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Peacock Alley

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Laurent Gras Creates His Own Launch Blog, and It Rules

Since Sam Mason and Tailor absorbed a world of abuse for the ongoing chronicle that was the Launch, most chefs have been pretty wary about broadcasting the development of their restaurant projects. But clearly Laurent Gras, the talented chef best known here for his work at Peacock Alley, wasn’t fazed. Gras is launching an ambitious haute cuisine restaurant in Chicago, L20, and recently launched a blog detailing the process: the how and why of the butter program, the bread, even the very wood of the place. It’s a fascinating view of how one of the country’s top chefs thinks about creating a restaurant, told in the first person. It may not have the unintentional comedic value of the Launch, but it’s a great read and may actually give you a reason to want to visit Chicago. L20 Blog

Where to Go for Restaurant Week

New York Restaurant Week is coming round again next month (January 24–25 and January 28–February 1), and today the reservation lines open up. We’ve always loved the whole concept, even though at some restaurants you get a simplified menu that may not do the place justice. But what’s great about the deal ($24.07 for lunch, $35 for dinner) is the chance it gives you to try places you might not otherwise get to if you had to pay full fare. Who rolls the dice when they know they’re looking at dropping two bills at the end of the meal? But at these prices, you can afford to see where you stand on places you may only have read about. Think of it as an introductory trial offer. We would recommend the following:

Peacock Alley, Soon to Become a Lounge, Serving New Small Plates

The lounge-ification of New York continues apace. At the Waldorf-Astoria’s Peacock Alley, long a citadel of haute cuisine, the lounge will literally swallow up the dining room at the end of the month, and an already-expanded small-plates menu will take the place of the traditional dining and à la carte service. “We can have bolder flavors,” John Doherty, the hotel’s executive chef, tells us, “because you’re eating less.” Allow us to elaborate: In one new dish, chef Cedric Tovar is smoking salmon (in another, sturgeon) with cedar chips and serving them with braised endive and a bright citrus emulsion; in one holdover, he’s serving jumbo Maya shrimp cocktail with spicy horseradish, tomato marmalade, and tomato sorbet. The new menu will be 90 percent seafood, Tovar says: “People love the way I work with fish.”

The Slope Gets Gastropub — With Garden, Perfect for Six Months From Now

Kevin Read, former barkeep at Lucky Strike, has given a post-Victorian makeover to a Park Slope hardware store, trucking in a 100-year-old bar, and will soon open Alchemy, a bar-restaurant inspired by his time in the townhouse gastropubs of Hempstead, London. Chef Jared King — formerly of Windows on the World, Oceana, and most recently, Peacock Alley — will cook $12 to $25 entrées of roasted chicken, ravioli, seasonal stews, and a hangar steak in red-wine reduction, plus more adventurous specials made with game and organ meat. Ingredients will be largely local, organic, and free-range, and come spring the patrons will be free-range too: There's a garden in the back. Alchemy, 56 Fifth Ave., nr. Bergen St.; Park Slope, Brooklyn — Daniel Maurer