Colicchio & Sons to Close

19COLICCHIOS-WEB-master768.jpgColicchio & Sons, the eponymous Chelsea restaurant from Tom Colicchio, recently announced they would close their doors after a final dinner service on September 4th The restaurant has been open for 6 years, during which it earned 3 stars from the New York Times for it’s sophisticated techniques and devotion to craft.

Tom Colicchio announced the closing on August 18th, but did not give specific reasons. A likely possibility is that he is moving to focus on more casual concepts for financial reasons, as the market grows less friendly towards fine dining. Mr. Colicchio also plans to open a new concept, called Fowler & Wells, in the Beekman Thompson Hotel in the financial district.

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Bloomfield’s Planned FiDi Opening Called Off

April Bloomfield, the chef behind NY staples Salvation Burger, The Breslin, and The Spotted Pig, has officially called off plans to open a complex of restaurants and bars at the top of 70 Pine Street in the Financial District. Bloomfield had originally planned to open the project with business partner Ken Friedman and developer Adam Rose, who is converting the the former AIG building into apartments. But by mutual agreement the plan has been called off, supposedly due to the complexity of the concept and logistics necessary. According to Rose, “we need a simple bar with basic (but nice) food to make it work 66 stories up in the air on top of a landmark.”

Rose is now working on securing another chef or operator, but has not announced any possible partners yet. He says that a future collaboration with Bloomfield and Friedman is still “highly likely.”

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England’s Restaurant Business ‘Regrexit’

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Add this to the roughly 1 million bad things the U.K’s “Leave” coalition should’ve seen coming: Brexit is having a adverse effect on England’s restaurant industry. In a story today featuring reporting by chief restaurant critic Richard Vines, Bloomberg essentially gave prominent restaurateurs free rein to grumble about their compatriots’ vote to leave the EU, and they say business is already getting hammered in this post-Brexit world where “bean-counters keep closer tabs on expense accounts, a weak pound raises prices of imported food, and eateries struggle to hire workers from the EU.”

The country’s dining scene had actually been doing pretty well up till now, too — Bloomberg says the number of restaurants jumped by 21 percent over the past five years. But even in advance of the vote, sales growth industry-wide nose-dived by half. One restaurant group immediately scrapped multi-million-pound plans to buy four pubs in Scotland. Stats show there’s been 12 percent less corporate credit-card spending since the referendum, while many chefs worry the worst is yet to come because they fear already-costly products like Spanish jamón ibérico are going to climb even higher. Richard Corrigan, a celebrated chef, expects the price of French wine to jump by 15 percent and so has given staff very clear instructions to stock up on the Bordeaux.

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Tara Paige Travels: Bacchanal, New Orleans

bacchanal-5.jpgAt Tara Paige, we love summer in the city – the patio dining, food festivals and street fairs (not to mention the reduced lines at some of our favorite spots). But we still need to hit the road occasionally, and check out the concepts that have people buzzing all over the country. Which brings us to this special travel edition of our retail spotlight, on Bacchanal – a unique concept off the beaten path in New Orleans, Louisiana. Located in Bywater (just over the canal from the Ninth Ward), Bacchanal highlights the vitality of a city where music comes from every street corner, and great food and wine require no excuses or white tablecloths to enjoy.

The heart of the concept is a simple but rarely imitated one; Bacchanal is a wine and cheese shop with a large backyard, where local musicians play sets from lunch till late night. Guests can browse the shop, chat with the knowledgeable staff about vintages and cheese pairings, and then grab their chosen bottle and an ice bucket and head for the back, where a selection of mismatched patio furniture offers about 100 first-come-first-serve seats for watching the band. Servers will put together a plate of your chosen cheese and charcuterie, and bring it out to the table while you sip and listen. For those feeling a bit more peckish, there’s also a full dinner menu, served out of a small window in the back of the wine store from a kitchen barely big enough for the two cooks working inside. The tables fill up early in the evening, but most are large enough to share between multiple groups of friends, inspiring conversation and new connections.

When they began, Bacchanal was primarily a little-known wine shop on the outskirts of the city. After hurricane Katrina devastated the area, they began hosting guest chef pop-ups with live music each Sunday – helping revitalize the city by bringing its residents together around great food and wine in a neighborhood setting. As their website and owners describe, the business model was not without its legal hurdles, since Bacchanal exists somewhere at the intersection of wine store, restaurant, speakeasy and block party, and was not always licensed to be all those things. We’re glad they took the risk though, and the concept remained intact after their day in court.

The food “is dedicated to the ingredients themselves and the wine that flows with them, it is focused Mediterranean minimalism.” This is somewhat in contrast with the big Cajun flavors to be found in the heart of the French Quarter, for which tourists rightfully travel from thousands of miles. There’s no gumbo on the menu, but there is a fantastic ceviche and a delicate, garlicky bucatini. Many items are seasonal, and local produce is prominantly featured. No matter what guests ultimately order, the Bacchanal experience still captures the spirit of New Orleans: an unpretentious commitment to living life to the fullest, come rain or shine.

Bacchanal is located at 600 Poland Avenue, New Orleans LA, 70117. Visit their website at http://www.bacchanalwine.com.

Pastrami Is the Priority at These Old-School New Jersey Delis

For all the talk of authentic Jewish delis going extinct, a few still take great pride in their pastrami.  A pastrami sandwich at Harold’s New York Deli Restaurant in Edison, New Jersey weighs 20 ounces.  The triple-decker at Harold’s weighs in at 3.5 pounds!  Sharing is thankfully encouraged with no fee.

The owner Harold Jaffe says that the deli sells 8,000 pounds of pastrami a week (all of which is made at the restaurant).  Mr. Jaffe learned the business by working at the Carnegie Deli in Manhattan for ten years.

Customers enjoy bar that offers slices of rye bread, half-sours, spicy pickle chips and health salad (cabbage mixed with oil and vinegar).

The Kosher Nosh is another deli located in Glen Rock, New Jersey, and has been in business for 40 years.  The store is run by Avi Friede and Haim Peer, both originally from Israel.  Mr, Friede says that by selling pastrami, lox, corned beef and other traditional deli foods, he is getting back to his Eastern European food roots.

Hobby’s Delicatessen and Restaurant in Newark, New Jersey was purchased by Sam Brummer in 1962 and passed on to his sons Marc and Michael.  The sons were taught to buy quality goods, prepare the goods well, provide excellent service and be a mensch (a person of integrity and honor).  The pastrami sandwich is the restaurant’s best seller, even with a 12-page menu.  According to Michael Brummer, there is one thing as important as properly steaming and slicing meat: schmoozing.

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B&K French Cuisine Brings Paris to Harlem

The distance from Paris to Harlem is 5,823 km or 3,618 miles.  Benjamin Baccari Kebe, a Frenchman of Malian descent, is trying to bridge that gap at a tiny Harlem counter with a few metal stools.

Mr. Kebe trained at culinary school and at Paris restaurants.  His uncle convinced him in 2009 that Americans loved French food, and that the United States presented plenty of opportunity.  Mr. Kebe moved to New York and worked at Harlem neighborhood bistros.  Then last December he opened B&K French Cuisine with plans to make crepes, bake his own focaccia and serve classics like chicken forestiere.  His attention to detail may be found in the fact that he hand-cuts potatoes for French fries every morning.

The food is simple.  The menu is written on chalkboards hung from the wall, with sketches of the Eiffel Tower and a map of France.  Bissap can be found on the menu – an item from Mr. Kebe’s Malian heritage.  It is a mix between juice and tea, made of dried hibiscus soaked in boiling water, with a crush of mint.

The desserts are rich as they should be, including chocolate mousse, Nutella tiramisu and mascarpone in whipped cream.

Recommended dishes are chicken pesto panini, Dijon braised beef panini, and Londonian fish and chips.  Prices range up to $16.

B&K French Cuisine is located at 2167 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard in Harlem.  The restaurant is open from Tuesday to Sunday for late breakfast, lunch and dinner. Reservations are not accepted.

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Elon Musk’s Brother Has a Plan to Sell Organic Fast Food for Under $5

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Kimbal Musk, Elon’s less famous brother who made scads of money himself in Silicon Valley before leaving for culinary school, is getting ready to open the first of (what he hopes will be) many locations of a new organic fast-food chain. He tells Tech Insider that in addition to the Kitchen and Next Door, currently the two halves of his restaurant mini-empire, he’s about to launch a new concept called the Kitchenette, where everything will be fast, healthy, and organic but cost under $5. The first location is set to debut in Memphis this August.

With this venture, Musk enters a field that’s really heating up. The idea of bringing tasty and healthy affordable food to the masses has been the culinary world’s holy grail for a while. Musk is packaging the idea as sort of a Pret A Manger–style grab-and-go spot. He says the space will be like a coffee shop, with a counter, indoor seating, and a big patio out front, and the menu will mostly consist of sandwiches, soups, and salads, all made using ingredients sourced from nearby farms. The locavore bent will ensure ingredients stay seasonal, but Musk says there’s another benefit, too:

While the Kitchenette’s pricing sounds too good to be true, Musk says he will make it work with a little help from local farmers. The same farms distribute meat and produce to all three of restaurant concepts, and knock down the price based on what’s in-season.

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