news &

Find your city here:


    January 2004


Adieu to a friend. The erudite British food writer Alan Davidson has died. Davidson, who was 79 and had been ailing, culminated his career with the authoritative Oxford Companion to Food, on which he worked for 20 years. He also wrote a number of highly regarded books on seafood, one of which, North American Seafood, won our Cookbook Hall of Fame award in 2002), and he founded the Oxford Symposium on Food. Davidson had a career in the foreign service. While posted to Tunisia, he discovered a passionate avocation that he turned into a long and fruitful career.


Making a big Splichal. Joachim Splichal’s Patina Group has opened C2 Café & Kitchen between the Century Plaza Towers. Raffi Asadourian (ex-Café Pinot) runs the kitchens at C2 Café. The adjacent C2 Kitchen serves round-the-world takeout | After 14 years in Palm Desert, Doug Arango’s has moved inland to the former Yujean Kang’s location on Melrose Avenue in West Hollywood. It’s still a family affair, with Chris Bennett in the kitchen, his wife, Julie, running the front, and Julie’s sister and brother, Paula Evans and sommelier Robert Evans, also active in management | John Makhani (Barefoot Bar & Grill) has opened Cinch Restaurant and Lounge in Santa Monica. Chris Behre (ex-Tetsuya’s in Sydney) oversees the French-Japanese menu. Tamaji Hata (ex-Citrine) rolls the sushi, while Aaron Lindgren, most recently the chocolatier at Comparte’s of California, is pastry chef | The new Loews Beverly Hills Hotel has christened its new restaurant Lot 1224. The executive chef is Eric Rillos (ex-Dahlia Lounge in Seattle) | Third-generation restaurateur Blair Salisbury (El Cholo Pasadena) is expanding again, with Doña Rosa Bakery and Taqueria on a busy corner in Pasadena. The casual, all-day menu is a tribute to Salisbury’s great-grandmother, Rosa Borquez | Popular husband-and-wife team Rick and Jill Wilson (Shenandoah Restaurant) have opened Shenandoah at The Arbor in Los Alamitos. The kitchen is smaller than the original, but expect such signatures as Texas-style beef brisket, sand dabs, and the mobile salad bar | Chef de cuisine Jeff Armstrong has left Whist at the Viceroy Hotel in Santa Monica for Houston, where he’s executive chef of The Riviera Grill in the landmark Sam Houston Hotel. Rainer Schwarz, most recently executive chef at The Sky Room, is now heading the culinary brigade at Whist | Opening chef David Fouts has left Jimmy’s Tavern in West Los Angeles to move to San Diego | Daly and Liz Thompson’s The Pig barbecue restaurant in Hollywood has spawned a piglet. The Pig’s first branch is in the food court of CityWalk at Universal Studios Hollywood | Local foodies put former Spago pastry chef Anna Delorefice and partner Jenna Turner’s Sugarplum Bakery on the culinary map after it opened in Hollywood in 2002. After a nasty lawsuit with a wholesale commercial bakery with a similar name, Turner and Delorefice have decided to rename their bustling bakery and cafe Susina Bakery & Café (susina is Italian for a particularly delicious type of plum) | Opaline managing partner David Rosoff has brought in a new culinary team under the direction of Jason Trevi (ex-Granita, Joe’s and Spago Beverly Hills), with pastry chef Julien Wagner (ex-Radius in Boston).


Every one a pearl. Barataria has been sold. New owners Steve and Donna Nold don’t plan to change what they call “probably the largest selection of baked oyster dishes in the city.” Chef Danny Glassmaker has updated the menu | When a Brennan decides to branch out, it is usually done in a big way. Ti Martin (of Commander’s Palace and Foodies fame) was approached by Loews Hotels to consider opening a restaurant on the property. Enter Café Adelaide, a New Orleans bistro, with an informal atmosphere and reasonable prices aimed at both tourists and locals alike.


Attention stargazers! After 4 1 /2 years on the job, New York Times restaurant critic William Grimes is stepping down at the end of December. His successor has not yet been named | The first restaurant in the highly anticipated Time Warner Center has opened its doors. Asiate, in the Mandarin Oriental New York Hotel, has spectacular views from the 35th floor and an elegant, modern setting designed by restaurant architect Tony Chi, but you won’t be easily distracted from chef Nori Sugie’s inventive, Japanese-inflected cooking. Sugie trained in France and previously cooked at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and at Tetsuya’s in Australia. Competition may be tough, since the same complex will play host to restaurants from Thomas Keller, Gray Kunz, Masa Takayama, Charlie Trotter, and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, all of which are scheduled to open in the spring | A sweet gig. We bemoaned Claudia Fleming’s departure from Gramercy Tavern and her fling with a certain British sandwich chain. So we’re happy to report she’s back on the city’s dining scene as consulting pastry chef for Five Points in NoHo, where her simple but elegant finales suit chef Marc Meyer’s rustic American cooking to a T | Wolfgang Puck has landed on the East Coast. He’s touched down in Hoboken with an outlet of his chain Wolfgang Puck Express. The bright, casual eatery, near the Hoboken Terminal, features Puck’s signature pizzas, Chinois chicken salad, and more | Girls and Dolls. American Girl Place, a complex of shops aimed at girls, recently opened in Midtown Manhattan, including a café, operated by the Chicago-based Levy Restaurants, where dolls get their own seats! Consulting chef Michael Lomonaco delivers a kid-friendly menu of sandwiches, pizzas, and cinnamon buns | Box Tree Restaurant and Inn in Midtown has a new owner, a new chef, and a slightly altered concept. Moe Lax, who made his fortune in diamonds, hired chef Alexandre Petard (formerly of Jean Georges) to revamp the menu, which now features French-inspired kosher dishes | Come and gone. The talented Richard Farnabe delighted us briefly at Bruno Jamais Restaurant Club, then moved over to the kitchens of Aïgo, also on the Upper East Side. He’s now left Aïgo, too, and the Mediterranean restaurant has closed | Enter the dragon. Patricia Yeo garnered raves for her inspired Asian and Mediterranean menus at AZ and Pazo, respectively. This spring, she plans to open her own restaurant, Naga (Sanskrit for dragon), on the Lower East Side. The bilevel space will feature a sushi bar downstairs plus Yeo’s signature Asian-style cuisine. Each night after dinner, the space will be transformed into a lounge, NagaNight | Meanwhile, the new chef at AZ is Christian Lomas, who worked with Larry Forgione at Restaurant Above. No surprise, then, that he tapped Marc Forgione, one of Larry’s sons, to be his sous-chef. Former AZ pastry chef Nicole Plue has been replaced by Larissa Raphael | The highly regarded Laurent Tourondel, who received three stars from The New York Times at Cello, is taking over the Midtown space that was Pazo. He plans to open Tourondel Steak with a menu centered on meat and fowl | What’s in a name, so long as the food is good? We previously reported that Pippa Calland’s soon-to-open Tribeca eatery will be called Lingua. No longer. The new name is Bella Rovere | Another name-changer is Avenue on the Upper West Side, which is also changing its emphasis. After serving French bistro food for five years, chef Christina Kelly is turning to American classics, such as crabcakes, grilled fish, and fruit crumb tarts, at 520, the new name as well as the address | Dearly departed. Harry’s at Hanover Square, the venerable Financial District institution in the basement of India House, has closed. Owner and legendary host Harry Poulakakos cited two reasons for his decision: the death of his wife and partner, Adrienne, and the dramatic decrease in business after the city’s ban on smoking in restaurants went into effect. For 30 years, Harry’s counted among its regulars some of the most powerful businessmen on Wall Street. Poulakakos is holding on to the building, which also houses the excellent Bayard’s and one of the most enviable wine cellars around, the latter a testament to Poulakakos’s personal passion | In the public interest. Public, the quirky newcomer to the NoLita dining scene, is a transatlantic collaboration between New Zealand chefs Anna Hansen and Peter Gordon (who own the popular Providores in London) and their head chef, Brad Farmerie, whom they brought over. The menu reaches far and wide, with complex creations that underscore the fact of three creative forces in the kitchen. Think grilled ox tongue with cumin-spiced eggplant relish, quinoa flatbread, and roast-garlic yogurt to start, and main courses such as chestnut risotto cake with pickled butternut squash and pine nuts; and New Zealand (naturally) lamb loin with crispy goat cheese polenta, grilled leeks, roasted vegetables, and mint yogurt. The wine list leans toward excellent bottles from Australia and New Zealand | Manhattan Ocean Club reels in a new chef. Craig Koketsu, who was the executive sous-chef at Lespinasse before it closed, replaces Jonathan Parker, who’s leaving New York altogether | Bôi! We can’t wait to try this! The Tran family has been in the food business in Vietnam for decades, and still own a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City. Now siblings Tamie Tran-Le, Chau Tran, and Antee Tran, chefs and manager respectively, have opened Bôi in Midtown. The authentic Vietnamese cuisine is complemented by the fabulous desserts of their friend and unlikely partner, Citarella pastry chef Bill Yosses (ex-Bouley Bakery). We’ve a hankering for his tamarind cake and jackfruit toffee pudding right now.


Waiting for Collingswood. Longtime Monte Carlo Living Room chef Nunzio Patruno is guest chef-ing at Primadonna in Center City while waiting for his Collingswood, New Jersey, space to become available. In the interim, many of his fans have followed him | Philadelphia has its share of Vietnamese, Chinese, Thai, and Japanese restaurants. Now it has its first Laotian, Vientiane Café, a small neat BYOB with a lemongrass bush in the dining room | Steven Starr has closed his classic French brasserie Blue Angel but has opened a new restaurant lickety-split in the same space. The new Angelina is a moderately priced Italian restaurant | Francophiles needn’t despair: Olivier de Saint Martin (ex-Dock Street Brasserie) has reopened Caribou Cafe, a few blocks away, with a true bistro menu.


Knine-Ten? Jason Knibb is the new executive chef at Nine-Ten in La Jolla. He previously cooked at Sundance Resort in Utah | Pierre Albaladejo has arrived at the Four Seasons Aviara in Carlsbad, where he replaces Pascal Vignau as executive chef. Albaladejo comes to the mainland from the Four Seasons Maui in Hawaii | Ron Tolle has left Azzura Point at Loews Coronado Bay Resort to be executive sous-chef at Roppongi in La Jolla | Justin Hurd has closed the long-standing Hops in the University Towne Centre in La Jolla and returned to his hometown of Phoenix, Arizona | Longtime San Diego culinarian Tom Dowling has left as executive chef at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. Dowling, who worked his way up through the ranks of the inn’s kitchen, will move to the corporate offices, J.C. Resorts in La Jolla. No replacement for Dowling has been named | Roy’s has opened another outpost on 7th Avenue in the Gaslamp. The location is adjacent to Petco Park, the new home of the San Diego Padres baseball team | Hanis Cavin has left Dakota Bar and Grill in the Gaslamp. Currently, he is teaching | A. J. Voytko has left Chive in the Gaslamp | Chuao Chocolatier is opening a new Chocolate Bar in University Towne Centre in La Jolla, an outpost of the original in Encinitas. The Bar will sell chocolates, chocolate drinks, and chocolate desserts.


Some like it raw. Roxanne and Michael Klein have hired Donna Insalaco as chef de cuisine of Roxanne’s To Go, their new raw food deli in Larkspur. To replace Stephanie Valentine, their chef de cuisine now on maternity leave, they also hired Mark Lusardi. Lusardi was opening chef of Vertigo restaurant in the TransAmerica pyramid, now closed | Mike Yakura has left Jianna restaurant in North Beach to become the executive chef at Le Colonial. Nate Lind, Jianna’s longtime sous-chef, will become executive chef | Who says that hard work and loyalty don’t pay off? Gail Defferari and Bob Voorhees have sold their almost 10-year-old restaurant, Universal Cafe, to three of their longtime employees: general manager Wendy St. John, manager and wine buyer Armando Avalos, and chef Leslie Carr-Avalos. Defferari is staying on a few weeks during the transition, but executive chef Jennifer Biesty has left | The Diner in Yountville was one of the most popular breakfast spots in Wine Country before it closed in September 2001. Now it has been sold—again. Cindy Pawlcyn bought it a couple of years ago, and it was rumored she might move Mustards Grill to that location. But she sold it recently to the Nord family, owners of Nord Coast Vineyard Service. The Diner will become the Wine Garden, with managing partner Julie Nord overseeing the operation | A fire has undermined plans for Père Jeanty in Yountville. Philippe Jeanty (Jeanty at Jack’s, Bistro Jeanty) intended to open a Mediterranean-themed restaurant in the Washington Street location that was Mama Nina’s. The opening is now up in the air.


Red-letter day. Rouge in the Annex gets a much-needed shot in the culinary arm with the return of opening chef Masayuki Tamaru. Tamaru helped launch Rouge in 2002 before moving to Crush Wine Bar on King Street West | Respected beer expert Stephen Beaumont has opened beerbistro, “Toronto’s first beer cuisine restaurant.” Beaumont and chef Brian Morin transformed Zoom on King Street East into a brasserie. Eighty percent of dishes are made with beer, such as a hamburger moistened with Belgian brown ale | Sam Gassira is leaving Focaccia downtown for new sister restaurant Bloom in Bloor West Village. Replacing him at Focaccia is Pedro Quintanilla (ex-Xango, Latitude, Mojito) | Opening your first restaurant isn’t rocket science, but if it were, Rob Briden would have the advantage. Briden, a former physics student and sous-chef at Pastis, and partner Patrice Baron have purchased Café Societa on College Street and turned it into Café Margaux. The menu is as Gallic as the name.


Texan casualty. Now that The Watergate Hotel is independent of the Swissôtel chain, it’s changing its restaurant back to Aquarelle from Jeffrey’s. The upscale Texas fare gives way (sorry, George and Laura) to French cuisine under new chef Christophe Poteaux (ex-Daniel in NYC, L’Orangerie in Los Angeles). Food and beverage director Robert Faure (ex-Citronelle) will run the front of the house | Partners Cathal and Meshelle Armstrong have opened Restaurant Eve in Alexandria’s Old Town, naming it after their daughter. As chef, Cathal (ex-Bistro Bis) serves both fresh market cuisine and nine-course tasting menus | Michael Sternberg and Larry Work plan to open a second Harry’s Tap Room in Columbia early next year. They will also have a catering operation based out of Sam & Harry’s in Tysons Corner, with partner Neil Griggs, a CIA graduate | Hidemasa Yamamoto will be executive chef at the new Mandarin Oriental, slated to open on the southwest waterfront this spring | Andreas Georgakopoulos has been named executive chef at Finn & Porter at Mark Center | Hector Playuk is the executive master chef at 14K in Hamilton Crowne Plaza. 14K replaces The Franklin Exchange.


Short Hills, NJ
Walter Leffler, for many years the executive chef of the Hilton Short Hills Hotel and Spa, has moved to the Seelbach Hilton Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. Under Leffler’s direction, The Dining Room received an AAA Five-Diamond rating. He is replaced by James Haurey, who worked under Leffler for the past four years. Before that, Haurey spent seven years at another renowned Garden State eatery, The Ryland Inn.