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Dish of the Week

Posted on Jul 30, 2007 in Sneak Peek

As I plow through the perpetual blizzard of new eateries, I’ve discovered many a dish that aught be devoured immediately.  Thus, I’m officially kicking off my newly inducted weekly edition of “Dish of the Week”, or in this particular case…dessert.  Seeing that summer’s in full and much of the New York dining set have, for better or worse, made the Hamptons their weekend escape, I’ve sifted through the lot and happened upon a dessert so divinely dreamy it’s just wrong.  That’s right…dreamy.  While the parking lot mayhem at dining fixture Nick & Toni’s may compel you to continue farther East to The Clam Bar in Amangansett (a worthwhile & laid back alternative), the peach & walnut tarte is inarguably worth clamoring for a parking spot.  As we sunk our spoons into the gooey depths of this blissfully warm nibble...

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Chefs & Champagne Does the Hamptons

Posted on Jul 23, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Some of Manhattan’s finest chefs jetsetted to the Hamptons for the weekend to partake in James Beard Foundation’s illustrious Chefs & Champagne 2007.  There was double cause to pop the bubbly as this year’s festivities toasted both Charlie Trotter and the 20th Anniversary of The James Beard Foundation. As the sun set over Wolffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, foodies, socialites and the restaurant elite – Joe Bastianich, Steve Hanson & Martha Stewart – feasted on a lush spread of chilled corn soup, salads of sugar snap peas & peaches, oysters and a hefty bounty from the sea.  If you weren’t there to sample the first-rate fare, I won’t dangle dishes now past, but highlights did include Ben Pollinger’s (Oceana) delicate citrus-tinged oyster ceviche and local Hamptons celebrity chef, Michael Rozzi’s (Della Femina) refined riff on lobster salad delightfully peppered...

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Spitzer’s Corner Elects a Chef…Finally

Posted on Jul 19, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Though Top Chef heartthrob Sam Talbot was initially slated to oversee the kitchen at the soon-to-be Spitzer’s Corner, that die was shortly uncast after supposed diva-like behavior from the TV celebrity chef. Enter Chef Michael Cooperman (formerly of Le Bernadin glory), to finesse the American gastropub fare with a destination-worthy raw bar.  Things are looking good for Will & Rob Shamlian’s imminent eatery, pleasingly outfitted with zinc countertops, retractable glass awnings & plenty of outdoor seating. Spitzer’s Corner intends to keep things casual in the front bar room with 40-plus beers on tap and tricked-out bar snacks- the likes of pork fat popcorn.  Seeing as an alumnus of the Le Bernadin school of cooking now holds court in the kitchen, I’d say they’re in good hands.  But judgment day won’t officially come until the first week of August… Until...

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Dylan’s Candy Bar Heads to East Hampton

Posted on Jul 13, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Summer just got sweeter as Dylan’s Candy Bar launches the first in a series of mini candy bars on Main Street in East Hampton.  What was Nuts About Chocolate – a long-standing candy store in the chic village of East Hampton – is officially set to morph into Dylan’s premiere candy bar on August 4th.  Dylan, the candy girl herself, tells us, “there will be more to boutique venues to come in the imminent future: Miami, Austin, resort towns and many more cities across America”.  The Hamptons store will deal in what else, but candy, of course.  Candy bins, homemade ice creams, fudge, cotton candy, pre-packaged gift baskets and other private label goods will stock the shelves of this cozy nook.  And for the toniest of folks, they’ll conveniently be “candy-to-go” to cap off the haughtiest of clam bakes. ...

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Townline BBQ in Previews

Posted on Jul 13, 2007 in Sneak Peek

The moment has finally arrived; well, almost.  While Townline BBQ doesn’t officially open to the public until July 19th, we’ve managed to get our hands on the menu.  But first, let’s do a little background check: Owner Mark Smith & executive chef Joe Realmuto (of Nick & Toni’s Hamptons fame) set out on an extensive roadtrip across Texas to sample the Lone Star State’s best barbecue joints. After doing their proper due diligence – pitmaster Joe Realmuto completed an intensive bbq class, properly mastering the artistry of low & slow cooking – the two have returned to the beach to peddle their newfound ‘cue cooking.  They even picked up a few already christened smokers to get the job done right.    While Alison’s by the Beach is all but a memory, what’s emerged in its place is a down...

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Fancy Food Show: Part Two

Posted on Jul 11, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Not to sound ungrateful for thousands of free samples – nearly every girl’s dream – but after awhile, olives & energy drinks just don’t mix.  The circus has officially left town: after sorting through the goodies, I suppose it’s time to ponder the future of food: 1)  Vegetarians may no longer give caviar the cold shoulder; Sea Gem Caviar has unveiled an entirely seaweed-based line of kelp caviar.  Sure, we’d prefer beluga to salmon-flavored eggs, but seeing as we’ve got no black market connections at this time, salmon, wasabi or beluga flavor might just do the trick.  And there’s that one little edge Sea Gem’s got over tried-and-true caviar: seaweed’s one of the world’s healthiest foods – lowers cholesterol, strengthens the immune system, blah, blah. 2) While we’re not above brown bagging our chardonnay, Wine By The Glass just...

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Saju Attempts To Downplay a Chef Switcheroo

Posted on Jul 10, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Midtown’s Hotel Mela hopes to lure midtowners to upscale French-inflected Vietnamese at newly-minted restaurant Saju.  Co-owner & restaurateur Phillippe Bernard plays up the cuisine’s traditional emphasis: green papaya & shrimp salad, pho bo and lemongrass tiger shrimp.  What used to be headline-worthy is now just par for the course as Saju waits with countless others for the city’s approval to wheel & deal in alcohol.  However, this may prove quite NEWSWORTHY: insider intelligence reveals debut strife as the original chef, Thao Nguyen (formerly the chef at Bao 111 & Bao Noodles, and interestingly also the wife of Mai House’s Michael Bao Huynh) who devised Saju’s menu, has abruptly exited stage left.  Thao Nguyen has been conveniently replaced by Hung Nguyen (any relation?).  As Eater deftly observed, it’s all very “curious“. A source writes in: “The new chef is Hung...

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Fancy Food Show: Part One

Posted on Jul 10, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

The 53rd Summer Fancy Food Show was nothing less than utter madness, but really, what do you expect when you combine food, free samples and thousands of people?  After sifting through the newest wreckage in gourmet junk foods, olive oils and chocolates, we managed to stumble upon quite a few notables that just may change the face of food as we know it: 1) Artisanal Chips – The British are coming…one potato chip at a time.  Tyrrell’s home-grown & home-fried potato chips are damn tasty and while not healthy (at all), they do boast 20% less fat & all-natural ingredients.  But the real clincher here are this endearingly small Herefordshire farm’s seasonal flavors: asparagus-seasoned chips in celebration of summer and game chips for autumn/winter, of course. Yep.  Duck, orange & ginger-tweaked chips apparently serve as the perfect cold weather...

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Omido on the Rise

Posted on Jul 5, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

It’s about time someone step up and open a nonchain restaurant in the gastronomically-challenged desert that is Midtown West.  Amidst a blizzard of Starbucks & Cosi types, a new sushi spot will soon grace the forlorn area with its raw wares.  Owner Udi, former manager of Sushi Samba on Park, has migrated uptown to launch Omido, a sushi house of his very own.  A departure from their usual industrial chic design, AvroKo has stepped in to transform the former electronics store into a sophisticated spot with warm, wood-paneled accents and a sushi bar.  Udi has stolen chef Taka away from Sushi Samba to run the kitchen, which will dish out traditional Japanese cooked fare as well as sushi.   The only catch: diners will have to maneuver their way through the “Late Show with David Letterman” masses that line up...

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Brunch in Provence

Posted on Jun 27, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Let the critics say what they will about Soho’s recently rescued French bistro, Provence.  I, for one, immediately succumbed to the irresistible charms of the romantic, countryside aesthetics.  Besides, Marc Meyer & Vicki Freeman are having no problem packing the room with neighborhood types, lovers and long-time loyalists.  Now, Provence has just introduced a weekend brunch menu, their stellar raw bar fully in tote.  Who can resist the allure of oysters and a rose on a Sunday afternoon?  Well, I can’t.  Also, on the menu: cherry mimosas, salt cod cakes & eggs, asparagus soup and chocolate bread french toast. Seeing as brunch seems to be all the rage in dining lately, so stay tuned for a proper Brunch Wrap-up… Address: 38 MacDougal St., nr. Houston & Prince Sts. Phone: 212.475.7500 Brunch: Sat & Sun, 11:30am-3pm. Until we eat again,...

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Customized Cocktails With A Cherry on Top

Posted on Jun 25, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Just one of the novel flourishes bestowed upon the clientele at the restaurant formerly known as Park Avenue Cafe, presently Park Avenue Summer for those of you that didn’t get the memo, reveals itself as a do-it-yourself bar.  Perhaps the first of its kind in New York City, you can have your way…with your cocktail.  While you don’t have to do any of the actual work other than stroll over to a newly sleek, wood-topped bar with ice pockets auspiciously built in to display an alluring selection of liquors, just-squeezed mixers and fresh garnishes.  Let’s break it down, so you can mull over your choices: there’s two bubbly options, three types of vodka and summery mixers, which include lemon verbena, rhubarb lime and lychee basil.  After sampling all of them (they’ll happily oblige), I elected for a gentle rhubarb...

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Mercat Negre: Black Market Bites

Posted on Jun 24, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

You might remember when this anticipated tapas joint finally opened its Noho doors in April.  Now that Mercat‘s (see my first bite review) happily settled into a local neighborhood groove and ironed out a few debut wrinkles, owner Jaime Reixach’s ready to mine another fashionable restaurant trend – the “underground restaurant”.  The mystery of exclusivity’s irresistible: unpublished phone numbers, subterranean hideaways and secret entrances.  It’s what makes holding table court in La Esquina and Waverly Inn so tragically satisfying.  While there’s nothing technically illicit being sold – as far as we know anyway – Mercat’s underground counterpart has remained very much under wraps.  Alas, I can’t keep a secret (sorry, boys). On Friday evening, Mercat unveiled Mercat Negre.  Only “friends & family” of Jamie and co-chefs David Seigal (Bouley) & Ryan Lowder (Jean-Georges) were invited to sample Mercat Negre’s...

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Varietal’s Last Breaths

Posted on Jun 18, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Not really a shock to those that have followed the restaurant drama that is Varietal, it seems nearly lights out for owner Gregory Hockenberry’s oenophilic love song.  Nearly…as the front bar remains open for now.  “We’ll see how that goes for awhile,” Gregory comments.  Even Chef Wayne Nish’s menu overhaul can’t save this Chelsea spot from inevitable doom.  Opening a self-consciously sleek restaurant in a gastronomic ghost town isn’t exactly a foolproof formula for success.  The Eater Deathwatch Committee appears to be right on the mark when they called a spade a spade as Varietal’s bar hangs in the balance. Let’s quickly review, shall we?  First, Varietal gets knocked around by New York Magazine’s Adam Platt, only to receive a restaurant-shattering blow from Frank Bruni.  The quick departure of both Chef Ed Witt (Il Buco) and pastry chef Jordan...

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Savoy’s Summer Clambake

Posted on Jun 15, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

While I’m usually unsusceptible to gimmicks of the restaurant sorts, I’ll happily fall for the “Clam Bake” menu at Savoy again.  Especially when there’s an endless supply of rose in the mix.  For the second year, this Soho spot offers a $60 special that features clams on the half shell, Montauk Pt. lobster and a happy peach & blueberry cobbler ending ($45 for the rose-averse).  Either way, you aught not pass up this deal as Chef Peter Hoffman has his way with local fish at this cozy American. Address: 70 Prince St., at Crosby St. Phone: 212.219.8570 Clam Bake Menu: Available July 6-July 31 Until we eat again, Restaurant Girl **Don’t forget to subscribe for Restaurant Girl’s Weekly...

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Branzini’s All but a Memory

Posted on Jun 12, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

It seems we’ve lost this airy, small plates osteria and not to the Department of Health’s recently aggressive wrath.  Situated in The Library Hotel, chef Rick Moonen had provided shelter from the storm of Grand Central with a Mediterranean-bent menu, that once offered risotto rice croquettes and shellfish pappardelle.  Alas, no more.  The owners of Bookmark, The Library’s 14th floor bar, will be opening a bistro in its wake by the end of summer. Address: 299 Madison Ave., at 41 St. Phone: 212.557.3340 Until we eat again, Restaurant Girl **Don’t forget to subscribe for Restaurant Girl’s Free Weekly...

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Sugar-Coated Inflation

Posted on May 28, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Never mind the price of gas, has anyone else noticed the cost of honey-roasted peanuts has recently doubled from $1 to $2.  Call it Central Park inflation, the increase only effects vendors around or in Central Park.  “Do you know how much it costs to rent this cart?” a disgruntled cart Nuts 4 Nuts owner grumbles at me.  “$75,000 a year.” Apparently, this leaves Central Park vendors no choice but to raise the price of peanuts.  Curiously enough, almonds & cashews have remained at a steady $2, coconut $3. Thus, I’m offically proposing an official citywide boycott of all $2 honey-roasted peanuts on two accounts.  I ask you: how much could it possibly cost to roast nuts in sugar syrup?  My second point of contention: the glaring deception that these second-class legumes are coated in honey, when they actually...

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The Juice

Posted on May 22, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

It just so happens that Restaurant Girl has a sister.  While I’m usually indulging in something deliciously unhealthy, she may be indulging in the latest exercise trend, gyrotonics (no, that’s not a drink).  My sister and her partner – let’s call them the Juice Girls – have created Vital Juice Daily, a health & wellness daily email.  They’ve just returned from Chicago’s Fancy Food Show with the skinny on the latest food fashions…the healthy ones anyway. It seems cocktail menus may be getting a makeover from two unlikely sources…more commonly found in your beach bag or grandmother’s garden: Aloe Vera, a go-to summer sun mistake combatant, is not only being marketed as a juice, but is also making its way into cocktails around the city.  Case in point: Geisha’s aloe vera martini.   Its healing properties might just neutralize the...

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Gourmet Gripes

Posted on May 20, 2007 in Gourmet Gripes

Though it was hard to choose from the many grievances I’ve received this past week – apparently there are quite a few unhappy diners in NYC – this beef’s particularly close to my heart: I can’t stand when a restaurant’s host lies about how long the wait is.  I don’t know how many times a week I have to go through this.  The worst was when I went to Norma’s and they quoted me thirty minutes.  I must’ve asked ten times and they ended up seating us almost two hours later.  I would’ve left, but I was starving and couldn’t bear the thought of going to another restaurant and having to wait all over again.  But for god’s sake, just call a spade a spade.  If it’s going to be thirty minutes, tell me thirty minutes!  If you don’t...

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Seeing Double at Perilla

Posted on May 16, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

Dinner was nearly ethereal at Top Chef winner Harold Dieterle’s Perilla last night, but I’ll get to that a little later in the week.  While the handsome chef remained behind closed kitchen doors, another attractive Top Chef alumni made an appearance in the front of the house.  Sam Talbot, who coincidentally parted ways with Wil & Rob Shamlian of Spitzer’s Corner that very same day as first reported by Eater, spent the evening running in and out of the kitchen.   Perhaps he was seeking counsel from the Season One veteran, who was busy feeding a packed house.  It was a television star-studded evening at Greenwich Village’s newest hot spot, where Sarah Jessica Parker dined in a nearby booth. Until we eat again, Restaurant Girl **Don’t forget to subscribe for Restaurant Girl’s Weekly...

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Restaurant Buzz

Posted on May 11, 2007 in Gourmet Gossip

There’s no end in sight to the continuous barrage of burger joints, designer steaks and kobe clubs.  It’s a carnivore’s dilemma…and no, I’m not speaking of ethics.  Oh no.  I’ve had many a fling with foie gras and my way with veal, so I’m most certainly game for another chop shop.  First things first: Angelo & Maxie’s has taken over the kitchen store next door with plans for a July, Angelo & Maxie’s Grill.  Of course, this means August.  Not unlike Smith & Wollensky’s Grill, the menu will offer burgers & a host of other casual, less expensive grub.  But the real coup, will be the endless procession of flat screens and late-night hours.  Might there finally be a sports bar with decent food – why has this concept not caught on yet?  But wait, there’s more… The Scotto...

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