We've all been in this situation: a group dinner and there's confusion over the bill. Splitting the bill is a powderkeg capable of tearing apart a group. Delve into the potentially awkward side of group dynamics in this educational video.
Celebrity chef Tom "Tom" Colicchio, of Top Chef fame, is going to be back in the kitchen, cooking food! Not for you, of course—for 80 lucky people per month who score reservations to his crazy new momentary pop-up restaurant. Which is really just an idea of a restaurant, existing only in the minds of those who can pay $250 to eat... something that Tom Colicchio decides to cook. Could be anything! Let's break down this brilliant new way to soak rich foodies in these lean, Kool-Aid times: See, Colicchio's not actually opening a new restaurant; he's starting a venture called "Tom: Tuesday Dinner" that will open up every other Tuesday, then disappear! The first exotic location for your pricey meal? A "tiny space" in the private dining room of Craft, another one of his already existing restaurants!
Nobu—the sushi restaurant chain co-owned by Robert Deniro that caters to celebrities like Madonna, Leo DiCaprio and Sean Combs—has been busted in an undercover sting for selling critically endangered Atlantic bluefin tuna while concealing it from customers. Greenpeace sent spies to three London Nobu franchises, where they specifically ordered the near-extinction fish, and were told that the restaurants didn't stock it. But the cunning Greenies took their sushi back to the lab, where DNA tests revealed that the restaurants were indeed serving bluefin to moneyed gourmands. It's legal to serve bluefin, but people who claim to care about the environment—like Deniro, DiCaprio, Combs and Madonna—would supposedly never knowingly touch the stuff, preferring instead the less endangered, but less delicious, yellowfin. Which explains Nobu's sneakiness.
You know the night is not going to go smoothly when your frazzled blonde waitress still hasn't brought your wine out, despite the fact that it's been 20 minutes since the second time you checked in on it. Thanks to this oversight, now your bladder is full from drinking water and you're about to eat the table because the only reservation you could get at this hot shit new place was 9:30pm. Welcome to Gjelina, a new eat local, small-plate, outrageously trendy restaurant which soft opened on Abbot Kinney on July 20. The chef, Travis Lett, did time at Tengu, and the general manager, Robert Schwan, comes from the stellar Japanese locale Wabi Sabi. Unfortunately, our first visit to Gjelina only got worse from there.At least the restaurant itself was nice to look at.
The economy is tanking and everybody is foraging for grubs rather than spending their hoarded nickels eating out at casual dining establishments. Poor Bennigan's just went under. Ruby Tuesday is vowing not to suffer the same fate! So the Bennigan's-like chain, which is hanging on by a thread (deep fried thread, Ranch on the side), has come up with a smart new plan to revive itself: blow up one of its stores! With explosives. This is sure to work. The detonation will be broadcast live on the company's website. The message of this stunt? "Our company sucks."
A restaurant owner in DC writes an essay about the experience of hosting the Pope's birthday party. He started planing the event six months in advance. He ordered a 12 square-foot cake in the shape of St. Peter's Square that was too beautiful to cut. He even flew to Italy just to get the plates made! The lunch menu included imported Puglia mozzarella, zucchini blossom truffle tagliolini, braised veal cheeks, and orange fallen truffle. Not mentioned: the tip. [WP]
Restaurants are calling in expert consultants to help them give you less food for the same amount of money. This clearly goes against the American way, which is embodied by the $5.99 Denny's Grand Slam Breakfast. The Washington Post reports that the tough economy is hurting restaurants' revenue across the country, and they're turning to devious tactics like smaller plates, lighter forks, and more vegetables to make you less likely to notice that your steak has gotten smaller. And the menus are being tweaked—apparently we are all psychological sheep.
Recently-divorced food critic Alan Richman parted ways with his Bloomberg job a few days ago and now his week has gotten even worse. An Internet food writer reviewed dinner at Richman's house in Mamaroneck and filed a review filled with references to burnt sprouts, overdone tempura and processed meat wrapped in processed dough. Most revealing: after savaging post-Katrina New Orleans in GQ as an "a festival of narcissism, indolence and corruption" beset by "endless revelry," Richman is depicted answering the door in his robe, spending the first 45 minutes of his dinner "showering, opening a bottle of wine, and preparing pigs in blankets" and then complaining endlessly for hours. But, in fairness, Richman's guest actually enjoys most of the food, especially the blintzes, and is warmed by Richman's crankiness, which he calls "disarming, charming and exhausting." It remains to be seen if the subjects of Richman's ultra-bitchy reviews feel the same. [eGullet via Eater']
The hard part about writing News You Can Use isn't finding the solution; it's proving there's a problem to be solved. Consider today's Times, wherein dining reporter Julia Moskin has a nice Thanksgiving Eve article (accompanied online by a thrilling instructional video) about a new low-stress, expert-approved way to carve up your turkey. But is the old hack-and-slice regime really so problematic? Yes. "Before breakfast on Thanksgiving," begins Moskin's tale, "as the first Americans rise to preheat the oven, the question of who is going to carve the bird starts to ripple anxiously across the land." This being journalism (of sorts), the burden of proof requires at least some civilian testimony, which is where things take a decided turn toward the gothic.