Athens Tavern: Open or Closed?Athens Tavern? Does the name ring a bell? It opened less than a year ago to much hype, considered a potential rival to Anthos as the city’s most ambitious Greek restaurant. Chef Yiannis Baxevanis was the only Michelin-starred Greek chef not named Michael Psilakis, and the only one who actually had a restaurant in Greece. A Queens tipster reports that the restaurant has been closed a week, but owner Nikos Gregoriou insists that Athens Tavern is shuttered only temporarily while a new dishwasher is installed. “We will be open in a week,” he says. “We just had to change some machinery.” But our neighborhood source says neither the staff nor the vendors have been paid recently, and that there is major strife between Gregoriou and his partner. Moreover, Baxevanis appears to have left: He’s currently working at a restaurant in Dubai. Gregoriou confirms that Baxevanis is gone (and has been replaced with an unnamed “lady”) but was indignant when asked about owing staff and vendors money: “You come in and eat dinner with me next week, and then you can ask me those questions.”
Russian Tea Room Hires Marc Taxiera As ChefThe 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
Another French Restaurant on Orchard Street? Sacrebleu!Tonight Regaté opens up a few doors down from Zucco (the place with the lavatory library). It’s the third French restaurant on the block, and in fact, chef-owner Marc Jehan did the lunch menu at the neighboring Café Charbon (before that, he operated seafood distributor Early Morning). Now he’s serving bistro fare like sesame salmon, lamb shank, a few varieties of mussels, and steaks in pepper, Roquefort, or béarnaise sauces; plus dishes (e.g. mouclade) from the isle of Re, where Jehan’s wife was born (she’s a hostess; his brother Jocelyn is a partner). Jehan is still waiting for some paintings to clear customs, but for once no there’s no SLA snafus: That’s a full bar you see. —Daniel MaurerRegaté, 198 Orchard St., nr. Houston; 212-228-8555