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Week of November 19, 2001

Quelle Surprise!
Since Andre Soltner's departure, his beloved Lutèce has undergone drastic changes. First, the grandiose decor took on a new streamlined, updated look. Soon after, the ladies who lunch were surprised to find their classic foie gras drenched in chocolate sauce. Now, in an unprecedented move, Lutèce has introduced a $29 prix-fixe lunch menu, which includes such novelties as fluke carpaccio and tandoori halibut. What are we to think when the grand dame of haute cuisine concedes to the faltering economy? Who cares? In our brave new world, it's a perfect opportunity to experience chef David Feau's delectably innovative creations. --TISA COEN
249 E. 50th Street

Ask Gael
I want to get in the car and disappear.
That's how I often feel these days. Recently, we headed to Brooklyn and surprised savvy local pals by taking them to a Cucina they'd never seen before. Yes, patron Anthony Scicchitano, the pork-store magnate, has cleaned away the rustic trattoria clutter that launched Fifth Avenue as a destination for dinner. Now it glows handsomely, in a terra-cotta hue. And Franklin Becker (pictured, with Scicchitano), a chef whose cooking I admired at Local, mans the kitchen, conceding: "It's time to cook for real people." He pays homage to Italian classics in a luscious antipasto platter (enough for three or four to share) and lively linguine with clams and pancetta in spicy garlic oil, but he dares delicate scallop crudo, too. We're on to lamb osso buco and a first-rate steak, though I'd be content with just his savory vegetables. And pear crostata.
256 Fifth Avenue, near Carroll Street, Brooklyn

Bites & Buzz Archive

Week of November 12
10 spots to spend Thanksgiving; City Bakery's salami and eggs; Gael gets a taste of France at 44
Week of November 5
Payard's Brazilian visitor; Jimmy's Uptown's soulful scene; Da Silvano's cookbook; Gael gets some Afghan comfort
Week of October 29
Where to load up on carbs; Beppe's pumpkin panna cotta; Gael on Zitoune
Week of October 22
Cipriani's cheap eats; small Craft advisory; Café Spice's tasting menus; Gael visits Nam
Week of October 15
Three spots for comfort food; The Last Course Cookbook; Gael's top ten escapes

and more ...

Photos: Patrick Rytikangas; Carina Salvi.

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