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Astoria Can Be Romantic; Kyotofu Explores Japanese Culture

Astoria: Joey recommends Bistro 33, Mundo, and L’Incontro among romantic V-Day options, but plans to offer more ideas for the nabe next week [Joey in Astoria]; Ethos is closed for renovations the next three weeks. [Grub Street] Chelsea: Bottlerocket’s naughty gift set includes a bottle of Nicolas Feuillate Champagne and condoms. New York: where even wine stores are full-service. [Grub Street] East Village: The owners of Hi-Fi are preparing to open the Bowery Electric in the old Remote Lounge space, and an unrelated wine bar will also be opening soon. [Zagat] Flatiron: If you can hold off on your chocolate binge until after Valentine’s Day (when he doesn’t call), there’s a tasting at Dessert Studio at Chocolat Michel Cluizel on February 19 hosted by 4-Foodies. [4-Foodies] Hell’s Kitchen: Kyotofu has launched a culture series that explores Japanese customs like the kimono and the tea ceremony on the third Wednesday of every month (starting the 20th). [Grub Street] Midtown West: The bar and lounge at the South Gate, the new restaurant in the Jumeirah Essex House, debuts tonight. [Eater]

Sparkling-Pink Sake Might Tickle Your V-Day Fancy in Hell's Kitchen; Commerce Opens Tomorrow

Chelsea: RUB and Swich are just two under-$10 lunch options in this list devoted to the nabe. [Gridskipper] East Village: A Spanish wine bar called Pata Negra opens Friday at 345 East 12th Street. [NYT] Flatiron: A Voce pastry chef Josh Gripper classifies himself as single and dangerous. [Restaurant Girl] Fort Greene: Don’t hold your breath waiting for lamb sliders from the French-Moroccan restaurant that was supposed to open on DeKalb Avenue; the space wasn’t completed, and the sign and menu have already been taken down. [Eat for Victory/VV] Hell’s Kitchen: If you want to explore dining options outside our comprehensive Valentine’s Day Guide, you could look to Kyotofu, which is serving a three-course dessert prix fixe promising a raspberry Valrhona-dark-chocolate fondue and Hou Hou Shu pink-sparkling sake. [Kyotofu] West Village: Commerce opens tomorrow in the former Blue Mill Tavern space and there will be a 20 percent discount on food through Monday. [NYT]; the last outlet of Flor’s Kitchen will shut itself down this Sunday citing problems with the landlord. [Eater]

Don’t Be an Ass, You’ll Be Made to Wait; Park Slope Gets Its Beer Table Saturday

Clinton Hill: John's Donut Shop & Restaurant looks like an unassuming diner, but a recent visit revealed an actual wait. Do people know something we don't know? [Clinton Hill Blog] Dumbo: Water Street Restaurant is promoting $3 Draft Beers and a 2-for-1 Cheeseburger Special on Sunday. [Dumbo NYC] Flatiron: If you get to Hill Country at 8 p.m. on a Saturday and come 9 p.m. you’re still waiting for a table, you’ve now struck "Shot o’clock," according to GM John Shaw, "gratis shots for all at the bar." [Eater] Little Italy: This is proof that the city’s nightlife is still hot: "Degenerates of nyc in full swing at gold bar. 19 yr old Brazilians having makeshift photo shoots as the party floods into the D.J. booth to play with the new mac computers." Only Bangkok could be hotter than that! [Down by the Hipster] Park Slope: Beer Table, whose SLA woes were chronicled by the Times this week, will open Saturday. [Eat for Victory/VV] Tribeca: A bit of diner rudeness has been spotted around town lately — stool-swiping, line-cutting, table-hogging — but there’s a bit of consolation (and warning to offenders): Nobu co-owner Richie Notar revealed "they get secretly punished with extra-long waits." [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine]

Hot-Chocolate Frenzy in Flatiron; Know You're Eating Sperm in Midtown

Astoria: Sunswick is having an Abitas beer promotion on Sunday with drink specials, but if you’re less concerned about game day, you could check out the renovation at Il Bambino. [Joey in Astoria] Carroll Gardens: Naturally Delicious caterers, who also did this blogger’s wedding, will deliver a V-Day menu that includes baked oysters, lobster bisque, tenderloin, a cheese plate, and a Valrhona flourless chocolate cake to those who want to stay in but aren’t able to whip up our sexy stash of recipes. [A Brooklyn Life] Flatiron: City Bakery kicks off its monthlong hot-chocolate festival tomorrow, which highlights rotating "additional flavors, from Caramel or Banana Peel to the Chili Pepper or even Beer varieties." [Restaurant Girl] Midtown East: If you show up at Sakae Sushi and find that it’s closed for a couple of days, you can stop into nearby Yakitori East on 44th Street. Just remember: The winter specialty shirako that their menu dubs as "soft cod roe" is "rather beige globules of sperm sacs." [Gothamist] On February 12, eliminate "menstrual and sexual health concerns" through food at D’Or; let’s hope there’s chocolate involved. [Love Your Femme via Gridskipper] Union Square: Mesa Grill impresario Bobby Flay just got back from Greece and would fly there again for all that "delicious Greek olive oil and some lemon and some potatoes and Greek salad," but if he would just stay in New York, maybe Mesa Grill would have been able to hold on to more of its stars. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]

BarFry’s Naughty Valentine’s Day Does Not Include Oil; Irving Mill Expanding in Flatiron

Astoria: Named for the spongy Latin cheese bread, Pao de Queijo has opened at 31-90 30th Street, between Broadway and 31st Avenue, and is serving a Brazilian mix of snacks and batidos. [Time Out] Flatiron: Irving Mill might be Gramercy Tavern lite, but the owners are ready to expand with an Italian wine bar. Who will be the next nearby inspiration? Bar Stuzzichini? [Eater] Tribeca: Brandy Library is hosting a New York whiskey tasting on Friday from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Upper West Side: Magnolia Bakery North officially opens on Monday, but eager cupcake fiends might want to try stopping by Saturday to see if there's a soft opening. [Cupcakes Take the Cake] West Village: Josh DeChellis will make you a "naughty doggie-bag" of after-dinner treats from BarFry for Valentine's Day, but, don't worry, no fried hot dogs, just good old-fashioned strawberries and squirt-bottle chocolate. [Eat for Victory/VV]

Gavin Kaysen Tests His Menu at Café Boulud; Williamsburg's Pampa Still a Mystery

Astoria: Time Café is said to serve a solid brunch. The fries look a bit pale, but after a few "terrific" mimosas, they'll probably hit the spot anyway. [Joey in Astoria] East Village: The culinary study center the area desperately needs opens today. [Restaurant Girl] Flatiron: On Monday, January 28, 4-Foodies is hosting an Italian Favorites tasting at Lunetta. [4foodies] Upper East Side: Bar Boulud's success hasn't hurt Café Boulud, where chef Gavin Kaysen is currently testing his new menu; the latter DB spot still attracts eye candy like former Giants star Tiki Barber. [Mouthing Off/Food&Wine] Williamsburg: A sleek new building on Graham Avenue will soon be home to a restaurant called Pampa, but no one really knows what the place will be like. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch]

A Sausage-Fest Welcome in Chelsea; Gramercy Tavern Recipes

Chelsea: On January 15–20, Trestle on Tenth will begin its own yearly tradition of Metzgete, a Swiss winter celebration of sausage, choucroute, and wine. [Trestle on Tenth] Flatiron: Adam Shepard hasn’t yet been able to clone the success of his Boerum Hill original at Lunetta, in the old Mayrose space, but Frank Bruni thinks he’s capable of making the necessary adjustments. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Gramercy: Gramercy Tavern’s Michael Anthony provided this recipe for East Coast blackfish over spaghetti squash, but we have his recipe for fork-crushed purple majesty potatoes in our database. [Restaurant Girl] Hells Kitchen: How is this world going to stop mispronouncing chipotle as "chi-POLE-tay" if restaurants like Kevin St. James on Eighth Avenue can’t even spell it right? [East Village Idiot] Midtown West: Our In-box submission claiming there are prostitutes at Maze has inspired a call for the best restaurants that attract good ol’ traditional gold diggers. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch] Upper East Side: Agata & Valentina Ristorante has permanently closed, but the original gourmet shop is still lively. [Eater]

Huckabee Loves Salad and Bread Sticks; Domino's Still Won't Deliver in 30 or Less

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee chose T.G.I. Friday’s when a Times reporter offered to take him to lunch anywhere in the city, but Huck ultimately settled for the Olive Garden. [NYT via Serious Eats] The Food Network’s ratings are hurting, which might help to explain why Emeril Live got canned. [NYT] How do Thomas Keller and Mario Batali fare against McDonald's when it comes to calories? Keller's veal breast and polenta and Batali's pork loin are worse for you than a Big Mac, but who cares? [WSJ

Bar Blanc Is So Open; Good Chinese in Sunset Park? Try Crashing a Wedding

Dumbo: Admission to Taste of Spain at the Dumbo Arts Center from 6 to 9 p.m. tonight includes a wine tasting and tapas. [Dumbo NYC] Flatiron: Boqueria is throwing a "Cava fueled fiesta" for New Year’s Eve. [Snack] Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens: The empty space on the corner of Flatbush and Beekman will become a Subway, and one blogger isn’t so upset: "At first we were disappointed that a big chain was coming in, but … some Subways even have full blown salads." Nice! Just like McDonald’s. [Across the Park] Sunset Park: Sietsema may have had to crash a Chinese wedding to figure this out, but dim-sum go-to Pacificana is also good for dinner. [Eat for Victory/VV] West Village: Bar Blanc seems to be in soft-open mode. [Eater]

Bradley and Freitag Planning a ‘Lusty’ Menu for the Harrison; Hot Chestnut Pancakes in Midtown West

Astoria: Bar 36 at 36-05 30th Avenue hosts Martini Thursdays, where it’s "$2 off every martini on their menu (or create your own). Can’t beat the free snacks, too!" [Joey in Astoria] East Village: You’d be hard-pressed find a better, more satisfying "fantastic when it was hot but … made for a mean late night snack as well" deal than bär-bo-ne’s nightly five-course fresh pasta tasting menu. [Gluttoness] Flatiron: Eisenberg’s has been serving tater tots as latkes, but "the owner talked about getting in some big latkes soon. Let’s hope so … A place like Eisenberg’s deserves to have the best latkes." [Lost City] Midtown West: Norma’s has added new breakfast items to its menu, including hot chestnut pancakes and a chocolate waffle with peanut-butter-toffee-crunch filling, but don’t expect to get in and try them until the tourist exodus in January. [Eater] Tribeca: With chef Amanda Freitag at the helm, Jimmy Bradley plans to strive "for a bold, lusty, soulful menu at the Harrison." Saucy! [Restaurant Girl] Upper East Side: On weekdays through December, Zoë Townhouse at 135 East 62nd Street is offering a 15 percent discount off bottles of wine from noon to 7 p.m. [Grub Street] Williamsburg: From these pictures, the opening of the Peter Luger annex, which would significantly expand the restaurant, seems imminent. [Eater]

Newfangled Toilets Make Us Wonder What They'll Look Like When They're Oldfangled

Bushwick: All the 'swhik kids are chipping in to help Steve Trimboli, who runs local indie-rock mecca Goodbye Blue Monday, pay his mountain of post-cancer bills. That's nice. [VV]
Carroll Gardens: Who is trying to destroy the hood's "Democracy Wall," where locals post anti-development propaganda? Could it be … Councilmember Bill DeBlasio? [Gowanus Lounge]
Flatiron: The new Cemusa toilet's going up in Madison Square Park! Weird to think that something so sleek will soon be crawling with germs. (Or are these things self-cleaning?) [Curbed, Promediacorp]

Pamplona's Supersoft Poached Salmon (and Ultracrispy Skin)

Alex Ureña made his name as one of the city’s few modern Spanish cooks, but like most so-called “molecular gastronomists” he found little favor with the city’s tastemakers. His recently reconceived restaurant skews more populist, and a popular dish at Pamplona is this poached salmon with blood sausages. “With Spanish food,” Ureña says, “you sometimes have to think whether it’s going to work here or not.” This one does. As always, mouse over the different elements of the dish to hear them described in the chef’s own words.

Shake Shack Instates Line-Cutting and Heat Lamps; There's Only One DB, and He's Not in Forest Hills

Carroll Gardens: Renovations seem to be happening at Jason Neroni's old haunt, Porchetta, but as of yet there are no reliable rumors about the new restaurant's pedigree. [Eater] East Village: Tasty Falafel’s eight-cent sandwich deal set for this Friday might come with more than you bargained for, like the roach pictured in this order. [Eat for Victory/VV] Flatiron: Shake Shack now accepts phone-in orders that allow burger fiends to skip to the front of the line; plus, Meyer has added heat lamps for those eating in the park. [Eater] Forest Hills: Little Danny Brown’s db Wine Bar & Kitchen at 104-02 Metropolitan Avenue just lost a trademark battle to the original DB, Daniel Boulud. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] West Village: The trick to scoring a table at tiny, cozy, exceptional restaurants like the little owl: Show up late like Charlie Rose. [Mouthing Off/Food&Wine]

Can't Beat Building Sex

Carroll Gardens: Nobody wants to buy into this notorious new building, pictured here mounting an older, prettier structure from behind. [Brownstoner] Corona: The sad thing about this (apparently) new building is that, if you squint, it might even pass for Deco period if it weren't for the hideous balconies and front door. [Queens Crap] Flatiron: Edwidge Danticat "reads from his memoir" tonight at B&N. Dude looks like a lady to us. [East Village Idiot]

New York to Charlie Trotter: Bring It On!

So Charlie Trotter is coming to New York at long last. (Or so the New York Times says today, reporting that the celebrated Chicago chef has plans for a restaurant on East 22nd Street, at One Madison Park.) Our question is, what took him so long? Trotter has been considered one of the top chefs in America for years, but big names in second-rate food cities rarely make a big splash here. Paul Prudhomme, the pride of New Orleans, had only mixed success here, and in recent years Charles Ramseyer of Seattle (at Wild Salmon), and Fabio Trabocchi of Virginia (at Fiamma), both the toasts of their former towns, have received tepid responses here. (Tim Love, the pride of Texas, washed out completely with Lonesome Dove.)

New Momofuku(s) Opening Next Week; Meryl Streep to Play Julia Child

Momofuku Noodle Bar 2.0 is set to open Tuesday, which by David Chang’s accounts should mean Ko will be raised in one night and ready by Wednesday in the original’s former space. [Eater] Related: Keeping Up With the Momofukus Food & Wine questions whether Meryl Streep can carry the role of their “Patron Saint” Julia Child, though they have hope from a scene in The Hours in which the actress “deftly separated egg whites from egg yolks by letting the whites run through her fingers.” [Mouthing Off/Food&Wine] Hudson Valley is the largest foie gras producer in the country so even though 15,000 breeding ducks were killed in a fire this week, it “shouldn’t seriously affect production,” says Frank Bruni. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]

Shake Shack Opens Year-round; Five Guys On in Midtown

Flatiron: Shake Shack is hammering out a year-round plan that may kick off after the New Year and will include heat lamps. (It better!) [Eat for Victory/VV] Long Island City: Art-O-Mat sells nice neighborhood souvenirs like LIChocolate bars. [LIC-NYC] Lower East Side: New bar and restaurant Cafe Katja has earned some positive buzz for its touches like house-made pickles and sauerkraut and well-priced Austrian and German wine and beer. [Blog Chelsea] Midtown West: Five Guys Burger’s and Fries at 43 West 55th Street started serving today, a day ahead of schedule. [Midtown Lunch] Nolita: Katie Lee Joel’s favorite New York restaurant is Ballato’s on East Houston near Mulberry Street. [Restaurant Girl] Times Square: Top-notch steakhouse Del Frisco’s still has steak tips and mashed potatoes on its lunch menu for under $10, though the burger’s over $13. [Midtown Lunch] Upper East Side: Sassy’s Sliders at 1530 Third Avenue near 86th Street is the front-runner in this roundup of the city’s best mini-sandwiches, which also includes Burke’s burgers at Bloomingdale's and the Little Owl’s meatball version. [Gridskipper] West Village: The new bar replacing Luke & Leroy on Seventh Avenue South is having a soft opening tonight. [Imbible/Citysearch] Voyage has finally given up the ghost, and its prime Perry Street restaurant real estate with it. [Eater]

Borough Food and Drink Kills the Retail Counter

The relaunching of Borough Food and Drink under Zak Pelaccio has already begun in earnest, but in an unexpected way: The restaurant has given its retail counter, one of the main pillars of its identity, the heave-ho. Why? More drinking space was needed! “The bar was getting too crowded,” BFD representative Meryl Scheinman tells us. “We loved the retail area, but it created a bottleneck. This makes it more welcoming, less crowded, and warms the room up a little.” Other big changes — you know, the ones to the menu — are still in the works, but intel is under wraps as of right now. In the meantime, if you didn’t get your Bosnian butter or Brighton Beach Russian bacon at the now-defunct counter, our condolences. Commiserate over a drink at the spacious bar, perhaps? Related: Zak Pelaccio Taking Over Borough Food and Drink From Jeffrey Chodorow

Bruni Down With Lunch at Craft; Blue Ribbon to Open This Week in Columbus Circle

Clinton Hill: A Nigerian restaurant, EN of Africa, is opening on the corner of Cumberland and Lafayette, and there’s relief that it’s not another French spot. [Clinton Hill Blog] Flatiron: Frank Bruni finds the newly instated lunch at Craft a good, logical fit, in that “Craft doesn’t project the kind of fussiness — on the plate or in terms of décor — that can feel more stilted and constraining at lunch than at dinner.” [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Hell's Kitchen: Xai Xai, a new wine bar, has opened up. [Endless Simmer] Murray Hill/Kips Bay: From November 7 to 10, the Champagne room at Country will be transformed into a bonbon shop where you can pair pastry chef Hsing Chen’s house-made chocolates with specialty cocktails or order a chocolate tasting menu as part of a collaboration with the upcoming Chocolate Show. [Grub Street] Park Slope: Katina’s seems to have been taken over by super Greek diner Purity and may now be called Little Purity. [Grub Street] Upper West Side: Blue Ribbon Six Columbus is poised to open this week, and here’s a sneak peak of the interior. [Zagat] West Village: Mary’s Dairy has closed both of its locations supposedly because the shops weren’t making enough money. Can ice-cream-only stores no longer cut it? Mary’s comes on the heels of Emack & Bolio's Seventh Avenue closure and Ben & Jerry’s Bleecker Street failure. [Eater] Williamsburg: Three of the ten-plus restaurants that serve sushi in the nabe made the cut in this Brooklyn raw-fish roundup. [Gridskipper]

Celebrity-Chef ‘Pop-Up’ Café Open in Midtown; Halloween Recipe From Stanton Social

Astoria: Freeze Peach is hosting a costume party Saturday at 8 p.m. and it’s BYO. [Joey in Astoria] Boerum Hill: Balsamic vinegar is available as a topping at the new ecofriendly ice-cream parlor Blue Marble, on Atlantic Avenue near Bond Street. [Bergen Carroll] Chelsea: Tekserv is hosting a Mac OS X Leopard release party tonight with free food and live jazz, and the winner of the leopard-themed costume contest gets an iPod. [Blog Chelsea] Clinton Hill: New restaurant Mariam at 975 Fulton Street features cuisine from Senegal, Kenya, and Guinea, but even though okra was “cooked down to an indiscernible sludge,” it doesn’t feel overextended; the spot will soon add Jamaican food to the menu. [Eat for Victory/VV] Flatiron: The Manhattan branch of Boerum Hill restaurant Lunetta opens Monday on Broadway at 21st Street. [Grub Street] Lower East Side: Essex Street’s newest Shamalian bar may have opened for a night this week, but it’s closed now. [Eater] Just in time for Halloween house parties, the Stanton Social has provided a simple recipe for pumpkin croquettes. [Restaurant Girl] Meatpacking District: The communal table at Los Dados is supposedly a hot singles scene. [Bottomless Dish/Citysearch] Midtown West: Bon Appétit’s “Pop-Up” café opened yesterday and features sandwiches and salads designed by Emeril, Giada, Govind, and Pichet Ong, plus desserts from Will Goldfarb. [Midtown Lunch] Related: Celebrity Chefs Flock to Former Home of Cheesy Celebrity Restaurant Prospect-Lefferts-Gardens: Papas & Sons market was busted Wednesday. “Word on the street is that someone in there was running numbers,” but no one’s talking. [Across the Park]