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Labor Troubles at Saigon Grill Mean No Delivery for You

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It's cold enough this week to make you reconsider going out for dinner. But if you're craving Vietnamese, you might have a problem. The popular Saigon Grill mini-chain, with locations on the Upper West Side and in the East Village (and a third, closed for renovation, on the Upper East Side), hasn't been offering delivery since it locked out 22 deliverymen Friday night. "I told them to leave because they tried to extort," owner Simon Nget, a Chinese Cambodian refugee, said last night. At an 11:30 meeting Friday, he asked the workers to sign a form he'd prepared, stipulating that they received adequate wages and would not sue him. A representative of the workers, he said, mentioned a $700,000 settlement paid to nine employees, which he said made him feel "threatened."

None Is the Lonesomest Number

It's a classic story: A brash outsider, fizzing with ambition, comes to the big city and gets a thoroughly educational thrashing. And yet now that Lonesome Dove, the Manhattan outpost of Tim Love's Texas steakhouse, has shuttered, the blogs are pouring a little moonshine on the ground for the departing joint. Sure, some of the dishes were ridiculous, as was that cowhide on the sidewalk, but there was also a little Manhattan snobbery — and, dare we say, a touch of misplaced blue-state rage — in the collective drubbing administered to Love. Grub Street has put together a collection of links in tribute. Lonesome Dove Flies Away [Grub Street] Bonus: Adam Platt's original evisceration [NYM]

Daniel Pinchbeck Hates Processed Food, Likes Coffee

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Daniel Pinchbeck, the mind-expanded author of Breaking Open the Head: A Psychedelic Journey Into the Heart of Contemporary Shamanism and 2012: The Return of Quetzalcoatl, realized the first time he took mushrooms — back in college — just how much he didn't like processed food, and he's been trying to eat on a higher plane ever since. How does he do that? With a lot of coffee, it seems, and occasional stops for raw food. Find out his latest noshes in this week's New York Diet, at Grub Street. Psychedelic Writer Daniel Pinchbeck Likes His Chocolate With ‘Special Properties’ [Grub Street]

The Starrett Sale Is Dead!

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• That $1.3 billion Starrett City deal? Yeah, not gonna happen. The Housing and Urban Development secretary is blocking the sale of the subsidized enclave to Clipper Equity. The deal's vocal opponents included Bloomberg, Cuomo, Spitzer, Schumer, Clinton, and, apparently, God. [NYDN] • Meanwhile, the demolition at the future Atlantic Yards site begins in earnest, with Ratner aiming the wrecking ball at twelve buildings on Pacific, Flatbush, Vanderbilt, and Dean — all within next week. Is it good-bye, weird Guyanese JRG Fashion Cafe? [NYP] • The dancing-rat drama is far from over. In fact, it's amping up: After its initial gaffe, the Health Department came down like a hammer on three more joints (this time, for variety's sake, Pizza Huts) owned by the same franchisee; the parent company, Yum Brands, then voluntarily closed ten more. [NYT] • And dentist Lawrence Rosenthal is suing Cory Lidle's estate for $7 million dollars, because the Yankee's fiery death had inconvenienced him. This, mind you, is the same Rosenthal of the BadDentist.com infamy. Litigious, much? [amNY]

But How Does He Feel About Trans Fats?

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• In the no-brainer firing of the year, the Health Department has divested itself of the inspector who gave a passing grade to the famously ratty KFC–Taco Bell. The shuttered place, meanwhile, became a locus for some fun public art. [NYT] • Underreported amid the possible culprits of yesterday's Wall Street carnage — China, Cheney — were horrendously timed technical glitches at the NYSE: At some point, trades were done via paper tickets. [NYP] • Add a federal investigation to the list of JetBlue's headaches: The U.S. Transportation Secretary is calling for an official look-see into the recent snowstorm stranding of passengers on the JFK tarmac. American Airlines will get its own probe for a similar incident in Austin. [amNY] • The Thurmond-Sharpton Roots-on-acid miniseries continues to play out: The senator's biracial daughter, Essie Mae Washington Williams, is reprimanding the reverend for "overreacting," saying "[my father] did many wonderful things for black people." [NYDN] • And meet Gerard Mortier, new director of the New York City Opera, whose farewell production on his previous job was a staging of Die Fledermaus with cocaine, incest, suicide, and Nazis. Welcome!!! [CBS News]

Purple, Annotated

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Varietal pastry chef Jordan Kahn is, we're told, the pastry chef in New York right now. And what does the pastry chef want his desserts to taste like? Purple, apparently. In this week's Annotated Dish, he deconstructs his "Meditation in Purple," explaining all its luscious ingredients. Check it out at Grub Street. Varietal's 'Meditation in Purple': Need We Say More? [Grub Street]

Dining By Design, in Style and for Charity

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Dining By Design, an annual charity thingie that plops society types down to dine among phantasmagoric table settings, is a reliable showcase of ingenuity with a serious tranny undercurrent (John Waters did a table once; Amanda Lepore was a table once). This year, DBD's tenth, there was a palpable sense of overdrive in the West Chelsea event space: Most table designers were piling on feathers, antlers, holograms, lenticulars, fruit hats, and drag queens with corporate-sponsored abandon. On the tamer end, Ralph Lauren erected a mosquito-netted gazebo. Disney's table recalled, curiously, a boardroom. Nautica went with the oh-my-God-we're-on-a-yacht theme. In a slight faux pas, the Cole&Garrett and Lexus tables used the exact same chairs.

David Cross Is Both 12 and 42 Years Old

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In the fall and winter, David Cross drinks red wine with "almost every meal." (In the spring and summer, apparently, it's beer.) We'd assume he means every non-breakfast meal, but, then, he also has chili for breakfast, so who knows? He even likes red wine with his favorite snack, pretzel rods dipped in Smucker's all-natural peanut butter, chunky. What else did he have red wine with last week? Find out in the latest New York Diet at Grub Street. Comedian David Cross Likes His Peanut Butter and Pretzels With a Glass of Wine [Grub Street]

Mmm, Mmm, Good

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We know, we know. We never should have gone out in this weather dressed like that; of course we'd catch a cold. But what's done can't be undone, and now that we're sneezing and sniffling, what can we do? Grub Street to the rescue! In today's At the Market column, Zoe Singer rounds up the best chicken-soup options around the city and tops it off with a tip on the best seasonal oranges for fresh-squeezed OJ. Our sinuses are clearing up already. Chicken Soup for the House-Bound Soul [Grub Street]

Scientific Proof: Manhattanites Are Superior to Queens Residents

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• As home sales slump in other cities, New Yorkers, wallets fat with Wall Street's big year-end bonuses, kick off 2007 with a surge in purchases of everything from tiny studios to whoppers like a $2.5 million home "in the Park Slope neighborhood of Brooklyn," the Times overexplicitly reports. [NYT] • Who's slimmer, Manhattanites or folks from outer Queens? Likely the former, according to a new Columbia study finding that New Yorkers who live near lots of stores and subways have lower body-mass-index levels than do those from more suburban parts of the city. [Medical News Today] • From Teaneck to Asbury Park, hundreds of gay couples show up at town halls in New Jersey today as the state becomes the third to offer civil unions. [NYP] • Bill Clinton "stands in" for his wife at an Albany summit of state black and Latino lawmakers, many of whom stay mum on whom they'll back for the Democratic presidential bid, HRC or her duskier rival, Illinois Senator Barack Obama. [NYDN] • Mary's Fish Camp, Artisanal, and, yep, good old Eisenberg's are among the venues offering the twenty best sandwiches in New York City, from fancy-shmancy grilled-cheese redos to old-fashioned egg salad. [amNY]

Raw Foodie Sarma Melngailis Has a Secret

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What does one of New York's leading raw-food restaurateurs — Sarma Melngailis of Pure Food and Wine — eat in a week? You'd be surprised. It's not just vegan-friendly vegetable concoctions and "weirdo shakes," as she calls them; there's also some lamb and venison, too. "Here’s how I rationalize occasionally not eating raw-vegan," she explains at Grub Street. "I always want to try good food." What other good food did she eat? Head to Grub Street to find out. Raw Foodist Sarma Melngailis Drinks Grapefruit Sake Mojitos Before Noon [Grub Street]

Parking Wars

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• A riot is brewing — or, more likely, the tabloids are picking up some easy populist points — over Mayor Bloomberg's failure to lift alternate-side parking rules during this week's snowstorm. [NYDN, amNY] • Guess which single mayoral action is "tragic and misguided", and will "degrade societal standards" — the smoking ban, LES rezoning, the 2012 Olympic bid? Wrong: it's those damnable free condoms, according to Cardinal Egan and Brooklyn Bishop DiMarzio. [NYP] • We all know about the sex-offender registry, but what does one do with homeless sex offenders? Suffolk Country found one, vaguely medieval, solution: put them in trailers that are periodically rotated around the county. [Newsday] • MoMA director Glenn D. Lowry is even richer than we (and the IRS) knew: In addition to a jaw-dropping salary of $1.28 million a year, Lowry has been getting millions through a murky tax-exempt trust set up by the Museum's benefactors. [NYT] • And in parting, this, from today's OMG-straight-men-can-cook "trend" profile in the News : "I'm constantly bringing wild game back to my apartment, and my girlfriend and I sit outside and pluck it." Don't we all?[NYDN]

You Will Never Be Hungry Again

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We had no mail at our apartment when we got home last night, but we're pleased to see that neither sleet nor snow nor dark of night keeps a Chinese-food delivery guy from the swift completion of his appointed rounds.

Lady Godiva Was a Metro-North Rider

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Christmas may be the busiest time of the year for the Postal Service, but at the Godiva chocolate shop in Grand Central, the evening commute home on Valentine's Day seems to take the, um, bonbon. The crowd-control measures in place — corralling maybe 40 or so candy-craving commuters when we stopped by a few minutes ago — include a maze of rope lines and a system by which customers pick out their chocolates and then wait their turn to pay. Other last-minute lovers will appreciate Grub Street's roundup of what culinary canoodling spots had tables still available when they checked this afternoon, and the magazine provided a cheater's guide to Valentine's Day. See? We've got all your bases covered.

Something's Fishy at Picholine

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So you've been to Picholine, and you've had the $80 three-course prix fixe, and you've loved the first course, chef Terrance Brennan's famous sea-urchin panna cotta, which you know to be one of only two items on the menu held over from the previous incarnation of the restaurant. But, still, you've always felt like you don't quite know the dish. And you've always wished Brennan would stop and explain it to you. Well, kids, now you're in luck: Grub Street's got a new Annotated Dish, and it's Picholine's sea-urchin panna cotta. Learn all about its fishy fabulousness at Grub Street. Picholine’s ‘Oceanic’ Sea-Urchin Panna Cotta [Grub Street]

Extra! Extra! There Is Chick-fil-A in New York

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Rob and Robin deliver an astounding piece of news in their Sandwich of the Week update today: There actually is a Chick-fil-A branch — one, solitary outpost — in Manhattan. Even more astounding: It's located in an NYU food court, and the dedicated dining duo infiltrated said food court — sans student I.D. but avec verisimilitudinous knapsnack — to sample the wares. How was it? "Deliriously good," they report, "in a heavily seasoned monosodium-glutamate kind of way." Mmm … MSG. All the details are at Grub Street. Sneaking Past Security for the Sandwich of the Week [Grub Street]

Celebrity Restaurateurs: They Get Slow Service Just Like Us!

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When Drew Nieporent — the man behind Nobu, Montrachet, and Tribeca Grill — is at the table next to you, it would seem worth following his lead. And so when we noticed him beside us (thanks, Times Magazine!) for brunch at Geoffrey Zakarian's Café at Country yesterday, we realized we were listening to our neighbors' conversation a little more closely than would normally be polite. He ordered the tartare of beef, and therefore so did we. His arrived, served in a Mason jar along with miniature French bread sticks, and looked damn tasty. We couldn't wait for ours. But wait we did: Almost an hour later, it still hadn't appeared. Nieporent's entrée hadn't either, and so we found ourselves discussing restaurant service with one of the legends of the business.

The Gobbler's Guide to Avoiding Bad Meals

Who knows what evil lurks in the heart of bad New York restaurants? The Gobbler knows. In his Grub Street column this week, Adam Platt distills the nine signs you're about to have a really sucky meal. From maître d' inspections to the "truffles-truffled" dichotomy to warnings about the size of the desserts (anything bigger "than your mother's handbag" is to be avoided), the Gobbler's got the telltale clues. Check them out on Grub Street. Signs You're About to Have an Awful Meal [Grub Street]

How to Make Eggs Like a Pro, and Other Adventures in Opening a Restaurant

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Former wd-50 pastry chef Sam Mason will be opening a joint of his own, Tailor, at the beginning of March. As he prepares for the big day, he's been chronicling his exploits for Grub Street. In today's installment, he considers tableware, purchases some kitchen machinery, and reveals how to make the most perfect soft-boiled egg. (Hint: You won't be able to do it at home.) Learn about it at Grub Street. Sam Mason and the Fabulous Egg Machine [Grub Street]