The Family Meal – Tuesday, April 24th, 2018

Hello Tuesday,

Hate to start on a down note, but feels like a good time to spark some internal security discussions: Does your staff know what their options are in the case of an active shooter like the deadly Waffle House incident on Sunday? What separates your sidewalk seating from a murderer in a truck like the guy in Toronto yesterday?


Let’s get to (the rest of) it…

The (UK) Critics – A confession in The Guardian: “In my game, as a restaurant critic, it would be more acceptable to come clean as a roaring alcoholic, a snob or a tax evader than reveal my actual clandestine secret. But here goes: my name is Grace Dent and I eat mainly vegan…. Eating plant-based makes really no impact on my career as a restaurant critic…. Anyone can describe a lamb chop…. Almost any idiot can add flame to a chop and make it taste half decent. That’s why summer gardens are full of men poking at barbecues while feeling like Marco Pierre White.”

Come for the controversial takes (“announcing you’re flexitarian is a bit like coming out as bisexual”), stay for the soft-focus glamour shots.

P.S. FYI, ATL PR – Eater critic Bill Addison ended his most recent newsletterwith an invite: “Also, my dear Atlantans: Next time I pass through town I’ll be thinking about places that might make it onto this year’s roundup of the country’s best new restaurants. Thoughts for worthy candidates? Email me”

Unlisted – GQ’s Brett Martin is out with his 2018 Best New Restaurants in America, but expect more of a long read than a list, as he tries to weave his selections together into some kind of unifying proof that “in 2018… the great American style might just be incoherence.” You might just not buy that – I didn’t – but it’s still well worth a read to keep a finger on the national pulse.

The selections: The Charter OakSt. Helena, CAChez Ma Tante NYCCoteNYCDialogueLAHello, Sailor Cornelius, NC; Henrietta RedNashvilleJuneBabySeattleKitsuneChicagoLady of the HouseDetroitMajordōmoLAMaydān, D.C.Theodore RexHoustonXochiHouston.

Shot via GQ: “It must be maddening to other restaurateurs that [Dave Chang], in addition to all his other talents, seems to have a bag of perfect restaurant names lying around.”

Chaser via Variety: “‘The Dave Chang Show’ is scheduled to launch April 26 as a limited series on the Ringer Podcast Network. The show will be a partnership between Bill Simmons Media Group and Chang’s Majordomo Media.” Great name.

Undone – “Chef Jessica Koslow [founder of LA phenom Sqirl] is no longer bringing Tel, one of the country’s most anticipated sophomore restaurants, to the west side of Los Angeles.” Sounds like there’s a good chunk of cash down the drain on this one. Koslow tells Eater LA that after several big delays, “We finally obtained the necessary building permits, secured key operational licenses, and hired our construction staff. We planned to break ground in January, but my investor backed out just before we could move forward.” Details here.

Unwritten – Former New York Times critic Mimi Sheraton lobbies for a recently departed friend: “Hard to believe NYT chose not to do obituary on Sheldon J Tannen, the face of the ‘21’ Club for more than a generation and a member of that family. A consummate New Yorker and an affable, canny host, Tannen’s life & times are worth being honored by the paper of record.” Tannen passed away earlier this month at 93.

Midwest moves – In Chicago, “Ex-Longman & Eagle chef Matt Kerney is assembling a team that will open a new restaurant in the [42 Grams] space. Details are scarce, but there’s a liquor license application for Brass Heart for 42 Grams’s former address with Kerney’s and his partners’ name on it.”

That mortgage $$$ – In D.C., chef “Nicholas Stefanelli, owner of Italian restaurant Masseria… has signed on for a Greek restaurant at Fannie Mae’s new Midtown Center headquarters at 1100 15th Street, NW.” Masseria is a sexy, modern, Italian hideaway in an industrial area, so this is a natural next step… Details on WTOP.

That parenthetical – In Eater NY: “Industry favorite (and notoriously hard-to-work-with) cocktail maestro Giuseppe González appears to have had another fall out with a partner. His cocktail bar Suffolk Arms, located on the border of East Village and LES, has closed.”

Niche niche – This NYT story of two Mormons from Hawaii growing a successful, Big Island-style fast casual chain in Utah is worth a read if only for its basic marketing lesson: Meet your customer where they live. In this case, the partners at Mo’ Bettahs “noticed that there were many Facebook groups for Mormons who had served missions in Polynesia. He started promoting the restaurant through those channels. Mo’ Bettahs was suddenly mobbed with former missionaries eager to give their families and friends a taste of the place where they had spent their most formative years.”

For design fans – Le Bernadin posted pictures of its main dining room cleared out for spring cleaning, so if you’re inclined to interior decoration thought experiments, here’s your (nearly) blank slate. My vision: millennial pink!

And last and least – This Vanity Fair piece (from April 13th – sorry!) on a con artist who passed bad checks to play high society includes this little nugget: “Her routine dinner spot became Le Coucou, winner of the James Beard Award for best new restaurant that same year, which was on the ground level of her hotel. Buckwheat fried Montauk eel to start and then the bourride: her dish of choice. She befriended the staff, and even the chef, Daniel Rose, who, upon her request, obligingly made off-the-menu bouillabaisse just for her. Dinners were accompanied by abundant white wine.” I am buying the rights. Working title: Bad Checks and Bouillabaisse. Dibs.

And that’s it for today. If you, like Brett Martin, appreciate incoherence, I’m very, very glad to have you as a reader, and I’ll see you Friday for next Family Meal.

And don’t forget to follow me on Twitter, and send tips and/or produce-based boudoir pics to If you got this as a forward, sign up for yourself at!

P.S. Headed to Seoul for the first time this weekend. Grateful for recommendations if you’ve got good ones!

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