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December 30, 2007, 6:37.36 pm ET

2007 was truly a year of good eats, fine designs and inventive young chefs in the restaurant industry.  It was also the year of new trends, including buying ingredients locally. Ceviche became a “crave” and they were running for the “hills” for BBQ.

                                                               Photo: BLT Market/Cititour

Top 10 Restaurants of 2007

Insieme - "Best Food"

Centro Vinoteca - "Best Food"

Hill Country - "Best New BBQ"

Flatbush Farm - "Best Eats & Drinks"

15 East - "Best New Sushi"

BLT Market - "Best Design"

Ye Waverly Inn - "Best Celeb Magnet"

Crave Ceviche Bar - "Best Original Idea"

El Quinto Pino - "Best Original Idea"

2nd Avenue Deli - "Best Revival"

Honorable Mentions

Ed's Lobster Bar

Palo Santo

The Smoke Joint

Chocolate by the Bald Man

Looking forward to eating with you in 2008!!!

Pam's Picks for Best Shops & Styles of 2007

Bond No. 9

Patricia Field

Happy shopping in 2008!!!

The Smith by Andrea Strong
December 30, 2007, 5:23.10 pm ET

I have visited The Smith almost a half-dozen times since it opened its doors, and it’s possible I’ll be there again this week for lunch or dinner (and soon for breakfast too). You see, I’ve waited a long time for The Smith— Jeff Lefcourt and Glenn Harris’ new East Village American Brasserie. I’ve lived in my neighborhood (the Gramercy area) for over ten years now and this is the first time I can say I have a really great every-night-of-the-week neighborhood restaurant.  more

                                                                             Photo: Cititour

Kyotoya by Pamela Grossman
December 30, 2007, 5:18.28 pm ET

Walking to meet my friend Liz for a movie ("Charlie Wilson's War," and I recommend it; Phillip Seymore Hoffman is brilliant, again), I stumbled upon a lovely little place that just might fit this bill. Kyotoya features beautiful Japanese imports; and its merchandise is varied enough that your Grandma, your 6-month-old niece, your Uncle Paul, and your teenage stepdaughter could all be covered here.  more

                          Photo: Koyotoya

The Farnsworth Invention by Lesley Alexander
December 30, 2007, 5:14.39 pm ET

The next time you want to dramatize an encyclopedia article get Aaron Sorkin ("A Few Good Men" and TV’s "The West Wing") and the story will explode off the page. That’s what the playwright has just done with his new show, "The Farnsworth Invention". It’s a look at the birth of television and there’s enough science and case-law to make your head spin. But Sorkin knows how to move a story along and the zigs and zags of patent office disputes make for an engaging evening.  more

                     Photo: Joan Marcus

The Seafarer by Diane Snyder
December 30, 2007, 5:10.45 pm ET

For all the pain and longing that permeates Conor McPherson's latest play, there’s also a significant amount of hope and spirit. And spirits. Those who caught his two previous Broadway ventures (The Weir, Shining City) won't be surprised about the quantity of alcohol consumed by his quintet of characters, five Irishmen for whom midnight mass on Christmas Eve means endless rounds of drinks and poker. But for James "Sharky" Harkin (David Morse), who's battling the bottle and dealing with personal demons, the evening could cost him his soul.   more

                                                          Photo: Joan Marcus

El Quinto Pino by Andrea Strong
December 23, 2007, 8:00.11 pm ET

If you are an avid foodie (which I assume you are if you're reading The Strong Buzz), I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that you're just waiting to hear what I have to say about a certain sandwich served at El Quinto Pino. This sandwich, a sea urchin panini to be precise, has been on the lips of every foodie to dine at EQP since this tapas salon opened its doors a few months ago. Everyone's gone ga-ga for it, and there's been a frantic game of telephone (texting/emailing) from one foodie to another. "Did you have the sea urchin sandwich yet? Did you? Did you?" It's taken on legendary-if not mythical-status and it seems that one's "score" as a foodie is directly determined by whether or not you've tried it.  more

                             Photo: Cititour

Casaville by Brian Scott Lipton
December 23, 2007, 7:54.56 pm ET

Serious restaurant eaters, not to mention hard-working restaurant critics, often experience a weird kind of déjà vu. For example, an instant if fuzzy “wasn’t I here before” moment hit me the minute I walked into Casaville, a charming if unprepossessing month-old French-Moroccan restaurant in Murray Hill; but it wasn’t until I had one bite of the delicious chicken-and-almond stuffed briwat that all became clear. Casaville is the reincarnation, if you will, of another short-lived Moroccan eatery, Darna; but now chef Lahchen Ksiyer – whose briwat I had also enjoyed at the now-closed Soho spot Babouche where he previously cooked -- is fully in charge of the whole operation. The result is a truly enjoyable dining experience -- and one which local residents are already taking advantage of.   more

                                                                            Photos: Cititour

Cymbeline by Lesley Alexander
December 23, 2007, 7:53.17 pm ET

An opulent production to be sure, but Lincoln Center’s "Cymbeline" suffers from the same problems which always plague Shakespeare’s oft disparaged work. It’s a romance surrounded by tragedy with the comic ending of "All’s Well That Ends Well". No matter how streamlined director Mark Lamos clears up the plot-points Cymbeline is a clunky vehicle.  more

Cyrano de Bergerac by Diane Snyder
December 23, 2007, 7:43.54 pm ET

In the last few years leading ladies from the film world have disembarked on Broadway with varying degrees of success. Julia Roberts and Julianne Moore were disappointments, Claire Danes a mixed blessing. But none have showed the panache and natural affinity for the stage the way kick-butt TV star Jennifer Garner (Alias) does in David Leveaux's punchy but often sluggish production of Edmond Rostand’s 110-year-old classic love story (here translated by Anthony Burgess).   more

                                                                       Photo: Carol Rosegg

The Met Acquires Diane Arbus Collection
December 19, 2007, 8:29.42 pm ET

Display of negatives, library, correspondence, equipment, and other ephemera of Diane Arbus, from the exhibition “Diane Arbus Revelations,” which was on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art from March 8 to May 30, 2005. All of the materials in these photographs are part of the Diane Arbus Archive that is now coming as a gift to the Met.  more

                                        Courtesy: The Metropolitan Museum of Art

2nd Avenue Deli is Back!
December 18, 2007, 7:26.22 pm ET

The 2nd Avenue Deli is back... although it's not quite on Second Avenue.   The deli, known for its huge pastrami sandwiches, reopened on 33rd Street between Lexington and Third Avenues, and already the lines are out the door.  We wish them luck!

                                                                          Photos: Cititour

POP Burger Pops Up in Midtown
December 18, 2007, 7:02.20 pm ET

Pop Burger opens its midtown location with three levels, including a lounge.  Shoppers will love the mini-burgers at two for 5 bucks.   Our only request: please use onion slices in your onion rings.  At $3.75, we deserve it!  more

                                                                            Photos: Cititour

Dell'anima by Andrea Strong
December 16, 2007, 3:59.51 pm ET

Dell’anima, which means “of the spirit,” represents the union of two young talents in the business—Joe Campanale, a former sommelier from Babbo, and Chef Gabriel Thompson, formerly of Le Bernardin and Del Posto. Their mission was to bring a smart neighborhood trattoria to the city, to serve a menu stocked with rustic seasonal Italian fare with a choice of 100 Italian wines from Campanale’s favorite producers like Emidio Pepe, Paolo Bea, and Movia and Bruno Giasco.  more

                           Photo: Dell'anima

Bamboo 52 by Brian Scott Lipton
December 16, 2007, 3:55.50 pm ET

Diners of a certain age – and that includes yours truly – will be mighty tempted to ask for a pair of earplugs to go along with their chopsticks at Bamboo 52, a new “sushi lounge” in Hell’s Kitchen that’s drawing enthusiastic younger crowds. Visiting on a recent Friday night with a pair of friends from New Mexico, we seemed to be the only group in the place over 40 – and consequently wincing at the rather-deafening “background” music from the nearby DJ stand.  more

                             Photo: Cititour

St Petersburg Art Glass
December 16, 2007, 3:53.37 pm ET

St. Petersburg in New York. During the holidays, Bryant Park becomes a wonderland for unique holiday gifts from around the world, including glasswork from both Venice and Russia. We truly admired the hand-blown glass ornaments being offered by the St. Petersburg Art Glass Studio. From butterflies in swirls of bright blues and oranges to humming birds and dragon flies, these unique gifts will be welcome under anyone's Christmas tree.  more

                                                                               Photo: Cititour

August: Osage County by Lesley Alexander
December 16, 2007, 3:51.01 pm ET

Outrageous, powerful, and altogether deliciously unexpected. That’s Tracy Letts’ "August: Osage County", the prestigious Steppenwolf Theatre Company’s latest transfer to Broadway. Covering the lives of the Weston family this three-hour plus drama gives new meaning to the words, 'family dysfunction. With a pill- popping Southern mama spewing venom in every utterance and an alcoholic father missing in action, both literally and figuratively, Letts shows his characters in perpetual motion, as mothers and daughters square off and husbands and wives attack and defend with laser sharp irony.  more

                     Photo: Joan Marcus

Back Forty by Andrea Strong
December 9, 2007, 5:26.32 pm ET

I want you to close your eyes for a minute. Really, go ahead. No one's looking. And even if they are, they'll just walk past your cubicle and report you to your boss for napping early Monday morning. No biggy, right? Okay, so close your eyes and imagine this scene: America's heartland in the late 1800s, a weathered old farmhouse on a 160-acre plot of land. This simple farmer's life is the vision for Back Forty, chef Peter Hoffman's new American tavern in the East Village.  more

                                                  Photo: Tina Rupp

Brooklyn Mercantile by Pamela Grossman
December 9, 2007, 5:20.25 pm ET

No place like home for the holidays? I’m fine with that idea, as long as we’re not talking about my home. In order to face the possibility of hosting a festive soiree, I feel I’d need about six months of intensive preparation, starting with extensive renovations. But when I stepped into the sweetly chic Brooklyn Mercantile, I was shocked to find my company-phobia starting to give way to visions of houseguests dancing in my head. If that can happen even to me, this must be a great home store. Its goods will help you feather your nest; and you’ll likewise find great gifts for the generous souls who are opening their doors to you this season.  more

            Photo: Brooklyn Mercantile

Touch Nightclub
December 9, 2007, 5:17.17 pm ET

Touchy feely. After undergoing a multi-million dollar renovation by the creators 230 Fifth and Plunge comes Touch, a plush spot in the heart of the Theater District. Dance the night away under the club's vaulted ceiling while enjoying the sounds from a world-class audio system. Or, sip a house-infused cocktail at one of the the cushy banquettes. VIP bottle service available in the the club's exclusive alcoves.  more

                                                     Photo: Touch

Make Me a Song by Lesley Alexander
December 9, 2007, 5:14.41 pm ET

Musical reviews are an uneven business. Either they feel disjointed, or they lack vision, or worse, they just sort of lie there like muzak. Luckily when Rob Ruggiero decided to celebrate the music of William Finn with his review, "Make Me a Song", he fell into none of these traps. Ruggiero also directs the piece and he’s chosen to accentuate the humanity of this material. The result, now playing at New World Stages, is a thrilling, emotionally satisfying, and joyous experience.  more

                    Photo: Carol Rosegg

Tailor by Andrea Strong
December 2, 2007, 5:30.23 pm ET

I remember the first time I interviewed Tailor’s chef and owner, Sam Mason. It was in 2003, for a piece I wrote for Time Out New York on a wacky trend of savory ingredients showing up in desserts. At the time, the trend was in its infancy, and I was stunned by the random vegetables (parsnips, beets) and wild ingredients (coffee, chiles) Mason was tucking into panna cottas and cakes at WD-50, which had just opened at the time. (And what exactly was coffee soil?) As we talked, he explained that over the years he found himself reaching into the savory kitchen’s walk-in and stealing ingredients for the pastry kitchen because his mentor, the late Jean Louis Palladin, had encouraged him to use vegetables in different and often startling ways. “Palladin thought that vegetables should not be categorized as untouchable in the pastry kitchen,” he told me back in 2003. “And he was right. My thing is to change the perception that vegetables are for savory and fruits are sweet.”   more

                                                                                Photo: Tailor

NYC Private Collection by Pamela Grossman
December 2, 2007, 5:27.33 pm ET

Yes, gift-giving season has arrived; but along with it comes the season of the holiday party. So while we're wondering what Aunt Eileen, Cousin Sammy, or our best friend's boyfriend might want, we're also facing the tricky question of what we will wear.  more

        Photo: Private Collection

Young Frankenstein by Diane Snyder
December 2, 2007, 5:21.52 pm ET

It's alive — but it could definitely use another jolt of electricity. Sparks fly intermittently in this sophomore effort from Mel Brooks and Thomas Meehan, the masterminds behind The Producers, but the hilarity that erupted so effortlessly from that Broadway megahit clunks along for most of this musical, even though they're both adaptations of classic Mel Brooks films.  more

                              Photo: Poster

Clubhouse Cafe
December 2, 2007, 5:19.19 pm ET

Tintol, the Portuguese tapas joint in Times Square, has closed. And in its place is the Clubhouse Cafe, a casual spot for Kosher fare. The menu includes your standard burgers and sandwiches, along with fried chicken, duck empanadas and lamb chili. Owner Jose de Meirelles plans to reopen Tintol at a new location downtown. We'll keep you posted!  more

                            Photo: Cititour

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