slung bar. In other news, trendsetter La Esquina and newcomer Bar Martignetti will soon have more company in their area: Famularo says he's talking to major operators about four other spaces within a three-block radius. “A year ago all the calls we got were for the meatpacking and West Chelsea. Now it’s all for the Little Italy–Nolita area.” Lot attendants, we suggest you learn how to park an H2. — Daniel Maurer

Hearth's Marco Canora Opening Two Restaurants in One

Marco Canora, whose Italianate cooking at Hearth has been a big hit lo these past few years, will also be taking over the former Limoncello space in the Michelangelo hotel come March. "I want to do two menus at once," the chef tells us. "One will be old-world — no-frills, no bells and whistles. Just the dishes that have been around for 500 years. The new-world side will involve more global sourcing and be more composed, but still Italian." (The beet-and-Gorgonzola risotto at Hearth, with its julienne of fried beet bits on top, hints at what you can expect from the latter.) "This is not Marco Canora as a molecular gastronomist," Canora says, speaking grandly in the third person. "This is Marco Canora as an evolving chef." Kobe Club, a Future Gastrosaloon and After Hours at Suba [Nation's Restaurant News; scroll to bottom of post]

Two New Spots Have BYOBers Crossing Delancey

The culinary colonization of the Lower–Lower East Side continues apace. Last month sushi newcomer Jin brought an $80 omakase menu, though no alcohol, to a former hosiery shop on Broome Street. Around the corner, Diane Wongprasert (owner of Regional Thai Taste, Pad Thai, and Sa-Woy) has just opened Sticky Rice, a casual, quietly stylish spot that specializes in the northeastern Thai tradition of barbecuing with spicy lemongrass marinades but does not serve beer or wine. Side dishes include a thick, chewy slab of Thai bacon, grilled corn glazed in coconut sauce, and of course all manner of sticky rice (turmeric, pandana, etc.). If ginger tea doesn't cut it, there's a liquor store a few blocks east on Delancey. — Daniel Maurer Jin, 252 Broome St., nr. Orchard St.; 212-979-0989. Sticky Rice, 85 Orchard St., nr. Broome St.; 212-274-8208.

Ralph Lauren to Feed East Hamptonites, Too

On Daily Intelligencer today, you'll find a story on upper-crust icon Ralph Lauren opening an eatery next to his boutique in the East Hampton. The former Blue Parrot has been bought by the former Ralph Lipschitz, who is said to be refashioning it along the lines of the Ivy in Beverly Hills. (The prior owner has moved to L.A. to pursue an acting career.) Lauren already has a big restaurant in Chicago, but somehow, this locale just seems like it was meant to be. Perhaps this summer we'll change our name, buy some new shirts, and drop in. Ralph Lauren to Open Hamptons Eatery, No Doubt to Be Filled With Old-Time Americana [Daily Intel]

Mon Dieu! Hell's Kitchen Finally Gets Its Bistro

The stretch of Ninth Avenue between 50th Street and 56th Streets teems with affordable restaurants serving Vietnamese, Puerto Rican, Italian, and diner food. But there are no contemporary, Balthazar-style French brasseries. Until tomorrow. Brasserie 52 is small but polished, the menu packed with standards like escargot with garlic butter, foie gras mousse, and steak au poivre. The relatively expansive bar and vaguely Continental brunch fare (eggs Florentine, spinach salad with warm bacon dressing) might just make it a local standby. Brasserie 52, 772 Ninth Ave., nr. 52nd St.; 212-586-5005.

New Astoria Greek Spot Grinds Its Own Sausage

Friday marked the soft opening of Ovelia, another traditional Greek restaurant in Astoria. (Thursday is the official launch.) There haven't been many major additions to the neighborhood's Greek scene in recently; Anna's Corner and Ploes are more than a year old. Typically enough, the emphasis at Ovelia is on dishes cooked on a charcoal grill or in a gas rotisserie. Intriguingly, the new restaurant makes its own sausage in-house, which should make a nice alternative to the grilled fish and doner kebab. And there's a full liquor license for those of you who'd also like a cocktail. Ovelia, 34-01 30th Ave., at 34th St., Astoria; 718-721-7217.

New Restaurants? Why, Yes, I'd Like to Hear About Those

Rob and Robin round up an intriguing set of openings this week: Rosanjin, the Kyoto-themed sushi restaurant whose delivery service we wrote up in October; Kobe Club, the steakhouse that wound up not hiring Josh DeChellis, as we reported a couple weeks back; and wine-centric Varietal, tony Dennis Foy, and Gus's Place, which just has a new location, as well as two others we'll let you discover. Restaurant Openings: Rosanjin, Varietal, Dennis Foy, Kobe Club, Gus's Place, Fireside, and Brooklyn Label [NYM]

Japanese-Happy St. Marks Place Gets a Korean Comer

Last week, Chang Han, the bearded, ponytailed bon vivant behind Emo's uptown, brought his longtime chef Won Choi's Korean home cooking to his new spot, Gama, on St. Marks Place. He's given the former home of San Marcos a Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance makeover with decorations that include a suspended '75 Kawasaki, his mother's ceremonial Korean dresses, lotus etchings donated by a monk, his wife's pottery, and his kids' drawings. (Chang lives across the street and also owns the St. Marks Market.) The standouts on the bargain-priced 76-item menu are Choi's signature simmered cod in soy-and-garlic sauce and a light, spicy casserole that overflows with seastuffs (the meat version offers ham, pork belly, and hot dogs). In the front room, bargoers can enjoy Japanese sakes and Korean sojus as well as an herbal wine that promises 100 years of life to whoever imbibes it. Gama, 12 St. Marks Pl., nr. Third Ave.; 212-475-7101. — Daniel Maurer

Kosher Eatery Opens, Spurs Challenge to Bar-B-Jews

We recently happened on Milk 'N Honey NYC, a brand-new — not to mention clean, shiny, and completely kosher — midtown lunchery. Panini, sushi, pizza, and calzone: Is there any food you can't find in a kosher restaurant these days? We just wrote about New York's "Bar-B-Jew" phenomenon; now we're wondering why none of those guys are keeping it kashruth. As far as we know, there's no technical prohibition against smoking meat in Judaic law, and the Jewish people's fondness for beef brisket is well established. (Last year Erica Marcus wrote a piece in Newsday on that very subject; unfortunately, it's not available online.) Meanwhile, a reader wrote in to remind us of a Bar-B-Jew we neglected to mention — Ben Grossman, of the Smoke Joint in Brooklyn. There are so many of these fellas we can't even keep up! The question is, which one of them is ready to take the kosher challenge? Milk 'N Honey NYC, 22 W. 45th St., nr. Fifth Ave.; 212-764-4400. Earlier: Barbecue: The New Kosher Food? [Grub Street]

How to Score a Lower Eastpacking District Liquor License

Liquor licenses are at such a premium in the Lower Eastpacking District that one beer-bar owner told us that a batty community-board member vowed she wouldn't recommend him for one until the Iraq war came to an end. So when we heard that Darin (cousin of Steve) Rubell of Mercadito and Joshua Boyd of Plan B were opening GalleryBar with all the liquid fixings, we were a little doubtful. Rubell concedes that the upstairs art space, which opens December 15 featuring the work of painter Kevin Berlin, comes with a backstory that might spark envy among his embattled neighbors (the Orchard, say). To hear Rubell tell it, after evicting 13 Little Devils, their "very smart" landlord transferred the liquor license to a corporation and then sold it, license included, to Rubell and Boyd. Et voila: A rustic basement lounge where you'll be able to quaff booze and order paninis provided by Bruschetteria. — Daniel Maurer

Gordon Ramsay Trying To Be Nice for NYC – and Failing

Gordon Ramsay, the famously testy British gastro-deity and Hell's Kitchen TV star, is trying to play nice as the opening of his new restaurant in Manhattan, London NYC, approaches. (The first meals will be served November 17.) The only problem is that Ramsay's wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command still cut through. A piece in the Independent quotes Ramsay as having told an American interviewer, "I've already been warned. The moment I touch down at the airport I get put in my straitjacket and I go straight to the management skills manual to learn how to ask a kitchen porter to wash out a copper pan for me." Ramsay turns nice guy in bid to win over New Yorkers [Independent]

The Slope Gets Gastropub — With Garden, Perfect for Six Months From Now

Kevin Read, former barkeep at Lucky Strike, has given a post-Victorian makeover to a Park Slope hardware store, trucking in a 100-year-old bar, and will soon open Alchemy, a bar-restaurant inspired by his time in the townhouse gastropubs of Hempstead, London. Chef Jared King — formerly of Windows on the World, Oceana, and most recently, Peacock Alley — will cook $12 to $25 entrées of roasted chicken, ravioli, seasonal stews, and a hangar steak in red-wine reduction, plus more adventurous specials made with game and organ meat. Ingredients will be largely local, organic, and free-range, and come spring the patrons will be free-range too: There's a garden in the back. Alchemy, 56 Fifth Ave., nr. Bergen St.; Park Slope, Brooklyn — Daniel Maurer

Latest Intel on the Russian Tea Room

Our first, tentative outing to the newly reborn Russian Tea Room (those gilded Phoenix bas-reliefs on the walls now take on a whole new meaning) revealed the following: • Less than a quarter-capacity crowd at 9 p.m. on Saturday night. • Straight-off-the-boat willowy model types manning the front of the house. • A surprising preponderance of actual Russians, probably on their way to or from buying up every piece of art there is at Sotheby's. • And, last but not least, this nugget of intel: Only the restaurant's relatively plain, low-ceilinged ground floor is actually open for business. The infinitely more spectacular halls on upper floors are still in need of some touching-up; as the hostess put it, "One or two eggs are still unlit on the Faberge tree … But the crystal bear is already loaded with fish. We'll just give them a couple more weeks to acclimate." Free of context, this sounds like a phrase from an absinthe nightmare. In the Tea Room's case, however, it's business as usual. — Michael Idov First Look Inside the Russian Tea Room

Paul Sevigny's ‘Top Secret’ Beatrice: Hipster Restaurant of the Season

When we spoke to Paul Sevigny about his soon-to-open hipsteraunt (the second coming of onetime West Village speakeasy the Beatrice Inn), he at first told us "it's kind of top secret." (Doorman Angelo certainly wasn't letting us in on the secret when we tried to crash Courtney Love's party there on Halloween night.) But after throwing down with the beautiful people at actor-jeweler Waris Ahluwalia's birthday bash last weekend, we can now let you in on the details of what looks to be the downtown set's answer to the revival of Waverly Inn.

Michael Bao Huynh's Vietnamese to be Taken to the Next Level

Good news for Bao 111 fans: Chef Michael Bao Huynh is opening Mai House, a much bigger, more ambitious restaurant, backed by the Myriad Restaurants Group (Nobu, Tribeca Grill, et al). He'll be cooking straight-up Vietnamese food, but whatever it lacks in fusion flash, we're betting will be made up for by the guy's way with flavor. And the 4,500-square-foot, 120-seat space sounds like it'll be lovely, with "hand-carved wood fixtures from Vietnam, crushed sunflower-seed walls, Zebrawood banquettes, a mother-of-pearl and bamboo butcher-block bar and Vietnamese lotus flower light fixtures," according to the Myriad Group. It should open at the end of the month. 186 Franklin St., nr. Greenwich St.; 212-431-0606.

First Look Inside the Russian Tea Room

We've been hearing for a couple of weeks now that the Russian Tea Room is about to reopen in its old location. (Read Gael Greene's account of the institution here.) Outside of a few rumors and a U2-like spy photo on Eater, there hasn't been much info on what to expect from the new iteration. But in a glasnostlike gesture, the restaurant has thrown open its doors to Grub Street and our cameras.