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Danny Abrams

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Restaurants Feeling the Effects of Mercury Scare

Earlier today we showed you a letter Takahachi is giving its customers. It's not the only restaurant around town feeling the fallout. “We were very busy yesterday, but today is so quiet,” a sushi chef at Hatsuhana in midtown whispered the evening after the January 23 article was published. “Even customers that are coming in are asking for no tuna.” In the Village, celebrities usually wait patiently in line for a table at Japonica. “I don’t know whether it’s the article, the economy, or our customers are on vacation, but all of a sudden our business has fallen down 20 to 30 percent, and 15 percent of those who come in have changed their regular orders. It’s even worse for my friends who have restaurants in Westchester and Connecticut. There is a lot you can eat at sushi restaurants other than tuna,” said owner Shingo Yonezawa. “It’s a nightmare.” And not only Japanese restaurants are affected. “When we put tuna on the menu, it was such an easy sell,” said Danny Abrams, owner of The Mermaid Inn and others. “We were selling seventeen to twenty per night. After the article we were down to six or seven. Even our tuna tartare appetizer stopped selling. I was surprised it dropped as much as it did.” —Beth Landman

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A Guide to Recognizing Your Restaurants: Smith's v. The Smith

Ever since Smith’s opened in Greenwich Village late last year and The Smith opened in the East Village soon thereafter, foodies have been a little confused. Both spots have achieved some popularity, which makes this a far more befuddling case than the one of B. Smith versus Smith’s in Hell’s Kitchen. To help you tell one from the other (we’re aware the above photos don’t do that), we’ve broken it down in a handy chart.

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Abrams Brothers Have Always Loved the UWS; Gay Talese Will Eat BBQ on the UES

Chelsea: The owner of the Cuban restaurant that replaced Havana Chelsea says he’s not trying to copy the former tenant: "It took years of grease to get on those walls and the smell of rotten wood and mice and stale water and dirt. We gutted the entire place, not even a tooth pick was worth saving." [Eat for Victory/VV] Clinton Hill: Greene Grape Provisions has opened with fresh fish and meats, and if you bring a receipt to their nearby wine store, the owners will take 5 percent off your purchase of their recommended pairings. [Clinton Hill Blog] Midtown East: Chocolatier Charbonnel Et Walker on the eighth floor of Saks sells a rich chocolate cupcake drenched in sticky toffee, which is well worth its $6 price tag and still "way cheaper than a pair of Chanel pumps" sold nearby. [NewYorkology] Midtown West: Brasserie Cognac is coming to 55th Street and Broadway. [Grub Street] Tribeca: Dekk seems closed indefinitely. [Grub Street] Union Square: In an unsurprising conclusion, Bruni finds that Indian and Italian restaurants are better equipped to satisfy vegetarians. Dévi is one example where even meat eaters may want to eat those vegetable-based dishes. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Upper East Side: Barbejew Steven Levy hopes his new BBQ joint, Smokin’ Q, which opens this week at 206 East 63rd Street, will succeed where twelve restaurants have failed since 1977. Levy may have an edge against predecessors, however, since writer Gay Talese, who included the doomed space in his memoir, plans to be the writer-in-residence. [NYT] Upper West Side: The Magnolia and Mermaid Inn uptown aren’t the first companies the Abrams brothers have introduced to the nabe; cupcake guru Steve owns "a construction company, high-end residential construction, Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous sort of stuff. My clients are Samuel Jackson, Annie Leibovitz, Jeff Gordon." [NYO]

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Smith's Plays Stevie Wonder, Thievery Corporation, and Bud Powell

Just because we couldn't care less what a chef is playing in the kitchen doesn’t mean we aren’t curious about what’s playing in the dining room — the better to avoid spots that blast “Who Let the Dogs Out” (we’ll give El Sombrero a pass for playing “La Macarena” because, well, it’s El Sombrero). And if they’re playing Weezer’s “The World Has Turned” like Momofuku was Sunday night, we’re there with cowbells on. That’s why every week we’ll pick a new or notable eatery and list ten songs you might hear there. This week: Smith’s, the new one from Danny Abrams and Cindy Smith.

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Danny Meyer Appoints Female Sommelier at the Modern; Pichet Ong Will Show You His Moves in the West Village

Brighton Beach: Brooklyn firefighter Jeffrey Scotto won the sixth-annual World Cares Center Iron Skillet Cook Off this week with this recipe for boneless rib-eye braciola and escarole salad. [NYDN] Chinatown: Zagat might recommend the soup dumplings at Goodies, but you’re in for a treat if you opt for something the staff is eating like “winter melon soup and a plate of stir-fried pork liver and stomach.” [VV] Midtown West: Danny Meyer has appointed a new executive sommelier, Belinda Chang, to oversee the wine program at the Modern and his restaurants in the Met. [NYS] Tribeca: Apparently Craig Béro has opened a Tribeca Time Machine called the Cosmopolitan Cafe around the corner from his other restaurant, the Soda Shop. [NYT] Union Square: From Quattro’s Game Farm’s stand at the Union Square Greenmarket on Saturdays, “you can place an order, leave a deposit, and pick up your fresh bird on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving.” [NYS] Upper West Side: Danny Abrams's second outlet of the East Village’s Mermaid Inn has opened on 568 Amsterdam Avenue near 88th Street, and you get a free cup of puddin’ with dinner. [NYT] West Village: Pichet Ong will give a demonstration at the next 4foodies, tasting on November 19. [4foodies]

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Havana Chelsea, R.I.P.; Pigs Feet Run Amok in West Village

Chelsea: Havana Chelsea, one of the city’s top cubano sandwich spots, is no more. It will be replaced by Casa Havana. [Eat for Victory] Flatiron: Hampton Smoker blogger and barbecue savant Matt Fisher will be the pitmaster at Wildwood BBQ [White Trash BBQ] Lower East Side: ZoZos, Pizzeria De Santos give up the ghost. It’s a noodle bar town now. [American Madness] Related: Happy Valley Owners to Launch Pizza Empire Red Hook: Layla's, the replacement for the late, lamented Lillie's, is coming along. [Citysearch] SoHo: Provence has instituted happy hour, with $8 champagne and, more to the point, $2 oysters. [Strong Buzz] West Village: It’s all about pig feet at Hakata Tonton: “It’s as if chef/owner Himi Okajima watched the Bubba scene in Forrest Gump one day and replaced all mention of the word shrimp with pigs feet. Tonsoku carbonara, tonsoku rice ball, tonsoku consommé, sweet and sour pork with tonsoku…” [Gothamist]

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Mermaid Inn UWS to Open Late Fall; Garifunan Cuisine Has Arrived … in the Bronx

Chelsea: Candy Camp confectionary classes for kids start Saturday at Sapa. [Cakehead] Clinton Hill: A confused source says the former Bodegas space will become Clinton Hill Bistro, but that’s what Bodegas had painted on its windows when it was open. [Clinton Hill Blog] Harlem: Doug E. Fresh talks chicken and waffles and the late-night feel of his second restaurant: "Hot Pot, the Caribbean spot I’m opening in December … Harlem’s always been known for its late-night style." [Uptown Flavor] Long Island City: Big Easy landmark Jacques-Imo’s New York branch has lost its uptown lease and will take refuge in Queens. [Joey in Astoria via Eater] South Bronx: If you’ve been craving Garifunan food (the cuisine of “Coastal Caribbeans of African and Native American descent”), head to newly opened and possibly only-one-of-its-kind Garifuna Star at 640 Prospect Avenue for “curry-esque soup and a fufu-esque plantain dish.” [Eat for Victory/VV] Upper West Side: Danny Abrams plans to open his second Mermaid Inn by the end of the fall. [Eater]

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