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Week of June 3, 2002
The dust has yet to settle at Django, the 250-seat contemporary French restaurant named for the guitarist Django Reinhardt and dreamed up by the globetrotting crew who brought us Calle Ocho, Rain, and Union Pacific. But any pioneering diners willing to endure last-minute construction disruptions not only get first crack at chef Gwenaël Le Pape's lobster salad with rhubarb and watercress; they get 20 percent off. Multitasking designer David Rockwell has adorned the bi-level space with tapestry carpets, strands of beads, a Murano-glass chandelier, and a 30-foot antique mirror, all to create the illusion of dining in southwest France instead of an impersonal midtown skyscraper lobby.
480 Lexington Avenue, at 46th Street
 Cuisine: French


United Noodles
After building a slew of sleek, streamlined Thai restaurants, bi-coastal designer Kit Thahong, the man responsible for the molded-plastic, raw-concrete aesthetic of Spice and SEA, decided to open an ultramodern place of his own. At United Noodles, he packs a surfeit of style and sixteen vintage Eames chairs into a white-walled East Village storefront, where chef Paul Chantharavirooj riffs on the Asian-noodle theme with "U.N.-style" chicken linguini, sashimi with cold soba, and the French and Japanese influences he picked up cooking at Patina, L'Orangerie, and Union Pacific. But even with a résumé like that, it doesn't hurt to have connections to land an executive-chef gig, and Chantharavirooj came highly recommended by a former client of Thahong's. "He built my mother's restaurant in L.A.," says the chef.
349 East 12th Street
 Cuisine: Pan-Asian

For years, David Copperfield threatened to open an illusionist theme restaurant in Times Square. He must be good: It vanished before it ever appeared. But the original team recruited for what was to be Magic Underground -- operator David Emil and architect David Rockwell -- pulled off the neat trick of transforming the 18,000-square-foot raw space into Noche, a Latin-themed nightclub and restaurant opening June 6 and inspired by the popular weekly Latin night at Emil's late, lamented Windows on the World. Rockwell's whimsical evocation of a pre-Castro club incorporates acres of mosaic tile, wood slats climbing 70-foot walls, stained-glass panels, a domed ceiling that changes color, and roving mojito carts. And chef Ramiro Jimenez, late of Chicama, has up his sleeve a Pan-Latino panoply of tamales, enchiladas, seviches, and platters of roast suckling pig and Brazilian barbecued chicken.
1604 Broadway, at 49th Street
 Cuisine: Pan

Related story: David Emil -- After Windows on the World


Hope & Anchor
Dianna Munz gained a loyal following at Paninoteca on Smith Street for her inventive yet authentic light fare and her bar decorated with twenties photos of nudes. Now, having traded naughty girls for doughboys and tattoo imagery, she and her husband, Kenneth (a Jean-Georges Vongerichten deputy), have joined with partner Gary Rego in Hope & Anchor. Why the name? "Because it's the flag of Rhode Island, Gary's home state." It also befits the nautical heritage and urban renaissance of Red Hook: "This is a neighborhood place catering to neighborhood people," Munz says, meaning classic diner fare, a full bar, and breakfast anytime. But cauliflower ravioli with capers or cod in tomato with chickpeas and chorizo point up a continuing commitment to something more.
347 Van Brunt Street, Brooklyn
 Cuisine: Diner

Openings Archive

Week of May 20
The Basil, Loggia, Bot, Vida
Week of May 20
Patagonia West, Café Lebowitz, Unity
Week of May 13
Chocolate Bar, teany, Bar Veloce, THAT Bar

and more ...

Photos: From top to botto- Carina Salvi; Kenneth Chen; Bruce Katz (2)
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