‘Sex and the City’ Restaurants: Where the Fab Four Dined in New York

Sex and the City 2 Sex and the City Restaurants: Where the Fab Four Dined in New York
Photo: Courtesy of Warner Brothers

Not every restaurant featured in the “Sex and the City” franchise is real. Raw, where Smith first waited on Samantha in episode 76, doesn’t exist. Nor does La Doleur Exquise, the, ahem, S&M-themed restaurant in episode 24. However, there are still plenty of opportunities to retrace Carrie’s Manolo Blahnik-ed footsteps around the island of Manhattan — especially at its restaurants. In honor of the release of Sex and the City 2 tomorrow, here are some of the real-life restaurants featured on the series and in the films, at which you can raise a Cosmo to Ms. Bradshaw and her besties.

21 Club
Carrie bursts into tears while tearing into a steak at this clubby Manhattan classic as she learns Big has returned to town from Napa to have “a little heart thing” done (aka angioplasty).

ABC Kitchen
Before there was a Jean-Georges restaurant in this Manhattan home-décor mecca, Charlotte butts heads here with Bunny, the mother of all mother-in-laws, over a new bed for her and Trey.

Blue Water Grill
A Union Square favorite, Charlotte brunches at Blue Water Grill with Arthur, a Harvard grad, whose behavior is more perilous than chivalrous.

Brasserie 8 1/2
This midtown stand-by marks the spot where Carrie is discovered and recruited as a “real” model for Dolce & Gabbana, only to wind up as fashion roadkill.

Carrie and John’s rehearsal dinner for their temporarily doomed wedding is held at perennial Chelsea hotspot Buddakan in the first big-screen adaptation of the series.

Casa Mono
It was Irving at Irving when the show filmed, but now it’s the stylish Casa Mono, outside which Carrie and Charlotte spend time deciding how many of the male passers-by they would, um, well, you know.

Before it was Mexican fave Centrico, it was Layla, at which Mr. Big (who was Mr. Ex) attends Carrie’s birthday party. There are both belly dancers and awkwardness as the single scribe celebrates another year.

Commerce’s predecessor, Grange Hall (also this blogger’s favorite extinct restaurant), served as the Paris restaurant where Carrie’s French fans fete her (albeit without her) in the final episode of the series.

Da Marino
The second time’s the charm (at least for a time) for Big and Carrie as he serenades her over Italian food at Da Marino, where Chris Noth is a real-life regular.

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How to Become a Regular at a Restaurant

The restaurant world is abuzz about regulars this week. The New York Times recently talked to William Herz, a regular at NYC Theatre District stand-by Sardi’s for almost 80 (!) years (Forget a favorite table; Mr. Herz even has his own cup.). And, the folks behind legendary Manhattan media magnet Michael’s have started tweeting about the movers and shakers who regularly power-lunch there each day.

While diners love being regulars, restaurants love regulars because they, like every business, depend on repeat business. I spoke with New York restaurateur Dean Philippis, owner of  Mill Pond House and Piccolo Restaurant, whose restaurants are regularly filled with — you guessed it — regulars. He says, “Every time that door opens up and it’s a regular, well, it’s the most flattering compliment a diner can give you.” Such flattery is always recognized by Philippis and his staff. “We make sure we remember their names. We know what tables they like to sit at. We have their drinks on the table before they have to order them. We never take them for granted.” From bringing restless children ice cream while a frazzled parent enjoys an entree or dashing out for slice of pizza for a picky young diner, he says, “It’s about the consistent level of care a guest receives.”

Obviously, it’s not difficult to become a regular at a restaurant. If you’re looking to speed up the process, it helps to book on OpenTable as it’s easy for the staff to tell that you’ve dined with them previously. Philippis also recommends that aspiring regulars frequent a restaurant on a weeknight. “During the week, there are more opportunities for my staff and me to engage with guests and really get to know them,” he shares. While the Bay Area Food Blog has just posted some fun tips for being a “good” regular, Philippis notes, “Diners shouldn’t have to do anything more than continue to show up to be embraced as a regular.”

Are you or have you been a regular at a restaurant and for how long? What are the perks of being a regular? Tell us your story here or join the conversation on Facebook.

What Waiters Hate: Restaurant Pros Turn the Tables on Diners

What Waiters Hate What Waiters Hate: Restaurant Pros Turn the Tables on DinersBecause this is a diner-centric blog, we usually talk about the experience of going to restaurants from a patron’s perspective. Lately, though, some folks have been wondering what waiters think about the diners they serve. Over in the UK, Simon Usborne of The Independent gets a top waiter to spill the details on “waiter speak” and how you may be being unwittingly manipulated — or insulted — by your server. And, InsideScoopSF scribe Michael Bauer asks his readers who have been on the other side of the table to tell him what waiters hate when it comes to tough tables.

As a former wait staffer, what I disliked most were diners who were perpetually looking for something for nothing. The folks who asked for extra this or that and then balked when I told them there would be a charge for it. Servers don’t set policy; management does — yet that never stopped the most parsimonious patrons from trying to (figuratively) kill this messenger.

Are you or have you ever been a wait professional? What do diners do that makes your job more difficult than it should be? Share you story here or over on Facebook.

Bloggers Want More Light; Dining in the Dark; Tableside Food Prep; and More

This week in dining trends…

* Do younger foodies have reservations against making reservations? Michael Bauer investigates and his readers join the debate. [InsideScoopSF]

* Eating salty things with sweet things tastes good. Of course, this is not news to anyone who has ever had PMS. [Chicago Tribune]

* The new food pornographers want more than good food; they want good lighting. [Eater]

* Dining in the dark is a delicacy for London foodies (presumably those that don’t have a predilection for photographing their food, anyway). [Chicago Sun-Times]

* The folks over at Serious Eats NY debate what a reasonable automatic gratuity is. The consensus is, well, there is no consensus. [Serious Eats NY]

* Speaking of gratuities, have you ever wondered “What Would Jesus Tip?” Wonder no more. [Everyday Christian]

* There’s a new herb in the kitchen, and it’s not oregano. [The New York Times]

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Critical Mess: McNally Calls Platt Overweight; Cuozzo Calls McNally Big, Fat Crybaby

Critical Mess Critical Mess: McNally Calls Platt Overweight; Cuozzo Calls McNally Big, Fat CrybabyLast week, Manhattan restaurateur Keith McNally took restaurant critic Adam Platt to task on a VERY personal level, attacking his appearance, after Platt penned a lackluster review of McNally’s latest venture, Pulino’s (where former A16 chef Nate Appleman now works). In an open letter to the New York Magazine scribe, McNally calls him “out of touch,” “balding,” and “overweight.” He also accuses Platt of inhabiting a middle-aged world. It should be noted that McNally is almost 59 years old, which is technically far beyond middle age (unless he lives to 116), so perhaps his remark wasn’t ageist so much as envious.

In the past two days, New York Post critic Steve Cuozzo sprung to his counterpart’s defense, telling McNally to “shut his yap,” while, elsewhere, restaurateur Tony May, of SD26, noted his displeasure with New York’s restaurant critics. In contrast to McNally, however, May kept things strictly professional, positing that many critics do not understand “the true flavors of Italian cuisine.” Meanwhile, Eater NY took a look at the scorecard for newish restaurant critic Sam Sifton of The New York Times, analyzing his first seven months of reviews, for fairness and trends.

Finally, the Los Angeles Times, known for its fine food criticism, looks at the skills it takes to be an astute-yet-svelte restaurant critic. After all the recent name-calling, is this a job anyone even wants?

U.K. Restaurant Manager of the Year: Congratulations to David Hennigan

UK Restaurant Manager 2010 U.K. Restaurant Manager of the Year: Congratulations to David Hennigan
Photo: Courtesy of Eat Out Magazine

David Hennigan, manager of the Crown at Whitebrook and Celtic Manor, has been chosen as the 2010 U.K. Restaurant Manager of the Year. The competition, sponsored by OpenTable, is run by the Academy of Food & Wine with support from the National Skills Academy for Hospitality and the Savoy Educational Trust, aims to identify “the person who has all the skills required to be a top class restaurant manager — great business acumen, loads of personality and confidence, the ability to get on with people, and a thorough knowledge of the trade.”

Besting five other very worthy finalists, Hennigan had to prove his skills in wine tasting, wine pairings, management, menu assessment, and front-of-house service. He then had to submit a business plan for a restaurant launch, which impressed the judges for its financial soundness.

For his efforts, Hennigan has won a study-tour week in New York, during which he will complete a stage at one of Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group properties. The Crown at Whitebrook will receive a complimentary 12-month subscription to the OpenTable reservation system. You can read more about Hennigan’s win in Eat Out Magazine.

Jenny McCarthy Spotted at Katsuya; Kate Gosselin Waltzes into RockSugar

Recent sightings of famous and infamous folks…

* San Francisco steakhouse Epic Roasthouse hosted cute new couple Lance Bass (*NSYNC) and Kyan Douglas (“Queer Eye for the Straight Guy”). [Tablehopper]

* Academy Award-winning actor Adrien Brody (The Pianist) avoided a fervid fan while tucking into a steak with this father at Benjamin Steakhouse in the Big Apple. [NYDN via GrubStreet NY]

* Pacific Heights bistro Florio served musician T-Bone Burnett his supper on a recent Saturday night. No word on if he had to sing for it. [Tablehopper]

* Hoda’s “Today” show cohost Kathie Lee Gifford lunched at Frankie & Johnnie’s Steakhouse with fellow NBC empoyee Cheyenne Jackson (“30 Rock”), having a bit of bubbly to boot. [NY Post]

* Former “Dancing with the Stars” contestant and reality star Kate Gosselin dined with bodyguard Steve Nield at Los Angeles restaurant RockSugar Pan Asian Kitchen. [US Magazine]

* Fashionista Tim Gunn (“Project Runway”) noshed on steak au poivre at David Burke’s Primehouse in the James Hotel in Chicago. [Chicago Tribune]

* New York Knick Al Harrington helped fete the fifth anniversary of The Stanton Social with Common and Sofia Vergara (Modern Family) in Manhattan’s hip Lower East Side. [NY Post]

* Josh Hartnett (Wicker Park) attended a birthday celebration at Brinkley’s. [Page Six/NYP via GrubStreet NY]

* Katherine Heigl (Grey’s Anatomy) lunched at Little Dom’s in LA’s funky Los Feliz neighborhood. [People.com]

Former tennis pro (and g.f. to singer Enrique Iglesias) Anna Kournikova toasted her turn as Capitol File cover girl at Oya in the nation’s capital. [US Magazine]

* Singer Avril Lavigne and her beau, reality-TV personality Brody Jenner, enjoyed a late supper at Katsuya Brentwood. [Us Magazine]

Tabloid fave (and Lavigne nemesis) Lindsay Lohan celebrated Mother’s Day with her family at Abe & Arthur’s in Manhattan’s Meatpacking district. [NYP/Page Six via GrubStreet NY]

* Newly single Jenny McCarthy and a mystery man shared some sushi at Katsuya in Los Angeles. [Us Magazine]

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Top Restaurant Complaints: Really?

Top Complaints Top Restaurant Complaints: Really?Detroit Free Press writer Slyvia Rector gathered a list of common complaints diners have when visiting a restaurant. Frankly, I was shocked by what I read. Not because they were controversial, but because they seemed so banal (and petty). The top complaint of all was regarding diners being addressed as “you guys.” While this probably isn’t appropriate (or heard) at a white-tablecloth restaurant, if you’re elsewhere — say at a BBQ joint — is that truly offensive?

Other trespasses include servers who ask if diners need change when they’ve paid their bill, checks that are brought too soon, and the use of “the same dirty cloth all over the dining room.” The first two offenses probably depend on the volume of diners at a restaurant and, again, whether or not it’s a fine-dining establishment. The latter, however, is a problem of perception over reality. Every restaurant I’ve worked at, high and low-end, has had a bevy of bain maries filled with water and bleach, each with towels in them. It may have looked like there was one cloth on duty on any given evening, but, rest assured, there were many and they were returned to their bleach-y water after each use.

I had expected to read more grumbling about prices, portion size, waiting too long for an order to be taken or for food to arrive, lighting — and even temperature. So let’s hear it! What are you biggest complaints when dining out? Shout ‘em out here or share your gripes with your fellow Facebookers.

‘Top Chef’ Washington, D.C.: Meet the Cast of Season 7

Top Chef 2010 Top Chef Washington, D.C.: Meet the Cast of Season 7Bravo announced the eagerly anticipated cast list for the forthcoming season of Top Chef. The show’s seventh season will include cheftestants from many restaurants on the OpenTable network.

* Amanda Baumgarten, 27, hails from Los Angeles, where she currently cooks at Ford’s Filling Station. She has a flair for butchering and loves to cook meat on the bone. Her favorite recipe is roasted baby lamb with pomme cocotte persillade.

* Tracey Bloom, 33, grew up in Shortsville, New York, and now works in Atlanta, Georgia, as executive chef at Table 1280. She attended the Culinary Institute of America, becoming an expert in the sweet and savory side of culinary arts. Her favorite recipe is English pea salad.

* Boston’s own Ed Cotton, 32, is executive chef at Manhattan’s newly opened Plein Sud in Tribeca’s stylish Smyth Hotel. His favorite recipe is fresh farm egg ravioli with a silky English pea puree, spring onion fondue and crispy pancetta, and he loves to serve rabbit.

* Raised in the nation’s capital, Timothy Dean, 39, is the chef-owner of Prime Steak House in Baltimore, Maryland. He trained at Howard University and with the late, great chef, Jean-Louis Palladin. His favorite dishes are Maine lobster with mac & cheese and shaved black truffles and pan seared Hudson Valley foie gras with rhubarb and 20-year-old Port wine sauce.

* Don’t mess with Texas chef Tiffany Derry. She started earning her toque at an IHOP before attending culinary school at The Art Institute. Executive Chef at Go Fish Ocean Club in Houston, Derry, 26, always keeps Dijon, Creole mustard, champagne vinegar, kosher salt and Creole seasoning on hand, and her favorite recipe is spring risotto.

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Britain’s Best Restaurants for Outdoor Dining

The Times Online released a round-up of the best restaurants to grab an al fresco bite in and around London this summer. Included on the list are Auberge du Lac, The Brudenell Hotel, Ferryboat Inn, The Hoste Arms, and The New Mill. Read the full round-up and compare it to the OpenTable Diners’ Choice winners for outdoor dining in London.