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Restaurant Openings & Buzz

Week of Nov. 1, 2004: Jolie, Ora, Fluff, Chocolate Haven, Scharffen Berger, and Theeee Coffee Chamber. Plus, pink salt and Alice Waters at the Whitney.

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Jolie's Tretout, left, and Pombet.  

Openings
Jolie
The Brooklyn bistro boom that started on Smith Street has extended around the corner to Jolie, where partners Michel Pombet (formerly chef at Demarchelier) and onetime Union Pacific manager Benjamin Tretout have imbued the old Brooklyn Grill space with a decidedly feminine mystique. Besides the rotating artwork of what the Frenchmen call “willful women throughout the ages,” the jaunty restaurant features a new, semi-circular marble-topped bar, a wine list heavy on biodynamic bottles, a soon-to-be-enclosed verandah, and a menu that emphasizes Gallic classics like steak tartare, oxtail terrine, and chestnut mont blanc.
320 Atlantic Ave., near Smith St., Boerum Hill, Brooklyn; 718-488-0777


A corner table at Ora.  

Ora
You’ve got to hand it to Sahle Ghebreysus and Hicham Enhaili: They don’t give up easy. The tenacious restaurateurs (and owners of Medina) are trying out a new identity for their Flatiron space, which opened as Caffè Adulis, morphed into Lamu, and has been reborn, with a handsome new design, as Ora. The partners have wisely retained the services of talented chef Michael Burbella, whose cooking at Lamu overshadowed its lackluster, loungy look. Now, in a room outfitted with a vaulted wood ceiling and white Corian bar, Burbella’s Mediterranean-accented fare should get its due. His new menu is full of flavorful dishes like grilled octopus with chickpea salad and roasted-tomato vinaigrette; monkfish with merguez and tapenade; and a particularly toothsome Genovese-style rabbit adrift in a comforting bowl of soft polenta.
39 E. 19th St., near Park Ave. South; 212-777-2201


Pink buttercream frosting at Fluff.  

Fluff
Pining for the Suzy Q’s and SnoBalls of your sugar-saturated youth? You’re in luck. This new Hell’s Kitchen bakery pays tribute to the plastic-wrapped snack cakes of yore, plus all manner of retro buttercream-frosted confections (think pink). Part bakery, part café, the niftily designed spot aims to become a neighborhood hangout with an all-day menu that runs the gamut from bagels and egg sandwiches to pressed panini, crêpes and pre-packed salads, ice-cream floats and shakes, and cinnamon “French Toast” that tastes uncannily like apple pie.
751 Ninth Ave., near 51st St.; 646-289-3025

AND . . . November’s gearing up to be a big month for chocoholics: While we wait for Jacques Torres to finally fling open the doors of his Chocolate Haven (350 Hudson St., at King St.), Berkeley’s beloved Scharffen Berger fills the artisanal-chocolate void with its first satellite shop outside the Bay Area, selling bars, a new line of bonbons, and possibly the best hot fudge ever to grace a bowl of ice cream—or an empty spoon (473 Amsterdam Ave., nr. 82nd St.; 212-362-9734).

For those who take caffeine seriously: Theeee Coffee Chamber prides itself on its range of custom-roasted, shade-grown, Fair Trade coffee, served in French press pots by a Wall Street refugee pursuing her bohemian “coffee lounge” dreams (17 Bleecker St., nr. Bowery; 212-529-3914).


Food News
Hudson Valley Rally
We knew Alias chef Anthony Rose wasn’t long for city life: All those farmer-themed photos he hung around the restaurant in homage to his local purveyors were the giveaway. Now Rose has traded his Lower East Side kitchen for the simple life upstate as chef at the Stissing House (518-398-8800), an eighteenth-century inn and tavern in Pine Plains, conveniently close to Ronnybrook Dairy and Coach Farm and perfectly situated for a late-season leaf-peeping expedition.

Safe Bet
In preparation for opening the Las Vegas branch of RM, John Tesar has been soaking up the Rick Moonen method in the seafood maestro’s Manhattan kitchen the past few months. Change of plans: Moonen’s headed out West, and the gifted but peripatetic Tesar—who was planning to be here only temporarily—is staying put as RM’s newly designated executive chef, dispensing delicacies like Pacific sturgeon with sauce gribiche.

Double Shift
Josephs Citarella didn’t have to go far to find a new chef: Bill Yosses, previously in charge of pastry, has also assumed the role of executive chef and given the menu a Mediterranean-American spin, with particular emphasis on local, seasonal ingredients.

Good at Fractions
The owners of 5 Ninth have signed a lease nearby at 643 Hudson Street, where they plan to open a casual 30-seat spinoff early next year. The tentatively named 5/9 Cafe will give chef Zak Pelaccio full rein to indulge his passion for all the multiculti sandwiches he can’t justify serving in his more upscale meatpacking-district milieu.

Far East Feast
Cendrillon chef Romy Dorotan cooks Filipino food, but doesn’t miss an opportunity to promote Asian cuisines of all stripes. This week, the spotlight is on Chinese, as Dorotan cooks recipes out of Grace Young’s recently published The Breath of a Wok from November 4 through 7. Featured dishes might include Florence Lin’s smoked chicken and eggs, and Auntie Lil’s stir-fried lotus root with Chinese bacon (45 Mercer St., nr. Broome St.; 212-343-9012).

Sweet Score
Having made Stone Street a financial-district gastronomic destination with his exquisite desserts and sandwiches, pastry chef Eric Bedoucha brings a baby branch of Financier Patisserie to 3–4 World Financial Center this winter—the Scylla to Custard Beach’s Charybdis, as far as every passing jogger is concerned.


Event
Alice Waters doesn’t cook in New York often, and when she does, it’s bound to be for a good (food-activist) cause. That’s the case on November 4 at the Whitney, when she collaborates with artist Ann Hamilton on a “Watershed Tastemakers” dinner, the last in a series meant to spotlight Hudson Valley agriculture (and raise money for a program that supplies public schools with Hudson Valley milk). Tickets for the characteristically seasonal feast—Jerusalem artichoke soup, rabbit sausages, guinea hen, and poached quince—are $750 apiece.
Call 212-431-7165



Object Of Desire
Haute Sodium
Just when you think you’ve achieved the highest level of salt appreciation, having mastered the delicate nuances of fleur de sel and honed the refined ability to differentiate between the Maldon and the Halen Môn, the Sicilian, and the Portuguese, not to mention the Kauai and the Molokai, along comes the pink Himalayan rock variety. Previously the province of New Age spas, it’s reclaiming its rightful place as a culinary tool. David Burke & Donatella chef David Burke likes it for its bold, clean flavor and dainty finish, not to mention its striking objet d’art appearance. He serves his sea-scallop sashimi on top of a big chunky block of the stuff, which makes for a dramatic presentation as well as nicely seasoning the scallop, rendering the accompanying dipping sauce superfluous.
David Burke & Donatella
133 E. 61st St., near Lexington Ave.; 212-813-2121


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