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March 2003


Georgia on his mind. Paul Albrecht, co-founder of the Buckhead Life Group, has returned to Atlanta from Florida to be executive chef and managing partner of Spice in Midtown | Lee Barton (Cateechee Golf Club) is opening Waterfalle Grille in Hartwell. Bill Johnson designed the restaurant to feature a nine-foot waterfall. Michael Cofer (The Cabin) will direct operations and Scott Howard (Vickery Creek Grill) will create the Southern regional menu | Can you twist? Tom Catherall (Prime, Noche, Goldfish) will open Twist Restaurant and Tapas Bar in a 10,000-sq.-foot space in Phipps Plaza. Peter Kaiser (Goldfish) will serve small plates with Indonesian and other flavors, such as lobster potpie and wood-roasted fish | Britton Cloud, formerly at Commune, is now executive chef at Sage on Sycamore in Decatur Square | Owner Greg Pyne of Brooklyn Café is offering curbside service. Diners call in their order, and a hostess delivers it to their car.


British bypass. Looks like Charlie Trotter won't be spreading his wings over the Atlantic and opening a grand restaurant in London after all. Trotter pulled the plug on his pet project after more than two years of frustrations. "I feel it's pointless to go on," Trotter was quoted as saying in a London magazine. In the meantime, Trotter is concentrating his efforts on his famed namesake Chicago eatery, and his Trotter's to Go carryout | Aria got a standing ovation when it opened in the Fairmont Hotel. Boasting dramatic decor, the new restaurant and bar features cuisines from around the world. Wisconsin-born chef Andrew Wierzelewski designed the menu based on his nearly 20-year international cooking odyssey, which has taken him to France, Thailand, Australia, and Malaysia. Chicago steaks, European cassoulets, and Asian curries are among the highlights | Coobah, a Latin restaurant, has opened in the Lakeview neighborhood. The owners are John Litz and Jimmy Madla, former drummer with Veruca Salt. Madla, who is also the restaurant's chef, has drummed up a mix of Cuban, Spanish, Mexican, Brazilian, and Filipino cuisine with dishes like crispy shrimp lumpia, spicy tamales, and caramelized plantains.



Yan can cook fast food. TV chef Martin Yan has opened casual chain Yan Can with partners Yum! Brands (KFC, Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, Long John Silvers) and KFC franchisee Hong Kong's Favorite Restaurant Group. The first four California outlets have a pan-Asian menu that combines Chinese basics with Thai, Vietnamese, and Korean items | Stephane Strouk began with a tiny crêpe stall in the Original Farmers Market that grew into a cheese store. Now there's his Monsieur Marcel Gourmet Market, incorporating cheese plus other delicacies, and Marcel Pain, Vin et Fromage for wine tastings, olives, and sandwiches | Former Michael's general manager and sommelier David Rosoff is managing partner in the new Opaline, which opened in the former Beverly Boulevard home of Red. David Lentz (ex-China Grill at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas) creates Mediterranean bistro cuisine, with cassoulet night on Mondays | Brad Johnson (The Sunset Room, Roxbury, Georgia) has opened seafood spot Menemsha in Marina del Rey with menus by chef Joachim Weritz (ex-The Surf & Sand Hotel, Patina Catering) | Andrew Kirschner, who was executive sous-chef at Chadwick before it closed, has taken charge of De Mori, the Silvio De Mori creation in The Rodeo Collection in Beverly Hills | With the closing of the ABC Entertainment Center in Century City, longtime pre-theater dining room Jade West moves across the street into the restaurant/banquet hall occupied by the Century Supper Club. Jade West's Bill Lee will handle the food, and Century Club nightclub entrepreneur Mark Fleischman continues to manage the nightlife | Patina Group's downtown Zucca Ristorante has brought chef Ace Lafayette Still (ex-Drago) on board | Beverly Hills Courier publisher and gadfly March Schwartz's back-alley lunch counter, which became the place to nosh and kibbitz amongst politicos and shakers, has suddenly closed. Finneys in the Alley, run by March's son Sande Schwartz and home of the infamous Double Schwartzburger, fell prey to inter-familial intrigue after seven years of nonstop success | Zax owners Chris and Chantal Schaefer have hired Mario Perez (ex-Jackson's) to replace Brooke Williamson, who left to do catering | Celebrity host Adriano Rebora, whose Adriano's atop Beverly Glen closed in 1998, has died at 63 of pancreatic cancer. Born in Genoa and a veteran of classic cruise liners, Rebora left a legacy that includes his longtime chef Ueli Huegli, whose Matterhorn Chef in Van Nuys continues to serve some of Adriano's signature dishes.



Coach's corner. New Orleans Saints coach Mike Ditka's eponymous restaurant lasted longer than he did, but it too has passed. Now in the St. Charles Avenue location is Johnny Ryan's, with a completely new decor and menu by Sean Daigle (ex-Mr. B's Bistro, Muriel's). Also on board is veteran waiter Gilberto Eyzaguirre, whose dismissal from Galatoire's last April for allegedly harassing two female co-workers created such a furor that Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose penned a play about it called The Galatoire's Monologues | Jonathan Wright has arrived from England to become executive chef at the Grill Room of the Windsor Court Hotel. Wright (ex-Le Manoir aux Quat'Saisons) most recently ran his own restaurant, La Gousse d'Ail, in Oxford. He replaces James Overbaugh | Another coup for Ralph Brennan. The Tavern on the Park across from City Park is now a property of the Ralph Brennan Restaurant Group (Bacco, Red Fish Grill). Gerard Marais, longtime friend and former executive chef of Mr. B's Bistro, will be creating the menu. Richard Shakespeare, who was with Commander's Palace for 25 years, will be at the front of the house | The 31st floor of the World Trade Center of New Orleans is poised to undergo a $1 million restoration that will include a dining terrace and indoor restaurant. Charlie Campo, a graduate of the CIA in Hyde Park, is one of the partners. Previously an observation deck, this area is being converted into the most scenic dining experience in New Orleans.



Congratulations to IACP 2003 Humanitarian Award-winner Richard Grausman, Founder and President of C-CAP, the Careers in Culinary Arts Program, providing culinary scholarships and educations to thousands of New York's inner-city youths. | Currency conversion. The gorgeous Stanford White-designed room that once housed the Bowery Savings Bank—and has been hosting private parties for the likes of Mariah Carey and Louis Vuitton since this past fall—is now open to us ordinary folk for dinner. Chef Franklin Becker, formerly of Local, is cooking at Capitale, which is on the outskirts of Chinatown | Nearby, the prolific Jean-Georges Vongerichten, long known for Thai-French fusion at Vong, has staked out new Asian territory. His new, eagerly awaited venture, 66, located on the outskirts of Chinatown, serves upscale family-style Chinese fare in posh surroundings designed by Richard Meier | Mark Strausman, who owns Campagna, has become a partner in the Brooklyn mainstay, Cucina | The name may sound like a glossy food mag, but Culinaria is, in fact, a new Italian restaurant in the Garment District. Chef Vincenzo Pezzilli hails from Rome. His New York pedigree includes stove duty at Mad 28, Coco Pazzo Café, and Osteria al Doge. Dishes at Culinaria include langoustine ravioli and suckling pig "Dianne" | Bloomingdale's shoppers who mourned the passing of Contrapunto and Yellowfingers can now dine at Brasserie 360, a new bi-level restaurant which joins the two spaces. The upstairs is a sushi bar run by Kazuo Yashida (ex-Jewel Bako). Downstairs is, lo and behold, a brasserie where Luc Dendievel (ex-Bayard's and Waterloo) cooks such classics as braised veal cheeks. Felencia Darius is the pastry chef | Herb Wilson has been named the chef at Bull Run, a financial district watering hole-cum-restaurant. Wilson has given the conservative menu some creative twists, for instance adding chipotle, Hawaiian pineapple-vanilla essence, avocado, and crisp taro root to the warm shrimp salad and encrusting his filet mignon in wild mushrooms and truffles | Sweetmaker George McKirdy has traded models and wannabes for Upper East Side society. He recently left his post at the ultra-hip Butter to become the pastry chef at Café Boulud. (McKirdy will be visiting the Beard House on March 26. See page 31 for details.) | Thomas Ferlesch, the longtime chef of the nymph-bedecked Café Des Artistes, has left to open Thomas Beisl, a traditional Austrian restaurant near BAM in Brooklyn. His replacement is at Café Des Artistes is Finnish-born Ari Nieminen, who was previously in charge of the Tsarist fare at Firebird | Zitoune owner/chef Alain Bennouna has opened a take-out sandwich shop out of a storeroom in his Meatpacking District restaurant. La Sandwicherie serves soups, light entrees, and such delectable tidbits as grilled merguez or marinated sardines on house-baked Moroccan bread | Brooklyn bistro invasion. La Luncheonette, which was one of the first attractions in the now-hot West Chelsea neighborhood, has branched out to Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. Like the West Chelsea original, Quercy, named for owner Jean-François Fraysse's hometown in France, serves hearty bistro fare. Other newcomers on the Brooklyn bistro front are Fada, in Williamsburg, and Five Front, in Dumbo. Franck Platini, a native of Marseilles, mans the stoves at Fada, which serves French bistro classics like coq au vin and bouillabaisse. Five Front, owned by Patty Lowry (who is also the chef) and Paul Vicino, serves Americanized bistro food with classics like steak au poivre alongside more creative dishes such as curried mussels | More dispatches from Brooklyn: the Bromberg brothers have opened a branch of Blue Ribbon Sushi next to their Blue Ribbon Brooklyn. Unlike the Manhattan original, Brooklyn Blue Ribbon Sushi has a raw bar | Meanwhile in Queens, Mike di Prima (ex-Oceana and Park Avenue Cafe) is now chef de cuisine at Amici Amore I in Astoria, the Italian restaurant/wine bar owned by Beard House maître d' Dino Redzic | A taste of the Southwest has come to the West Village. The recently opened Agave features such delicious dishes as chorizo-stuffed pork chops, Santa Fe shepherd's pie, and pan-toasted blue corn potstickers. The restaurant was designed by Bill Lalor, who also designed such vast spaces as the Saloon and America | Balthazar, which already had a loyal following for its continental breakfast, now offers the whole kit and caboodle, including French toast and eggs Benedict every day of the week.



We're floored. Jim Caiola and David Salama have opened second-floor lounge L'Etage (French for "floor") atop their Beau Monde crêperie on 6th Street | Mustapha Rouissiya (Figs) is opening Adriatica, a Mediterranean seafood restaurant with lounge, on Chestnut Street | Also new to Chestnut is Stephen Starr's casual Jones. Jim Locascio is doing such down-home dishes as macaroni and cheese and deviled eggs | Avram Hornik plans to open brasserie Loie on 19th Street, off Rittenhouse Square. Jeremy Duclut (ex-Le Bec-Fin, Brasserie Perrier) will turn out a moderately priced menu of chicken paillards and steak au poivre | Murzillo Bistro has opened in Green Lane with an "Italian flair" American-European menu by chef/co-owner Gaetano Chiaro.



La Costa Spa in San Diego's North County has opened two new restaurants, Rancho Grill and Legends, serving eclectic California cuisine. The restaurants are part of a major renovation of the entire property | Joe Babcock is the chef de cuisine at Rice, the restaurant at the new W Hotel in downtown San Diego. He comes to San Diego from the W Hotel in Atlanta.



Casual comfort. Postrio chefs Steven and Mitchell Rosenthal and front-of-house man Doug Washington plan to open Town Hall, a 120-seat American comfort-food restaurant on Howard Street near Fremont this spring. The Rosenthals will continue as executive chefs of Postrio | Rowena Wu and Brent Pollock (Azie Restaurant, LuLu Restaurant, Zibibbo) are planning a large music-and-food venue south of Market, with a Latin American and Spanish-flavored menu | The Luna Park guys, A. J. Gilbert and Joe Jack, have gone ahead with their delayed project to open a casual Italian-American joint on Valencia Street (at 23rd Street), now called the Last Supper Club | Michael and Roxanne Klein have finally gotten approval to open a much-awaited deli adjacent to their raw-food restaurant, Roxanne's, in Larkspur. The to-go deli, originally scheduled to open last summer, will feature Roxanne's "cheeses" (made from nuts), organic drink blends, salads, and pocket sandwiches | Thomas Keller (French Laundry) may be taking the plunge in Las Vegas. Word is he may open a Bouchon in the Venetian Hotel & Casino, much like the original in Yountville, at least as much like it as possible in Vegas.



Going downtown. Forest Hill sushi kingpin Barry Chaim (EDO, EDO-ko) has opened Diferent by EDO on Adelaide Street West, his first downtown venture. Chaim transformed the lower level of the former Houston's steakhouse into a 30-seat bar and 60-seat restaurant. Diferent, so spelled "just to be different," says Chaim, serves Japanese standards blended with kaiseki elements. Chef Shinichiro Aoyama will also prepare such dishes as oyster shooters with ponzu aspic, and marinated black cod with mandarin sauce | Regaining our Senses. The fine-dining restaurant—cum—food shop has decamped from Bloor and Yonge but will reopen in the new Soho Metropolitan Hotel on Wellington Street West. The restaurant remains under executive chef Claudio Aprile | Hip clothier Club Monaco, meanwhile, finally came to its senses and did something about the critically panned basement restaurant in its Avenue at Bloor store. Kubo principals Leslie Ng and Byron Dill have taken over the management of Colony and installed their trademark cheeky Asian menu and yummy cocktails. The duo have closed the original Kubo in the Merchandise Building but still run Kubo DX in the Design Exchange | We all know what curiosity did to the cat, but what killed Curiosity? According to staff of the recently shuttered Annex restaurant, "the neighborhood just didn't understand what we were trying to do." The real mystery is how Curiosity chef Colin Gallacher could cook in the closet-size kitchen. He's now at Sauvignon in the Beaches.



If he builds it, they will come. Nightclub impresario Mauricio Fraga-Rosenfeld (Gua-Rapo, Gazuza) will open Latino restaurant Agua Ardiente ("boiling water") on the 24th Street site where West 24 was. Fraga-Rosenfeld's track record for opening über-trendy spots is legendary. His Chi-Cha Lounge at 17th and U Streets packs them in despite the location | After nine years of Latin flavors at Gabriel, Greggory Hill is leaving to open contemporary American restaurant David Greggory in the West End with partner David Hagedorn. It will offer, and we quote, "noble peasant food" | The construction at the Kennedy Center has extended to the restaurant. The Roof Terrace Restaurant, the fine-dining room operated by Restaurant Associates, is closed for renovations from now until late spring/early summer. The self-service KC Café remains open, as do the intermission bars | McFadden's Irish Restaurant & Pub is slated to open in the West End where Mick's was, at 24th and Pennsylvania Ave., NW.



Las Vegas
Chef—turned—Playgirl model Kerry Simon (ex-Prime Steakhouse at Bellagio Hotel) has gone solo with Simon Kitchen & Bar at the Hard Rock Hotel. His mother's meatloaf is on the menu, as is cotton candy for dessert.

Frank Randazzo (Gaucho Room) and Andrea Curto-Randazzo are planning to open Talula restaurant next month on 23rd Street in Miami Beach.The duo will turn out "creative American cuisine" | Chocoholics beware: Cacao 1737 in downtown Coral Gables isn't just a chocolaterie but a restaurant by Venezuelan chef Edgar Leal, with partner Chocolates El Rey. Chocolate is confined to the dessert menu; main courses are drawn from all over South America.

Oahu, Hawaii
Andrew Manion-Copley (ex-Ritz-Carlton San Francisco) is now executive chef of Turtle Bay Resort on the North Shore, where the signature 21 North restaurant blends East and West.

Park City, Utah
Fandango Resorts has opened Easy Street Brasserie in Old Town, with a modern French menu by Neville King (ex-Seahorse Grill at the Elbow Beach Hotel in Bermuda).

Beard Award winner Janos Wilder (Janos) has put his stamp on the new Kai restaurant in the Sheraton Wild Horse Pass Resort & Spa. Chef de cuisine Sandy Garcia executes consulting chef Wilder's brand of sophisticated Southwestern flavors, such as lobster tail fry bread, and steak with red chile butter | In Scottsdale, Bradford Thompson (ex-db bistro moderne, NYC) has replaced James Boyce as chef of Mary Elaine's restaurant at The Phoenician.