Tuesday Seven: Romper Room Will Be a Ballpit, an In-N-Out Pie

Plus Albany is getting a Pacific Northwest-style cafe, Bay Area restaurant laws are changing as of Jan. 1, a body-shaming nutrition writer takes a faceplant, and the New York Times takes on a Times Square Señor Frog's.

[jump] Romper Room Will Be a Ballpit For Two Days in March
According to Broke-Ass Stuart's Goddamn Website, Union Square/FiDi Bar Romper Room will be transformed into a ball pit, March 19-20. “It’ll be just like Chuck E. Cheese, but with booze and without all the pink eye and the stench of feet…hopefully,” BAS writes, but there's also the fact that people tend to lose lots of cash in ball pits. This one is $25 (minus what slips out of your pocket) and tickets are almost sold out!

Cafe Eugene to Replace Albany's Little Star Pizza
The team behind Little Star Pizza is set to open Cafe Eugene, a seasonal restaurant that highlights the cuisine of the Pacific Northwest, from baked steel oats with honey baked pear and cardamom coconut milk to a clam chowder pot pie. Oregonian to the core, there will be a serious Bloody Mary selection, including the crudo with mescal, tomato, passila, cucumber, serrano, orange, lime, and pomegranate. Look for lots of Tiffany glass and custom Arts and Crafts period tile manufactured in Monroe, Ore.
Cafe Eugene, 1175 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-647-9999 or cafeeugene.com.

Bay Area Food and Restaurant Laws Will Change on Jan. 1
The Business Times has a rundown on what changes food and restaurant industry insiders can expect to see in 2016, among them a slight bump in the minimum wage in Oakland (to $12.55, which will be the highest in the state for six months, until S.F.'s $13 wage eclipses it on July 1), new health insurance regulations governing companies with 50-99 employees, and an equal-pay law meant to narrow the pernicious gender gap.

Get Wasted on a New Spirit
Have you ever gotten drunk on baiju? According to the New York Times, the Chinese spirit (made from sorghum and rice fermented in clay pots) is the most widely consumed in the world, yet remains frustratingly elusive in the U.S. With its funky, earthy taste and tendency to overwhelm other liqueurs, it can be a challenging ingredient to mix cocktails with, plus there is as big of a range of baijus as there is of whiskeys.

Shame Off That Weight!
Would you subscribe to a four-week weight-loss plan called “Stop Being a Fat Bitch“? Well, nutrition writer Lola Berry thought that was a great idea. (Her commenters, not so much.) Salon's Mary Elizabeth Williams, the world's most polite critic, calls her out on her crude body-shaming, which through some convoluted application of logic, was apparently intended to combat body shaming.

In-N-Out Pie

Food Beast created an In-N-Out pie made from Double-Doubles and animal fries. If you watch the 45-second video, you will likely pass through three phases: “Eww, gross,” “Okay, that almost looks kinda good,” and “Oh, that's nasty.”

The NYT Gives Times Square Señor Frog's a Largely Favorable If Slightly Gonzo Review
Remember that time the nice octogenarian from Grand Forks, N.D. reviewed all the local McDonald's and the internet was vicious to her? And remember when the New York Times took a big dump on Guy Fieri's Times Square restaurant? Well, Pete Wells, the NYT's food critic and sometime Fieri antagonist, has taken the North Dakota approach to the new Señor Frog's in Times Square. He couldn't believe how much fun he had drinking Frogasms, and encourages diners to start a conga line, even if he sticks this shiv in: “Señor Frog’s is not a good restaurant by most conventional measures, including the fairly basic one of serving food.”

Also, he and his party lied about having a birthday just to see what the staff policy is. I love Wells' review, but as a longtime bar-and-restaurant employee who got plucked from the weeds to sing to another server's birthday eight-top, I kinda have to call out that move. Even though it yielded this memorable passage: “Then a server in a light-up Santa cap stood on our table and sang, along with his colleagues, “Froggy, froggy birthday. Na-na-na-na-na. This is how we do it. Na-na-na-na-na.” … “What happened next was captured in a fast-moving video that, like the Zapruder film, I have watched dozens of times. There is a piece of paper on a stick planted in a birthday cake. Then it is on fire. The birthday boy tries to blow it out. He fails. A powerful wind comes out of nowhere. It raises sparks from the fire. The birthday boy’s balloon hat starts to tremble, then shoots straight up in the air like an Apollo rocket. It hits the ceiling. Chaos reigns.”

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