Appetizers 5/29: California Restaurant Injects Whimsy Into Reopening

Carte Blanche's sanitizer bar | Photo Credit: Carte Blanche

Welcome to Appetizers, OpenTable’s weekly column that aims to uplift, delight, surprise, and motivate with a weekly roundup of the most inspiring food-world news of the week. Start your weekend with the things that are making us laugh, cry, think, and just plain hungry for more.

Making Us … Ready

One California restaurant has the whole safely reopening thing on lock. Carte Blanche in California is not only clearly and publicly listing out all safety precautions it’s taking while reopening post COVID-19, but it’s also doing so in style. The French-Mexican bistro took steps to create a sanitizer bar with infused scents, paint murals on its plastic partitions between tables, and make cute graphics to playfully illustrate the Oceanside restaurant’s new rules for keeping everyone as safe as possible.

Owner Brandon Ross said they “decided to have a little fun around the restaurant with all the safety measures we are implementing” as a way to “go overboard with safety.”

A sign that says "gooses only!" on a wooden table

How Carte Blanche is blocking off tables | Photo Credit: Carte Blanche

“Some things we are doing are mandated from local/state levels, but most of them we created above and beyond the mandated protocols to give a higher level of comfort for our guests and team we care so deeply about,” he said in an email.

The restaurant’s mascot is a goose, which shows up all over the new safety protocols from custom goose masks for servers to signs on closed tables that say “gooses only.” Other than that, there’s contactless payment, six feet between tables, plexiglass shields at the bar, and more.

More photos below show it all. Carte Blanche reopens May 30 at 4 p.m.

Making Us … in Awe

Groundbreaking farm-to-table chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill in New York City has created an opportunity for New York chefs to plant a garden in the middle of Manhattan. Barber reached out to officials at Battery Park in Manhattan’s Financial District to ask if he could surreptitiously plant a kitchen garden in the middle of the night. The park’s response was to offer a half-acre plot to cultivate by day. Barber enlisted chefs from Atla, Racines, and other restaurants to help him by “digging into infinitely valuable real estate to make it infinitely more valuable,” and now Battery Park has a garden for all to enjoy.

Making Us … Hungry

Two Chicago restaurants have teamed up during quarantine to bring their cuisines to each other’s diners. Vietnamese Saigon Sisters and Ethiopian Demera, located across town from each other, are offering the other’s food for pickup at their restaurants as a way to potentially introduce new customers to their cultures and drum up business. Each utilized the other’s approximately 8,000 customer emails to launch, Eater Chicago reports. The two friends see it as a way to support each other’s restaurants to get through this tough time.

But if you’re not in Chicago, try recreating the famous Toups burger at home, full of bacon, cheddar, and Creole aioli. Top Chef fan favorite Isaac Toups walks you through how to make the dish from his New Orleans kitchen, where he’s been feeding restaurant industry workers for free for weeks.

Making Us … Nostalgic

The New York Times has a fun new feature out for people missing their favorite restaurants. Featuring 12 iconic restaurants across the country, the story spotlights what’s so special about these places and shares how to recreate their most famous recipes from home. Bananas foster from Brennan’s in New Orleans and garlic whip from Phoenicia near Detroit are two excellent options.

Making Us … Laugh

More Carte Blanche photos

Safety measures at Carte Blanche

Illustrated safety measures | Photo Credit: Carte Blanche

A restaurant dining room

Painted partitions | Photo Credit: Carte Blanche

A goose-covered mask

Goose-covered masks | Photo Credit: Carte Blanche

Previous Appetizers

May 22: Ayesha Curry Launches a Lifestyle Magazine

May 15: Top Chefs Do Good