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May 2003

>> ATLANTA

Movin’ on up. After six years, Shaun Doty leaves downtown for Midtown to open brasserie MidCity Cuisine in the former Angelo & Maxie’s space on Peachtree Street. He will close Mumbo Jumbo | Former Buckhead Life staff have launched Blackstone’s, a steakhouse and bar on the transitional South Atlanta Road in Cobb | The East Andrews Café (actually on the West Village side of Buckhead) is expanding into the nearby and now defunct Celebrity Rock Café with a new “European-feel” restaurant, bar, and club | John Agri has opened Napa Valley Market and Trattoria with Brent Shaver as general manager. Rich Bradshaw prepares the evening menus | Fine-dining Thai restaurant Nan is under construction in Midtown Heights at 17th and Spring Streets, a Charlie Niyomkul (Tamarind) project. Niyomkul’s wife, Nan, is executive chef | Where’s the beef now? Buckhead’s Bones steakhouse will lose its front-of-house man of 23 years, Bobby Donlan, when he becomes managing partner of Donlan & Greenbaum’s New York Prime, in the former Peachtree Road home of Chequers seafood.

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>> BOSTON

Sea change. Atlantic 101 on the waterfront has changed its name and upscale seafood concept to the more comfortable Living Room lounge, now offering plump couches and specialty martinis. Larry Dunn (ex-Cheesecake Factory) serves comfort food. Proprietor John Hauck said he redesigned the Atlantic Street restaurant after holding focus groups with neighborhood residents | At Harvest, executive chef Eric Brennan is finally back after a long bout with back trouble. Fortunately, he had three sous-chefs to keep the pot boiling | Legal Sea Foods will open another restaurant, this one in the space of the former Giannino’s, behind the Charles Hotel | The Spinazzola Gala Festival of Food and Wine raised more than $600,000 to fight hunger via grants to hunger relief agencies, programs for the homeless, culinary apprenticeships, and scholarships | New York–style sandwiches are on the menu at Michael’s Deli, (formerly Tealuxe), on Harvard Street in Coolidge Corner, Brookline. Owner Michael Sobelman, who for nearly 20 years ran the Marblehead supermarket Michael’s, came out of retirement to sell kosher-style deli standards | The owners of Bombay Club in Cambridge recently opened Curry Leaf Indian Kitchen, (formerly Go Fish), in Sherwood Plaza on Route 9 in Natick | Paris Crêperie has opened a second location on Cambridge Street near Beacon Hill. Modeled after street stalls in France, the restaurant offers crêpes with a variety of fillings. A coffee bar dispenses the restaurant’s Nutella hot chocolate | After obtaining a full liquor license, Claremont Café transformed its second dining room into Lush, a cocktail lounge with a late-night menu. Co-owner Paula Spina said she hopes to have a fondue menu.

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>> CHICAGO

Peppery debut. Restaurateur Jack Weiss (Coco Pazzo, Coco Pazzo Cafe) has opened Pili.Pili in River North. Featuring Provençal cooking with other Mediterranean influences, the eatery is named after the African chile pepper used to season cooking oils in Provence. Chef François de Melogue (The Bakery, Ciel Bleu, Le Margaux) serves such dishes as fish soup, tarte Tatin of artichokes, wood-roasted pizza, and Moroccan slow-cooked lamb. De Melogue, who studied under Joël Robuchon in Paris, was raised in Chicago, but spent his childhood summers at his grandparents’ home in Marseilles | The new executive chef at Caliterra in the Wyndham Hotel is Rick Gresh (ex-Trio, Hotel Nikko, Green Dolphin Street). Among Gresh’s creations: wild arugula and shaved fennel salad, napoleon of citrus-cured salmon, black truffle risotto, and grilled venison loin | Lovitt has only 26 seats, but that’s just fine for chef/co-owner Norman Six (Tomboy Blackhawk Lodge). He cooks alone in his tiny Wicker Park restaurant, and likes to focus on earthy foods with occasional “exotic flourishes,” as one critic put it. Examples: profiteroles filled with crab bisque, house-cured salmon served on nori with wasabi rice, steak potpie, and tangerine upside-down cake | Michael J. Pivoney (Carlucci’s) has been named executive chef of the Signature Room in the John Hancock Building | Tapas, ensaladas, sopas, and platos fuertos are the Latin-American menu offerings of chef Barbara Bell at the newly opened MarySol in the West Loop. The pastry chef is Sarah Markowitz | Abraham Aguirre (Harry Caray’s, Gianotti’s) has been snagged as opening chef for Grotto on State Street.

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>> LONDON

Mas fino. Fino is not your average tapas bar. The stylish new Spanish restaurant, with an entrance on Rathbone Street, is owned by Sam and Eddie Hart, whose family owns the well-known Hambleton Hall in the country. The menu is dominated by seafood and invites sharing. The wine list includes a variety of sherries | L’Etranger has opened on Gloucester Road, serving New French cuisine with an Asian accent. Chef Jérôme Tauvron is from Ozer and previously worked with Alain Ducasse and Pierre Gagnaire | The Italian restaurant Mosaico has moved into the Bice space in Mayfair | Bodean’s is a new rib and barbecue restaurant in Soho owned by one of the founders of Belgo. This American-style diner also has a takeaway section | By mutual agreement, the Vong outpost in The Berkeley hotel has closed. In its place Gordon Ramsay is opening Boxwood, a cafe-style restaurant that evokes an English garden. Ramsay and Marcus Wareing will also open Petrus in the hotel’s other dining space, formerly La Tante Claire | Meanwhile, Wareing has taken over Savoy Grill. The new menu reinterprets Grill classics | Marco Pierre White is opening Whites in the former City Rhodes space. It will be similar to his Drones and Mirabelle restaurants | Alastair Little is no longer involved with his eponymous restaurants on Frith Street and on Lancaster Road | There is a new branch of Rocket restaurant at Putney Wharf with river views | Alain Ducasse’s Spoon+ at Sanderson is now offering more affordable “SpoonSum” at lunch | Chives has closed | Maison Novelli is closed, but will not become a new branch of Chez Max, as we erroneously reported in the February 2003 Dateline column.

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>> LOS ANGELES

SensAsian-al. Martin Yan has a new SensAsian, a clear challenge to P.F. Chang’s China Bistro’s continued expansion in California. SensAsian’s first opening was in Irvine; a second restaurant is coming this summer in Costa Mesa. The exhibition kitchen will feature frequent appearances from the telegenic chef, who is working with Wybridge Holdings, (the largest Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee outside of the U.S., based in Hong Kong) | EM Bistro is a collaboration between chefs Anne Conness (ex-Alex, Chinois, Campanile) and pastry chef Natasha MacAller (ex-Union, Charlie Trotter’s at the MGM Grand, The Greenbrier Inn), and East Coast restaurateur Charles Nuzzo (The St. Charles Inn in Great Gorge, New Jersey) | Fat Fish brings Pacific Northwest seafood savvy and a sushi sensibility to West Hollywood’s North Robertson Boulevard. Luke Kim and James Han (Sushi Kudasai in Seattle) and executive chef Truman Jones (Cascadia, also in Seattle) have thought of the carnivores, too, with some steak and poultry to round out the pan-Asian menus | Clubs usually think of food secondarily, but White Lotus in Hollywood presents accomplished culinarian Hiroji Obayashi (Hirozen), who fuses Thai, Korean, Chinese, and Japanese flavors. Corporate executive chef Andrew Pastore (The Sunset Room, Pig ‘n’ Whistle) completes the team. | Pete’s Café & Bar is the latest redevelopment in downtown’s newly trendy Old Bank District. Bijan Shokatfard (ex-Chez Melange) offers comfort food par excellence for partners Pete McLaughlin and Tom Gilmore, a part owner of Cicada and a downtown developer | Ballona Fish Market, Hans Röckenwagner’s year-old Marina del Rey seafood emporium, has a new chef de cuisine in Austrian-born Wolfgang Gussmack | Joseph Gillard, who opened Nick & Stef’s Steakhouse for Joachim Splichal downtown, has moved in at Mirabelle, the perennial see-and-be-seen spot on the Sunset Strip now under the supervision of the second generation of Germanides family members | Bruno Chemel, whose many French credentials include work with Joël Robuchon, has taken charge at Aqua in the St. Regis Monarch Beach Resort & Spa at Dana Point | Sweet rewards. Richard Ruskell is a Chocolatier Magazine Top Ten pick. He’s also pastry chef at the newly opened Montage Resort & Spa in Laguna Beach.

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>> NEW ORLEANS

Change of Commander’s. Ti Martin, co-owner of Commander’s Palace and owner of the food market Foodies Kitchen, is relinquishing her hold on Foodies. She plans to stay on as a consultant to the new owner, Robert Champagne, an accountant | Mango House has opened on the Jeannette Street site of the briefly popular Charleston restaurant. Chef/owner Anne Lloyd (ex-Gabrielle, Lola’s, Mr. B’s Bistro) serves Caribbean food | Guillermo Peters is moving his Taqueros from Roosevelt Boulevard to trendy St. Charles Avenue. He’s splitting the Mexican restaurant into two: the casual Taqueros downstairs, serving authentic Mexico City cuisine; and upstairs, the more refined Coyoacan.

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>> NEW YORK

James Beard Awards Gala on Monday May 4th to Celebrate James Beard's 100th Birthday. Chefs from across the country will be in their best black-tie to watch as peers receive awards for best regional chef, best new restaurant, and more. | A role he can sink his teeth into. Culinary poster boy and People magazine’s 2002 Sexiest Chef Alive Rocco DiSpirito (Union Pacific) will test his acting chops in a restaurant reality show scheduled to air on NBC this July. The Restaurant, produced by the creator of the mega-hit Survivor series, will follow Rocco as he develops and opens a downtown restaurant. Details remain hush-hush | Mermaid of the East Village. Dynamic duo Jimmy Bradley and partner Danny Abrams (Red Cat and The Harrison) have chosen the East Village as the site for their latest venture, The Mermaid Inn. Chef Michael Price jumped ship from The Harrison to oversee the seafood menu. The catch of the day may be the wine program, which promises marginal markups. Modest sweets will be offered gratis | A Riingo a day keeps the doctor away. Riingo, Japanese for “apple,” is coming soon from the Marcus Samuelsson/Hakan Swahn partnership that brought us perennial favorite Aquavit. Set to open this summer in the new Alex hotel on East 45th Street, Riingo will offer a modern American menu and an unconventional sushi bar | Parting is such sweet sorrow. Pastry chef Lincoln Carson has left his post at Todd English’s Olives NY in the W Union Square Hotel to join superstar restaurateur Stephen Hanson’s B.R. Guest. In his new job, Carson will oversee the diverse desserts at a number of B.R. Guest’s restaurants. His longtime pastry sous-chef, Alfred Stephens, is to replace him at Olives | Chef Ivy Stark (ex-Zócalo) is now plying her delectable Mexican cuisine at Park Avenue South hotspot Dos Caminos. She replaces Scott Linquist, who packed his knives to open Dos Caminos Soho | Simpson Wong, who since 1996 has brought New Yorkers pan-Asian bistro fare at the popular Café Asean, has added to his roster the sleek, serene Jefferson. Taking its name from the nearby Jefferson Square Market and Jefferson Library, the restaurant serves New American cuisine with Asian touches | Peter and Penny Glazier have opened Strip House at the Hotel Westminster, an offshoot of the Manhattan Strip House. Like the New York original, the new restaurant, which is in Livingston, New Jersey, resembles a classy bordello; the walls are covered with photographs of New Jersey–born celebrities. Chef David Walzog prepares the usual steak suspects, and just for the fun of it, he throws in haute accompaniments, like foie gras torchon, fresh linguine with duck confit, and black truffle creamed spinach | Big steaks usually come with big price tags. Now MarkJoseph, the Peter Luger knockoff in the Financial District, has come up with a modestly priced alternative, MJ Grill. Perfectly charred sirloin or filet is still the main act | Commissary, Matthew Kenney’s Upper East Side eatery, has closed. It was one of the last survivor of a restaurant empire that once spanned Matthew’s, Commune, Commissary, and Canteen, among others | Don’t look for TanDa on Park Avenue South and 24th Street. It has become Sage, and chef Stanley Wong has dispensed with Asian accents for bistro fare like steak-frites | The American Museum of Natural History has set up a cafeteria in conjunction with its current exhibition “Vietnam: Journeys of Body, Mind, and Spirit.” Museum-goers can enjoy summer rolls, sugarcane shrimp, and Vietnamese sandwiches | Or you can skip the culture thing, and go straight for the food at two new Vietnamese restaurants, O Mai in Chelsea and Bao 111 in the East Village. We reported on Bao 111 when it was Sen; a legal dispute over its name has led to its new identity. Jean Georges alum Eric Hubert continues to craft the desserts. Meanwhile, the team behind Cyclo in the East Village and Nam in Tribeca have opened O Mai | Park Slope’s Fifth Avenue used to suffer from a dearth of bistros—what were fans of frites and devotees of daube de boeuf to do? Fortunately, Moutarde has unrolled its awning. Arnaud Giberszcajn has turned the old Mike & Tony’s space into a beautiful bistro with classic dishes enlivened by rustic French mustards. Enfin! | Yagur Sheinman, who once imported gold and precious gems, has opened the opulently gothic Re Sette with chef Alessandro Sacchetti. Elaborate candelabra and a 26-foot-long “king’s table” provide a dramatic setting for Sacchetti’s fig and Gorgonzola pizza, signature grandmother’s Sunday sauce, and other Italian specialties fired in the wood-burning oven | Léa is an intimate wine bar and restaurant from stylish globetrotters Mario Carta and Mario Verciani. In keeping with the cozy atmosphere, Brazilian-born chef Aranai Seppi is offering a short menu that includes tapas and pastas; 50 wines are offered by the glass | East Village Basque bistro Euzkadi has hired Paul DiBari, formerly of Daniel, Lenox Room, Balthazar, and Pastis. His new menu offerings include whole fish a la Plancha and suckling pig | Atkins en español? Douglas Rodriguez is cooking at OLA, formerly Chispa, in Turtle Bay. The ceviche king continues to deliver his signature repertoire of tapas and ceviches, but in a nod to the high-protein craze sweeping the city, Rodriguez has added a “pure protein” section to his menu | Notable departures: Sara Jenkins has left Patio Dining in the East Village. Franz Klampfer has retired from his executive chef post at the Pierre. His replacement is Gerard Madani | Notable Midtown closings include Christer Larsson’s eponymous eatery, as well as Cinnabar | Théo restaurant has closed, too, and truffle aficionados should take note. Consulting chef Bruno Clément, owner of the one-Michelin-star Bruno in Provence, is in charge of the makeover. Bruno, of course, is famous for its black truffle menus.

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>> PARIS

That’s the way the macaroon crumbles. As a result of financial problems, Pierre Hermé has closed his Salon de Thé in the 8th arrondissement, and his pâtisserie on rue Bonaparte is expected to close this summer. Hermé’s partners Hubert Boukobza (Les Bains Douches) and Jean-Luc Delarue were also involved with Korova restaurant, which has closed as well. The Bertrand Group has taken over the Korova space, where they plan to install a traditional brasserie | Since 1880, diners at La Tour d’Argent who order duck have gotten a numbered card. Last month, owner Claude Terrail hosted a special dinner to commemorate the serving of the one-millionth duck | The closing of La Véranda on Avenue George V was quickly followed by the opening of La Suite in the same space. A fashionable crowd has been frequenting this new restaurant/bar/club, which serves contemporary French fare in a modern space | Lenôtre is scheduled to open Le Pavillon Elysée on May 26. The space will consist of a Café Lenôtre with seating for 120, as well as a take-out counter, food shop, and cooking school.

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>> SAN DIEGO

Off-Shores. Kevin Takei has left The Shores restaurant in La Jolla. He is moving his family to Vermont for what he hopes will be a more leisurely lifestyle. No replacement has been named | Saveur in Hillcrest has closed its doors for the second time | Entrepreneur Tracy Borkum has added a gourmet shop next door to her Kensington Grill. Borkum also owns Chive in the Gaslamp district | Andy Johnson, longtime chef at Solana Beach’s Pacific Coast Grill, has moved to The Bridges as executive chef. Tim Sullivan, formerly of Cilantro’s, Chesapeake, and Bellefleur, is the new chef | Speaking of Chesapeake, the large fish house, which aimed to bring better dining to North County, has closed. Its replacement will be Mexican.

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>> SAN FRANCISCO

Girl and the new digs. Restaurateur Sondra Bernstein opened a second Girl & the Fig on Weller Street in Petaluma. Last year she moved the first Girl & the Fig from Glen Ellen to Sonoma so she could open the Girl & the Gaucho in Glen Ellen. Bernstein’s chef is John Touloze and the chef de cuisine is Brian Sinnott. The menu is classic French country with a largely Californian wine list | Things are changing quickly at Julia’s Kitchen, the restaurant at COPIA, the American Center for Wine, Food & the Arts in Napa. Bay Area caterer McCall Associates turned over the operation to the Patina Group. Victor Scargle, formerly of the Grand Cafe in San Francisco, heads up the kitchen | Four-star chef Michael Mina (Aqua), backed by tennis star Andre Agassi and a plan from interior designer Barbara Barry, aims to launch a signature restaurant in the St. Francis hotel later this year. The restaurant would take over the Compass Rose space and offer a menu highlighting fish. Come August, Mina will open a spot in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, designed by celebrated New York designer Adam Tihany. “It will be an interactive restaurant,” Mina says, meaning that diners can select the ingredients to be cooked in the completely open kitchen | Cindy Pawlcyn (Mustards Grill) closed her Latin-themed Miramonte restaurant in St. Helena and reopened it as Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen. The menu takes its theme from the Fog City Diner and Buckeye Roadhouse, both of which Pawlcyn worked on as a former partner of the Real Restaurant group.

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>> OTHER OUTPOSTS

Nantucket, MA

From May 13 to 18, the 7th Annual Nantucket Wine Festival combines world-renowned wines, delicious food, educational seminars, auctions, and fresh sea breezes on one of the prettiest islands on the East Coast. For more information, go to www.nantucketwinefestival.com.

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