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  1. Neighborhood Watch
    Crosby Connection Will Rise Again; Los Dados the Last Breath of MeatpackingMeatpacking District: With the wave of recent restaurant and nightlife closings, this area seems doomed, but Los Dados and long-delayed Merkato 55 might be able to salvage the hip destination, at least “on its western perimeter.” [Zagat] Midtown East: Midtown Lunch finagled a sneak peak of Sakae Sushi’s conveyor belt and loses his cool: “If you’ve been to an outlet overseas, you may end up disappointed by the first US location which lacks some of the uniqueness or ‘cool’ factor of the locations in Asia. That’s because they felt a more subdued location would be more appealing to the clientele of Midtown.… Even when we get something cool, we get screwed.” [Midtown Lunch] Park Slope: Lebanese Laila has closed, which doesn’t seem like a surprise since it was across the street from “the better, cheaper Olive Vine.” [TONY] South Slope: The Fourth Avenue soup man has officially given up his spot in preparation for a new fancy condo. [Eat for Victory/VV] Upper West Side: China Fun is getting in on the New Year shill fest: Submit 500 words (or fewer) on why you want to celebrate the Year of the Rat at China Fun (info@chinafun-ny.com), and you could win a banquet for eight. West Village: After losing its lease, Italian sandwich destination Crosby Connection is moving from its hole-in-the-wall to an actual restaurant space a couple of blocks away. [The Gluttoness]
  2. Back of the House
    Jean-Georges Vongerichten on His Gift for DelegationNo chef in New York restaurant history has been more successful, or more influential, than Jean-Georges Vongerichten. As he begins his third decade of cooking and running restaurants in New York, we sat down to ask him some questions about the scene: how it’s changed and where it’s going.
  3. The Other Critics
    Ssäm Bar Vindicated; Haute Cuisine Gets No LoveMomofuku Ssäm Bar wins two stars (!) from Bruni and completes a success story that seemed pretty unlikely a few months ago, when the place was selling Asian burritos to a handful of customers. The review is also a watershed in the changing culture of restaurants: Formal is now officially out, casual now officially legit. [NYT] Related: The I Chang [NYM] Meanwhile, Randall Lane is a lone dissenter, calling out Ssäm Bar for its unevenness, lack of focus, and the steep prices of some of its main dishes. On the whole, though, he seems to have missed the point — David Chang’s loose, unfettered approach to good cooking. [TONY] Steve Cuozzo joins in the chorus of approval greeting Wayne Nish’s transformation of the stuffy March into the swinging, fusion-y Nish. The message: Remain formal at your own peril. (See reviews of Dennis Foy and Gordon Ramsay.) [NYP] Related: Bedeviled [NYM]
  4. Mediavore
    Pelaccio Opens in London; Hotel Gansevoort BoycottedZak Pelaccio’s new London restaurant (first announced here) finally opens and issues a press release with a menu. [Snack] In a recent post, we called Michael Ruhlman a mandarin and critiqued his hauteur. Count us wrong on both counts: This response, titled “Grub Street Wankers,” and the vitriol that follows in the comment section, isn’t exactly high-minded. [Ruhlman] Related: In Defense of Rachael Ray and the Food Network [Grub Street] The big billboards erected on Hudson Street by the Hotel Gansevoort are so ugly that Pastis’ Keith McNally and 5 Ninth’s Joel Michel are refusing to take hotel reservations in protest. [NYP]
  5. Openings
    Morandi! McNally! And Now — Menu!Morandi may be the opening of the winter, and Rob and Robin have come through with a sneak peek at the much-awaited Italian restaurant and an interview with owner Keith McNally. And now, in a powerful addition to the ever-growing glory that is our database, we’ve got Morandi’s menu, too. We could tell you how tasty these Sicilian-inflected classics look, but why not just click through yourself? Morandi Menu [NYM]
  6. Click and Save
    Forget ‘Top Chef,’ Here’s What Real Cooking Looks Like The cooking on Top Chef is, as most chefs will tell you, about as realistic as the medicine practiced on House. But that doesn’t mean you can’t see the real thing if you look hard enough. Consider RealMeals, a brand-new, just-launched website which specializes in videos of both professional and amateur chefs actually cooking. This kind of instructional/aspirational video has been coming into vogue in recent months (Chow has produced a number of really good ones.) But RealMeals is both more interesting and more New York-oriented.
  7. NewsFeed
    Spoiler Alert: The Story of Oedipus, With Scenes of “Vegetable If you missed its debut on the Sundance channel last week (or its showing at the actual Sundance festival), prepare to veg out to the above: Jason Wishnow’s take on Oedipus is, the subtitle informs, “the story of Oedipus, in 8 minutes, performed by vegetables.” The stop-motion flick, featuring elaborate stage sets worthy of Ben Hur, depicts what is perhaps the goriest vegetable-on-utensil violence since food surrealist Jan Svankmajer’s Exhaustive Discussion as well as the only tomato-on-potato incest scene we can remember (and trust us, we’d remember). The day after a party for the film at Manitoba’s (owner Handsome Dick isn’t exactly a veggie guy, but we’ll disregard that), we asked director Wishnow what it was like to spend two years of his life shooting produce.