Ben Stiller Crashes a Party at Fiamma, Penélope Cruz Makes Out at
Every Friday a notable New Yorker tells us where they’ve been eating, but where are the rest of them chowing down? Starting this week we’ll sort through the gossip columns à la Ils Vont (RIP) to tell you who’s been seen where (casual sightings only — boring galas, vodka launches, and pluggy appearances don’t count). We’ll eventually compile a ranking of restaurants most often visited by celebs. Not that you care about that sort of thing! Oh, but if you do, won’t you please leave your own sightings in the comments?
Drink Japan Without Leaving Little Italy
Sake has been the next big trend for so long that we’ve been loathe to recognize it now that it’s actually arriving. If, like us, you’re utterly mystified by the stuff (not being able to read the bottle is part of it), check out the Joy of Sake next week. The city’s biggest sake event will hit the Puck Building on Thursday featuring 300 different sakes, at least a third of which aren’t available outside of Japan. The restaurant lineup looks good too: Seventeen restaurants are creating dishes meant to be paired with sake, including wd-50, Sakagura, and 15 East. Tickets are $75 in advance, $90 at the door.
Joy of Sake [Official Site]
Hard Times Drive Wall Street to Drink; Happy Birthday, Big MacThe unused Building D of Essex Street Market may get new life. Residents want low-rent housing there; city law compels the building to be used for food-related businesses. [NYT]
Two veterans of Gramercy Tavern and Blue Smoke will open Huckleberry Bar, described as “the bar at your favorite Danny Meyer restaurant” but in East Williamsburg. There will also be British and southern mix of small plates from a 5 Ninth alum, no doubt like the food at your favorite Zak Pelaccio restaurant. [Strong Buzz]
Hard liquor sales on Wall Street are up significantly since the stock market plummeted on August. 16, says one wine shop owner. [NYT]
Visiting the Pachinko Parlors at Tao
Last week we took a trip to the Far East to hit the loos at Sapa. Now let’s travel even farther east and a little bit north (Madison Avenue at 55th Street!) to Tao, an eatery that’s so authentically Pan-Asian it boasts an enormous Buddha. But then again, so does every other restaurant in town. So how is Tao to distinguish itself from Megu, Buddakan, Buddha Bar, and the rest of them? Via its restrooms, of course!
Admiring the Geishas in Megu’s Loo
Before Morimoto, before Buddakan, before Buddha Bar, before Megu Midtown, there was — well — Megu. Sure its star has faded (there was that sexual-harassment suit and such), but no one can argue that the $6 million interior isn’t still fresh — just like the toro tartare! Look at the mirrored diorama, outside the restroom, that reflects an Oriental lamp and a flower display into infinity: Way cooler than Morimoto’s mirror installation, right? But what about the rest of the restrooms?
The New York Diet
‘MySpace Queen’ Tila Tequila Drinks Sprite With her Fugu, Likes HerTila “Tequila” Nguyen, the “Madonna of MySpace” per Time magazine, met at least some of her 1.7 million virtual friends when she lived in New York City and “experimented with drugs and a hardcore lifestyle,” according to her bio. She eventually moved to Hollywood to start her career as an Internet celebrity, model, and singer, and by the time she was returning here weekly to host VH1’s Pants Off Dance Off she had moved on to vices like dirty-water hot dogs, mozzarella sticks, and mushroom pizzas. This week Tila flew in once again to promote her new self-released single and to pose for the cover of yet another magazine (“It’s the Baddass issue,” she explained). We asked her what she noshed on to get through the grind.
Kitchen Abuse Exposed; Health Department Shutdowns TripleApparently, abuse of every kind is rampant in kitchens. Herewith, complaints leveled against Daniel, Jean Georges, Megu, Babbo, and more. [NYP]
Post–KFC–Taco Bell scandal, New York restaurant closures triple. [NYP]
Morandi is, like every other Keith McNally venture, a smashing success, and likely to remain so. [NYP]
Back of the House
Sex Apparently Always on the Menu at New York RestaurantsUpon reading the jaw-dropping news this weekend of rampant sexual abuse at Jean Georges, we started scratching our heads. Just what has gotten into the restaurant business these days? When did the revels pass from frat-house frolics to full-blown Roman debauchery? Here’s a time line to help you understand.
Update: Ex-Waitress Swats Back, Suing Megu for Sex HarassmentA sexual-harassment lawsuit filed today by a former waitress for Megu, the Tribeca outpost of the high-end Japanese restaurant empire, is hot enough to melt the place’s trademark Buddha ice sculpture. The ex-waitress, Satomi Southward, a 31-year-old single mother described by her lawyer as “demure, pretty, with long hair,” is seeking $20 million in compensatory and punitive damages from the restaurant (which earned two stars from the Times) and its parent company, Food Scope America. Her complaint lists a variety of unappetizing behaviors, some of which involve the kitchen utensils, one of which involved felony sexual abuse charges being filed, and all of which were, she alleges, tolerated by the owners of the restaurant, who she accuses of having a yen to keep more than the sushi fresh around there. Food Scope president Hiro Nishida did not immediately return calls for comment, and efforts to reach the company’s lawyers were unsuccessful.