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Foie Gras for the Soul 

Restaurants react to last week's attacks

Wednesday, Sep 19 2001
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Food for Thought Harry would like to dedicate this column and send his deepest regards to Heather Ho and her friends and family. The pastry chef, who garnered critical acclaim at Boulevard and recently relocated to the World Trade Center's restaurant Windows on the World, was unaccounted for at press time.

While many of us gathered around the TV sets and grieved, our restaurants scrambled to serve the community. In light of its Civic Center location, Jardinière closed on Tuesday night -- as did many dining rooms. Over the next few evenings, the usually packed hot spot underwent what most local restaurants are also encountering: up to a 50 percent drop in reservations. That's not surprising, considering everyone's turning to creature comforts: According to Director of Operations Larry Bain, even co-owner Traci des Jardins "wants to stay home with her baby and eat tacos and bacon, her favorite comfort foods." Those who are dining and working are showing great generosity -- Bacar General Manager David O'Malley, for example, saw a $100 tip on a $332 bill on Wednesday. The day before, O'Malley had been reassuring six New Yorkers, who feared dining in any restaurant near the Financial District; he sent free appetizers to them and to a United Airlines pilot solemnly dining solo. On Wednesday, Masa's invited one visiting Windows on the World sous-chef to dine there.

Harry spoke to a number of restaurateurs who acknowledged that the recent events are likely to result in higher food costs in the long run, due to trouble transporting ingredients and reduced revenue. In the same breath, however, they were quick to point out how trivial it all seems right now.

Something Wild No sooner did Harry's last column ("The Cocktail Charade," Sept. 5) heckle Pat Kuleto's upcoming Martini House in St. Helena for calling its cuisine "Wild Napa" than a restaurant rep called to say the owner had changed his mind. Now it's all about "Napa Cuisine" -- in other words, same food ("Food that we love, inspired by the Napa Valley"), different name. The rep also clarified the origins of the Martini name, which pays tribute to the building's origin as a house built in 1923 for retired opera singer Walter Martini. The old gent may not have been from the famous Martini wine family, but he did like his vino; the remains of his private bootlegging operation were found in the basement.

Nuggets Over the weekend of Sept. 9, chef Johnny Alamilla, previously of Che, quietly opened Alma, his Nuevo Latino restaurant. Nesting in the former home of the Rooster at 1101 Valencia, the casual 49-seater hosted both Michael Bauer and GraceAnn Walden (dining separately, of course) on opening night. ... Chef Thomas Keller's famed Fleur de Lys suffered an electrical fire in the wee hours of Saturday, Sept. 8. The damage was limited largely to the kitchen, though the main dining room and downstairs storage rooms suffered smoke and water damage. He is hoping to reopen within a month. ... Andrew Finkelman, owner of the official hangout of bail bondsmen and off-duty jurors -- that would be the Gin Joint -- recently announced that chef Kristi Person is returning to 2223 to be a sous-chef. Her toque will be tossed to Larry Tavernetti, who had left the Joint earlier in the year. ... No love lost on the Sept. 6 closing of Planet Hollywood, which disconnected its phone faster than you can say, "Hey, tourists, the Hard Rock's on Van Ness."

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Harry Coverte

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