Restaurant News: Good Patios, Bad Reinventions, and French Chefs in London

* French chefs say “Oui!” to London restaurants. [The Guardian]

* Chain restaurants set their sights on Manhattan. [Wall Street Journal]

* Hotel restaurants are favoring function over form. [USA Today]

* Naming a restaurant isn’t easy as you’d think. [The Atlantic]

* Here’s what became of some of the country’s most famous restaurants of the last century. []

* Not surprisingly, Los Angeles restaurants have some pretty chic patios. [Los Angeles Times]

* Speaking of the City of Angels, actor Casey Affleck is rumored to be opening his own restaurant there. [Ecorazzi]

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‘Like’ Your Favorite Restaurants on OpenTable With Facebook

Facebook Like Button Like Your Favorite Restaurants on OpenTable With FacebookOpenTable just got even more fun, thanks to our addition of the Facebook “Like” widget to restaurant profile pages. Now you can easily find out which restaurants your Facebook friends favor — and vice versa. If you’re logged into your Facebook account, you can give a thumbs up to any restaurant on OpenTable with just one click.

We’re excited about this new way to share restaurant preferences quickly because it helps make dining decisions even easier. If you’re trying to book lunch with a colleague, for instance, you can find out if he likes a particular place by looking at the restaurant’s profile page or his Facebook wall. Your likes are also a terrific way to ignite conversations with your Facebook friends about food, dining out, and mutual favorites.

So, click away and start spreading the like on OpenTable today!

Art Smith and Batali Slim Down; Tom Aiken Tunes Out; Eric Ripert Tweets; and More

From the ‘ChefWatch’ files…

* Art Smith (Table Fifty-Two) shared his tips for shedding a whopping 95 pounds with YumSugar (and, presumably, Oprah). [YumSugar]

* Susan Spicer (Bayona) talks about being the inspiration for Janette Desautel on HBO’s post-Katrina series Treme, training actors to work the line, and the state of the New Orleans cuisine scene. [Wall Street Journal]

* He ruffled some French feathers when he predicted Ferran Adrià was the heir-apparent to his culinary throne in 1996, but Joël Robuchon (L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon) was right. [LA Times]

* Speaking of Ferran Adrià, his food makes most diners swoon — and a few sick. [LA Times]

* Don’t call it a comeback (even though The Oregonian did]. The success of Portland’s MetroVino is more of a culinary comeuppance for talented chef Gregory Denton. []

* Tom Colicchio talks “Top Chef” Season 7 and how thoughts of legacy gave rise to Colicchio & Sons. [Daily Blender]

* The original nose-to-tail chef Fergus Henderson (St. John) names his faves in London and around the world. [FindEatDrink]

* You don’t have to go to culinary school to work for Thomas Keller. Just ask Timothy Hollingsworth, chef de cuisine at The French Laundry. [Sacramento Bee]

* Showing off a svelter belly, Mario Batali [Del Posto] declares vegetables are the new pork belly. [Chicago Tribune]

* Alain Ducasse (Adour Alain Ducasse) discusses success, failure, sticky-fingered diners, and how to become a lot less “New Yorkery” (if that’s your goal). [Eater]

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Pop-Up Restaurants in London; Outdoor Dining in Chicago; Forest Dining in NYC

Destination dining tips from pros in the know…

* Popping over to London? Check out the restaurants that are literally popping up all over the city. [Wall Street Journal]

* Looking for the best of, well, everything in the Bay Area? Use San Francisco’s Best Of Awards as your gastronomical guide. [SF Weekly]

* If you’re in the City by the Bay, don’t miss the city across the bay. Oakland’s Jack London Square is, at long last, the dining destination it was meant to be.  [The New York Times]

* Phil Vettel names some of his favorite outdoor dining spots in Chicago. [Chicago Tribune]

* There’s more to New Jersey than Snookie and the shore, including restaurants worth savoring. [The New York Times]

* It’s a tough job, but The Times attempts to narrow the field of choices foodies visiting Napa. [The New York Times]

* Find out where to satisfy your appetite for a delicious meal for a steal in Manhattan’s Columbus Circle. [Saveur]

* Restaurant reviewer Tucker Shaw reveals a few of his Denver faves. [Denver Post]

* Critic Steve Cuozzo has a round-up of New York City restaurants that’ll make you feel like you’re dining in a forest (assuming you would like to dine in a forest when you’re in New York City). [NY Post]

Best Restaurants for American Cuisine: OpenTable 2010 Diners’ Choice Winners

Best American Restaurants 2010 Best Restaurants for American Cuisine: OpenTable 2010 Diners Choice WinnersIndependence Day is just around the corner, the time of year when we celebrate everything that’s great about our nation. Since those celebrations typically involve food, we’re patriotically pleased to announce the 50 restaurant winners of OpenTable’s 2010 Diners’ Choice Awards for Best American Restaurants. Derived from 5,000,000+ reviews submitted by OpenTable diners of more than 11,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, this list honors the restaurants that serve up a slice of the best of American cuisine at every meal.

The winners, which include A Toute Heure in New Jersey, Kansas City’s Bluestem, The French Laundry in Yountville, Manhattan’s Gramercy Tavern and Per Se, Tilth in Seattle, VOLT in Maryland, and many others, have honored our roots as a farming nation by helping renew interest in local sourcing and heritage techniques, including butchering, curing and smoking meats, canning, pickling, and preserving — as well as continuing to innovate in their kitchens.

Use this list to connect with the country’s rich culinary history and delicious future throughout the coming seasons.

Top Chef D.C. Episode 2: The Proof Is in the Pudding

She Did Top Chef D.C. Episode 2: The Proof Is in the Pudding
"You gave sherry to children?"

Welcome to week two of “Top Chef: D.C.” To spice things up, I’ve enlisted Ed Hardy, a professional chef in Manhattan, to watch along with me. Ed has worked for Danny Meyer and Marcus Samuelsson and has auditioned for “Top Chef” twice. [Full disclosure: I attended the French Culinary Institute with Ed and he’s a friend, but he totally understands that if he were on the show, I might root against him. In fact, he expects that I would root against him. And that’s pretty much why Ed should be on “Top Chef.”]

Before the titles rolled, I asked Ed if watching made him envious about not being a part of this season, and he said, “I don’t envy the cast being stuck in D.C. traffic while on their way to Whole Foods. Of course, if you’re in the van without Angelo, you have plenty of time to scheme against him.” (See what I mean about Ed?)

Tonight’s guest judge is Sam Kass, who is the assistant White House chef. He’s nice to look at, but he’s not all that nice to the contestants, as you’ll see. He and Padma present a ‘Bipartisandwich’ Quickfire Challenge that has an extra challenge within it a la “The Brady Bunch”(or any family picnic, really). The culinary equivalent of the three-legged race, the cheftestants must don special aprons that allow them the use of just one hand. This means that there’s shared chopping, pouring, sautéeing, carrying, and so on. Timothy thinks its genius, and says, “Who got high and came up with this idea?” I’m guessing it wasn’t Tom or Gail.

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Status Salads; Meaningless Restaurant Concepts; and Other Trends in Dining

* Some upscale Manhattan restaurants, including 21 Club, The Four Seasons, Fred’s at Barney’s, and Michael’s, serve upscale “status” salads at upscale prices. [NY Post]

* Eater is calling for an end to certain restaurant concept trends, decrying them as meaningless. [Eater]

* San Francisco Chronicle scribe Michael Bauer ponders whether non-restaurants are justified in charging restaurant prices (They’re not). [InsideScoopSF]

* Bacon camp is the new rock star camp. [Washington Post]

* This is what summer looks like, to some of the UK’s best chefs. [London Times, registration required]

* Frank Bruni wasn’t fond of sidewalk seating, but some serious eaters are. [Serious Eats]

* It’s tough to wait for brunch — so don’t. [SF Weekly]

* Emily Stokes of the Financial Times wonders about “one-dish wonders.” [Financial Times]

* Bachelor parties have gone from tasteless to tasting menus. [The New York Times]

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What’s Your Favorite Type of Restaurant? OpenTable Wants to Know!

If you’re reading this, you’re probably a fan of food — and you probably enjoy dining at a variety of restaurants. Rather than type of cuisine, I’ve been pondering what my favorite type of restaurant is. Ultra-fine dining restaurants worthy of name-dropping and foodie photography? Swanky restaurants in posh hotels? Neighborhood gems that are just around the corner? Establishments with al fresco dining or spectacular views? Romantic restaurants that bring couples closer? I’m somewhat indecisive when it comes to making big choices like this (Full disclosure: I’m a libra), so I’m asking OpenTable diners — What type of restaurant are you happiest to visit? Before you answer, forget money, relationship status, the weather where you live, and whether or not you’re on a diet; just focus on the type of restaurant that makes you most content!

Share your favorite type of restaurant here or on Facebook — and tell us why, and we’ll include your comments when we revisit the topic in a post later this week.

Grading Restaurants’ Cleanliness: New York City Says Letters Are Better

Grading Restaurants Cleanliness Grading Restaurants Cleanliness: New York City Says Letters Are BetterThere’s been much heated debate around the New York City Health Department’s recent requirement that restaurants display sanitary inspection scores, which are now being awarded in more consumer-friendly letter grades. Prior to this approach, curious diners in the Big Apple had to search online to find out details about a restaurant’s sanitary inspection records. Restaurateurs, understandably, have worried that with this new grading system, which is also used in Los Angeles, anything less than an A might put them out of business.

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Top Chef D.C. Episode One: Find Out Who Are the Standouts

Top Chef Episode One2 Top Chef D.C. Episode One: Find Out Who Are the Standouts
Photo: David Giesbrecht/Bravo

The first episode of Season 7 of “Top Chef” opens in Washington, D.C. with the lovely Padma Lakshmi calling the nation’s capital “the city of idealists, visionaries and ruthless powerseekers,” and you can’t help but wonder if she’s talking about the town or the new cast. This batch of hopefuls includes the usual suspects: The Award Winner (Andrea Curto-Randazzo), The Big Deal (Kelly Liken),  The Caterer (Jacqueline Lombard), The Dad (Stephen Hopcraft), The European (Alex Reznik), The Good Guy (Kevin Srbaga), The Hottie (Amanda Baumgarten), The Kid (Tamesha Warren), The Personality (Arnold Myint), The Quiet Threat (Tiffany Derry), The Sad Story (Timothy Dean), The Sass (Tracey Bloom), The Terminator (Kenny Gilbert), The Underdog (Ed Cotton),  and some welcome new additions — The Instructor (Lynne Gigliotti), The Michelin Star (Angelo Sosa), and The Oddball (John Somerville — Sorry!).

The Quickfire Challenge isn’t anything groundbreaking, just another mis en place tournament that we’ve seen before. The chefs have to peel potatoes, brunoise onions, break down raw whole chickens into 8 pieces, and then cook a dish with these and other ingredients. The slowest chefs will be weeded out at each leg so that only four remain for the cooking portion. What’s really interesting isn’t the $20,000 at stake (which has Jersey Boy and aspiring homemaker Kevin drooling) but rather that most of the cheftestants clearly didn’t bother to brush up on the basics after they were cast. This kind of challenge is classic TC yet so many of these chefs struggle. Given, they have to peel potatoes with a paring knife and not a speedy peeler, but still.

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