Simply Cooked Seafood Turns Luxurious at Taverna Kos

“An important omission on the menu at Taverna Kos in Astoria, Queens, is the enormous plate of feta you may see passing your table en route to a smarter party of people. Heaps of the imported cheese, which the restaurant buys in 28-pound containers, come flecked with dried oregano and slicked with olive oil, and act as a soft, creamy condiment for fried or broiled seafood, or dainty lamb chops.

The off-menu cheese course, which anyone can ask for, will remind you that feta can be just as slouchy as any washed-rind French cheese, as long as you buy the right stuff and put it on something hot. You could also just order a plate of feta fries, in which the crumbles melt into the soft, fresh-cut potatoes like a tangy, higher-quality Cheez Whiz.

Taverna Kos has been open to members of the Pancoan Society, a private club with which it shares a building, for 11 years; in 2016 the restaurant opened its doors to the public, and last summer began serving on weekends. There’s a lightly celebratory air about the place: String lights abound, tangled into the trees outside and lining the ceiling of the enclosed patio, where televisions play a constant stream of poppy Greek music videos.”

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Thailand’s South Gets Its Due in Williamsburg, Brooklyn

Lately, when it comes to Thai food in New York, the spotlight has been on the spice-fueled cuisine of the Isan region, in the northeast. But the restaurateur Kittigron Lertpanaruk, also known as Khun Oh, is from the south, where curries dominate, and he feels it’s time to give that part of Thailand its due. His new restaurant, decorated with red hanging lamps, gilded Buddhist statues, temple bells and carved wood panels, features a long list of curries. They include cua kreang, a dry curry; gaeng kua, a black pepper curry; and tiplah, a salted fish paste curry. But Mr. Lertpanaruk, who founded the chain of Asian restaurants called Spice and who recently became a partner in Arun’s, a highly regarded Thai restaurant in Chicago, also knows what’s popular, so the menu has dishes like crispy spring rolls, tom yum soup, pad Thai, green papaya salad, satays and mango salmon.

See more openings here.

Yelp Will Now Tell You If a Business Is ‘Women-Owned’

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“The restaurants and shopping reviews app and website is adding a feature that will tell customers whether a business is women-owned. Businesses owned by women can mark themselves as women-owned via their Yelp accounts, and the distinction will appear in the “more business info” section of a Yelp page alongside features like “accepts credit cards” and “gender-neutral restrooms.”

“We’re excited to help raise the profile of millions of women-owned businesses who drive the local economies of our cities and towns,” says Miriam Warren, Yelp’s vice president of engagement, diversity, and belonging. “We’re hopeful that this new attribute not only makes it easier to identify and connect with great women-owned businesses on Yelp, but that it also drives more dollars directly to the bottom line for these female-owned businesses.”

See more here.

Murray’s Opens a Mac-and-Cheese Restaurant in the West Village

Murray’s has a cheese store that also sells charcuterie and condiments on this busy West Village block, and, a few doors down, Murray’s Cheese Bar, serving wine and a cheese-friendly menu. Now, in an empty storefront, formerly Amy’s Bread, on the same block, the company has opened a macaroni and cheese restaurant. It’s a counter-service spot, with 20 seats, featuring a build-your-own menu. Start with a bowl of pasta cooked with cheese and other ingredients, then add other cheeses, vegetables, meats, sauces and toppings, all in four possible portion sizes (snack to family). Classic, barbecue, French onion and Buffalo chicken are among the style and flavor options. The pastas — all radiatori — are made by Sfoglini, a pasta company in upstate New York. There’s also a breakfast mac and cheese made with sausage, bacon, egg and Cheddar that’s served only on Saturdays and Sundays.

254 Bleecker Street (Leroy Street), 212-243-3289, ext. 350, murrayscheese.com.

See more Openings here.

In New York City, Restaurants Welcome Tables for One

Customers dine at Boqueria for lunch. The Spanish restaurant’s tapas, or grazing-style menu, appeals to solo patrons.

In New York City restaurants, the party-of-one is becoming a cause for celebration.

OpenTable, the online reservation platform, said that bookings by solo diners at restaurants in the city jumped by 80% from 2014 to 2018. And while OpenTable said those parties-of-one represent a very small slice of overall bookings, some restaurants said that business from solo diners can now account for up to 10% of their sales.

Even on Valentine’s Day, the most couple-oriented dining occasion of the year, New York restaurants are making room for patrons dining alone. OpenTable said that Valentine’s Day solo reservations in 2018 increased by 33% over the previous year. And perhaps for good reason: Restaurants said solo customers represent the ideal, as they are truly there for the food and experience rather than the social occasion.

“The way we approach it is that when we have a solo diner, it’s more of an honor than anyone else,” said Andrew Kuhl, the dining-room manager at Eleven Madison Park, the Michelin-starred restaurant in Manhattan’s Flatiron District.

Restaurants are doing their part to encourage such business. At such establishments as L’Artusi, an Italian restaurant in the West Village, and Odo, a Japanese spot in the Flatiron District, solo diners are given a free offering—say, a small serving of an off-menu item or a glass of sparkling wine. And on Valentine’s Day, some restaurants said they make an extra effort to welcome the solo crowd. For example, at Jones Wood Foundry, a food-driven pub on the Upper East Side, a communal table is set aside for party-of-one diners.

View more here.

How Urban Development Shaped the Way 19th-century New Yorkers Ate

“New York City is famous for its food culture, whether it’s a $500 tasting menu at a Michelin-starred restaurant or a bodega bacon, egg, and cheese. It’s possible to find food from every corner of the world, no matter how obscure. Restaurants make, and sometimes unmake, entire neighborhoods.

This is a city that eats out. But that wasn’t always the case. Rewind just over 200 years, when New York was caught between being a Dutch colony and a city, and dining out was a rarity. As the city urbanized, how its residents ate profoundly changed.

An oyster cart, circa 1885

“Food serves as a nice medium to take a step back and look at the bigger picture of New York City history,” says Victoria Flexner, the founder of Edible History, a supper club that creates dinners themed around specific historical moments. Recently Flexner and chef Jay Reifel hosted a meal at the James Beard House that told the story of New York City’s urban development in the 19th century through how its residents dined out.

As the city became rapidly industrialized in the 19th century, a new system emerged to feed these workers: the mobile food cart.

While politicians, businessmen, and other white-collar workers went to oyster cellars and restaurants for their midday meals, lunch came to the working class. Vendors would park outside of factories and docks and, for a few pennies, would sell items like gingerbread, yams, oysters, and corn.”

Read more here.

Impact of Min Wage Increase / NYCHA Survey & Results

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See here NYCHA Survey and Results on Minimum Wage Increase