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   January 2005


Smokejack is turning up the heat in north Fulton, now open in Alpharetta on South Main Street. Jay Swift (formerly of South City Kitchen) is co-owner and executive chef with partner Dave Filipowicz. The 122-seat eatery offers slow-cooked meat specialties from a wood grill, smoker, and rotisserie, including pulled pork, duck, rainbow trout, ribs, and house-cured ham. Live blues and a full bar accompany the food | More blues downtown: Urban Licks is open at 820 Ralph McGill Street, serving a fiery American menu by executive chef Scott Serpas (ONE. midtown kitchen). Licks’ partners are restaurateurs Bob Amick and Todd Rushing. Wines (only) will be served from 42 stainless steel display barrels. Entrées include hot frogs’ legs and tomato shrimp Creole with hand-cut pasta | Sporting an innovative concept in Buckhead’s Lenox Square, Dantanna’s combines upscale dining with the big-screen overload of a sports bar. CIA-trained chef and co-owner Tim Williams is serving lobster crostini and Long Island duckling in either the clubby dining room or the bar. Yes, sports fans, burgers are available | Guess you’ve got to twist before you can shout. Chef/owner Tom Catherall of Here to Serve Restaurants has just brought Shout to Colony Square, following in the footsteps of Twist in Phipps Plaza. Bill Johnson Studio designed this restaurant, a bi-level, 22,000-square-foot, indoor-outdoor space. Like Twist, the menu offers entrées from a wood-fired oven, as well as a sushi bar and tapas station | Departing from years of tradition, chef Johannes Klapdohr has introduced a new à la carte menu at Atlanta’s fine-dining landmark, Nikolai’s Roof. Although the seven-course tasting menu will still be available on the top floor of the Hilton Atlanta, the new menu reflects a different approach to fine dining, with more choice, seasonally influenced by local and regional ingredients.


Wining and dining up-coast: chef Michael Haimowitz, most recently of Morrell Wine Bar in New York City, is the new chef at Bambara in Cambridge. Haimowitz is taking the concept of wine and food pairing to a new level with a “Wine Rewards” card, designed to encourage guests to learn more about the fruit of the vine. Menu items include roasted kurobuta pork loin with crispy polenta, arugula, and pickled peppers | Food adventurers who dine at the South End’s Pho Republique can now travel to yet another country when they visit the hip French-Vietnamese eatery: Thailand. Chef Victor Sodsook, formerly of Los Angeles’ celeb-friendly Siamese Princess, took the wheel at Pho Republique this fall. He has added Bangkok-style street food to the restaurant’s mix | Native Frenchman Oliver Rigaud has been appointed as the new chef de cuisine of Brasserie Jo. After spending some time at Yanks in Beverly Farms, Rigaud is happy to return to his culinary roots with classic French fare such as steak frites and coq au vin | Matthew Curtis and Chris Lutes (Audubon Circle, Miracle of Science, and Cambridge 1) have added another spot to their cadre of sleek, minimalist joints. Middlesex Lounge might turn out to be the hipster of the bunch, jumping on the small-dish trend with such nibbles as ten tiny tacos and a Kobe beef burger. Live DJs groove nightly | David Reynoso is back in Beantown. To review: Reynoso was chef at the former Cafe Louis (now Restaurant L) under the direction of Providence’s Al Forno luminaries Johanne Killeen and George Germon. He left in 2003 to spend time with his family in his native Mexico. Now, Reynoso has joined executive chef and co-owner Barbara Lynch at B&G Oysters and The Butcher Shop in the South End. He’s executive tournant, filling in wherever needed | Double the fun. Tim Panagopoulos and Kenichi Iwoaka, owners of the popular Osushi in the Westin Hotel, have opened Osushi Too in Downtown Crossing. It is twice as large as the first restaurant, with a larger menu.


Noe’ Restaurant & Bar has replaced the Omni Hotel’s flagship restaurant, La Réserve. New executive and “concept” chef Robert Gadsby was born in Bedford, England, and comes to Houston via Los Angeles (see LA Dateline, below). His menu marries traditional elements from both French and Japanese cuisine with contemporary flavors | Change of plans: Cedric Guerin is not opening his own place on Mid Lane in the old Basil’s Cafe spot after all, as previously reported. Instead he is the new executive chef at La Tour D’Argent. Bistro Enterprises LLC has taken the shuttered Basil’s and reopened it as Bistro Calais. Bistro Enterprises is owned by Jane Knapp, Roy Knapp, and Phillip Mitchell | Ettienne Leibman’s new wine and food shop, Leibman’s Wine & Fine Foods has opened at 14529 Memorial Drive. The new location is larger and grander than the original, which was destroyed by fire during the 2003 holiday season | Who says there’s no Santa? John Marion Carrabba got a second Piatto Ristorante for Christmas, this one in Royal Oaks | On the drawing board: Ashiana has taken over the space next door to use as a full-service banquet room seating 150. New owner Latika Bhatija hopes to have the table set in time for Valentine’s Day | There’s another party venue in the works: The Mansion at 411 on Lovett Boulevard. Restoration of the lovely old home should be complete by next summer. It’s owned by Mike Clark and Keith Kreuer | Loic Carbonnier at Lynn’s Steakhouse has announced a new restaurant, set to open early in 2005. The casual Cafe Benedicte will offer a Mediterranean menu and a wine and coffee bar. At press time, Carbonnier had not yet hired a chef.


Leaving Los Angeles: Eric Klein, who brought new life to the sleepy Maple Drive in his 18 months there and previously delighted Angelenos as sous-chef at Spago Beverly Hills, has been lured away by the bright lights of Vegas. Klein’s next menu will be for a high-profile, yet-to-be-named luxe steak house that he will open and direct at the $2.7-billion-dollar Wynn Las Vegas mega-resort. The debut is scheduled for late April | Boule, the creation of pastry chef Michelle Myers (co-owner of Sona), has opened directly across the street from Sona on North La Cienega Boulevard. The upscale bread/pastry/dessert shop is Myers’s interpretation of a Parisian pâtisserie | The historic Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, originally opened in 1927 and the site of the first Academy Awards ceremony, has revamped its foodservice operation after a major multimillion dollar facelift. Tim and Liza Goodell’s Domaine Restaurants (Meson G, Aubergine, and Troquet) now create the menus for banquets and room service. The largest project is an as-yet-unnamed steak and chophouse that is to replace the former Theodore’s Restaurant. The Goodells have installed Brunson Achiu (Anaheim Convention Center) as their top toque | In time for the 12th anniversary of their Temecula fine-dining restaurant, Baily’s, second-generation proprietors Chris and Kim Baily have moved the restaurant from the back of a shopping mall to prime frontage on land that they own in Old Town Temecula on Front Street. The new $3 million-plus, 8,600-square-foot facility features Front Street Bar & Grill on the ground floor for casual dining—it serves barbecue, Cajun specialties, and gourmet burgers—and fine-dining Baily’s with freestyle California-French fare and a full bar on the second level. Lance Roll ( Pacifica Del Mar) wears the whites in the kitchen. Chris’s parents, Phil and Carol, own Baily Vineyard & Winery in Temecula | Since 1986, Hideo “Shiro” Yamashiro has been wowing the guests at his nick namesake Shiro restaurant in South Pasadena with his signature whole sizzling catfish. Now he has opened a more casual restaurant, Orris, located in the Westside’s Little Japan neighborhood. Yamashiro pairs sharable Franco-Japanese small dishes with hand-picked wines. He personally shops at the downtown wholesale fish market every day and uses the catch to turn out such dishes as ravioli filled with shrimp mousse in shiitake mushroom sauce | Before closing nine years ago, the original Rose City Diner in Pasadena was one of the first 1950s-style retro diners in the area serving tasty home-style foods prepared from scratch. Now original founders Sal Casola and Chipper Pastron, and their Market City Caffe Hospitality Group have revived the beloved concept nearby as one of the anchor restaurants in the expansion at the Westfield Santa Anita complex in Arcadia. Next door to Rose City Diner is the fourth branch of their casual Market City Caffe with California-Italian items from family recipes | For 24 years, Mashti Malone’s Ice Cream in Hollywood has been serving Persian flavors created by brothers Mashti and Mehdi Shirvani to a growing legion of fans who appreciate the exotic combinations. Favorites include orange blossom, rosewater, and the Mashti ice cream sandwich with saffron-pistachio ice cream packed between twin cookie wafers. The first branch has just opened in the Exchange complex in Glendale. The natural ice cream is also wholesaled to some 300 restaurants and gourmet food shops in the Southland | Chef Robert Gadsby, the creator of Noe’ at the Omni Los Angeles Hotel (see Houston Dateline, above) has brought Glen Ishii (Oceans 33 Degrees) aboard as chef de cuisine as he jets between the new Noe’ in Houston and the original outpost in Los Angeles | Some fine-tuning is going on at Bastide as new chef Ludovic Lefebvre settles in with his highly personal cuisine: the greatly admired opening sommelier, Christophe Rolland, has departed. The new keeper of the unusual, all-French cellar is Gregory Castells, formerly of Le Bec-Fin in Philadelphia.


The Living Room Steak and Lobster House has just opened in the Garden District after extensive renovations. It offers a full menu alongside a variety of steak and lobster choices. Executive chef Peter Ferro comes from the Court of Two Sisters, a New Orleans institution | Phillipe Pinon is now heading the kitchen at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. Born in the south of France, Pinon graduated from culinary school in Perpignan, France. He trained at St. Tropez in the Hotel Le Byblos, the Hotel des Burges in Geneva, and later came to the Windsor Court Hotel and Le Meridien in New Orleans | Save room for dessert: Steve Himelfarb has opened New Orleans Cake Café & Bakery in Exchange Alley. Himelfarb began working in recording studios at age 17, which led him to pursue music in New Orleans. Eventually, he switched to a second career as a baker.


Come to "Cooking for Life" and help raise money for UNICEF and Save the Children to benefit Tsunami victims. The event will be held on Feburary 2, 2005 from 7-10pm at Tribecca Rooftop (2 Desbrosses St). A partial list of participating restaurants includes: Café Gray, Alain Ducasse, Chanterelle, Cru, devi, Nobu, Payard, Vong, and Bouley. Tickets are $50 in advance or $60 at the door. For more info go to | On February 6th, 2005, Action Against Hunger and various New York City Restaurants are sponsoring a one-day event to promote the Restaurants Against Hunger Tsunami Fund. Participating restaurants will donate a percentage of their sales to support disaster relief efforts and the rebuilding of lives through the international aid organization, Action Against Hunger. Everyone can participate! Please get your neighborhood restaurants to sponsor this special relief event, and make a point to dine out on Sunday, February 6, 2005. For more information, please visit or call (212) 967-7800 x 103 | The Seventh Annual Australia Day will take place in New York on Thursday, January 27 from 6:30-9:00 pm at Gotham Hall, 1356 Broadway at 36th Street. Sponsored by the Australian Wine Buruea, the festival will showcase over 300 wines from the land down under. Tickets are $65 in advance through and $75 (check and cash only) at the door | Carving a niche. Carve, the Theater District gourmet sandwich pit-stop, recently branched out to Turtle Bay. The expanded Carve Café features the same extraordinary, made-to-order sandwiches in quirky combinations such as herb-roasted beef with iceberg, tomato, onion, crunchy hash browns, lettuce and blue cheese dressing on ciabatta bread. It has also added a menu of wraps, salads, and hot dishes. Carve Café is open for breakfast, lunch, and shortly, dinner | Bill Yosses is the newest executive chef at Josephs, the recently renamed restaurant we’d all previously come to know as Citarella The Restaurant. Yosses, plied his trade as pastry chef for years. Since chef Brian Bistrong’s departure earlier this year, Yosses has ventured to the savory side, taking over the entire kitchen and giving the menu a Mediterranean slant | David Féau, the talented chef who made a name for himself at the beloved Lutèce, is on the Upper East Side at Orsay, a beautiful four-year-old Parisian-esque brasserie. With Féau on board, it’s clear Orsay is aiming for the major leagues. Dishes such as warm lobster carpaccio-style with tarragon jasmine rice and lobster vinaigrette, and the Versailles fruits de mer platter with king crab legs, tuna tartare, and lobster prove it’s on the right track | Take-out take two. Katy Sparks has been named culinary director and chef for the soon-to-open Balducci’s in the West Village. The flagship store, one of many planned, will make a splashy comeback in a most suitable location: a former bank building that is as regal as the gourmet ingredients to be sold within. Sparks ran Quilty’s, a much-loved restaurant in SoHo, and was chef most recently at the boisterous Compass on the Upper West Side | Robert Pearson, the influential Brit who for years sustained New Yorkers with his seminal Stick To Your Ribs’ cue in Long Island City and, most recently, as pitmaster at Pearson’s Texas BBQ, has retired. The Upper East Side restaurant that bears his name will continue to serve finger-licking good ribs and such, according to his specifications | Megu, the pricey ambitious Japanese restaurant in Tribeca, will have an outpost: Megu at Trump World Tower, near the United Nations Plaza and the Japan Society. Owner Hiro Nishida plans to open in about a year. Stay tuned | Ari Nieminen, formerly of Firebird and Café des Artistes, is now the chef at Water’s Edge in Long Island City. The fine-dining eatery with breathtaking views now has food to match, such as grilled sturgeon with sorrel-whipped potatoes, chanterelles, and baby carrots; and Virginia she-crab bisque with oyster mushroom–shallot ragoût, garlic croutons, and fennel cream | Meanwhile at Nieminen’s old Firebird haunt, Robert Ubhaus has taken over the stoves. The new pastry chef is Wayne Harley Brachman | Calling all chocoholics! Jacques Torres Chocolate Haven, a cafe, retail shop, and production facility just north of SoHo, is now open. The chocolates are first rate, but Torres’ baked goods—he makes an excellent pithiviers, and is just as skilled in the American cookie and brownie paradigm—are particular standouts. Addicts beware: the shop is closed on Tuesdays | After a brief hiatus since the closings of AZ and Pazo, Patricia Yeo has found a new home at the range: Sapa in Chelsea. AvroKo, the folks behind Public, designed the stunning space which serves French-Vietnamese food. According to owner Brian Matzkow, Sapa is the name of a small mountainous village in northwestern Vietnam. Opening chef Kenneth Tufo got the eatery up and running, and has now handed over the reins to Yeo | Over five years have passed since Gray Kunz dazzled us with his intricate, Asian-inspired food at Lespinasse. The wait for his return to the New York dining scene is finally over, with the newly opened Café Gray in the Time Warner culinary juggernaut. The light, ethereal space complements Kunz’s restrained style: think steamed black bass with gingered spaghetti squash. Thankfully, Kunz has brought his signature risotto and mushroom fricassee with him | Anthony Rose did great work at Alias on the Lower East Side, where his cooking struck the right balance of sophisticated, seasonal, and just plain yummy. Rose and his wife/partner have relocated upstate—he’s now at Stissing House, a centuries-old inn and tavern in Pine Plains, New York.


Pumpkin is a 28-seat newcomer, opened this past fall by Hillary Bor and chef Ian Moroney, who just happens to be the son of John Tiplitz, proprietor of venerable Little Fish | City Tavern is pleased to announce the return of John Burkart (Four Seasons Philadelphia) as pastry chef. In addition to his duties at the restaurant, Burkart is the corporate pastry chef for Concepts By Staib, Ltd. | Toto, a showcase Center City property that began life as DiLullo Centro, closed its elegant doors recently. Proprietors Toto and Claire Schiavone will devote their energies to Moonstruck, their Fox Chase restaurant, and to a new off-site catering operation | La Casa de Venezuela opened recently, featuring the food from—duh—Venezuela, including a traditional dish called pabellon, with black beans, shredded meat, rice, and plantains. According to a survey conducted by Zagat and reported in Nation’s Restaurant News, Philadelphians are the biggest tippers in the country, adding on average 19.2% on top of the check for service with a smile | Got the munchies? Cereality Cereal Bar & Cafe has just what you need. The second branch of the chain’s mix-n-match cereal concept has opened on Walnut Street, near enough to the University of Pennsylvania to stave off a study jones. (The first branch is in Tempe, Arizona.) Founded by one-time Beard Foundation art director Rick Bacher and his partner David Roth, the company has plans to franchise across the country.


Staying in business for 50 years is no small feat. Add to that the distinction of being consistently named the best restaurant in Washington, D.C. and you ought to be really impressed. The family-owned and -operated L’Auberge Chez Francois has done just that for most of its existence in D.C. and later, Great Falls, Virginia. | Andrew Kustarz is the new chef at Morton’s in Georgetown | Pete Smith, chef at Vidalia for many years, has left | Pastry chef Didier Derouet is now at Marcel’s after many years at The St. Regis | 1789 Restaurant has a new pastry chef, Zoe Trillium, and a new assistant pastry chef, Donna Divittorio.


Atlantic City, New Jersey

Philadelphia-based entrepreneurs Barry Gutin and Larry Cohen (Cuba Libre Philadelphia, 32, Egypt, and Shampoo) have expanded to the Boardwalk of Atlantic City. Under the supervision of executive chef Guillermo Veloso, Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar has opened in the Tropicana Casino and Resort, featuring robust, soulful dishes with Spanish, African, and Asian influences—the same cuisine as at its Philadelphia location—signature mojitos. Enjoy the Latin floorshow, too. For dessert, head to Gutin’s and Cohen’s other new Tropicana restaurant, Brûlée: The Dessert Experience, a dessert-only cafe, lounge, and “pastry laboratory,” where executive pastry chef Jemal Edwards (Four Seasons San Francisco and Tavern On the Green) demonstrate delicious dessert-making secrets.


Las Vegas

Richard Chamberlain (Little Nell Hotel, Aspen) has opened Envy Steakhouse at the new Renaissance Las Vegas Hotel. Chamberlain also owns Chamberlain’s Steak and Chop House and Chamberlain’s Fish Market Grill in Dallas, as well as the new Tarragon in the Elk Mountain Resort in Colorado.


San Diego

Jesse Paul has been promoted from sous- to executive chef at downtown’s Star of the Sea and has rolled out a new market-driven menu | A quick turnaround in Rancho Sante Fe: Jonathan Pfluger has left the Rancho Valencia Resort after just a few weeks. No word yet as to where he has gone.


Tempe, Arizona

Smoky food, jazz, and raucous celebration announced the arrival of Big City BBQ in Tempe, Arizona. Executive chef Rasshad Brown fuels the fire at the new restaurant, which he co-owns with partners Rick Hellman and Len Wechsler.