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Is This the Lamest Winter Ever?

With restaurants and bars cutting back their hours and less people stepping out, can we still call ourselves the city that never sleeps?

By Daniel Maurer

Ben Stiller Crashes a Party at Fiamma, Penélope Cruz Makes Out at Socialista

Claire Danes
Every Friday a notable New Yorker tells us where they’ve been eating, but where are the rest of them chowing down? Starting this week we’ll sort through the gossip columns à la Ils Vont (RIP) to tell you who’s been seen where (casual sightings only — boring galas, vodka launches, and pluggy appearances don’t count). We’ll eventually compile a ranking of restaurants most often visited by celebs. Not that you care about that sort of thing! Oh, but if you do, won’t you please leave your own sightings in the comments?

Jody Williams's Wine Bar Serving in the West Village

Greenwich Village: Send off truffle fever with a wine-sodden bang at Babbo’s December 3 Vintage series, which includes a white-truffle tasting menu with wine pairings discussed by Peter Jamros. [Grub Street] Hell’s Kitchen: Kyotofu is hosting a seven-course dinner-and-dessert sake pairing tonight at 7 p.m. [Grub Street] Midtown West: The Frederick’s space on West 58th Street will be transformed into Jour et Nuit, a French-American bistro offering, you guessed it, brasserie classics like croque monsieurs and moules frites. [Restaurant Girl] Soho: Fiamma is a little too liberal with its "Napkins of Shame," which according to Bruni are a "bit of patchwork that makes the table look clean again" to the embarrassment of the messy diner. The critic was subjected to one himself while on a date. [Diner’s Journal/NYT] The Vosges bacon-chocolate bar is accused of not reaching its potential and tasting "more like the barnyard than the pig and more like the rubber tree than the cocoa pod." [Chop Talk/Epicurious] West Village: Jody Williams is previewing her new enoteca and salumeria Gottino at Greenwich Avenue near Perry Street. [Eater] The chef’s main stage, Morandi, is also serving a Thanksgiving dinner of rosemary roasted turkey with fennel and bruschetta stuffing. Those looking for turkey alternatives can arrive early for regular breakfast. [Grub Street]

McNally Unites With the Workers of the World

Keith McNally

Keith McNally can appreciate the effectiveness of a good rally — you’ll recall he personally protested the billboard that’s going up atop the Gansevoort Hotel. So when workers rallied outside of Pastis over the restaurant’s use of provisions from Wild Edibles (which has been sued over allegations of unpaid overtime), you can bet McNally listened. Brandworkers International announced today that Balthazar, Schiller’s, Morandi, Pravda, and Lucky Strike will no longer use products from the company until the dispute is resolved. Comrade McNally, we’re heading to Pravda right now to toast you with a horseradish-and-poached-egg martini. Earlier: Wild Edibles Gets Caught in the Net of the Law

Chef Roman à Clef: “I'm Not Abbe”

Keith and Jody
Yesterday we speculated that Sympathy for the Restaurant Industry — a new site that is fictionalizing restaurant-industry players — was the work of PXThis blogger Abbe Diaz. The pillorying of Sam Mason, Keith McNally, et al sounded pretty much like e-mails from Abbe. But the author insists to us: “No, I’m not Abbe. She's the original, the godmother of restaurant blogs and general awesomeness. I'm not worthy.” Hmm — suspiciously high praise.

Chef Roman à Clef Continues; Keith McNally Pilloried

Keith McNally
Yesterday we treated you to the first chapter of a story seemingly based on Sam Mason and his trials and travails with Tailor. We can now confirm, after contacting the author — who is remaining anonymous (even to us!) because he or she is “notorious within the industry” — that the story is based on Mason and Johnny Iuzzini as well as other players. “Yes, I plan on continuing,” assures the well-connected scribe, “and yes, I have inside info. I’ve been getting a lot of mail, but I would never run anything that I hadn’t triple-checked to be true.”

Jody Williams Knows What to Do (and Not) With an Artichoke

“I get a kick out of things that are so easy,” says Jody Williams, whose raw-artichoke salad at Morandi basically consists of the vegetable, some lemon juice, olive oil, and good cheese. Sometimes, especially in Italian cooking, the smartest thing a chef can do is get out of the way. Williams demonstrates the best possible method for making a perfect, simple summer dish in this Grub Street video. Related: In Season: Local Artichokes [NYM]

Designer Cynthia Rowley Indulges in Super-Cheesy ‘Afternoon Delights’

Cynthia Rowley may be one of the most recognizable names in fashion (this week she returned to Design Star as a judge, and next month she’ll launch Avon’s first designer colors line), but that doesn’t stop her from surreptitiously approaching restaurant diners when she spots them wearing her clothes. “It’s exciting,” she says. “I tell them, ‘Wow, that dress looks great on you.’” So what does she eat when she’s out on the town? And during hectic preparations for Fashion Week, how hard does she try to live up to her childhood nickname, Slim (the title of her recently published “fantasy memoir”)? We were relieved to discover she’s actually a voracious eater.

Tables Available at San Domenico; A Voce Mostly Booked

It’s 4 p.m., and that means it’s time to play Two for Eight. We just asked ten restaurants the best time they can squeeze a couple in for dinner; you need only make your chosen reservation. (As always, we make the calls but don’t guarantee the results.) Today: Gourmet Italian.

Nello Buys ‘Page Six’ on the Cheap; Jody Williams Trying Not to Sweat It

Nello’s Nello Ballan gives Richard Johnson a $1,000 gift, and fifteen "Page Six" mentions of Ballan’s restaurant later, the embattled gossip column has the devil to pay. [NYT] Jody Williams claims not to have read Frank Bruni’s review of Morandi, though she knows that people are laying odds on the date of her departure. [Mouthing Off/Food & Wine] Related: Not So Bene [NYM] Restaurant-industry lobbyists express a not-unexpected disappointment with the federal minimum-wage increase passed by Congress, finding it “entirely out of place” in a war-spending bill. [Nation's Restaurant News]

City Gears Up to Better Police Labor Violations; Beef Threatens Fish at Le Bernardin

City Council to introduce a bill giving authorities more power to crack down on restaurant labor violations like the alleged ones at Saigon Grill. [MetroNY] Related: 100 Students to Protest Saigon Grill [Grub Street] Kobe beef, having once appeared on Le Bernardin’s menu, is taking over and chasing the fish away – a fact chef Eric Ripert is less than thrilled about. [NYP] Bizarre details of Mr. Chow’s abuse emerge from the lawsuit, including information about one employee who was forced to lie on the floor and be menaced and even kicked by the diminutive restaurateur. [Gawker]