The OpenTable 2010 ‘Good for Groups’ Diners’ Choice Award Winners Are In!

Good for Groups Winner Wildwood BBQ The OpenTable 2010 Good for Groups Diners’ Choice Award Winners Are In!
Diners' Choice Award winner Wildwood Barbeque in NYC is great for groups!

It’s the most wonderful time of the year — or close to it. And, that means getting together with friends and family to celebrate the season! Finding room on your calendar may be tough, but finding the right restaurant won’t be, thanks to the 2010 OpenTable Diners’ Choice Award winners in our ‘Good for Groups’ category. Derived from more than 7 million reviews submitted by OpenTable diners for 12,000+ restaurants in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, this list indicates the 50 best restaurants in the OpenTable network for group dining.

Not just based on space, the winning restaurants serve up superior service and all types of delicious dishes, including family-style Italian suppers and authentic Mexican specialties to hearty barbecue favorites and juicy steaks. The Good for Groups Diners’ Choice Award winners guarantee your group will have a great time and a great meal.

Congratulations to all the honorees, who include Buca di Beppo, Gyu-KakuLoca Luna, and Trattoria Cinque, as well as 45 others!

What makes a restaurant good for groups? We asked Diners’ Choice winner Wildwood Barbeque’s Pitmaster “Big Lou” Elrose, and he said, “Wildwood Barbeque welcomes big groups with open arms! We’re a great place to gather all your friends and family or office mates for a fun time and there is something for everyone from multi-regional American BBQ, addictive bar snacks, salads and sandwiches in addition to pitchers of beer and an extensive selection of whiskey and bourbon.”

Did your favorite restaurant make our list? Do you enjoy dining out in groups or do you prefer smaller parties? Weigh in here or join the discussion on Facebook.

The Spotlight Is On in NY. Can You Guess Where Else the Deals Will Shine?

SS DC 110910 The Spotlight Is On in NY. Can You Guess Where Else the Deals Will Shine?
Can you guess which DC restaurant serves up this delicious dish?

We started the savings party early this week, with a live deal at B. Smith restaurant in New York right now! And, naturally, the OpenTable Spotlight will be turned on later tonight in AtlantaBostonChicagoDenverLos AngelesPhiladelphiaSan Francisco, and Washington, D.C. We’ll let you know where — but do you? Make your best guesses on the Spotlight message boards, Facebook, or Twitter with these helpful hints!

trans The Spotlight Is On in NY. Can You Guess Where Else the Deals Will Shine?Atlanta: At this dazzling restaurant, old world décor in a modern setting provides the perfect backdrop for a contemporary fusion of traditional southern soul food and globally influenced tapas.

Boston: Set in Somerville, this pleasant restaurant serves classic bistro fare with European flair. Settle into a comfortable, plush chair inside or on the spacious patio and enjoy the Italian, Mediterranean, and American fusion cuisine.

trans The Spotlight Is On in NY. Can You Guess Where Else the Deals Will Shine?Chicago: This post-prohibition inspired restaurant in Chicago’s Old Town serves up classic American cuisine and cocktails in an elegant, 1930s atmosphere.

Denver: Dine in style at this Denver restaurant. Located in a popular downtown hotel, this eatery was named in honor of the city’s mile-high elevation.

Los Angeles: Fall under the ocean’s spell at this elegant eatery in Orange County, where all the ingredients are proudly obtained through local farmers and sustainable fisheries.

Philadelphia: Tapas, tequila, and truth reign at this Latin-influenced spot on the Main Line.

San Francisco: This vibrant hotspot in the Marina district serves tantalizing Latin-Asian fusion cuisine and features a live DJ 4 nights a week.

Washington, D.C.: Contemporary French cuisine is the specialty at this Capitol Hill restaurant, where diners can purchase art and antiques from the ever-changing collection, sourced from local markets and artisans.

Be sure to get your offers before the Spotlight goes out on Wednesday night! And, tune in on Thursday for a second chance to save at another New York restaurant.

The Next Iron Chef Episode 6: Chef Marc Forgione on Pressure and Pressure Cookers

Next Iron Chef Episode 6 Judges The Next Iron Chef Episode 6: Chef Marc Forgione on Pressure and Pressure Cookers
The chefs are challenged to transform the old school 24-hour Vegas buffet: "The Chairman wants you to razzle dazzle Sin City with your modern version." — Alton Brown

Competitor and native New Yorker Marc Forgione walks us through what happened in Vegas in this latest nail-biter of an ep of The Next Iron Chef. Threatened with a double elimination at the outset, chef Forgione was sweating it out with three of his fellow chefs until the very last minute.

This show is set in Vegas. What’s your opinion about Sin City and opportunities for restaurateurs? Do you aspire to open Marc Forgione LV?

I don’t know if I would ever open a Marc Forgione in Vegas. We have plans for Marc Forgione restaurant expansion, but New York is my home base. However…if anyone is out there reading this, I have always been interested in having some type of restaurant in Vegas.  Vegas is an amusement park for adults, where everything is bigger and fancier. When people go to Vegas they want to be wowed and spend money. It is for that reason that Vegas is a chef’s dream — you can cook with exotic ingredients and take the word “fine dining” to the extreme.

For your first challenge, Jean-Philippe Maury is your judge. He’s a MOF. Did you see Kings of Pastry? Maury strikes me as the quintessential French chef, especially with his razz of Canora’s dessert. Were you intimidated by him as a judge?

Continue reading…

Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 8: Michael Laiskonis’s Take on the Tea Party…

TCJD 8 Yigit Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 8: Michael Laiskoniss Take on the Tea Party...
Yigit's ambition got the best of him this ep, as evidenced by this ill-fated sugar vase.

No, not that tea party. But, there was a tea party this week on Top Chef Just Desserts and, as with certain politicians around the U.S., it proved to be more than a few folks’ undoing. Le Bernardin Executive Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis walks us through the minefield that was episode 8.

Shinmin Li is in the house and she’s saying the trend is now toward artful decorative, desserts with a wow factor. Would you agree and why?

While there has to be an inventive, pleasing visual element to pastry, I’ll stick to my guns in saying that flavor comes first. That ‘wow’ factor needs to be sustained all the way through, beyond the first impression.

Would you gravitate toward the natural, as Danielle did, if tasked with making a centerpiece? If not, what techniques/materials would come to mind?

I was surprised to see Danielle lean toward that ‘naturalistic’ look, especially since it almost sent her home on the edible fashion challenge a couple of weeks back. I would have taken the approach Morgan and Yigit did, incorporating sugar and chocolate techniques to achieve a representational, yet contemporary feel.

Morgan was pulling sugar and talking about how he wanted to showcase his ability to do so. Can you explain what it is and what it entails for our non-pastry peeps?

Continue reading…

Daily Dining Poll: Does a Kids’ Menu Make Dining Out Simpler for Parents?

Dining out with children has many rewards and, often, many challenges. We’re wondering if parents find it helpful to have a dedicated children’s menu from which to choose when visiting a restaurant with the little ones in tow. Weigh in below!

The Next Iron Chef Episode 5: Chef Marc Forgione on His Close Call

Next Iron Chef 5 Forge The Next Iron Chef Episode 5: Chef Marc Forgione on His Close Call
After losing the Secret Ingredient Challenge, Chef Forgione has a disadvantage in this one: He's the last one to select his ingredients, and a lot of the good stuff is gone.

As you may have guessed, we’re big fans of chef Marc Forgione here at OpenTable. So, we were on pins and needles watching the latest episode of The Next Iron Chef as this Michelin-starred chef struggled from start to finish. Like every week, chef Forgione shares his thoughts on what went right and wrong in Kitchen Stadium.

The show starts and you look so excited to cook with potatoes. Why do you love them so much? What’s your absolute favorite way to cook them?

Potatoes are one of those ingredients that you can twist and turn, flavor and season. You can turn a normal potato into something decadent or rustic. It is one of those blank canvases that you can play around with, manipulate, etc. My rustic favorite way to cook potatoes is to bake them and serve them with butter, salt and pepper. My fancy way to cook them is to make Robuchon-style mashed potatoes.

Chef Caswell hoards the black truffle. Doesn’t a little truffle go a very long way? Or is this just a good example of game play?

They were not black truffles; they were summer truffles and there were only a few in the pantry. Summer truffles don’t go a long way, certainly not as far as black truffles. Chef Caswell probably needed to use more than you would expect because they are not that flavorful.  As far as him game playing, you’d have to ask Chef Caswell that question.

Continue reading…

The World Series Has Ended, But Spotlight Offers Start to Shine Again Tonight!

SS BOS B 110210 The World Series Has Ended, But Spotlight Offers Start to Shine Again Tonight!
Can you guess which Boston restaurant serves this savory dish?

Last night, OpenTable’s HQ hometown baseball team, the San Francisco Giants, won the World Series. Yay, Giants! Are you sad the Series is over? I am. In fact, I’m sure I speak for everyone at OpenTable (except for Chip O’Connell. Sorry, Chip!) when I say that we’re all sad it has ended, but only because we’d like to relive the last minutes of Game 5 again. And again. And again. And… sorry, I digress. So, you’re sad the Series is over. On top of that, this weekend is the weekend that we turn back the clocks, and that’s always an agent of sadness, what with it getting darker earlier EVERY SINGLE DAY until December 21st. Boo!

BUT we’ve got a reason — or, to be precise, NINE reasons — to be really happy right now: OpenTable Spotlight offers are set to shine bright later tonight! As usual, offers will be available in AtlantaBostonChicagoDenverLos AngelesNew YorkPhiladelphiaSan Francisco, and Washington, D.C.. You’ll get the chance to save 50% at terrific restaurants, and saving money is enough to put a spring in anyone’s step, right? Until we launch our offers tonight, try to correctly guess the restaurant names based on our clever Secret Spotlight clues on the Spotlight message boards, Facebook, or Twitter!

trans The World Series Has Ended, But Spotlight Offers Start to Shine Again Tonight! Continue reading…

What Do Cleveland, Long Island, and Silicon Valley Have in Common?

Silicon Valley Restaurant Week 2010 What Do Cleveland, Long Island, and Silicon Valley Have in Common?It’s a head scratcher, we know, but the answer is…restaurant week! These three locales are each feting the foods in their regions, offering up steals on meals at some of their area’s best fine dining destinations.

Cleveland Restaurant Week kicked off today and runs through November 14. With most restaurants offering $30 dinners, including Crop Bistro, The Greenhouse Tavern, Table 45, and many more, book your tables to enjoy a fortnight of savings in the Rock ‘n’ Roll Capital of the World!

On the East Coast, Long Island Restaurant Week diners can enjoy $24.95 three-course dinners at restaurants such as Bel Posto, Mirabelle, and Stone Creek Inn, November 7-14. With participating restaurants from the Queens border to the East End of the Island, reserve for Long Island Restaurant Week today to dine your way from NYC and back again.

Out west, Silicon Valley is staging what will surely be another successful restaurant week. Silicon Valley Restaurant Week starts November 3rd and extends ’til the 10th. Offering America’s most tech-savvy foodies $35 dinners, participating restaurants include ARCADIA, Parcel 104, and Zitune, among others. Get out your mobile phone and book your reservations now.

Not near any of these exciting restaurant weeks? Find one near you!

Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 7: War of the Roses Leads to Demise of Team Diva

TCJD 7 Eric Top Chef Just Desserts Episode 7: War of the Roses Leads to Demise of Team Diva
As Eric creates roses, he can't decide which is more unnerving: Johnny's steady gaze or his sideburns.

As the herd thins on Top Chef Just Desserts, the action does not. Le Bernardin Executive Pastry Chef Michael Laiskonis notes, “The show is becoming more about the food and techniques, which I love!” Chef Laiskonis offers up his expert insights into what went right and wrong in last night’s episode.

The QFC is based on three tenets of working in a pastry kitchen: organization, speed, and precision. Would you agree with these as the top requirements, and/or if you could add a fourth or fifth, what would it/they be?

Those are certainly three vital pillars upon which a pastry chef’s skills are built. Obviously, teamwork also comes into play. And, perhaps, I might add humility — something a few of our cheftestants could use a bit more of. I was excited to see this challenge, as they were already planning the logistics while I was on set taping my episode!

Continue reading…