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   September 2005

ATLANTA

It’s not your father’s Chinese restaurant. At Sampan on Howell Mill Road, chef Howard Cheun and partner Steven Chan (owner, Tin Drum Asia Cafe) have given Atlanta a new level of Asian cuisine. Cheun’s creative kitchen offers sublime combinations of flavor and texture, like duck sausage with kimchi and lump crab soup with fried lotus root | La Tavola Trattoria in Virginia Highlands has a new executive chef, Craig Richards (formerly of Lidia’s Pittsburgh and Lidia’s Kansas City). The 60-seat casual Italian eatery—brought to us by Fifth Group Restaurants (South City Kitchen, the Food Studio, and Sala)—rolled out the new menu in August | Jay Swift is the new executive chef at Rainwater in Alpharetta. Swift was most recently head honcho at Smokejack (also in Alpharetta) | Expansion 101: Meehan’s Public House, a 101 Concepts concept with locations in Vinings, Alpharetta, and Brookhaven, has brought in Linda Harrell as their new corporate chef. Harrell was previously chef de cuisine at Meehan’s Brookhaven and executive chef at 101’s Italian restaurant, Mangia 101.
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BOSTON

Staff changes tend to have a domino effect at Radius, Via Matta, and Great Bay (all owned by the dynamic trio Michael Schlow, Christopher Myers, and Esti Parsons). Chef Patrick Connolly has been promoted from sous-chef at Radius, replacing chef Brian Reimer. P.J. Waters has moved from Via Matta to replace Licia Gomes as Radius’s pastry chef (and has already created a buzz with his signature dessert “Cinema Paradiso,” which includes, among other things, freshly popped caramel corn served in a movie popcorn box). Finally, Lee Chizmar was also promoted from sous-chef to the top spot at Great Bay. He replaces Jeremy Sewall, who has left to spend more time with his family | Harvard Square’s new Phatt Boys is nirvana for the indecisive. One-third New England seafood shack, one-third Southern BBQ joint, and one-third steakhouse, there’s a whole lot of something for everyone. Scott Hartford and Fred Rash (both Brew Moon alums) own the new restaurant, which is located in the space formerly occupied by Brew Moon and, later, Rock Bottom | With influences from the other side of the pond, Hoffa’s Swiss Alps Restaurant has opened in the same Harvard Square space occupied by the former Swiss Alps restaurant during the 1970s and 1980s, which later became a Chili’s. Now Erich Imhof, son of the original Swiss Alps owner, the late Erich Imhof, has reopened the restaurant as a tribute to his father, whose nickname was Hoffa. Hoffa’s features Swiss and European food served under the direction of chef Paul Modoono (Lexington Golf Club) | Owen Tilley, formerly of Cambridge’s East Coast Grill, is now executive chef at Tremont 647, replacing Jason Santos, who has moved on to Dedo in Bay Village. Tilley left Beantown in 2000 to open a restaurant in Puerto Rico, an experience reflected in dishes like slow-roasted half-chicken with yuca fries and black bean salad | Jamie Mammano, chef and co-owner of South End’s Mistral and the Theater District’s Teatro, is now expanding to yet another neighborhood, the Back Bay/Copley area. Mammano, along with developer Paul G. Roiff, is opening an Italian restaurant (still unnamed at press time) in Stan Frankenthaler’s former Salamander space, which closed in 2002 and has been empty ever since. John Delpha, formerly of Mistral, will be the chef | Butter- and cream-free Lucy’s in Brookline is certainly not chef-free: Andrew Coleman, previously of the Ritz-Carlton (which no longer has a dining room) is now the executive chef | Another former Ritz chef, Edward Roszak, is now the executive sous-chef at 33 Restaurant & Lounge. Roszak most recently worked at Aquitaine | Green Street Grill, Cambridge’s Caribbean-French-Latin cuisine institution, is changing hands after 22 years. Owner John Clifford sold the establishment to Dylan Black, a Cambridge resident and chef who worked at Redbones and Chez Henri among other Cambridge/Somerville eateries.
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CHICAGO

Karma restaurant in suburban Mundelein has hired classically trained chef Hagop Hagopian (ex-Deerpath Inn) to fill its Zen-like space with a new menu of Asian-inspired cuisine with a French accent. Translation: Dishes like double-seared filet mignon in sherry-ginger reduction with wasabi-mashed potatoes and wild mushroom ragoût | Designer Michael Anderson has relocated from New York to fuel his interest in food by opening Andersson’s Chocolates/Pâtisserie near the Michigan Avenue Bridge. The intimate space offers patrons a juice bar, tearoom, and breakfast bakery with goods supplied by local artisan chefs | Highland Park restaurateur Gabe Viti is going for his third success in this North Shore suburb with Pancho Viti’s Mexican Cantina, located next door to his Miramar and across the street from his original fine-dining eatery, Gabriel’s. The new rustic cantina offers dishes Viti researched in Mexico City, like tacos, tortas, and red snapper Veracruzana | Swanky SWK sang its swan song and closed—but it’s to be replaced by Meztiso Latin Bistro & Wine Bar. Restaurateur Jona Silva is relying on her Mexican upbringing and her training under Rick Bayless to offer a blend of New World and Spanish cuisine | Max and Bennie’s, a diner and deli, is slated to open this fall in River East Center.
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LOS ANGELES

The new contemporary American steakhouse from Tim and Liza Goodell (Meson G) previously reported here finally has a name—Dakota. Located in the totally renovated Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, the restaurant was designed by Dodd Mitchell. Longtime Goodell culinary colleague Jeff Armstrong (most recently the exec at 17 at the Sam Houston Hotel in Houston) oversees the kitchens at the historic property | Angelenos have missed the landmark C.C. Brown’s ice cream parlor on Hollywood Boulevard since 1996, when it served its last decadent hot fudge sundae after a run of 67 years. Now the Walt Disney Company has revived the tradition of the old-fashioned ice cream parlor with the launch of Disney’s Soda Fountain & Studio Store on Hollywood Boulevard, adjacent to the historic El Capitan Theatre. The real twist: all of the ice cream comes from Dewar’s Candy and Ice Cream Parlor up north in Bakersfield, which is now attentively overseen by the third and fourth generations of founder James Harvey Dewar. The inspiration for the new store came from Dick Cook, the chairman of Walt Disney Studios, who grew up in Bakersfield and has fond memories of Dewar’s treats | After a million-dollar-plus facelift, Ocean and Vine has replaced the departed Lavande at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel. The fresh, more casual concept under the supervision of chef de cuisine Gregg Wangard (ex-American Club in Kohler, Wisconsin) offers wine-friendly California cuisine with an emphasis on farmers’ market ingredients. Wine pairings for each of the small and large plates are available by the glass in a variety of sizes. One thing that needed no renovation was the spectacular ocean view | At Literati II in Brentwood, principal Alex Kouba is writing the book on uncomplicated, earthy Cali-Mediterranean fare at a modest price. Chris Kidder, a former chef de cuisine at Campanile, is preparing the food. All meats are from eco-friendly producers and the seafood is exclusively Pacific Coast. Kidder’s wife, Kimberly Sklar (ex-A.O.C.), creates sweet endings like an outrageous carpe diem seven-layer chocolate cake | Stanton in Orange County is not known as a dining destination, but that’s about to change with the debut of Park Ave on Beach Boulevard, just a few minutes south of Knott’s Berry Farm. This is a highly personal venture for proprietor Sally Ver Vynck, who recruited chef David Slay (ex-David Slay’s La Veranda in Beverly Hills) to carry out her vision of creative renditions of classic American fare | The long-in-the-works and greatly anticipated destination Vineyard Rose Restaurant at the South Coast Winery Resort and Spa (also a working winery) in the burgeoning Temecula Valley wine country is now welcoming guests. Vineyard Rose is under the direction of exec Dan Saito (ex-Manele Bay Hotel in Lanai, Hawaii), whose Euro-Pacific cuisine with a Midwestern twist includes his signature taro-crusted Hawaiian mahi-mahi with rock shrimp escabèche and coconut jasmine rice | Major changes are in the air as Newport Beach’s Sutton Place Hotel, a favorite among locals for its popular dining facilities, changes ownership for the second time in six months. The new proprietor is Sunstone Hotel Investors, Inc. and a $22 million major renovation is in the works. Fairmont Hotels & Resorts is now managing the property, and their first priority is to find a high-profile executive chef and pastry chef. The Sutton Place name will be retained until the completion of the remodeling (projected for early 2006), when the property will be reflagged as the Fairmont Newport Beach. Local foodies are hoping that nothing changes about the bountiful and crowd-pleasing Sunday brunch buffet | Gerry Garvin’s namesake restaurant, G. Garvin’s, has mysteriously closed. The venue opened with great fanfare in 2001, and the support of the young Hollywood entertainment community (particularly the recording industry) was so strong that the restaurant doubled its size in 2003. No word yet on new projects, but in the meantime, chef Garvin can still be seen on Turn Up the Heat with G. Garvin, his show on the TV One cable network.
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NEW ORLEANS

Has it been that long? Commander’s Palace, the critically acclaimed New Orleans culinary landmark that gave us Paul Prudhomme, Emeril Lagasse, and the late Jamie Shannon, is celebrating its 125th anniversary. Located in a Victorian mansion in the fashionable Garden District, the touchstone restaurant has been in continuous operation since Emile Commander opened the doors in 1880. The famous Brennan family took over in 1969, and the rest is history. The future is currently in the hands of executive chef Tory McPhail, who continues to reinvent haute Creole cuisine by seeking out new ingredients and techniques. Though turtle soup with sherry and bread pudding soufflé remain on the menu, McPhail reinterprets other classics into dishes like shrimp, cognac, and andouille grits, and chicory coffee–lacquered Mississippi quail.
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NEW YORK

There is a revolution happening in the farm fields and on the dinner tables of America -- a revolution that is transforming the very nature of the food we eat. THE FUTURE OF FOOD offers an in-depth investigation into the disturbing truth behind the unlabeled, patented, genetically engineered foods that have quietly filled U.S. grocery store shelves for the past decade. The film debuted at the Film Forum in New York City and is playing until September 27. For additional listings throughout the country go to: http://www.thefutureoffood.com/screenings.htm | The New York Wine and Grape Foundation will be holding Uncork New York, a VIP walk-around tasting of outstanding New York wines, at the New York Rihga Royal Hotel on September 14 from 2 to 5pm. R.S.V.P. to Philip Ruskin or Jamie Gaul at Ruskin International Communications by calling 212.749.5511, or email info@ruskininternational.com. | "Sagra di Maiale," an outdoor Pig and Apple festival commemorating the Autumn Equinox, will be hosted by il Buco restaurant and take place on September 21 outside their Manhattan restaurant, located at Bond Street between Lafayette and Bowery. Tickets will be available on-site for $7 per tasting. | Mario Lohninger thrilled us with his native Austrian cooking at Danube until his departure last year. Now we’ll have to shell out airfare to catch his next act as the executive chef at the trendy and versatile Cocoon Club in Frankfurt, Germany. Though not actually in NYC, we’ll tell you about it here anyway because it’s just so wild. The concept is twofold: Micro, a lounge/restaurant that transforms into a dance club later in the evening and features Asian fusion cooking and Silk, a sexy bed restaurant where the ten-course chef extravaganza is presumably consumed lying down. Imagine the laundry bill! | At the spacious and vivacious Bolzano’s Bar Cucina in the Theater District, you might be tempted to skip the show altogether. Owners Marc Packer and chef Sam Hazen, who also own Tao and Rue 57, are serving up crowd-pleasing standards such as Hazen’s Arthur Avenue clams oreganato, lamb chops cooked Milanese style, and tiramisu panna cotta. For something more dramatic, order the spaghetti-stuffed meatball | Legendary Harry Cipriani, the New York outpost of Venice’s venerable Harry’s Bar for nearly two decades, has closed for a much-needed facelift. But the Euro-chic clientele will be sipping Bellinis by fall | Goodbye, Jefferson. Chef Simpson Wong has closed his highly regarded West Village restaurant, Jefferson, for health reasons. He plans to open a more casual eatery in the location this month. His nearby Cafe Asean remains open | In the swim again in Brooklyn. Shortly before its planned opening earlier this year, the Brooklyn branch of Mary’s Fish Camp, the yummy New England shore shack in the West Village, was heavily damaged by fire. Owner Mary Redding reports that the Park Slope sibling is finally up and running. Don’t miss the legendary lobster roll | Robert Ransom and Susan Wine want us to eat and drink New York State. The owners of Vintage New York have recently opened the 50-seat Winebar adjacent to their SoHo wine store. Ransom and Wine’s mission to promote New York wines has expanded to their restaurant, where small plates prepared by chef Scott Bordages include slow-roasted artichoke with Saratoga wasabi aïoli, oyster pot pie, and braised pork roulade with smoked tomatoes. It will take you a lifetime to sample the wine list—there are over 200 wines available by the glass. Ransom and Wine own three Vintage New York stores as well as Rivendell Winery in New Paltz | If pizza’s your thing, head straight to Waldy Malouf’s newly opened slice-joint in Chelsea, Waldy’s Wood-Fired Pizza and Penne. Malouf, who has been perfecting his wood-fired oven cooking techniques at Beacon for the past six years, now offers superb renditions of the classic Margherita, in both full pie and single-serving quarters, as well as more modern toppings such as braised lamb with roasted lemon and fresh oregano. Oven-roasted pasta dishes are also available. The dining room features an herb-filled planter for customers to snip and garnish their pies | Pizza for non-purists: The folks who brought us Pop Burger in the Meatpacking District have expanded their funky empire with the psychedelic Pizza Bar nearby. “Pizza” here, in the far-out space, means pressed ciabatta bread with lobster and bacon. And while we might not call that pizza, we do call it yummy | Now that New York City has established a respectable number of barbecue eateries (for an urban center, that is), it was only a matter of time before newcomers started to focus on the regional differences. Enter Rib (not to be confused with the recently opened R.U.B.), which replaces what once was the Lunchbox Food Co. in the West Village. Chef Christopher Remaley, a North Carolina native, knows a thing or two about spice rubs, and he’s not afraid to show it. Check out his fiesty dry-rubbed spareribs and creamy stone-ground grits with shrimp, and finish up with a slice of mighty fine Coca-Cola cake | Restaurateur Drew Nieporent trades in the zills for maracas. Layla, the Middle Eastern restaurant in Tribeca has been transformed into Centrico, an upscale modern Mexican eatery, where chef Aarón Sanchez is a partner. Sanchez will divide his cooking time between Centrico and his own Lower East Side hotspot, Paladar | Someone to watch: Back in July, we reported that Jack’s Luxury Oyster Bar had said goodbye to its chefs, the husband and wife team of Allison Vines-Rushing and Slade Rushing, who returned to their native South. We are happy to report their replacement has been named: Maxime Bilet. The young and talented French chef was promoted from within | And in other promotion news...Yorinobu Yamasaki is now the chef at Kai in Midtown. The restaurant, housed in Ito En’s flagship tea shop, is a sleek spot devoted to the honorable kaiseki cuisine. Yamasaki replaces Hitoshi Kagawa, who moved to Donguri, now also owned by the artisanal Upper East Side tea company | For those hankering for a good taco east of the Mississippi, you’re in luck. At Diablo Royale in the West Village, chef Keith Harry’s formidable pedigree (Chanterelle, Butter) shows in dishes like chili-braised pork and seared tuna tacos. NoLIta is the home of La Esquina, where owner Serge Becker, a restaurant designer (Lure Fishbar), plans to add a proper cafe and restaurant adjacent to his taco stand. For now, content yourself with an outstanding chorizo and potato taco and California-style fish tacos, courtesy of consulting chef Richard Ampudia of Cafe Habana | Mainland, a vast modern Chinese-American restaurant, has opened on the Upper East Side. Restaurateur Tsu Wang has several diverse restaurants in his portfolio, including the inexpensive Ollie’s Asian noodle chain, the upscale Italian ’Cesca, the trendy Japanese Haku, and the perennial French favorite, Ouest. Now he’s enlisted chef/partner Brian Young to create interpretive delicacies such as five-spice foie gras salad | A new medium. The Beard Foundation’s unofficial pumpkin and watermelon carver, Hugh McMahon, has mounted a show of food photographs from Southeast Asia. His pictures will be on view in Chelsea Market until October.
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PHILADELPHIA

The 19th floor of the national historic landmark hotel, known for years as the Bellevue and now the Park Hyatt, underwent a major renovation that included the signature restaurant, Founders. According to hotel manager Bernard Guet, the focus of the restaurant has evolved from French-influenced classics to farm-fresh, regional specialties. The new concept includes an expanded cocktail lounge. Richard Hebbett is the new executive chef | Mandoline is the latest entry in the spate of B.Y.O.B. restaurants opening in Center City. The chef is Todd Lean, formerly of Carambola, the American-style bistro in Dresher | Buttercup, a cafe open from breakfast/brunch onward, took over the ground floor of the Walnut Street space that was previously Oasis. The Walnut Room, a lounge, is upstairs | Cafe Diem, a small, authentic pho (soup) specialist, is another Vietnamese entry in the area of town that was formerly known as the Italian Market | Jose Garces, one of the country’s top Latin-American chefs, will open his own restaurant, Amada, on Chestnut Street this month. For the past two years, Garces simultaneously led the kitchens at Alma de Cuba and El Vez. Amada’s design will include a lounge and a staging area for flamenco performances and other entertainment. The menu will include paellas, tapas classics like Serrano ham and octopus Gallego, and a beverage menu including Spanish, Portuguese, and American wines and a variety of sangrias | And out in Buck’s County, Pennsylvania: Entrepreneur Brian Haveson and his wife, Tammy, are opening 552 Restaurant, an inviting restaurant and bar with a gorgeous outdoor patio, located at 552 Washington Crossing Road in Newtown. The contemporary American seafood-centered menu is the work of chef Michael Kanter, formerly of Philadelphia’s Le Bec-Fin and Blue Angel and Chester County’s Dilworthtown Inn.
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SAN DIEGO

Pacific Beach is now home to the new luxury hotel Tower 23. Jordan, its 10,000-square-foot restaurant, features an indoor/outdoor bar and a surf ‘n’ turf menu created by chef Victor Jimenez | Judd Canepari is the new chef at La Valencia Hotel in downtown La Jolla. Canepari, who was formerly a private chef to the stars in Los Angeles, replaces Luke Patterson, who is now head chef at the Crosby Golf Club in tony Rancho Santa Fe | Michael Cotta is the new executive chef at the recently renovated The Quail. The restaurant is the reincarnation of San Marcos’s landmark Quails Inn. Cotta previously worked with local chef Pascal Vignau to open the Four Seasons Resort Aviara in Carlsbad | Colin Maglaggan has left his very recently acquired post as executive chef at Rancho Valencia, the posh Rancho Santa Fe resort. Maglaggan, former of La Jolla Country Club, has not yet been replaced | Executive chef Matthew Herter has left downtown’s W Hotel. No replacement has been named for Herter, who has had a strong presence in San Diego, first at Nectar and then at the Fallen Leaf Restaurant at the Gaslamp Hilton.
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SAN FRANCISCO

Michael Levine, Scott Rodrick, and Stuart Gordon opened the second outpost of Home in the Marina this past June. The original location’s chefs, Jeff Banker and pastry chef Lori Banker, will be in charge of both restaurants, but the new Home will focus more on sustainable ingredients and contemporary cuisine than comfort food. Look for dishes like grilled salmon with zucchini fritters and corn and tomato relish, and decadent desserts like peanut butter crème brûlée and chocolate chip cookies | Alma, the Nuevo Latino restaurant in the Mission, has closed. Chef Johnny Alamilla packed his bags and went to Tahoe, where he will open a restaurant and be closer to the mountains for his favorite off-work activity—snowboarding. Alma will reopen as a French bistro under the guidance of Olivier Azancot and Eric Klein, who own a few restaurants around town, including Cafe Bastille | Joseph and Mary Manzare of Globe opened Zuppa in the former Cafe Monk spot in San Francisco’s SoMa District. The industrial space is warmed by the wood-fired ovens and grills behind the open kitchen. The food is Italian with a focus on seasonality. Chef Rudy Mihal recently moved to town from New York | Getting hotter: On the same strip of restaurant row in SoMa, Bizou loyalists need wait no longer. Loretta Keller opened the newly named and thoroughly decked out Coco500, serving her lusty, rustic Mediterranean fare on small plates. The Provençal interior was scrapped for a more sleek, modern décor. Many of Keller’s signature dishes, like tempura-fried green beans, are still available, but look for new additions such as lightly breaded beef cheeks with horseradish cream and black rice with calamari and peppers | Finally, in a nod to the bizarre, O’Reilly’s Holy Grail opened in San Francisco, with chef Sean Canavan, formerly of Kokkari, manning the stoves. A trip to the restaurant-bar, with its stained glass windows, tapestry, and candelabra, feels a bit like going to church, only this altar serves martinis. (Not a bad idea.) Look for Irish-influenced dishes like oxtail soup with barley, Guinness, and Irish cheddar, as well as a Gaelic steak with Irish whiskey sauce. Don’t forget a side of colcannon (potatoes and cabbage).
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OTHER OUTPOSTS

Greenwich Harbor, CT

Way out and about: Wolfgang Puck protégé François Kwaku-Dongo has left his longtime post at Spago Chicago. He is now the top toque at L’Escale, a bright, stately restaurant on Greenwich Harbor. His menu is an homage to the scents and sensibilities of Provence.
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Las Vegas

Why didn’t we think of that? A sushi and Asian tapas bar meets an outdoor satay bar and grill at the new Hannah’s Neighborhood Bistro, where restaurateur Hannah An brings together East and West in perfect harmony. Hannah is the eldest of five daughters in the An family, internationally known for opening Thanh Long, an authentic Vietnamese restaurant in San Francisco, and the celebrity-studded Crustacean restaurants in San Francisco, Beverly Hills, and Las Vegas. The menu will reflect executive chef Helene An’s (Hannah’s mother) culinary approach—home-style cuisine that is light, flavorful, and healthy—and will also incorporate Hannah’s love of Mediterranean, French, Japanese, and other global cuisines.
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Houston

Way laid back: Look for purple mustard, lemon dust, caramel powder, and chocolate foie gras milkshakes at the Laidback Manor, the new restaurant being planned by 25-year-old chef Randy Rucker. After graduating from Johnson & Wales University in Providence, Rucker worked for Houston chefs Mark Cox, John Sheely, and Tim Keating, and staged with Rick Tramonto at Tru and Heston Blumenthal of the Fat Duck in the U.K. He and his mother/partner, Belinda Nicol, plan to open in October or November.
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Portland, ME

Clark Frasier and Mark Gaier, co-owners and co-chefs of the nationally acclaimed Arrows Restaurant in Ogunquit have opened a second restaurant, M.C., in Perkins Cove in the completely rebuilt and expanded space that formerly housed Hurricane’s. The restaurant offers moderately priced American bistro food in a fun setting that includes two floors of dining, two bars, an oyster bar, and a private dining room, all with magnificent ocean views.
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Portland, OR

The 34-year-old Genoa has brought in Robert Reynolds as executive chef, replacing Jerry Huisenga, the kitchen’s 22-year veteran. Watch for Reynolds and owner Kerry DeBuse to make even bigger changes in the future.
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