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Gourmet Gossip New York – June 2013

Never heard of Guajes? It will soon be thickening sauces at restaurants near you.

Never heard of Guajes? It will soon be thickening sauces at restaurants near you.

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 Alex Guarnaschelli’s brand new Butter expansion in Midtown to a wave of predictions and trend-setting chefs at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen!

Ditch Plains’ Summer Crab Boil: You don’t have to flee the city this summer to get in on the seasonal, New England specialty known as the crab boil.  Marc Murphy’s Upper West Side Ditch Plains is bringing back their monthly crustacean-centric event this year.  On July 18th and August 15th (put it in your calendar!), the restaurant will offer buckets of Maryland Blue Crabs, Jalapeno Hushpuppies, Corn on the Cob, Potato Wedges, and their popular Ditch’wich, a deliciously chocolatey ice cream sandwich for a mere $40.  So hurry and make your reservations now because a deal this sweet is sure to get snapped up fast!

We wonder if Mattos will still make Isa's famed Fried Sardine Skeletons...

We wonder if Mattos will still make Isa’s famed Fried Sardine Skeletons…

Ignacio Mattos Makes a Move: After experimenting with various projects and pop-ups (like his Whole Hog dinners at Williamsburg’s Crown Victoria), former Isa chef, Ignacio Mattos, is finally settling down.  His new restaurant, Estela, is an exciting collaboration with Mark Connell (who owns Botanica Bar downstairs from the restaurant), and sommelier Thomas Carter, who worked at Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  The focus will be on tapas-style dishes, like Calamari a la Plancha with Romesco & Charred Onions, and Blood Sausage with Poached Eggs & Crispy Migas.

DB Bistro Moderne Alums Move to Dumbo: The prime Dumbo space that formerly housed Governor was decimated during Hurricane Sandy, and has sadly remained empty since the former owners decided to abandon the lease.  But it appears that work is finally underway on a new glass-enclosed eatery called, appropriately enough, Atrium.  Slated to open this summer, there’s still no word yet on the menu but the new owners are alums of Daniel Boulud’s DB Bistro Moderne so we’re thinking French?  Looking forward to finding out.

Lowcountry is bringing crawfish to Bryant Park.

Lowcountry’s bringing crawfish to Bryant Park.

Dinner and a Movie at Bryant Park: One of our favorite ongoing summer events is Monday movies on the lawn at Bryant Park.  And now, there’s an even better reason to bring a picnic blanket (it obviously involved food!).  Hester Street Fair is curating the concessions for this year’s summer festival, beginning with popular vendors like Luke’s Lobster, Oaxaca Tacos, and Handsome Dan’s Sno Cones.  Oh, and we’re so looking forward to watching “Invasion of the Body Snatchers” while sucking the heads off of crawfish from Lowcountry!

Chefs Predict the Next Big Food Trends: We ran a piece at the beginning of the year predicting the next wave of hot food trends, which is why our interest was piqued by Grub Street’s recent poll of industry folk at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.  So how did our predictions match up?  “Vegetables will be as big as the cupcake,” declares Food & Wine’s Editor-in Chief, Dana Cowin.  Got that one.  “Fowl is in and bacon is out,” decrees New Orleans chef, John Besh.  That one, too.  “Gellan and xanthan gum are going the way of corn starch.  Look for Guajes – a gluconic-quality seed,” instructs Empellon Cocina’s Alex Stupak.  Noted.

We probably won't see a Park Avenue Winter until 2014.

We probably won’t see a Park Avenue Winter until 2014.

Park Avenue’s Post-Summer Switcheroo: Owner Alan Stillman has just announced that he’ll be closing his seasonally changing restaurant, Park Avenue, at the end of the summer.  But fans that regularly awaited the eatery’s metamorphosis from Autumn to Winter to Spring each year will be relieved to learn that it’s not gone for good.  Stillman is already scouting new spaces in Midtown, although wherever Park Avenue lands, it looks like a name change will be in order.

Butter Part Deux: More good news for Midtown residents… After 11 years, Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli is opening a second outpost of her popular Noho spot, Butter, bringing downtown uptown.  Just in time for summer, Guarnaschelli will serve cocktails and small plates in an expansive back garden to start, with a full menu debuting in the dining room in late July.  We imagine Guarnaschelli will stay consistent with her vision of rustic, Greenmarket-inspired fare, like Rack of Lamb with Grilled Chicory & Goat Cheese ,and Seared Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Macerated Rhubarb and Strawberry Jam.  As uptowners, we’re stoked about this one.

It's an end of an era in Williamsburg.

It’s an end of an era in Williamsburg. Soyanara Dressler

Dressler’s Surprise Shutter: Here’s news straight out of left field.  Trailblazing Williamsburg spot, Dressler, has announced that it’s closing, effective immediately.  After 7 years in business, a Michelin star, and a rave review in 2006 from the New York Times then-critic, Frank Bruni, it was one of the first restaurants to bring attention to the borough… a more modern, fine-dining counterpoint to South Side stalwart, Peter Luger.  The owners will continue to operate their more casual eateries, DuMont and DuMont Burger, but this is nevertheless a huge loss for the neighborhood.

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