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Gourmet Gossip: January 2014

01OFF-articleLargeIn this great dining city of ours, barely a day passes without news of an exciting new restaurant opening, a devastating closing, a shocking chef shuffle, or a groundbreaking, must-try dish.

So what better way to kick off the New Year than with a bit of breaking gossip, from Alain Allegretti’s unexpected shutter in Chelsea to Bill Telepan’s welcome launch in Tribeca and Chuko’s planned expansion in Brooklyn…

Telepan Local Officially Opens: Farm-to-table guru, Bill Telepan, has long been a Michelin-starred staple of the Upper West Side dining scene at his eponymous Telepan.  And now, downtown dwellers will finally get a taste of his seasonally-focused cooking with the launch of Telepan Local, a cozy, casual, New American restaurant in Tribeca.  The somewhat condensed menu focuses on shareable small plates, like Arancini with Bone Marrow, Sourdough Pizza and (gasp!) even Pigs in the Blanket (which look amazing), although we’re willing to bet Bill Telepan isn’t using Pillsbury crescent dough and Oscar Meyer wieners.

o-ALAIN-ALLEGRETTI-facebookAdieu to Allegretti: Although Alain Allegretti’s Bistro La Promenade wasn’t without troubles (he wound up changing the name and simplifying the concept after opening in 2011), we were nevertheless surprised to learn that his Chelsea restaurant has closed.  And the charming French chef appears to be taking his leave of New York entirely, choosing to focus instead on Azure, the seafood spot he owns in Atlantic City.  We certainly hope he finds his way back to Manhattan again soon; in addition to making an excellent Short Rib Bourguignon, he’s pretty easy on the eyes, too.

River Café’s Imminent Relaunch: DUMBO’s incomparable River Café — essentially one of the only true white tablecloth restaurants in Brooklyn — was also one of the hardest hit by Hurricane Sandy.  And it’s taken owner Buzzy O’Keeffe over a year to restore the opulent waterfront space.  But he offered an intimate, prix fixe brunch on New Year’s Day as a trial run, and is now accepting reservations in anticipation of the first actual dinner service, scheduled for February 1st… finally.  Chef Brad Steelman is back behind the burners, and the lineup of new dishes sounds as luxurious as ever, like Oysters wrapped in Smoked Salmon and topped with Caviar, and Roasted Pheasant with Chestnut Stuffing.

Tavern Crystal RoomFarm-to-Table Tavern: Tavern on the Green was dismissed long ago as an outdated tourist trap (with abominable food).  But when the New York landmark finally reopens this month (it folded exactly five years ago, on New Year’s Eve), chef Katy Sparks promises the food will be modern, forward-looking, local, and seasonal, and even more ingredient-driven than anything she’s done before.  The successful caterer and former Quilty’s chef also vows to do away with fussy techniques and garnishes, and, having lived and worked in New York for 25 years, that the menu will be heavily influenced by the ethnic diversity of the city.  Personally, we can’t wait to see what’s in store for Tavern on the Green 2.0.

Noodle News for Bushwick: Helmed by three accomplished Morimoto alums, Chuko really kicked off the refined ramen craze in Brooklyn when it opened in a tiny space in Prospect Heights three years ago.  And the owners will continue to expand their influence, having just signed a lease on a new noodle counter in Bushwick.  The eatery will have 70 seats (a serious upgrade from the original), which should more than accommodate the area’s otherwise ramen-starved residents.  But we’re still waiting on the grand opening of Bar Chuko, the group’s izakaya offshoot, which has been in the works for over a year now.

lg_3115_0Brooklyn Barbecue Debut: Brooklyn has also (quite recently and unexpectedly) become a hub of serious barbecue, from Fletcher’s in Gowanus and Delaney’s in Williamsburg to Morgan’s in Prospect Heights.  And now, it’s officially home to one of Manhattan’s most beloved smoked meat stops; the convivial Hill Country Barbecue.  The 11,000-square foot space (simply massive for the borough) is still in soft-open mode, but will eventually boast a market component and live music, in addition to the expected roster of Texas-style Brisket, Hot Links, Fried Chicken, and Macaroni and Cheese.

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