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Wild Salmon Starts Its Upstream Journey Strongly; Craftsteak Upgraded

Alan Richman has a few qualms about Wild Salmon – its reason for being, for example – but likes both the food (except for the sauces) and the service (when it’s not too friendly). Given how ready Richman is to knock restaurants, owner Jeffrey Chodorow has to feel pretty good about this one. [Bloomberg] Related: Wild Salmon Swims Into View. Yes, ‘Pun Intended’ [Grub Street] The newly revamped Craftsteak and Craftbar get rereviewed by Bruni, who awards the less than the white-hot former a much-needed second star, and the latter, “more or less back on track” after earlier troubles, a (borderline) single star. [NYT] Time Out’s Randall Lane lays four stars (out of six) on Gilt, finding Chris Lee’s cooking admirable all around, if less risky than that of his predecessor, Paul Liebrandt, who still keeps popping up whenever the restaurant is discussed. [TONY] Related: Gramercy Rehab [NYM]

Revisiting the Hallowed Stalls at Bar 89

Unless you’ve blocked out your raver phase, you probably remember Fun, the club where video feeds allowed the boys to spy on the girls’ room and vice versa. Those were the days when a restroom that makes you go “(p)oo-la-la!” could make or break a nightspot, and the most celebrated holdover from that era is Bar 89, a.k.a. “that place in Soho with the cool bathrooms.” Obviously, we don’t go there much and we’re guessing you don’t either, since the once novel aspects of the place’s décor have been dampened by almost a decade of beer funk. So how exactly have the restrooms held up?

Sam Mason Doesn’t Find Wine Intoxicating

Welcome to the latest installment of the Launch, where Sam Mason, former pastry chef at wd-50, relates the ups and downs of preparing to open Tailor, the swanky restaurant and lounge coming together at 525 Broome Street.

Sam Mason Ogles Waitresses, Buys Tiles

Welcome to the latest installment of the Launch, where Sam Mason, former pastry chef at wd-50, relates the ups and downs of preparing to open Tailor, the swanky restaurant and lounge coming together at 525 Broome Street.

FR.OG Finds the French Influence Everywhere

Sure, France is a minor power now, but from Saigon to Casablanca, it once held sway over a broad swath of the globe, and it still lives on in much of the world’s cooking. That’s the key to understanding FR.OG, whose opening Rob and Robin announced this week. Co-owner and chef Didier Virot sees the French soul in Vietnamese, Moroccan, and Middle Eastern cookery, and so his menu, which we now release to the world, is a study in unforced fusion: foie gras with ginger crust and mango coulis, a classical roast chicken served alongside green papaya salad, a braised lamb shank served with roasted duck breast. Add to that an equally eclectic cocktail program and a location on a very fashionable corner of Soho and FR.OG seems bound to succeed — even to diners without a sense of history. Restaurant Openings: FR.OG, Suba, Móle, and Paradou Marché. [NYM] FR.OG Menu

Sam Mason Gets His Own Special Island

Welcome to the latest installment of the Launch, where Sam Mason, former pastry chef at wd-50, relates the ups and downs of preparing to open Tailor, the swanky restaurant and lounge coming together at 525 Broome Street.

Provence Opens Its Petals for Spring

Among other things, this week’s Openings brings news of the return, under Cookshop and Five Points owners Marc Meyer and Vicki Freeman, of Provence, the casual French restaurant that was a West Village institution for many years. The menu (part of our immense database) is long on southern French specialties like soupe de poissons and lamb daube. Throw in an emphasis on local ingredients and it’s likely the new incarnation will be just as popular as the old one. Openings: Provence, Resto, Gold St., Zipper Tavern

More About That Hunky Sam Mason

We’re not the only ones following Sam Mason’s path to power at Tailor: The April issue of Food Arts has an excellent article on the cocktail program at the restaurant-lounge. (It’s not online, but we’ve scored a PDF.) Given that Mason’s mixologist, Eben Freeman, made his bones alongside the chef at the cutting-edge wd-50, it’s no surprise that the drinks are wild sounding. The magazine gives descriptions and recipes for four of them, including a Lychee Daiquiri With Soy Caramel, a Butternut and Falernum cocktail (“a bit like butternut squash soup –with a kick”), and a Brandy Truffle Flip. With drinks that rich, who’s going to be hungry enough to eat? Tailor Made [Food Arts] Related: The Launch

Is There a Warrant Out on Jason Neroni?

The owner of Porchetta claims that not only was Jason Neroni fired but that the termination was for misappropriation of funds — and there’s a warrant out for his arrest. (If so, the Desperate Chef is hiding in plain sight, as we just saw him last night at the TONY awards.) [Eater] Nearly everyone got an award at last night's Time Out New York food awards, including Per Se for Best Splurge and A Voce for New Restaurant of the Year. But the Russian Tea Room for Best Reopening? Those manipulated blurbs must be working. [TONY] Talk about gross dereliction: The Department of Health, it turns out, ignored complaints about that KFC–Taco Bell for two months before sending an inspector — who did such a bad job that she would have been fired had she not just quit. [NYP]

This Week: Contents Under Pressure

This week’s food section is all about pressure: A pastry chef has to cook every night for a president who hates pineapples and will send him packing at the first hint of progressive dessert-making; Vinh Nguyen, a first generation Vietnamese-American, rolls the dice with his Williamsburg restaurant Silent H, and, as far as Rob and Robin are concerned, comes up lucky seven; Jeffrey Chodorow, fresh off his battle with Frank Bruni and Adam Platt, opens a big new restaurant and hopes for the best; and four new restaurants open, surely hoping for the best as well. Even this week’s In Season is rife with tension, calling as it does for a delicate filleting operation that could easily destroy a beautifully roasted flounder. The New York food world is not for the faint of heart.

Neroni Gives Lame Reason for Leaving Porchetta

Neroni’s reason for leaving Porchetta: They wanted to open for lunch and start serving sandwiches. And here we thought he was a prima donna. [Eat for Victory/VV] The Russian Tea Room, taking a page from straight-to-DVD movies, pulls misleading blurbs from bad reviews to try to get some desperately-needed positive press. [Page Six] Sullivan Street Bakery's Jim Lahey is said to be opening a pizzeria in Chelsea. [Food and Wine]

Sam Mason on the Sexiness of Japanese Steel

Welcome to the latest installment of the Launch, where Sam Mason, former pastry chef at wd-50, relates the ups and downs of preparing to open Tailor, the swanky restaurant and lounge coming together at 525 Broome Street.

‘Local’ Actor Makes Good (Coffee)

Struggling actors used to wait tables to pay the bills. These days, they open coffee shops. First came Jack’s Stir-Brew, the homespun, four-table nook where Jack Mazzola fends off ever-encroaching Starbucks with Fair Trade beans, organic apples, and a conspicuously neighborhood-friendly vibe. And then late last month, Craig Walker, an avowed Jack’s fan, followed suit with Local, an equally pint-size nook with a similarly enlightened approach to sourcing beans and fostering community.

My Wife and I Demand to Know What Happened to Fiamma

Dear Grub Street, My wife and I dined the other night at Fiamma in Soho. The big surprise was not the empty room but the mediocre food. I asked if Michael White, the chef we've followed over the years, was in the kitchen, and the waiter leaned in to say quietly that the chef had actually quit two weeks ago and that he had done so the week his Fiamma cookbook had been delivered. I have not read anything about this move anywhere. Disappointed

Moroccan Restaurant to Enliven Stale Soho Scene

Babouche Lounge and Restaurant, a much-needed addition to the stale Soho dining scene, opens its doors on Wednesday. It's a sister to Barbes, one of the city's better Moroccan places (not that there are very many of them), but given the ritzier environs and its expanded menu, Babouche is clearly the more ambitious eatery. Still, they'll be serving traditional North African dishes like couscous and various tajines, the slow-cooked clay-pot dishes most associated with Morocco. The room, many of whose features (a large brass door, mosaic atrium walls, a water fountain) were made in Morocco specifically for the restaurant, sounds pretty classy, too. We trust that there won't be any hookahs present. Babouche Lounge and Restaurant, 92 Prince St., nr. Mercer St.; 212-219-8155.

The Australian Invasion

This week, Rob and Robin report on an unlikely but welcome addition to New York's restaurant scene, Australian pub Sheep Station, which is located in Brooklyn's version of the outback — between Gowanus and Park Slope. Perhaps our intrepid food editors are warming to Australia — they give Sheep Station a thumbs-up for its cool room and hearty dishes, and earlier this year, they penned "Australian for 'Food,'" a primer on the nation's cuisine. Also in Openings this week: East Village wine shop Tinto Fino, West Village bistro Cafe Cluny, and Soho brasserie Bar Martignetti. Openings: Sheep Station [NYM]

Hollywood Desserts and Soho Goblins

This week in the magazine, Rob and Robin track two openings: the wildly successful Hollywood frozen-yogurt chain Pinkberry, and Goblin Market, a new Soho eatery named after lascivious young men in a poem by Christina Rossetti. Pinkberry, they report, is "the talk of the L.A. food blogs." We tracked down a few of those blogs.