The mystery of Gary Robins’s new West Village restaurant has been solved. The former Biltmore Room and Russian Tea Room chef tells us that his new place, in the space that formerly housed Café Rafaella and Central Kitchen, will be a New American restaurant called Sheridan Square. There will be a wood-burning oven and a wood grill, and the menu, though something of a departure from Robins’s usual luxe style, will have “a little bit of rustic elegance to it.”
The Russian Tea Room has found itself a new chef: former Beppe boss Marc Taxiera. Only in his first few weeks there, Taxiera is already revamping the menu, which has been in a state of suspended animation since former chef Gary Robins got the mitten in February. Taxiera has flown under the radar a little but is actually one of the more talented young chefs in town: Despite having no experience other than an ICE externship at Felidia and a job on the line at Baldoria, he did so well at Beppe that he was promoted from within when chef Cesare Casella left the restaurant to concentrate his energies on Maremma. Even though it's on what is usually thought of as a cursed street, Beppe continued to flourish, owing largely to Taxiera’s smart, muscular menu. Whether all that translates into Russian is another story, but it’s a smart move for the embattled Russian Tea Room.
Related: Russian Tea Room Fires Gary Robins, and Robins Fires Back
Nothing against the articles, but it’s the ads in the Times dining section that we’re obsessed with. First there was Jeffrey Chodorow’s “Dear Mr. Wells” rant, followed by Jeffrey Chodorow’s “Dear Frank” letter, and now this intriguing tidbit buried at the bottom of an ad for a Macy’s Cellar cooking event in the August 29 edition:
Thursday, September 27, Executive Chef Gary Robins from the legendary and romantic restaurant One if By Land, Two if By Sea, prepares a perfect meal for special occasions!
The question the Gobbler gets asked more than any other is “What’s hot?” And for a several months now, the Gobbler has answered, with tedious regularity, “Nothing.” People are still clawing their way into Waverly Inn, and if you enjoy offal products done up in an elegant, Asian-fusion style, Momofuku Ssäm Bar is the place for you. But the grandiose cycle of openings which began with the arrival of Masa and Per Se at the Time Warner Center four years ago and reached a crescendo early last year with the giant Meat District extravaganzas like Buddakan and Del Posto has more or less petered out. Sure, there have a been a few tepid revivals (the Russian Tea Room), and bigfoot out-of-town chefs like Joël Robuchon and Gordon Ramsay have opened franchise outlets. There are plenty of restaurants in town, and plenty of them are busy. But this most recent boom may have run its course. Here are some possible reasons why.