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Kefi

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Robert Irvine’s Career Officially Over; Chodorow Plans Hot New Rooftop Lounge

We’re surprised it took this long to happen, but “celebrity chef” Robert Irvine, known of late for his lies about his background, has announced that he will not proceed with the opening of two planned restaurants in St. Petersburg. [This Just In/St. Petersburg Times] Related: Surprise, Surprise: Robert Irvine Gets the Boot From the Food Network The best way to taste the dishes on Top Chef is to head to the toques’ post-Bravo places of employment in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and San Francisco. [Zagat Buzz] Frank Bruni muses on the tourist-tipping problem, noting that he’s not a fan of automatic gratuity charges since they prevent diners from communicating their pleasure or irritation with the service. [Diner’s Journal/NYT]

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Psilakis Hopes to Move Kefi by July; Collective Sausage in Soho

Clinton Hill: Some people like Sushi Okdol on Myrtle Avenue, others find it "meh," but the place will host children’s birthday parties. [Clinton Hill Blog] Midtown East: The owners of Burger Kings at 485 Fifth Avenue and 129 East 47th Street refused to sell $1 value meals because they say they were losing money on the company’s specials. The locations have been shuttered, but they’re suing BK for the right to charge more in Manhattan. [NYDN] Soho: Always wanted to make a "collective memory sausage"? You can on April 8, when the Umami Food and Art Festival kicks off at Roulette, 20 Greene Street. [Strong Buzz] Upper West Side: Michael Psilakis plans to move Kefi around July to open his fourth restaurant. [Gothamist] West Village: Anito Lo expects to have her barbecue spot, Q, around April. [Eater] Something’s happening to Minetta Tavern, but it might not be Keith McNally's doing. [Eater]

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Persephone’s Seafood Yiouvetsi Seems Awfully Familiar…

We knew something looked vaguely familiar when we saw, in this week’s magazine’s Openings, the image of Persephone’s dish of seafood yiouvetsi. Oh, that’s right — seafood yiouvetsi is a signature dish at Anthos! The only difference is that this one doesn’t come in the actual yiouvetsi pot. But everything else seems to be there, down to the orzo in a saffron broth at the bottom. They say there's nothing new under the sun, but Anthos's yiouvetsi was pretty novel when it came out, as the dish is traditionally reserved for lamb shanks and the like. Deepening our suspicions of Persephone's, um, inspiration is the fact that the other dishes mentioned at Persephone — the pikilia-spread sampler, the Greek meatballs in tomato sauce — are right off the menu of Anthos’s sister Kefi. Of course, given how crowded Anthos and Kefi are, the chance to eat simulacra in another good restaurant is much welcome. But otherwise, this might be one of the most brazen Greek heists since Lord Elgin looted the Parthenon marbles. Openings: Persephone, Greene Grape Provisions, Dean's, ’Beca Restaurant, Dram Shop, and City Girl Café [NYM]

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Psilakis Moving Kefi to Better Space; Chodorow Moving Wild Salmon to a Better Place

Michael Psilakis is moving Kefi into a bigger and better space not far from its current location. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] Jeffrey Chodorow’s plagued seafood endeavor Wild Salmon is rumored to close before the New Year. [Eater] A list of restaurants for Christmas Eve and day dining includes traditional picks like the Café at Country and Allen & Delancey, and more unique options like a Scandinavian Christmas Eve feast at Aquavit and dim sum from Chinatown Brasserie. [Restaurant Girl]

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Pamplona Given a New Lease on Life; Bobo Hit Hard

Alex Ureña's somewhat mainstreamed restaurant, Pamplona, earns the catchall two-star rating from Frank Bruni — a great victory for them, since it legitimizes the restaurant and puts it on the solid footing it desperately needed. Bruni doesn't sound especially impressed, however: “His best dishes are more than memorable enough to redeem Pamplona’s shortcomings.” Well, that's good! [NYT] Critics tend to like writing about restaurants that fail badly in one way (such as the food) while succeeding in another, less important way (such as the room). That disjunction gives Danyelle Freeman free rein to jump with both feet onto Bobo. [NYDN] Randall Lane checks in on the two newly opened Mexican restaurants, Toloache and Los Dados and likes them both okay, but he has changed his ways and is now throwing around stars like they were manhole covers: three (of six) for Toloache, home of the famous grasshopper taco, and two for meatpacking trendhole Los Dados. [TONY]

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Psilakis Seeks Site for a Late-Night Downtown Restaurant — and a New Dona

You might think that Michael Psilakis would have had enough of opening restaurants: In the past year, he created Kefi on the Upper West Side, a low-end sensation, and midtown’s Anthos, a major undertaking. Now the chef tells us that he’s looking to open not one but two more restaurants. “I’ve been thinking about opening something downtown,” he says. “I don’t know if it would be another restaurant just like Kefi, or maybe something a little more in between Kefi and Anthos. I want a presence down there, but a lot depends on the space, the lease, and the location.” Psilakis likes the idea of a late-night dining scene, presumably along the lines of Ssäm Bar. There’s no question about the food, though: “It would be Greek, for sure, whatever it was.”

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Dueling Views on Morandi; Varietal Taken to Task

Morandi gets absolutely slaughtered by Steve Cuozzo. Keith McNally has hardly received a bad review yet. [NYP] Meanwhile, Moira Hodgson loves the place: “You’ll want to taste everything on this menu.” She seems to have liked all of it, with the possible exception of an overpriced veal chop. Did these two even go to the same restaurant? [NYO] Bruni one-stars Varietal, calling the food creative but uneven and lambasting avant-garde dessert chef Jordan Kahn, who has enjoyed a lot of critical love. The desserts “don’t so much eschew convention as pummel and shatter it — literally, and often pointlessly.” [NYT]

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Time to Fill Out Our James Beard Brackets

The nominations for the James Beard Foundation Awards, the Oscars of the restaurant industry, will be announced Monday morning. We’ll report on that as it happens, but for now, here are picks for the main categories from Adam Platt, Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld, and Josh Ozersky. Our choices are admittedly New York–centric (the awards go to restaurants across the country), but the ceremony is held here, and the city always looms large in the proceedings.

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Psilakis, Pretty Much a Greek God, Has Another Opening

Michael Psilakis’s ambitious new restaurant, Anthos, opens Monday in the old Acqua Pazza space. It’s been a busy, up-and-down year for the chef: His critically praised Dona closed, unexpectedly, one week into 2007. Just a couple of weeks later, he converted his high Greek eatery Onera into the more casual Kefi, which went on, in this week’s issue, to win four stars from the Underground Gourmet. The wheel in the sky keeps on turning, as they say. Looks like it’s lifting Psilakis back up. We went inside Anthos and got all the evidence.

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Chodorow Sure to Be Pissed Over New ‘Times’ Steakhouse Review

This one is bound to kill Chodorow. Bruni visits a steakhouse even more vulgar than Kobe Club and awards it one star: Robert’s Steakhouse, inside the Penthouse Executive Club. Adam Perry Lang, as most recognize, is one of the city’s top meat guys. [NYT] Meehan affirms that Kefi’s has terrific food at a bargain. He notes that it was strangely quiet the nights he was there, but that has changed, we’re told, since the Underground Gourmet gave the restaurant four stars. [NYT] Think of this less as a review of Gilt than an excuse for Steve Cuozzo to acknowledge Chris Lee, one of the city’s most underappreciated chefs, whose ill fortune it was to follow Paul Liebrandt and his alienating high-concept cookery. [NYP]

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The Controversy That’s Tearing the Restaurant World Apart

Chefs, especially the better ones, don’t usually pass judgment on one another publicly. So we were shocked recently when we heard one successful chef blasting another one for having handled a fish with tongs. "I wouldn't even stand in the same kitchen if I saw that!" he thundered. The first one was classically trained; the second, self-taught. It just went to show that if there’s anything that divides the world of chefs, it’s how they learned to cook — and how invested they are in the way that they came up. We staged a cage match between one of the city’s proud grads and a couple eminent autodidacts in order to find out who has it right.

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