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.

Welcome to the New OpenTable

We love what can happen around the restaurant table and know you do, too. Since 1998, we’ve strived to help diners discover and book the perfect table every time they dine out and to enable restaurants to enhance the hospitality they deliver night after night.

After all, our mission at OpenTable is to power great dining experiences. It’s now in our DNA, as many of us have come from restaurants and we have been living, breathing, learning from, and working with restaurants for almost 17 years.

It is in this spirit that we are proud to introduce to you the new OpenTable brand. It features a fresh new logo, reflects our renewed focus on design and style, and has a tagline that speaks directly to our evolution: “The table is just the start.” Our new brand symbolizes how we’re building on our heritage to reimagine the role we can play before, during, and after the dining experience and the ways in which we connect diners, restaurants, and their communities.

“The table is just the start” encompasses the seemingly infinite number of good things that occur at restaurant tables around the world every day – including the start of new friendships, healthy debates between colleagues, and the adventure of sampling a new cuisine. We want to nurture and celebrate these shared experiences.

And, as some of you may have noticed, the new OpenTable comes on the heels of other major enhancements and product initiatives, including our redesigned website; Guest Center, our next-generation, cloud-based hospitality solution for restaurants; and Pay with OpenTable, a mobile payments feature that lets you view and pay your check with a few taps of your phone.

As we span countries and cultures, we’re very attuned to an essential ingredient in making our products successful: you. So from our warm and welcoming new mark to a fresh new voice on OpenTable.com and within our apps, we hope you’ll agree that we’re more inspired than ever. We’re humbled to play a part in your joyful dining experiences.

Bon appétit!

Scott Jampol is Senior Vice President of Marketing at OpenTable. He first joined OpenTable in 2007 and has never met a Brussels sprouts dish he didn’t like.

#DigOutDineOut Boston Is Happening Now: Support Boston Restaurants

Dupe DigOutDineOutIf you live in the Boston area, you already know that more than eight feet of snow have fallen on the city and surrounding towns. In fact, according to an article in the Boston Globe, it is the second snowiest winter on record. On top of that, severely frigid temperatures have gripped the region. All of this means that the snow still lingers on sidewalks and in streets, public transportation remains somewhat snarled, and parking spots have become as scarce as a bottle of 23-year-old family reserve Pappy Van Winkle — which has been bad news for your favorite restaurants.

The good news is that they have joined together to entice diners to support #DigOutDineOut! From special offers, such as $25 unlimited sushi at Empire to $2 tacos and $5 glasses of wine at Granary Tavern, plus on-site extras at many establishments, we can guarantee you’ll be treated like a VIP if you frequent a restaurant in the region during the #DigOutDineOut campaign.

#DigOutDineOut is the brainchild of Kevin Long, executive chef and partner at Big Night Entertainment Group (Empire, GEM, Red Lantern). “These historic storms have walloped Boston and buried us in snow, but we are hardy New Englanders,” said Long. “We all may compete, but we also band together to support each other in times of need. We are all in this together, and these deals are a great way for us all to start to bounce back.”

Some of the hottest restaurants have been hit the hardest due to their locations. At Coppa, where a three-hour wait for walk-ins isn’t unusual, they had a successful Valentine’s Day, buoyed by locals who took advantage of last-minute cancellations, but now, says general manager Gina-Marie Ciccotelli, “We are definitely back to always having open tables. It’s a huge hit.” The staff at the South End restaurant, she notes, are very happy to be at work, “But they’re not making money, so it’s so hard on them, too. Everybody in here — it’s their career. This is their liveliehood. They’re here, and they’re ready to serve.” For diners who do come to Coppa, Ciccotelli and her staff are ready to show their appreciation in ways big and small, one of which is a one-of-its-kind, four-course pasta flight for $45 per person.

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10 Raves for Chili on National Chili Day

Texas Red Chili BlogYippee ki-yay, It’s National Chili Day! I like to think of chili as a relative of cassoulet, a dish which sparks as much debate among French chefs and home cooks as chili does among pretty much everyone in North America. Blame the various styles, such as green chili, Texas red, and Cincinnati, as well as the array of so-called ingredients people swear by, from coffee, chocolate, and peanut butter to beer,  pickle juice, and sriracha for the culinary quarrels — not to mention the beans vs. no beans issue. However it’s prepared, though, chili is beloved on a national scale. Despite its reputation as a cornerstone of summer cook-offs, chili reaches its highest greatest popularity in the winter months, according to Google Trends.

As we celebrate this soul-warming dish on its special day, read on for some raves about chili of all flavors and styles at restaurants around the U.S.

* American Cut, New York, New York: “Some of the highlights were lobster chili — spicy, sweet-flavored lobster. Had to resist eating the rest of the sauce with toast to save room for the rest of the meal.”

* Beatrice & Woodsley, Denver, Colorado: “Everything I had was superb — kudos to the chef! The pulled pork green chili was excellent; who knew that a pickled egg would add so much flavor? A new addition to my recipe.”

* Chili U, Libertyville, Illinois: “Despite the name, this place has a lot of non-chili items, and several very flavorful vegetarian choices. We love the idea of ‘build your own’ chili dinner (you choose the extra ingredients for the base and toppings to be added to 4 choices of chili) and the unique chili recipes in the ‘we make’ part of the menu, especially the Thai shrimp chili.”

* District Commons, Washington, D.C.: “The Texas chili was true Texas chili without beans. The side plates of onion, sour cream, and cheese made it possible to tailor the add-ons to your liking. The tiny star-shaped cornbread was creative and visually delightful.”

* Food 101, Atlanta, Georgia: “If you get a chance to go while the restaurant is celebrating its 15-year anniversary, be sure to try the prix fixe menu. My companion did and she was treated to a lovely short rib chili topped with cilantro cream, not to mention fall-off-the-bone ribs. And, I can’t end without mentioning the perfectly portioned, delicious biscuits and slightly sweet cornbread. I’ll be going back!”

* Grillstone, Scotch Plains, New Jersey: “The oysters were excellent. The sushi appetizer was phenomenal. The Angus chili was mesmerizing.”

* Kenny’s Smoke House, Plano, Texas: “Wow!! The brisket chili and jalapeño cornbread are amazing. Might have just ruined chili any other way for me.”Continue Reading