UK Restaurants Serve Up Special Spaces for Cigar Smokers

Special Spaces for Cigar Smokers UK Restaurants Serve Up Special Spaces for Cigar SmokersCigarette smoking in restaurants in the United States is all but extinct as is the case in the United Kingdom. However, cigar smoking is making a bit of comeback across the pond. A number of restaurants in the UK are going out of their way to accommodate diners who enjoy a post-meal stogie, either with enclosed smoking areas known as cosas (which stands for “comfortable outdoor smoking areas) or lounges. According to the Financial Times, 220 restaurants in Britain offer such spaces, many are selling cigars as well.

These spaces aren’t necessarily meant to encourage smoking, but rather to deal with the practical problems it creates. Restaurateurs grapple with smokers loitering outside entrances, forcing other patrons to walk through wafting smoke as they enter and exit restaurants. Cigarette and cigar butts dot sidewalks. Food falls cold as smokers dash in and out. Savvy industry professionals are tackling some of these issues with cosas and by embracing cigar smokers, who are some of their “best spending customers.”

Would you prefer that a restaurant create a cosa so you wouldn’t ever have to walk through a cloud of smoke in front of a restaurant? Is finishing a meal with a cigar more “culinarily acceptable” than a cigarette? Chime in here or join the debate on Facebook.

Dine Out for the Gulf Coast, June 10-12, to Join the Fight to Restore the Coast

Dine Out for the Gulf Coast Dine Out for the Gulf Coast, June 10 12, to Join the Fight to Restore the CoastAs the Gulf Coast oil disaster continues to wreak havoc on wildlife, food sources, and the livelihoods of thousands of people, you may be feeling helpless. While no one has all the answers on how to stem the dangerous tide, some of the nation’s top chefs and restaurateurs are stepping up to support the long-term restoration of the treasured coast — and they need your help!

During Dine Out for the Gulf Coast, which runs June 10-12, 2010, participating restaurants throughout the United States will set aside a portion of profits to help those directly affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. According to Jimmy Gale, organizer of Dine Out for the Gulf Coast, “The short-term goal of The Gulf Coast Oil Spill Fund, administered by the Greater New Orleans Foundation, is to make emergency grants to nonprofit organizations helping the victims of the oil spill. The long-term goal of the fund is to address the long-term economic, environmental, cultural effects of the disaster, and strengthen coastal communities against future environmental catastrophes by investing in solutions. No administrative fees will be charged to the fund: all funds will be re-granted to the communities in need.”

The list of participating restaurants around the nation includes Blackbird, Chez Panisse Cafe, Print, Reef, Slanted Door, Zaytinya, and many more. Each restaurant will customize its own Dine Out for the Gulf Coast benefit program. Some restaurants will contribute a percentage of total sales for the day and others will donate the sales from specific menu items, while others will offer specialty cocktails with a dollar-value from sales donated to the fund.

Read more about Mr. Gale’s effort, and reserve to do your part; it’s a start!

Hundred-Layer Lasagne and Other Over-the-Top Signature Dishes

Hundred Layer Lasagne Del Posto Hundred Layer Lasagne and Other Over the Top Signature Dishes
100 Layer Lasagne al Ragù Bolognese at Del Posto

To stand out from the crowd and please the most passionate foodies, many restaurants have focused their efforts on creating a signature dish, one that is singular in execution and gets buzzed about for any number of other reasons. It could be because of a blend of lavish ingredients (such as the db Burger at db Bistro Moderne), unique plating and techniques (such as the confit of Moulard duck “foie gras” at The French Laundry), or simply a hefty pricetag (for the $500 hotpot at Las Vegas restaurant Shaboo).

Chef Mark Ladner spoke with New York Magazine last month about the hundred-layer lasagne he conceived for Mario Batali’s Manhattan restaurant Del Posto. As soon as I read about it, I knew I had to try it. And, I am pleased to report that I enjoyed every single bite. I will admit that I didn’t count the layers — but that’s only because I was too busy eating them! While the dish appears laborious in terms of prep, it is, in truth, a wonderfully simple dish (which was a real relief as it was served in the middle of a seven-course tasting menu).

What over-the-top dishes have you dined on that have truly delivered? Have any not lived up to the hype? Share your stories here and on Facebook.

Trivia Tuesdays: Follow @OpenTable_ATL and @OpenTable_Chi to Earn Free Meals

If you’re an OpenTable diner who lives or dines in Atlanta or Chicago, follow our local Twitter handles — @OpenTable_ATL and @OpenTable_Chi – for news on new restaurants, dining deals and discounts, and for a chance to earn free meals even faster. No, we’re not talking about 1,000-point reservations (although those help)! Next week, we’re kicking off Twitter Trivia Tuesdays on these local handles. If you’re a registered OpenTable diner who answers our trivia tweet correctly, you may find your OpenTable account 500 Dining Rewards Points richer.

Because OpenTable is all about dining out, trivia questions will be related to chefs, food, and restaurants (with a dash of pop culture). So, start following @OpenTable_ATL and @OpenTable_Chi to be part of our inaugural Twitter Trivia Tuesday a week from today — and be sure to join in the fun every week.

Your 2010 RAMMY Winners Are…

RAMMY 2010 Your 2010 RAMMY Winners Are...Last night, the 20th annual Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) awards were held. This year’s RAMMY winners, recognized for excellence in the category, include:

* New Restaurant: Birch and Barley

* Fine Dining Restaurant: 2941

* Upscale Casual Restaurant: Vermilion

* Chef of the Year: Scott Drewno, The Source

* Pastry Chef of the Year: Anthony Chavez, 2941

* Wine Program: Proof

Continue reading…

Vancouver’s Divino Is Divine; Go Fish Ocean Club Is a Catch; and Other Reviews

Restaurants scoring positive reviews…

* Balsan‘s steadfastly seasonal Chicago cuisine wins praise from Elaine Glusac. [The New York Times]

* Daniel Boulud proves nothing succeeds like success, with a stellar review from Richard Vines for his London outpost of Bar Boulud. [Bloomberg]

* Phil Vettel thinks that former underground restaurant Bonsoirée is too legit to quit. [Chicago Tribune]

* Mia Stainsby finds Vancouver’s Divino quite divine. [Vancouver Sun]

* S. Irene Virbila takes a first look at First & Hope and likes its Southern food and supper-club vibe as does LA Weekly‘s Jonathan Gold. [Los Angeles Times and LA Weekly]

* Steve Cuozzo thinks Todd English’s new Food Hall at the Plaza is sweet. [NY Post]

* AA Gill awards London’s The French Table three shiny stars. [Times Online]

* The executive chef at Dallas’ Go Fish Ocean Club is a contender on the upcoming season of Top Chef, and with good reason, according to Leslie Brenner. [Dallas Morning News]

* Amy Kuperinsky takes a gander at new New Jersey steakhouse Hamilton & Ward, which features a dish called the Flintsone. []

* In Boston, Jerry Remy Sports Bar and Grill is getting it right. [Boston Herald]

Continue reading…

Chefs Pick Their Fave Apps; Bourdain Takes Aim; Jeremy Fox Picks Plum

In recent chef-related news…

* The James Beard Foundation announces its list of chefs’ favorite iPhone apps — and guess what makes the cut? [LA Weekly]

* Lost track of your fave NYC Top Chef contestants? Eater has put together a nifty map to help you track ‘em down. [Eater NY]

* Chefs, particularly those in San Francisco, like tattoos. [SF Weekly via Grub Street SF]

* Chicago chef Rick Bayless (Topolobampo) aced his White House dinner. Shocker! [Grub Street Chicago]

* Anthony Bourdain (Les Halles) takes aim, not once but twice, and let’s just say that you probably don’t want to find yourself in his crosshairs. [Eater National]

* Joey Campanaro (Kenmare) is going to set up camp in the City of Brotherly Love. []

* Having conquered the Hudson waterfront, Tom Colicchio (Colicchio & Sons) sets his sights on Manhattan’s East River. [Eater NY]

* Windy City chef Graham Elliot does not negotiate with social-media terrorists. [Eater National]

* Todd English takes over an old laundry room at the Plaza and turns into the fun Food Hall. [Slashfood]

Continue reading…

Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week 2010: Hot Deals in the Desert

Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week 2010: Hot Deals in the DesertThere are many reasons to visit Palm Springs — but this has got to be the tastiest one! Beginning today and running through June 13, Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week is bringing you 10 days of delicious dining — $24 or $36 menus. Organized by the Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Association, this restaurant week is a culinary celebration featuring restaurants from the entire Valley from Palm Springs to Indio.

Participating restaurants include Bellatrix, Cuistot, Purple Palm Restaurant, and Tuscany, as well as many others. Whether you’re a local, a vacationer, or a day-tripping Angeleno looking for fine food at even finer prices, Palm Springs Desert Resorts Restaurant Week has something for you.

View the full list of participating restaurants, and book your tables today!

San Francisco Dine About Town Starts Today

SF Dine About Town Summer 2010 San Francisco Dine About Town Starts TodayThe Bay Area’s favorite two weeks return, thanks to San Francisco Dine About Town 2010. Running through June 15, San Francisco Dine About Town allows you to enjoy two-course lunches for $17.95 and three-course dinners for just $34.95. A great opportunity to sample the fare at some of San Francisco’s finest restaurants, participants include Anchor and Hope, Fish & Farm, Luna Park, Roots, and Spruce, among many others.

Reserve early and often so you don’t miss out on delicious dining at a discount all around San Francisco.

Best Late Night Dining: OpenTable 2010 Diners’ Choice Winners

Best Late Night Dining Best Late Night Dining: OpenTable 2010 Diners’ Choice WinnersThe days are getting longer and nights out are getting later — which is why OpenTable is very pleased to announce the 50 restaurant winners of OpenTable’s 2010 Diners’ Choice Awards for Best Late Night Find Restaurants. Derived from 5 million+ reviews submitted by OpenTable diners of more than 11,000 restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, this list fetes the restaurants that serve up great food and fun well into the night.

Perfect for diners who hit the town when others are winding down, the list of winners is a great guide for the night-owl crowd. Honorees hail from cities all around the nation, such as Bluefin in Memphis, DISH in Dallas, Rumba in Chicago, Solas in Raleigh, Strip in Atlanta, and The Black Pearl in Ann Arbor. If you’re seeking supper after a late movie or a long evening at the office, these and other restaurants waiting to satisfy your appetite.

Find out which other restaurants made the list, and tell us what your late-night faves are on Facebook or in the comments.