Dining with the Stars: DC’s Cafe Milano Hosts the Obamas; Cooper + Lawrence at Katsuya in LA; Parks + Rec Films at St. Elmo’s Steak House in IN + More

If Newt Gingrich is lucky, Ron Swanson will be sitting at his table at St. Elmo’s Steak House.

Recent celebrity sightings at OpenTable restaurants…

* Jake Gyllenhaal and Susan Sarandon dined separately at ABC Kitchen in Manhattan. [NY Post]

* Twilighter Ashley Greene helped fete the opening of Andrea’s in Las Vegas. [Just Jared Jr.]

* Ryan Seacrest left the west coast for the best coast, dining at Bill’s in midtown Manhattan. [NY Daily News]

* Political reporters Dana Bash, Kelly O’Donnell, and Brianna Keilar ate at BLT Steak in Washington, D.C., as did Meet the Press host David Gregory. [TheHill.com]

* Funnyman Jimmy Fallon had a meal at Blue Water Grill in the Big Apple. [NY Post]

* American Idol judge Nicki Minaj was spotted stepping out at BOA Steakhouse in Beverly Hills. [Just Jared]

* President Obama helped First Lady Michelle celebrate her birthday at Cafe Milano in Washington, D.C. [The Miami Herald]

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App for Dining with Allergies; Bad Food Trends; Five Diamond Restaurants + More

Eatible can tell allergy sufferers which foods are edible.

Food and dining news from around the web and the world…

* Worried about food allergies when dining out? There’s an app for that. [PC News]

* Age matters. When it comes to visiting restaurants, anyway. Older folks eat out more than young adults. [Consumerist]

* Five bad food trends. Courtesy of the curmudgeonly Josh Ozersky. [Time]

* Ten neither good nor bad menu trends. Change is afoot in the coming year. [IntheCapital.com]

* A woman’s place is in the restaurant kitchen. But it isn’t always easy. [ClarionLedger.com]

* Five diamonds are a chef’s best friend. Find out which restaurants scored the coveted Five Diamond rating from AAA. [USA Today]

* So that’s why I’m a good tipper! Rich diners don’t care about wages for restaurant workers. I, being un-rich, do. [AOL Jobs]

* Will an American ever win the Bocuse d’Or? Chef Paul Bocuse can dream. [WSJ]

* Fighting the flu with a new fork. Touchless cutlery is helping diners fend off illness. [11alive.com]Continue Reading

10 Things You Need to Know About Top Chef Seattle Episode 11

The idea of elevating a humble cuisine is a bit tired, but last night it was inspiring to see Sheldon execute his mission to marry the authenticity of Filipino food with modern elegance.

This season has been supremely frustrating, from the appearance of the grating and gangly CJ to the non-cancellation of The Josie Show, but this episode is really the sour cherry atop all of that. Don’t get me wrong; it was so satisfying to see Sheldon shine, but if you were on Twitter and following the #topchef action, you’re well aware of the mutiny among viewers prompted by the events at judges’ table.

1. Stefan was immediately singled out to do front of house because he’d been through restaurant wars before. I see that logic, but not at all, because … it’s Stefan! He does not suffer fools, and, really, that’s part and parcel of FOH work. I will say, however, in my years as a hostess, I did often fantasize about being able to shame campers into moving on so that I could seat the throngs of hungry diners at the door.

2. Kristen basically called Josie classless.

3. Elevating a cuisine you’ve never had before is a hard thing to do. And Josh did just that, with Sheldon’s tutelage, of course.

4. Brooke has opened four (!) restaurants with her husband, so it’s no surprise that she has a deft front-of-house touch.

5. Sheldon may well be the most guileless, genuinely kind cheftestant this competition has ever seen.

6. Kristen would prefer to have a dishwasher as her sous. This sounds like an insult (and probably is), but Sheldon started out as a dishwasher and he employs his restaurant wars dishwasher to help with prep work.Continue Reading

On Our Plate: 15 Days Left for Free Mobile Restaurant Sites; Dine About Town SF, NYC Restaurant Week + Others Happening Now; Brisket; Best Dates for Foodies

Don’t miss your chance to save $50 on this special event at Spruce supporting Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry Campaign.

Happenings on and around OpenTable…

* There are just 15 more days to for restaurants to claim their FREE mobile site. Get yours today!

* Save $50 on the Share Our Strength’s No Kid Hungry four-course dinner at Spruce in San Francisco on January 22, 2013. Buy tickets now.

* What are OpenTable diners raving about in recent restaurant reviews? Brisket.

* Baltimore County Restaurant Week: $10.13-$30.15 lunches and $15.13 – $35.13 dinners, January 11-27Book a table.

* Berkeley Restaurant Week: Gourmet $30 three-course dinners, January 13-20Book a table.

* Galveston Restaurant Week: Special lunches and dinners priced at $10, $15, $20, $25, $30, $35, $40, and $45, January 13-26Book a table.

* Howard County Restaurant Weeks: Prix-fixe menus from $10.13-$40.13, January 14-28Book a table.

* Napa Valley Restaurant  Month: Under $15 and $15-$30 lunches and under $25, $25-$50, and $50-$75 dinners, January 1-31Book a table.

* New York City Restaurant Week: $25 lunches and $35 dinners, January 14-February 8Book a table.

* Pittsburgh Restaurant Week: Special gourmet meals, January 14-20Book a table.

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