Le Coucou Opens Today

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Le Coucou, the first American restaurant from Chicago-born chef Daniel Rose, will open tonight for dinner service. Rose currently has two restaurants in Paris, and has made a name for himself with classic French dishes. The new restaurant promises to offer similar cuisine, but Rose has said that he is looking for American-made products that remind him of France.  On the menu are items like pigs’ feet with caviar, pike quenelles, veal tongue, fish stew bourride and poached chicken for two or four.

Le Coucou is the result of a partnership between Rose and Restaurateur Stephen Starr, with Daniel Skurnick as head pastry chef. So far, the restaurant has earned as much press for its interior design as for the menu. Design firm Roman and Williams is responsible for the beautiful buildout, including chandeliers, velvet banquettes, and a gorgeous mural behind the bar.

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Brooklyn Winery Team Opens New Crown Heights Restaurant

brooklyn-made-wines-01.w600.h400.jpgCrown Heights now has another new restaurant to add to its list – this time, it comes from the team behind Williamsburg’s Brooklyn Winery. Owners Brian Leventhal and John Stires will open the doors to BKW on Tuesday at 747 Franklin Avenue. They’ve brought on chef Michael Gordon, formerly of Bouley, to design the pared-down menu. Some highlights include konbu-cured mackerel with whipped feta and roasted grapes, root beer glazed pork ribs, and homemade donuts with butterscotch and lavender. The wine list will of course be well curated, with flights offered for those who are feeling indecisive and full bottles available to take home.

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Start-Up Spacious has a Vision for New York Restaurants

As more and more businesses (particularly in the tech start-up sphere) forego traditional offices, the demand for alternative working spaces will continue to increase. The new start-up Spacious seeks to capitalize on that, by turning dinner-only restaurants into co-working space during the day. Spacious owner Preston Pesek sees it as a way to “reclaim the city for creative professionals.”

A Spacious membership costs $95 per month, and includes unlimited access to their available workspaces, as well as WiFi, coffee, water, and conference rooms. Currently their only actual space is Daniel Boulud’s DBGB Kitchen and Bar, so Spacious is offering a 20% sign-on discount for members who join now. Eventually they hope to add more options throughout the city, and possibly include lunch in the offer as well.

The benefit to the restaurant (besides exposure) is a profit-sharing agreement, but in some cases the exposure might be enough to justify the risk. According to a  DBGB manager, the partnership has already brought more dinner traffic to the restaurant from Spacious members who see the space during the day and invite back larger crowds at night.

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After 5 Months of Gratuity-Free, Nishi Changes Tact

20160227-Momofuku_Nishi_interior_2.0.jpgWhen David Chang opened Momofuku Nishi in Chelsea 5 months ago, the chef generated the usual buzz for a new Momofuku concept. But Nishi was also earning press as the latest addition to the gratuity-free movement, so far spearheaded by other big names like Meyer and Tarlow. Chang even gave an interview in his magazine Lucky Peach on the decision, citing their desire to pay kitchen workers a living wage.

This week, Nishi will be changing course and adding a tip line to the bottom of all checks. Prices will also lower somewhat, but wages for kitchen should stay the same. The team explained the decision in a Tumblr post, saying “This is by no means the end of the no-tipping discussion at Momofuku. But at this moment, we think a tipping model will benefit our guests and staff.”

Nishi also added brunch this week, which included a number of smaller, more affordable portions of items on the dinner menu. Hopefully the changes will satisfy early critics, who had praise for some dishes but considered them too pricey.

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Brooklyn Brewery Joins the Navy Yard

View-1-png.pngBrooklyn Brewery, the borough’s most iconic brewer, originally opened their Williamsburg location in 1996 and helped propel the neighborhood from its downtrodden industrial past to an international destination. But with rents steadily on the rise and showing no signs of slowing, the brewery has been looking for new spaces for several years to move the bulk of their operations once their lease is up in 2025. This weekend they announced that they’ll be following in the footsteps of Russ & Daughters and the Mast Brothers and opening a huge (75,000 square-foot) production facility in the updated Brooklyn Navy Yard under a 40-year lease.

The new facility will include brew space, offices, and a rooftop beer garden and restaurant. The move represents the first time the Brooklyn Brewery will be offering food as well as suds, and chief executive Eric Ottaway promises the menu will be “more than pretzels and bratwursts.” The borough has already committed to $80 million to revamp the Navy Yard’s building 77 as a food hall open to the public. The beer garden there should be open to the public by 2018, and early renderings promise the space will be a major destination for the “foodies” borough president Eric Adams is hoping to attract.

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Street Vendors Protest Limited Number of Permits

13087313_10153582577593519_8831297411753637903_n.0.jpgThere are few things more closely associated with New York City than the smell of roasted peanuts and the ubiquitous carts selling shwarma, hot dogs, or decidedly-not-cold-brew iced coffee. There are around 20,000 street vendors in NYC, but the city only hands out 5,000 permits a year for a cost of $300 each – meaning many sellers are operating illegally or renting permits at much higher rates. On Tuesday, hundreds of vendors gathered at city hall to protest the cap on permits, originally issued in the 80’s in an effort to clean up the city streets. According to the protestors, that cap is no longer necessary, and puts a huge hurdle in the way of those who just want to legally work.

Some argue that the cap is still necessary, as the health department already struggles to keep up with monitoring the number of vendors with permits. Others view the vendors as “unsanitary and unsightly,” and worry that more permits will create dangerous street congestion and sanitation issues. Arguably, the increased revenue from adding more permits could help offset the added costs of inspections and enforcement, but the problem is a sticky one.

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What’s happening in Stadiums, the Unexpected Food Frontier

citi_field_fuku1.0.jpgAs baseball season gets underway, more and more attention is being drawn to an often overlooked part of the stadium experience: the food. It may take awhile to overcome associations with dry pretzels, standard-issue hot dogs and over-priced beer, but at least a few stadiums are trying to bring fans a better dining experience.

The clearest example is Citi Field, where (beginning April 8th), you can get David Chang’s Fuku fried chicken sandwich. The Fuku stand with have the spicy sandwich, as well as fries, Fuku fingers, and Milk Bar cookies. Yankee’s fan? Not to worry, Yankee stadium has new treats in store as well, including egg creams from Linda’s Brooklyn Style Egg Creams. If you’re into indulging as much as possible at the ball park, they’ve got plenty of artery-clogging specials as well.

This may still not compel non-baseball fans to sit through a full game, but it’s certainly an added bonus for those already heading out to a game.