In 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. That’s why we’re keeping you apprised of the industry’s most noteworthy bits and bites — from a famous Spanish chef making a guest appearance in New York to the United States’ triumphant victory at this year’s Bocuse d’Or in France.
Bocuse d’ Score: Considered the Olympics of the culinary world, the Bocuse d’Or takes place in Lyon, France every two years, and features 24 teams from around the world, battling it out during two days worth of kitchen competitions. But amazingly enough, the United States has never finished better than sixth place; that is, until now. Our home team actually won the silver medal this year (Sweden took bronze and Norway gold), and it’s not difficult to see why — our seriously stacked deck of competitors included none other than Thomas Keller, Gavin Kaysen, and Daniel Boulud. USA! USA!
Righteous Ramen: Just when we thought there was nothing left to say about ramen in New York, the famously fastidious Japanese chain, Ichiran, announced it will open a Manhattan branch within the year. And if you thought Ramen Lab was austere, check out the hard-and-fast rules associated with this place. There’s only one item on the menu, Hakata-style Tonkotsu, which you must eat in an individual booths where phones (and basically, talking in general) is forbidden. Sounds like there’s about to be a new Soup Nazi in town.
Spanish Fly: If you never made it to El Bulli, you might want to try nabbing reservations for an upcoming molecular feast prepared by acclaimed Spanish modernist, Eneko Atxa, of the three Michelin-starred restaurant, Azurmendi. He’s in town for a highly limited engagement (Feb. 18-20th) at the Mandarin Oriental, where he’ll be offering seven courses for $185, such as Oysters with algae foam, Pigeon with fried cauliflower, and Strawberry Ice Cream with rose meringue. And considering he’s used to serving only two tables at a time at his Basque flagship, you’ll want to snag one of those few, coveted spots now.
Dinette Do-Over: Since it operates during off-hours at MoMa PS1 in Queens (i.e, 12-6pm), M. Wells Dinette’s well-received but rather adventurous menu — think Bone Marrow Tart with Escargot and Veal Brain Grenoblaise — never quite jibed with its laid-back, midday surroundings. So it’s only right that chef Aiden O’Neal has decided to better cater to the in-and-out lunchtime crowd, by adding a number of casual (but no less creative) sandwiches to the regular roster. First one deck — his crowd-pleasing Spaghetti Bolognese invention; garlic bread cradling chewy pasta patties, topped with tomato sauce and a bit of Caesar salad for crunch.
Tavern Tries Again: Although it was announced he’d be joining the Tavern on the Green team back in November, respected chef Jeremiah Tower (considered one of the kings of California cuisine), just released his official, revamped menu for the critically-panned restaurant. And as opposed to Katy Sparks original — but never quite realized — plan to take the fare in a modern, seasonal direction, Tower has elected to unapologetically embrace Tavern’s 1950’s-era classics, such as Lobster Salad, Steak with Foie Gras, Black Pepper Swordfish and Osso Buco (made with monkfish instead of veal). Perhaps he’s just facing facts: Tavern on the Green will always remain a quintessential destination for tourists, not for serious gourmands.
Nosh News: Despite rumblings that the Lower East Side’s iconic knish shop, Yonah Schimmel, would be forced to shutter due to rent hikes, owners of the century-old business insist they intend to stick around for another 100 years. But considering the changing face of the neighborhood, it might make sense for the establishment to actually consider extending their hours, to provide the ultimate drunk-food pit stop after a night of cruising local bars.