Archive for the News Category

Is Ludacris in dire straits?

Posted in News with tags , on February 14, 2008 by Susannah


Aside from linking to my page, Eater SF is reporting that Straits, the painfully mediocre chain of Singaporean restaurants, is expanding beyond the Bay Area. Restaurateur Chris Yeo is reportedly opening a fourth location in Atlanta, and the establishment will be a joint effort with rapper Ludacris.

Are they going to start serving Chicken-N-Beer?

Persistent Question: Is Dine About Town a good value?

Posted in Food for thought, News, Restaurants with tags , on December 29, 2007 by Susannah


Dine About Town is one of the few things that Bay Area residents look forward to in January. After all, what is there to do in this rainy, cold winter month other than eat?

The first two out of the past three years that I’ve lived in the Bay Area, I partook in Dine About Town with a certain level of enthusiasm. It began to occur to me, however, that my meals had never amounted to anything above average. In fact, my track record seemed to demonstrate that the Dine About Town meals are unimaginative, generic and, quite frankly, not that great of a value. While I concluded that these average prix fixes were typical, I hoped that the subpar experiences at the restaurants I’d visited were atypical. Last year I decided that I would rather save my money and spend it on a standard meal at any of the participating restaurants.

I suppose the empirical action to take would be to visit all the restaurants I’ve gone to in the past for Dine About Town and have standard meals at all of them, to validate my suspicions. I’ve not had the time nor the budget to do that. However, given my renewed enthusiasm this year for exploring new restaurants, I’m finding that Dine About Town is tempting me again…

(For a complete list of restaurants participating in this year’s program, click here.)

Rachael Ray has replaced Emeril as the Food Network’s biggest star

Posted in News with tags , on December 19, 2007 by Susannah


(Photo: Businessweek.)

Like spending 30 minutes a day with Rachael Ray? If so, you’ll be happy to know that she’s just signed a 2-year contract with the Food Network, Reuters reports.

Rachael will film 60 more episodes of the wildly popular 30 Minute Meals, less than last year’s count of 80. She’s also expanding her Food Network repertoire with a new primetime show, Rachael’s Vacation, airing Jan. 12.

Whether you love Rachael or find her despicable, she’s here to stay, at least for a little while.  Personally, I credit her (and the Food Network) for cultivating my cooking skills.

Where to go if you want to be what you eat

Posted in Food for thought, News, Restaurants with tags on December 4, 2007 by Susannah

New to the West Village is eatery Hakata TonTon. According to New York (can you tell I love this magazine?), this is the first American outpost for chef Himi Okajima, the Japanese chef behind “collagen cuisine.” His kitchen will serve foods rich in collagen, the protein responsible for skin and muscle tone, including spring rolls and pasta made with pig’s feet, and a hot pot made with chiles that are meant to cleanse the intestines. Pamela Anderson, eat your heart out.

Seasonal restaurants: What a concept

Posted in Food for thought, News, Restaurants with tags , on December 3, 2007 by Susannah

Local, seasonal ingredients have always been at the forefront of California cuisine, and have recently become the focus for many top-notch restaurants across the country. Now Park Avenue Winter, a restaurant in Manhattan, has taken this concept to a new level, by introducing itself each season with a new name, a new look, and a completely different food and beverage menu to reflect time of year. Just two weeks ago the restaurant was named Park Avenue Autumn (far below photo), and several months before that it was Park Avenue Summer.

Park Avenue Winter

I first learned of this restaurant through New York magazine’s review. Interestingly enough, the venture is owned by the Smith & Wollensky Restaurant Group — at first guess I would not have supposed a chain restaurant company would invest more than $1.5 million in such a fluid venture. Recently, the restaurant closed its doors to make the switch from autumn to winter. Over a period of 48 hours, the restaurant updated its menu to include classics such as coq au vin and walnut gingerbread with pureed apple, switched its uniforms to be white suits with white ties, and changed its backdrop setting to be entirely white, in contrast to its fall setup of copper and auburn hues.

Park Avenue Autumn

Is this a smart idea? I’m not sure. From a business point of view, it wouldn’t seem to be that way, given the costs of renovating four times a year. However, it will almost certainly ensure that patrons will return regularly to scope out the new digs, so it’s a way to bring diners back on a semi-regular basis. What are your thoughts on this concept? Do you think it’s a fleeting idea, or here to stay? Do you think the concept will catch on in other parts of the country?

Either way, one thing’s for sure: This new experiment keeps the New York restaurant scene fun and exciting.

Photos: Park Avenue Winter (top); Park Avenue Autumn (bottom).