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Muhammed Rahman

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Handicapping the Vendies

The Vendy Awards, a.k.a. the Homeless Beards, are upon us again, and the finalists for Street Vendor of the year have just been announced. As at the Beards, a familiar cluster of luminaries dominates the nominations. These are not necessarily the very best carts going, but the ones whose years of service and body of work has earned them a high reputation among sidewalk gastronomes. The nominees, and our handicapping, are below.

Russian Tea Room Back From the Dead

Not that we remember ever eating there — who does? — but New York has never seemed the same without the Russian Tea Room, which closed in 2002. (A lone dividend: Former RTR chef Muhammed Rahman went on to launch his famous midtown lunch cart, Kwik Meal.) Now, however, Restaurant Girl reports that the Tea Room will reopen in late October or early November. They're taking on former Biltmore Room chef Gary Robins but losing the chandeliers. The new Russian Tea Room will be a lot like the old one, in spirit anyway, with 40 vodkas (some making their New York debut) and four sommeliers. Now if only they could get Rahman back!