Calling All Web-Surfing Gourmands: Opinionated About Dining Now in the Book
We always wondered why Zagat has a monopoly on restaurant surveys. The same thought seems to have occurred to Steve Plotnicki, the man behind the blog Opinionated About Dining. Don’t be fooled by OAD’s resemblance to the rest of the blogger-with-a-digital-camera food sites. It hosts a very big and very vigorous private forum, whose members will be the backbone of a new book on the top 100 restaurants in America and Europe this March. The OAD members are deep-pocketed diners who eat all over the city, so the book’s core of opinions will be strong.
Dona Back and Cheaper Than Ever; Bowery Boys Spend Millions on West VillageBensonhurst: L&B Spumoni Gardens wants to cater your Christmas pizza dinner. [Lost City]
Dumbo: A liquor store is going in at 102 Jay Street next to Bridge Apothecary. [The Real Deal via Dumbo NYC]
Meatpacking District: Pizza Bar has closed just as Pop Burger rises. [Eater]
Midtown East: Dona returns at 206 East 58th Street … and it will be cheaper! [Restaurant Girl]
West Village: Eric Goode and Sean MacPherson have reportedly purchased the Riverview Hotel for $33 million. [Hotel Chatter via Down by the Hipster]
Zak Pelaccio’s Chop Suey to Open Next MonthZak Pelaccio has somehow found time to plan a new restaurant, in between taking over Borough Food and Drink from Jeffrey Chodorow, opening a new Fatty Crab uptown, and perfecting a haute Malaysian restaurant in London. Look for a big new Korean-themed restaurant in the Renaissance called Chop Suey to open (says Pelaccio with optimism) in late January. Last summer, the bearded wonder took a trip to Korea, where he fell in love with the marinated beef belly and other meaty delights he plans to implement in his new menu as consulting chef. At this pace, we predict Ditmas Park and Inwood will be only Pelaccio-free neighborhoods in New York. But if they’re lucky, they’ll get restaurants too.
Related: Zak Pelaccio Taking Over Borough Food and Drink From Jeffrey Chodorow
Restaurant Vets Take Refuge in Chill New East Side Eatery
When Nish went under earlier this week, partner Joe Scalice didn’t have to look far for his next home: He simply walked two blocks over and took up residence as general manager at Solace, a one-week-old “American seasonal” restaurant created by David Regueiro of Aureole, Metrazur, and most recently the Water Club. (Given what Salice just went through at the late Nish, and Regueiro’s years under famously demanding taskmasters like Charlie Palmer and Michael “Buzzy” O’Keefe, Solace would seem to be just what the two men are seeking.) “We wanted to create a space where people would feel comfortable, with food they could understand,” the chef says. We can certainly see standards like salt cod and gnocchi ragout, butter braised lobster, and eggplant, goat cheese, and tomato terrine hitting the spot on a quiet night in the garden (open till 11 p.m.), with our own bottle in tow (Solace is still waiting on its liquor license).
Solace, 406 E. 64th St., at First Ave.; 212-750-0434.
Earlier: Nish, Felled by Its Own Best Efforts
Why Won’t Someone Tell Me About Brunch at Robuchon?Dear Grub Street,I am e-mailing you in a last, desperate attempt to find information about brunch at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon. The Web boasts scores of reviews on the dinner menu, but I find not one mention of the merit of brunch, a menu, nothing.Cara Gouldey
Yes, You Are Too Old, and I Don’t Want You in My KitchenWe recently got a letter from Keith, a 45-year-old reader who hated his job and asked us, “Am I just too old” to become a chef? A number of letters have come in, encouraging the guy in his dream: “On my 62nd birthday,” wrote one, “I retired from a long-time corporate career in risk management to follow my daydream of becoming a cook … and now, three years later, work as a prep cook at Amalia.” But lest Keith get the idea that the cooking world as a whole is filled with love and understanding, here’s a wake-up call from chef Dawn Fornear of Vessel restaurant in Seattle. Fornear writes:
In the Magazine
New York’s Restaurant Jungle Grows a Little Lusher
When spring comes, branches and leaves appear in the most unexpected places. This week’s food coverage is like that: There are no huge openings, analogous to maples or firs springing up overnight, but rather a rich carpet of new sprouts and saplings. Rob and Robin glory in the pig-out that is Resto, the new Belgian restaurant on Park Avenue South; Gael Greene stops in to enjoy the immense, spanking-new Landmarc in the Time Warner Center; David Chang knows just what to do with the long-awaited, precious ramps in In Season; and other unexpected treats, from a waterside barbecue in one of the Short Lists to a slew of spring Openings fill out the foliage.
Tonight’s Beard Awards: a Referendum on Haute Cuisine
Times are changing in the restaurant world – but just how fast? Tonight’s James Beard Awards will help answer the question of whether the traditional tablecloth restaurants, which seem to be on the way out, still wield their old clout in the gastronomic Establishment.
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?
100 Students to Protest Saigon Grill
Update, 6:14 p.m.: Sit-in ends after 45 minutes, with the NYPD ordering protestors out of the Vietnamese eatery. Jamie Chen, who we spoke with earlier, tells us that she and her fellow students took over most of the tables on first floor. There were no arrests. The protestors joined noisy demonstrators outside, chanting “Boycott Saigon Grill.”
Update, 5:49 p.m.: Students, many wearing red, have taken over a number of tables inside the restaurant while television cameras whir.
In a planned demonstration reminiscent of sixties campus radicalism, at least 100 students citywide are expected to stage a protest shortly after 5 p.m. today in front of the trendy Saigon Grill on University Place. The demonstration is a statement against the lockout of some 33 delivery workers who refused to sign in March what they claimed was an illegal contract from owner Simon Nget, a Chinese-Cambodian refugee who also runs an Upper West Side Asian eatery by the same name. The protest is “definitely student generated and initiated,” says Jamie Chen, 20, a Columbia student reached during finals. She says her fellow activist Christina Chen,19, held a teach-in at Columbia’s Hamilton Hall a couple of weeks ago “to talk about the abuses” at the restaurant “and a lot of people want to do something about it.”