Celebrating Our #BrandNewBrand at Upland in NYC

This week, OpenTable launched our brand new brand. Because we love what can happen around the restaurant table, we feted this milestone with a feast at Upland in Manhattan, along with chefs, restaurateurs, and some of our favorite local foodies.

Chef Justin Smillie opened Upland in conjunction with restaurateur Stephen Starr late last year to critical acclaim, and he and his staff created an incredible dining experience that highlighted his heralded California-inspired cuisine with an Italian twist. The mouthwatering menu included seared squid with shaved fennel, cara cara orange, and crispy shallots; slow-roasted lamb ribs with pickled artichoke, white almonds, and esplette; gnudi with black trumpet mushrooms, leeks, walnuts, parsley, and sorrel; whole striped bass prepared under salt with broccoli de ciccio and preserved lemon relish; sherry-glazed chicken with frisee, sunchokes, roasted garlic, and cured egg yolk; and rum cake with persimmon and whipped cream.

Just as the table is just the start, this week is just the start of our rebrand celebration. On March 11, we’re launching our #100opentables campaign. We’ll be giving away 100 dining experiences at iconic restaurants around the world, including Eleven Madison Park in New York, Bar Tartine in San Francisco, and Dinner by Heston Blumenthal in London. The campaign will feature a diverse collection of cuisines and experiences, such as “The Cellar Experience” at Dan Barber’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns, the private chef’s table for four in the skybox at Restaurant DANIEL, and a five-course pasta tasting menu at flour + water. The campaign will culminate with 100 dining experiences in 23 cities on one night: April 9, 2015. Visit the #100opentables microsite www.100opentables.com next Wednesday for a chance to reserve your table!

Photos by Hal Horowitz.

And the Award Goes to…: #DinersChoice Winners for Best Restaurants Collect Their Trophies

Late last year, we revealed the winners of the  2014 Diners’ Choice Awards for the Top 100 Best Restaurants in America, and since then, we’ve been busy traveling around the nation to present the honorees with their engraved All-Clad awards in person.

“We are so honored and humbled by this acknowledgement from OpenTable Diners” said co-owners Ariana and Andres Fernandez of Ariana in Bend, Oregon. “Making sure our customers have an exceptional meal with incredible service is our mission at Ariana and we are so very pleased our customers feel that and have responded with such high praise.”

It is our great pleasure to once again highlight these amazing culinary professionals — and to provide them with a rare opportunity to take a break from their busy days in front and back of the house for a well-deserved pat on the back. Diners, meet some of your winners, and book a table at one of these top restaurants today!

2015 James Beard Foundation Awards Restaurant + Chef Semifinalists

JBF Awards LogoOscars, schmoscars! Here at OpenTable, we’re all about the 2015 James Beard Foundation Awards. This week, the James Beard Foundation released their list of semifinalists for nominations. Click here for a full list of nominated chefs, restaurants, and restaurateurs, including the extensive regional nominations. The final nominees will be revealed on March 24th. Winners will be announced on May 4th at the awards ceremony, which is being held in Chicago for the first time ever. Congratulations to the semi-finalists (and to you, too, Windy City denizens) — and best of luck to all those who have made it this far.

Nominated restaurants include:

Best New Restaurant
Abe Fisher, Philadelphia
Alden & Harlow, Cambridge, Massachusetts
Bâtard, New York, New York
Bazaar Meat by José Andrés, Las Vegas
Cosme, New York, New York
Edmund’s Oast, Charleston, South Carolina
Fiola Mare, Washington, D.C.
The Grey, Savannah, Georgia
Lusca, Atlanta, Georgia
Maude, Beverly Hills, California
Parachute, Chicago, Illinois
The Progress, San Francisco, California
San Salvaje, Dallas, Texas
Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Townsend, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Outstanding Restaurant
Acquerello, San Francisco, California
Bacchanalia, Atlanta. Georgia
La Belle Vie, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Blue Hill at Stone Barns, Pocantico Hills, New York
Bluestem, Kansas City, Missouir
Canlis, Seattle, Washington
Fore Street, Portland, Maine
Fork, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Frasca Food and Wine, Boulder, Colorado
Greens Restaurant, San Francisco, California
Highlands Bar & Grill, Birmingham, Alabama
Jaleo, Washington, D.C.
Per Se, New York, New York
Spiaggia, Chicago, Illinois
The Spotted Pig, New York, New York
Vidalia, Washington, D.C.

Outstanding Service
Continue Reading

Culinary Couple Lee Chizmar + Erin Shea of Bolete Make the Most of Mondays

bolete photoWhen you blend two hospitality professionals with one successful restaurant and fold in two children, you’re not talking about a recipe that yields a ton of time for romance. Still, chef Lee Chizmar and general manager Erin Shea find ways to connect whenever they get the chance.

The owners of Bolete in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley, Chizmar and Shea opened their restaurant in 2008 to a steady stream of accolades, and the acclaim has kept them busy ever since. Shea says, “Honestly with a restaurant and two kids under four, there isn’t a lot of room left for reconnecting. We have Mondays off together and try to make sure that we spend that as a family, leaving date nights to few and far between. Romantic for us is if I stay awake long enough to make a sandwich for my husband and share a bottle of wine.  Literally a turkey sandwich.  I know it isn’t glamourous, but it is life right now.”

Uncorking a bottle of wine — and arguing its merits — is a common way Chizmar and Shea sneak in quality couple time. “We will often open a great bottle of wine, even if it isn’t a special occasion. We actually have very different tastes in wine (he is a California boy and I love old world), so great debate and conversation often go into these late night wine dates.  And, really, us both being awake is the special occasion,” she says.

Before starting their family and opening the doors at Bolete, Chizmar and Shea, a couple for the last nine years, dined their way around the northeast. “When we were first together, all our free time was spent enjoying food and drink. In Boston, we would go out to eat every night after work. And, pre-kiddos, we spent a lot of time traveling to New York when the restaurant was closed.” Prune is a perennial favorite of the pair. “The food is so delicious and simple,” notes Shea. They also enjoy discovering different restaurants in Philadelphia. Chef Chizmar’s recent birthday was spent at Townsend. “The cocktail program there is a standout, and I highly recommend heading to their bar for a drink and a snack.”

Continue Reading