Athens Tavern? Does the name ring a bell? It opened less than a year ago to much hype, considered a potential rival to Anthos as the city’s most ambitious Greek restaurant. Chef Yiannis Baxevanis was the only Michelin-starred Greek chef not named Michael Psilakis, and the only one who actually had a restaurant in Greece. A Queens tipster reports that the restaurant has been closed a week, but owner Nikos Gregoriou insists that Athens Tavern is shuttered only temporarily while a new dishwasher is installed. "We will be open in a week," he says. "We just had to change some machinery." But our neighborhood source says neither the staff nor the vendors have been paid recently, and that there is major strife between Gregoriou and his partner. Moreover, Baxevanis appears to have left: He's currently working at a restaurant in Dubai. Gregoriou confirms that Baxevanis is gone (and has been replaced with an unnamed "lady") but was indignant when asked about owing staff and vendors money: "You come in and eat dinner with me next week, and then you can ask me those questions."
The Russian Tea Room has found itself a new chef: former Beppe boss Marc Taxiera. Only in his first few weeks there, Taxiera is already revamping the menu, which has been in a state of suspended animation since former chef Gary Robins got the mitten in February. Taxiera has flown under the radar a little but is actually one of the more talented young chefs in town: Despite having no experience other than an ICE externship at Felidia and a job on the line at Baldoria, he did so well at Beppe that he was promoted from within when chef Cesare Casella left the restaurant to concentrate his energies on Maremma. Even though it's on what is usually thought of as a cursed street, Beppe continued to flourish, owing largely to Taxiera’s smart, muscular menu. Whether all that translates into Russian is another story, but it’s a smart move for the embattled Russian Tea Room.
Related: Russian Tea Room Fires Gary Robins, and Robins Fires Back
Right before Undeclared was canceled in 2002, creator Judd Apatow sent a Fox executive a note saying, "I don't understand how you can [bleep] me in the [bleep] when your [bleep] is still in me from last time." Christian media-watchdog group Renaissance complained that the female anchors on Fox News wear really short skirts. While taping 30 Rock recently, Tracy Morgan didn't know his lines, didn't listen to the director, and got into arguments with cast members on set. Stifler from American Pie and Pedro from Napoleon Dynamite sent out an invitation for their joint birthday party at Room Service to a bunch of modeling agencies. Famed British chef Fergus Henderson is cooking at the Spotted Pig tomorrow. Penélope Cruz and new man Javier Bardem acted "touchy-feely" at the New York Film Festival.
Tonight Regaté opens up a few doors down from Zucco (the place with the lavatory library). It’s the third French restaurant on the block, and in fact, chef-owner Marc Jehan did the lunch menu at the neighboring Café Charbon (before that, he operated seafood distributor Early Morning). Now he’s serving bistro fare like sesame salmon, lamb shank, a few varieties of mussels, and steaks in pepper, Roquefort, or béarnaise sauces; plus dishes (e.g. mouclade) from the isle of Re, where Jehan’s wife was born (she’s a hostess; his brother Jocelyn is a partner). Jehan is still waiting for some paintings to clear customs, but for once no there’s no SLA snafus: That’s a full bar you see. Daniel MaurerRegaté, 198 Orchard St., nr. Houston; 212-228-8555
The new Radar arrived in yesterday's mail. We've seen it before, when Roshan & Co. leaked its cover to the Huffington Post's uniquely uncynical media blog, Eat the Press. But actually holding the thing in our hands suddenly brought back memories of so many Radars perdu. And so we took a walk down memory lane, examining all six Radar covers (you can click on them for larger versions) and noticing what's changed and what's stayed the same in the nearly four years — four years! — since the mag's first premiere issue.
Fulton Mall isn't the only cityscape element earmarked for the insta-nostalgia scrap heap today. Moondance Diner, the Soho staple beloved by tourists and film crews, is heading into the sunset as well. And as much as we'd love to tell you that the diner and its adjacent parking lot are being replaced by a community center teaching disadvantaged kids interior design and molecular gastronomy, that's not the case. The case is l-u-x-u-r-y c-o-n-d-o-s. (When the city is entirely luxury condos, where will people eat? Shop? Park? Are we the only ones who wonder this?) It remains to be seen if the developer, Hudson Island LLC, will add insult to injury by, say, appropriating the shimmery texture of the Moondance logo for the lobby walls.
Goodnight, Moondance [NYS]
There was news yesterday that the Empire State Development Corporation, the state's economic-development agency, wants to freshen up the famous "I ♥ New York" ad campaign. "We are looking to actively reenergize and reinvigorate the brand," they said in an ad. The iconic logo was designed in 1977 by Milton Glaser, who also designed New York magazine, which he helped found. We called him yesterday to see how he feels about his baby's impending face-lift.