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Gourmet Gossip: July 2015

Crispy_Chicken_Strips_-_FotoosVanRobinIn 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 fallout from the foam ban to the fuss over Fuku’s fried chicken fingers.

Fuku’s Chicken Finger Frenzy: In case you thought the hubbub surrounding David Chang’s Fuku (a chicken sandwich spot in the East Village) had died down, think again.   The rollout of a recently expanded menu will doubtless jumpstart a second round of what Eater quickly dubbed “Fukusanity” — expect crowds to descend the second Chang starts serving chicken fingers and Juicy Lucy’s; burgers stuffed with gobs of melted cheese.

restaurant-dining-room-interior-design-union-square-cafe-new-interior-interior-design-44882Union Stationed: It looks like hospitality kingpin Danny Meyer has officially found a new home for his venerable Union Square Café — which was slated to close this coming December, due to a massive rent hike — although it’s not, technically, in Union Square.  Meyer has signed a 15-year-lease on the City Crab space on Park Avenue South and 19th Street, and has even announced plans to find room within his restaurant group for City Crab’s 75 employees.  Considering Union Square’s Café’s revamped establishment will be literally three times as large as the old, there should be openings for a handful of servers, at the very least.

Pro-Foam Moans: Mayor DeBlasio’s edict to eliminate Styrofoam recently went into effect, barring the use of to-go cups and containers (and even packing peanuts) at establishments throughout the city.  But an organization called the Restaurant Action Alliance is pushing back against the ban, stating that it puts an unfair burden on small business owners, that “denying foam’s recyclability is like denying the sky is blue,” and that applying for an exemption (granted to places that make less than half a million a year in profits) would “just be too hard.”  Perhaps they should expend the energy saved on constructing a stronger argument.

5-Beekman---4Coming Clean on Augustine: Here’s some hot intel on Keith McNally’s long-awaited project in FiDi’s luxury Beekman Hotel, situated in a landmarked, 1880’s-era office building.  His upcoming, 94-seat restaurant, Augustine, will be a French bistro (of course), offering $23 Mascarpone Tarts and $38 plates of Petit Aioli, prepared by longtime chefs Daniel Parilla and Shane McBride.  And he’ll also have an equally celebrated neighbor once the establishment opens in February; celebrity (and commitedly American) restaurateur, Tom Colicchio.

Wine and Dine and Dash: The saga continues at Pure Food and Wine in Gramercy, whose owner, Sarma Melngailis, skipped out of town (twice) after allegations from employees that they were owed back wages.  And now, they’ve hired a lawyer and unionized, filing a labor complaint and class action law suit against Melngailis (she’s also being sued by former investors for taking money from the restaurant’s accounts), hoping to land her in jail, and take the reigns of the embattled, raw food eatery themselves.

11402668_378995948959631_7444524734945153163_nAnd the Nominees Are: The Vendy’s (i.e., the Oscar’s of street food) will return to Governor’s Island in September, and they’ve just released a list of their first round of nominees.  Booqoo Beignets, Butter & Scotch, Doughnuttery, Squish Marshmallows, and Play J Ice Cream are all up for Best Dessert, Gumbo Bros, Home Frites, Karl’s Balls and Carnitas El Atorodero are in contention for Best Market Vendor, and Kaya NYC, Old Traditional Polish, Lil Zeus Lunch Box and Shuka Truck will go head to head for the highly coveted Rookie of the Year title.

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