Carroll Gardens: New wine bar Black Mountain Wine House on Union Street is filled to the brim with lovely sipping ladies. [Eat for Victory/VV]
Flatiron: Diddy has closed Justin’s because it’s not big enough. [NYP] Stephen Hanson’s steakhouse, Primehouse, opens Monday. [Zagat]
Harlem: Fall registration is open for free proper-dining lessons at “New York City’s only tuition-free etiquette school for children,” the Development and Finishing Institute. [Uptown Flavor]
Soho: New Fiamma chef Fabio Trabocchi “brought with him 12 members of the staff of Maestro, in McLean, Va., his previous employer" in order to ease his New York transition. [NYT]
Upper East Side: David Burke's Hudson Valley Foie Gras ‘PB&J’ Tourchon is pushing it. [NYO]
Williamsburg: The best way to be sure your beef is prime is to eat at a top steakhouse, and lucky for you, according to “Amy Rubenstein, whose family owns Peter Luger, the shortage is over.” [NYP]
At the Foxwoods Food and Wine Festival this weekend, we learned that David Burke (one of the event’s headline chefs) is in talks to do not one, not two, but three restaurants for the planned MGM Grand casino. The mulleted superchef, known for his showbizzy creativity, is far along in negotiations to do a David Burke Prime steakhouse, similar in spirit to his place in Chicago; a Burke in a Box fast-food place, twin to the one at Bloomingdale's; and an as-yet-unnamed seafood restaurant, which is the most intriguing of the three. (Despite being a member of the Refined Meathead Hall of Fame, Burke’s most famous creations are his angry lobster and his pastrami salmon.)
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Carly Skinner was a server at Houston’s before she came to Upper East Side foodie fixture davidburke & donatella. The change was not a small one. “I had to learn a new food vocabulary,” she says. “I was working with servers who had been at places like Le Cirque for twenty years.” Nine months later, she’s now a captain at the restaurant and training to be a sommelier. We asked her to enlighten us about fussy diners, angry lobsters, and smelly smokers.
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Recently, apropos nothing much, a prominent young chef we were chatting with launched into a tirade about the restaurant world’s “labor problem.” “None of us can get enough good cooks!” he exclaimed, by way of explanation. Between 2000 and 2006, only a handful of high-end restaurants — Lespinasse, Meigas, Quilty’s — have closed, and there has been an avalanche of major openings: Robuchon, Ramsay, Per Se, Masa, Craft, Del Posto, Morimoto, A Voce, the Modern, Lever House, Buddakan, Cafe Gray, Alto — the list goes on and on. “And it’s not just the massive boom of restaurants,” Adam Platt tells us. “They also have to be either bigger, or chefs have to open multiple places, so that they can enjoy the economies of scale they need to compete.”
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The usual New Year's Eve drill, of course, is to get hammered at a party while noshing away at whatever happens to be put out. This year, why not preface the evening with a real meal, sending out the old with one last act of gluttony? In one of this week's Short Lists —
"Out With a Bang" — Rob and Robin suggest the most extravagant NYE dinner options. For those of us who have made resolutions to spend something less than $650 on holiday meals, there are some other possibilities more likely to fall within your credit limit.
One of our best sources tells us that David Burke, the mulleted master of high-concept restaurants, has a new project in the works, and it's a big one — judging by its home inside the Buckingham Hotel, at least. Burke's people don't deny that it's in the works but refuse to go into specifics. But since davidburke & donatella won't be closing, and Chicago's David Burke Primehouse basically mints money even without the restaurateur there, we're betting that he'll be opening a meatery modeled after the latter.
Davids Chang, Burke Now in Convenient Video Form [Grub Street]
The Go-Go Gourmet [Grub Street]
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• Bruni dropped in on a restaurant wearing a fanny pack and riding a scooter? No wonder he needed some R&R. [Eater]
• davidburke & donatella gets a new chef de cuisine (Eric Hara, doing bacon-wrapped duck) and pastry chef (Monica Bellissimo, standing by her egg cream in an eggshell). [NYO]
• Some October-November openings via ZagatWire: The former Tocqueville space is turning Japanese; Anne Burrell, sous-chef to Batali on Iron Chef, takes over the kitchen at Centro Vinoteca. [Zagat]
• John LaFemina of Ápizz and the Orchard recounts the joy of applying for a liquor license in an excerpt from the forthcoming A Man and His Meatballs. [Eater]
There's no other restaurateur quite like Donatella Arpaia of Dona and davidburke & donatella: She was the first to zip around town on a Vespa ("Everyone else copied me") and, leaving aside her discerning palate, we're quite certain she's the only one food writers have characterized as "comely." Between Friday, September 29, and Wednesday, October 4, she indulged in a singular combination of sea urchin, fat-free yogurt, and black-and-white cookies.
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