Chef and Menu Report: Week of 10/05/14

Every week, we take a look at some new chefs and menus that have been announced across the country and around the world

Chef Bart Vandaele toasts the 10-year anniversary of his first restaurant, Belga Café, in Washington D.C.

Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo, is delighted to announce that the Nordic transplant pop-up will be extended for two more weeks due to overwhelming demand. Noma at Mandarin Oriental, Tokyo, will now be open from January 9 to February 14, 2015, every day except Sundays. Guests who are currently on the waitlist will be contacted and given first priority to book over the next few business days. After reaching out to the current waitlist, new reservations will be accepted from October 17, with lunch reservations as well as private dining room bookings for both lunch and dinner available via Noma’s website and reservations for the accommodation package, including dinner, available on the hotel’s website.

Hong Kong
Congress Plus at Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre launches new options, including an array of á-la-carte choices, a salad bar, and a noodle bar. The 20,000-square-foot restaurant seats 300 and offers food lovers a premier dining experience with unsurpassed views across Victoria Harbour. The daily organic salad bar buffet showcases a range of fresh, organically grown vegetables that are sourced from accredited organic suppliers worldwide, and daily soup selections feature a choice of both Chinese and Western favorites. The noodle bar presents diners with an extensive selection of handcrafted noodles made with quality ingredients.

Nayarit, Mexico
The Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit recently debuted a new menu at its gourmet Mexican restaurant, Frida. A tribute to the legendary Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, the AAA Four Diamond restaurant offers a wide range of dishes from various regions of Mexico, with specialty ingredients like Chapulines, or grasshoppers; elote fresco, Mexican grilled corn; Chilhuacle Negro chile, a very rare chile with notes of cocoa, tobacco, and dry fruit grown only in Oaxaca, Achiote, used in the Yucatan spice mixture recado rojo, and more.

New York
To commemorate the 60th anniversary of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker, you can now pre-book orchestra seats for four Wednesday matinées (December 10, December 17, December 24, and December 31) at Lincoln Center, combined with a special two-course prix fixe Nutcracker lunch at Lincoln Ristorante, complete with hand-crafted milk chocolate nutcrackers. Guests can choose any entrée from the menu, and will also be served a sugar plum crostata and the aforementioned nutcrackers.

To mark their 80th anniversary, Rudy's Bakery and Café on Seneca Avenue (the oldest German bakery in Ridgewood) is going back almost a century by offering baked goods at 1934 prices. The celebration on Saturday, October 25, from noon to 5 p.m., will coincide with Ridgewood's Seneca Avenue Oktoberfest Stroll. Among the tasty and traditional treats available will be miniature jelly doughnuts, Linzer Tarts, Blackforest Cake, cheese and cherry strudel, and Danish, all priced at 80 cents per piece. There will also be complimentary hourly tastings (while supplies last), a German band, and for the kids, pumpkin decorating and a pop-up library.

Esquire will announce the best new restaurants for 2014 with cocktails and signature dishes — presented by America’s best mixologists and chefs — at its American Food & Drink Awards on October 14 at 8 p.m. Held at The Cecil, the awards will feature live music from JC Hopkins Biggish Band featuring Queen Esther, Charles Turner, King Solomon Hicks, and Michela Marino Lerman. Tickets cost $95 and include hors d’oeuvres, and drinks, and a portion of ticket proceeds will be donated to the Harlem School of the Arts.

John Meadow of LDV Hospitality and Dave Pasternack are excited to announce the launch of brunch at Barchetta, beginning this weekend. Some highlights include baguette pumpkin French toast with apple-raisin compote and maple syrup, quiche with farmhouse eggs and fall vegetables, and the Barchetta burger with caramelized onions, pickled green tomato, and Calabrian chili.

This month, Ariana Restaurant will begin a special live music and gourmet five-course dinner pairing experience, the Classical Music/Contemporary Cuisine Series. The first night will be Wednesday, October 22 at 7 p.m., and the series will offer New York City diners and music lovers an evening consisting of a 30-minute live sit-down musical concert followed by a five-course dinner from the Ariana menu. Guests in attendance can expect to find options including an assorted cured fish platter, duck or sturgeon pelmeni (dumplings), beef Stroganoff, and cranberry artichoke scallops. Email the restaurant to make reservations.

Meet Mimo. “Mimo” is short for Mimolette, a firm round cheese with a crater-filled rind and a bright orange hue. This year, Mimo let it be known that he would like to celebrate Halloween by dressing up as a favorite American icon: the Jack-O’-Lantern. The French Cheese Board, the home of all things French cheese in New York, will be showcasing Mimolette cheese from October 23 to November 7. Children and adults alike can stop in to see Mimo on display (from October 31 onward), and over the entire 14-day period, Mimolette cheese will be available for sale as well. On Halloween, cheese lovers are invited to stop by to taste Mimo, compare both young and aged flavor profiles, and to take Mimo home for half price.

Mimi Cheng's, a new dumpling shop in the East Village, has debuted a new Game Day dumpling special of crispy buffalo chicken dumplings, served with house-made blue cheese dipping sauce (6 for $9 or 8 for $11). They are made with pasture-raised chicken from Lancaster Farm, organic celery, organic carrots, and hot sauce. Mimi Cheng's also now offers a Game Day Package, which includes 50 pan-fried buffalo chicken dumplings with house-made blue cheese dipping sauce, 50 pan-fried reinvented classic pork dumplings with Mimi's secret sauce, and two large sides of market vegetables. The $150 package that feeds 10 to 15 people can be ordered day-of or in advance by emailing the restaurant.

Washington D.C.
This month, chef Bart Vandaele toasts the 10-year anniversary of his first restaurant, Belga Café, and to celebrate this milestone, Vandaele has planned a series of special events designed to pay homage to a decade in the District, and highlight the unique aspects of the small, but gastronomically diverse, country of Belgium. Below is a calendar of these events:

Saturday, October 11: See and Taste Cooking Demo with Chef Vandaele
Chef Vandaele will prepare a three-course tasting with beer parings in front of guests while walking them though each step of the process. Reservations are required ($45 per person, not including tax and gratuity). 1 to 3 p.m., The Fridge.

Tuesday, October 14: Thank You from Belga Café and Chef Vandaele
Chef Vandaele hosts a special reception for guests and the neighborhood featuring Champagne and Belgian bites. The event is free of charge and reservations are required to attend. 6 to 9 p.m., Belga Café.

Wednesday, October 15 to Friday, October 31: Anniversary à la Carte Menu
Guests can enjoy a special menu highlighting some of chef Vandaele’s favorite dishes from the last 10 years at the restaurant, available during dinner service at Belga Café.

Saturday, October 18: Belga’s Beer Market
This one-day-only market offers guest a unique opportunity to taste their way through Belgium at this showcase of beers and paired bites. Tokens will be available for purchase at the door and used at the event for food and drinks. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at The Fridge.

Thursday, October 23: 10 for 10 Tasting Menu
Chef Vandaele guides guests on an exclusive 10-course journey through Belgium’s culinary landscape. The evening begins with a special reception followed by a seated dinner and wine pairing hosted by Chef Bart. Limited seating available and reservations are required ($125 per person with wine pairings, not including tax and gratuity). The reception will be at 6:30 p.m. with dinner at 7 p.m. at Belga Café.

Tuesday, October 28: Anniversary Beer Dinner
A seven-course beer dinner featuring rare Belgian Trappists including Westvleteren Trappist Beer, which is not available anywhere else in the country. Limited seating available and reservations are required ($79 per person, not including tax and gratuity); 6:30 p.m. at Belga Café.

Local chef Adam Evans of The Optimist and chef Ryan Smith of Staplehouse will be featured at the inaugural Sunday Supper Gulf Coast, a Friends of James Beard Benefit Dinner, taking place November 1 and 2. On Saturday, November 1, Seafood, Science & Celebrity will begin with its traditionally sold-out annual “Sustaining Heritage” Gala from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Estuarium. On Sunday, November 2, The inaugural Sunday Supper Gulf Coast will take place inside Historic Fort Gaines’ open-air kitchen with cocktails and hors d’oeuvres from 12 to 2 p.m., and a seated dinner from 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday Supper Gulf Coast will raise funds to support the James Beard Foundation’s Culinary scholarship program, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) organization. Click here to purchase tickets to these events.

San Francisco
Stag Dining is working in conjunction with Kimpton’s Prescott Hotel and some Postrio alumni to produce a very special evening honoring chef Jacques Pépin and the 100th anniversary of the Prescott. Chef Pepin will be on hand to mingle with guests and share a few anecdotes from his storied career on Saturday, October 18 at 8 p.m.


Kate Kolenda is the Restaurant/City Guide Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @BeefWerky and @theconversant.