Posts for November 27, 2012

Vaguely Vulgar Restaurant Name Has Chattanooga in a Tizzy

Say it three times fast.

The guys who own Aretha Frankenstein and Crust Pizza in Chattanooga are making patties from grass-fed beef, bringing in some "extraordinary" buns from Atlanta, getting liquid nitrogen to cool their milkshakes, and even installing a very large recliner in their new restaurant, called Sofa King Juicy Burger. Say that fast enough, though, and you'll realize it's a restaurant name only a 9-year-old would love. In Chattanooga, some citizens are upset by the thought of increased expletive uttering because of the still-under-construction restaurant, with one newscaster even asking, "How will this go over with locals and those looking to put down roots?" One town resident says he will stop at nothing to make sure the restaurant does not open, but no one takes him seriously because his name is Noah Vale. [HuffPo]

Stone Crab at Southern, Baconfest Dinner at Hearty Tonight; Two Brothers Dinner Thursday

Okay, we're far enough out from Thanksgiving that it's time to think about real eating again. The Southern has a Florida-style stone crab dinner tonight— $49 per person gets you a four course meal including she-crab soup, apple salad, a half dozen large stone crab flaws, and key lime pie, plus pairings; go here for reservations.

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Joe Blow: Patent Office Denies Dunkin’ Donuts’ ‘Best Coffee’ Claim

America might run on Dunkin', but that doesn't necessarily mean their coffee's any good. Boston-based coffee empire Dunkin' Donuts' petitioned to trademark the phrase "best coffee in America," but the U.S. Patent Office rejected the claim, saying it's "merely laudatory and descriptive," not patent-worthy (perhaps the office's staff prefers Starbucks?). The Dunkin-deprived folks at the Los Angeles Times also note that "insiders" can order the coffee with flavor shots, but those in New England realize that the proper way to order a DD coffee is "regulah," with sugar and cream. [LAT]

Can't Know the Playas Without a Scorecard

We know who this is. Do you?

One thing we wrestle with is striking the right balance between not being too inside-baseball cryptic about the restaurant biz, but not going to the full extent of newspapers and magazines in assuming you, dear reader, need to be reminded of everything ("Mr. Achatz, who also owns Alinea, a popular fine dining restaurant in Chicago...") There are definitely non-chef figures in the food scene who fall in a similar grey area, well known in the biz and media, less and less apparent to civilians. Zagat has a slideshow on eleven such half-behind-the-curtain figures and how they seem to be everywhere, influencing the food you eat; if names like Rodrick Markus or Sara Gasbarra kinda ring a bell but don't entirely roll off the tongue, here's your cheat sheet to catch up with the other cool kids. (And if you don't recognize the man with the cheese in the photo, go here.) [Zagat]

Twinkies Takeover? Tastykake Maker Is Top Contender to Bid for Hostess

Gone, but not for much longer.

That didn't take long: It's only been about a week since Hostess shut down its three dozen bakeries and put its nearly 20,000 employees on the unemployment line after mediation talks fizzled out, and a potential buyer for the brand has already emerged. The Wall Street Journal says that Flower Foods, the Georgia-based baker that last year snatched up Philadelphia’s Tasty Baking Company — makers of Tastykakes — is a top contender to make a strong bid for at least some of Hostess's assets.

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Chilam Balam's Natalie Oswald Opens Shaman in West Town

We haven't heard much about Chuy Valencia since the Top Cheftestant left Chilam Balam to work on a cookbook and eventually open a diner, but his successor, Natalie Oswald, has apparently been busy. Dish reported that last night marked the opening of Shaman, at 1438 W. Chicago, which is basically Chilam Balam (small plates Mexican, cash only) in a more regular space than Chilam's romantic little basement and, like Chilam Balam, BYO and cash only. The menu will be similar but only a few dishes will actually overlap; Oswald will continue running both restaurants. [Dish]

Previously: Natalie Oswald On Following a Top Cheftestant at Chilam Balam

FDA Shuts Down Trader Joe’s–Associated Peanut Butter Plant

Back in September Trader Joe’s voluntarily pulled its Creamy Salted Valencia Peanut Butter from store shelves over concerns that it had sickened dozens with salmonella. Yesterday the FDA, wielding new power granted to it from last year’s food safety law, moved to shut down the New Mexico facility where the offending peanut butter was made. (The plant also made peanut butter for companies like Whole Foods and Target.) Identifying the peanut butter and other nut products processed there as a "reasonable probability" of causing serious health problems or death, the agency suspended the manufacturer Sunland Inc.’s registration. The AP says that under old rules, the FDA would have had to take Sunland to court to block it from producing or distributing food. Now the onus is on the company to prove that its facilities are clean and safe before it can resume operations. Considering FDA officials discovered dirty equipment, improper handling of ingredients, and trailers full of peanuts outside the facility that were left uncovered and exposed to rain and birds, it sounds as though they've got some work to do. [AP, Earlier]

Watch This Chinese Dishwasher Sanitize Plates Like Nobody’s Business

This video, posted on LiveLeak and YouTube yesterday, shows a super-speedy pot washer who, with his soapy squeeze bottles and trusty sanitizer (we hope) at the ready, dispenses with a stack of twentysomething dim sum plates with finesse and ease. This man and his scrubbie are keeping the dream of scullions everywhere alive. If you've ever scrubbed pots and washed dishes in a restaurant, this one's for you.

Long live the four-compartment sink. »

Sports Bar Suite 25, From Rio's d'Sudamerica Owner, Opening December 3

Photo: courtesy Suite 25

If Reno had us at Montreal style bagels, Suite 25 has us at Incan Tater Tots. We suppose it's not a ridiculous concept, given that potatoes come from Peru, but it hints at what Suite 25 will be, a gleeful mashup of Chicago sports bar with the South American food that co-owner Dino Perez serves at longtime South American spot Rio's d'Sudamerica. In any case, Incan Tater Tots are described as "hand-mashed potatoes stuffed with sirloin, egg, black olive, and onion, golden pan fried served with a mayo pesto sauce and Chihuahua cheese." And if that isn't the best-sounding thing since poutine, we don't know what is. Along with South American-tinged food, there's a long beer list, plus some more cross-cultural fusion with drinks like the Mi Shandela, a mix of Michelada and shandy. And there's a 7-foot projection TV plus others scattered about, all under the watchful gaze of a mural of Chicago sports greats by artist Ulysses Villa. It's on the second floor at 2529 N. Milwaukee and it opens Monday, December 3; the menu is below.

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What to Eat at Reno, Opening Tomorrow

Photo: courtesy Reno

Logan Square's Reno had us at Montreal-style wood fired bagels. We haven't ever been to Montreal, we have no idea really what makes them different, just the prospect of having a new wonderful kind of bagel... hey, like Phillip Baker Hall in Boogie Nights, we like simple pleasures. It also struck as a pretty ingenious business model, finding a niche that lets you serve breakfast in a wood-burning oven pizza place (without serving breakfast pizza, which is all kinds of wrong and ought to be confined to airports). So anyway, Reno, no idea why it's named for the middle of the desert, but woodburning oven with cool pizzas, a breakfast menu aimed at people commuting via the blue line right across the street, chef Johnny Anderes from Telegraph next door, a wine list by Jeremy Quinn who also does Telegraph and Webster Wine Bar, Stumptown Coffee— it should be a hit from the moment it opens for the first bagel and schmear tomorrow. Here are the menus; the morning and lunch menus are both served all day until 5 p.m., dinner after 5 p.m., and there is free wifi until dinner starts.

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