For all that the publicists and the celebrity chefs and the big media food sections do to make fall an eater's paradise, they are also, in certain ways, working against you:
1) NY Mag and TONY are almost always wrong with regard to opening dates. They've got to close their issues days ahead of when they're published and this leads to guessing. They're good for knowing the Who and What, but plain awful on the When.
2) The biggest openings, those with the highest level of pre-buzz (say, any place Batali and his orange clogs so much as walk by) may have a couple of days of public soft open before grand opening. During this phase, publicists will try hard to keep us from knowing the truth, for fear that a venue will get too crowded too soon. Yet, those are the days in which you can score a table with ease, perhaps even have a word or two with the chef. If you miss that window, your chances don't get good again until 2006. (This soft mode is precisely what was happening at Mo's last week and precisely the scoop we look for and try hard to pass along to you.)
3) The real choice openings, the small, little-to-no-PR sort of affairs, from which the next wave of great new chefs will emerge, go largely unannounced by the print media until weeks after the fact. (Although, in fairness, this is not season-specific so much as it is exaggerated in the Fall.) Last August, for example, Strong had the goods on Tia Pol way out ahead of the pack.
Here's where you come in. We're going to keep you informed better than anyone, but we need you on the front lines: walking your neighborhoods, using your camera phones, sniffing out the lifted plywood and unlocked doors about which no one wants to tell you. You do your part, we'll do ours (as we speak, for example, we've got our photog shooting Thor, Cercle Rouge, Ninja, and Cookshop for you), and you'll be front and center at Del Posto before you know it.