The Lists

news to know in the world of fine dining this february

Every month, our Food Editor Nicole Douillet shares her top headlines from the world of food and wine. She’s sharing the restaurant news and fine dining trends to know for February 2019. Curious about the big events in the world of food and drink this month? Click here.

top headlines from the world of food and wine this february

1. a new mexican joint opens in midtown manhattan

There’s a new taco in town. Last year, Alex Stupak of Empellon, Taqueria, and Al Pastor took over the former Salvation Taco space in the Pod 39 Hotel in Murray Hill in Manhattan, after chef and owner April Bloomfield left amid a sexual harassment scandal involving her business partner, Ken Friedman.

Stupak has now completed the transformation of the space and menu into the next iteration of his casual East Village Al Pastor outpost. It’s called Al Pastor at Pod 39.  The new eatery has a tavern-like feeling with a long bar, dark green walls, and a game room in the back with a separate bar. The menu expands upon the fiesta-like food at the original location, which is known for Al Pastor tacos and nachos served on paper plates. The new sister restaurant takes inspiration from the original, but adds perhaps a bit more of a grown-up feel. Al Pastor @ Pod 39 will be serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, and unlike the original, will also have waiter service.

The new Al Pastor @ Pod 39 in Manhattan

2. the beauty industry fuels the restaurant pop-up trend

The trend that we saw at the new restaurant, Intersect by Lexus, of non-food related brands opening restaurants and pop-ups to entice consumers to buy their products is gaining steam.

The beauty and cosmetics industry has found success opening pop-ups that sell ice cream and cake next to lip balms and liquid eyeliner in cities across the globe. Benefits Cosmetics opened the Roller Liner Diner from January 12 through January 20 in LA, creating an Instagram-worthy ’50’s style pink diner. Selfie options abounded in the space; visitors could pose on an old fashioned motorcycle, and shoppers were offered free ice cream cones and sandwiches from roller-skating servers.

This follows other successful restaurant-themed pop-ups from L’Occitane in Tokyo, London, and Singapore, and from Glossier in San Francisco. It seems like we be seeing more of this trend, which I’m totally fine with!

The Benefit Roller Liner Diner in LA. Photo Credit: Wonho Frank Lee/Eater

3. a new membership club for foodies

Want a reservation to the hottest restaurant for tomorrow night? At 8:30p? Good luck! That is unless you’re a member of INHOUSE the exclusive new concierge service for foodies.

Started by Benjy Leibowitz, the former Matre D’ at The NoMad in New York City, INHOUSE collects extensive profile information on its members and shares that information with all 50+ global restaurant partners. Why? Well, to make sure that its members are treated like regulars every time they step foot into one of the partner establishments, of course.

Have a shellfish allergy? Eleven Madison Park already knows that. Love to start every meal with a glass of blanc de blanc? The sommelier at Loring Place has a bottle ready before you even walk through the door. Membership to INHOUSE will set you back $1,550 per year, but if you want to be treated as a regular when you walk into a London partner restaurant even though you’ve never set foot there before, what’s $1,550?

A Burger from Loring Place, New York City

4. Galentine’s Day is officially a thing now

February 14th is right around corner, and you may remember from a previous post that I’m not a huge fan of dining out on Valentine’s Day.

However, there’s been a recent push to turn the romantic holiday into a friends’ out. Coined “Galentine’s Day,” groups of girlfriends have been getting together to sip pink cosmopolitans, and dine on beef tenderloin followed by chocolate molten cake. This I support.

So, get your friends together, and check the V Day menus at all of your favorite spots (because I guarantee there’s a special menu, and it’s probably a three-course prix fixe with a chocolate dessert option), and then book your table. And, if you’re lucky, maybe one of there’s a fun cosmetics pop-up near you where you can meet as a group and sample make-up and free ice cream sandwiches before your dinner. Then, at dinner, have fun trying to decide which couples are on early dates (spoiler alert – it’s an easy game), and enjoy the night with your friends!

Galentine’s Day

5. Remembering Chef Fati

Last month, the food world tragically lost Pakistani-America chef Fatima Ali to her battle with cancer. Chef Fati, as she was affectionately called, became a favorite of food show fans when she first appeared on, and won, Chopped.

She developed an even bigger fan base when she competed on the show Top Chef. Although she didn’t win the culinary competition, she was elected “Fan Favorite” for authentically representing her Pakistani roots, competing well, and generally being a lovely person. Chef Fati made her battle with cancer public when she learned that she had roughly 12 months to live. Her big heart, thoughtful words, and beautiful food will be greatly missed.

Chef Fatima Ali

6. a new chef at the restaurant at the metropolitan museum of art

There’s a new toque at the Member’s Dining Room at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. Michelin-starred chef John Fraser will create new dishes to add to the menu for its fourth-floor Dining Room restaurant, which until recently was open only to museum members. As museums continue to up their fine dining game to lure more visitors and prolong their stays, the Met will also create a special new cocktail menu for its Great Hall Balcony Bar. And the museum’s “In Conversation” dinner series, previously available only to members, will now be open to the public. The series features chefs from across the nation who create a one-night dining experience that ties in with a Met exhibit.

Dining at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City

7. a bit of parisian glam at saks fifth avenue new york

As part of its multi-year make-over, Saks Fifth Avenue in New York has a new beauty floor, a new handbag department – and now, a new chic restaurant imported straight from France.

L’Avenue has enjoyed over 20 years of success on a Parisian corner on the Avenue Montaigne. It’s a hot spot for everyone in the fashion industry, and now it has opened an outpost in Manhattan on the 9th floor at Saks at Fifth and 50th Street.

For the restaurant’s first and only outpost outside the City of Light, Philippe Starck has designed a space inspired by the restaurant’s French roots. He has created “a late art deco vibe meant to evoke Paris in 1945.” There’s also a patisserie operated by famous confectioner Pierre Hermé. And Le Chalet, a cocktail bar designed to channel the spirit of Gstaad in its heyday.

The new L’Avenue Restaurant at Saks Fifth Avenue

That’s it. Those are the top headlines from the world of food and wine this month. You’re good to go – have a great February.

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Nicole Douillet is Dandelion Chandelier’s Food Editor. In addition to sharing her love of all things food with our readers, Nicole is a finance executive who has spent nearly 18 years on Wall Street in a variety of roles. 

She began her career as the first woman hired as a trader on the block trading desk at UBS.  For over 13 years, Nicole was a quantitative trader and portfolio manager on the proprietary trading desk at Credit Suisse. She then served as Head of Product Innovation and LGBT Strategy for Wealth Management Private Banking New Markets at Credit Suisse. 

Most recently, Nicole co-founded Reboot Investing, Inc. where she served as the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Compliance Officer. A recognized leader in socially responsible investing, Nicole created the ground-breaking Credit Suisse LGBT Equality Index ® and co-authored “What’s the Effect of Pro-LGBT Policy on Stock Price?” for the Harvard Business Review in 2014.  

Nicole currently serves on the Advisory Council for Action Against Hunger | ACF International. She is a former junior Olympic skier, food and drink aficionado, serial restaurant regular, and two-time chili cook-off champion. She and her wife live in Brooklyn with their kids, whose favorite restaurant is Lilia. Nicole is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame.

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