— Henry Meer's Duane Street restaurant City Hall is closing after service on New Year's Eve. Over the last 17 years, the restaurant developed a loyal following among the people who work at City Hall and the nearby courthouses. Meer tells the Times: "We still get a lot of mail for the other City Hall, which we give to the commissioners or deputy commissioners who come in....Politicians always flocked here." Meer says that rising operating costs influenced his decision to close the restaurant. The chef explains: "The cost of labor is a determining factor, and so is the cost of goods. When I started, salmon was $1.65 a pound. Now it’s at $3.95 a pound." City Hall was the first New York restaurant to serve a custom burger blend from Pat LaFrieda. Next year, Meer will open a wine store in the Westfield World Trade Center mall.
— The original location of Zaro's Bakery in the Parkchester neighborhood of the Bronx is closing after service today. The landlord is giving the bakery the boot because the owners "could not meet the terms of renewal for this space." Zaro's has been doing business in this space for the last 55 years. The chain's operator, Michael Zaro, tells News 12: "After almost 60 years, this is the notice we get. No chance to bid on the space, no chance to try to keep business."
— Adam Platt's Where to Eat in 2016 guide includes recommendations in categories like "melting pot madness," "gourmet pub crawl," and "the age of the vegivore." A few surprises: Platt praises the "throwback Tex-Mex cuisine" at El Cortez in Bushwick, and the "southern-style hungry-man dishes" at Pies 'n' Thighs. He also digs the cheeseburger at Little Park.
— La Sirena — the forthcoming Chelsea restaurant from Joe Bastianich and Mario Batali — recently shucked its plywood:
The restaurant in the Maritime Hotel will have two dining rooms connected by a long bar/patio. It's slated to open early next month.
— A French girl named Eloise and her uncle Laurent claim that they found a rat in one of their Plaza Hotel tea sandwiches. The Plaza's management and the Post are calling this a hoax. The girl and her uncle went to the hospital after the incident, where they were given a note from a doctor explaining: "The remnant you brought looks like the top half of a baby rodent." But according to the Post, security footage from the meal shows the girl putting the plate under her table for a few seconds directly before the discovery of the rat head. A spokesperson for the Plaza's restaurant, Palm Court, notes: "This situation has been thoroughly investigated, and it is unequivocally a meritless claim." Meanwhile, the French Consulate is helping the family find a lawyer to get them some money from the Palm Court.
— The cursed space at 225 Varick Street has swallowed another restaurant: Clarkson. George Forgeois opened this Art Deco-themed American restaurant two and a half years ago. Over the last decade, this space has housed Brothers Barbecue, Steak Frites, Lucy Browne's, Lobster House, and Charolais. Many moons ago, it was home to Thomas Keller's first solo restaurant, Rakel. A tipster sends in this photo of the space:
Clarkson's website is down and the phone has been disconnected. No word yet on what will happen to the space. If you spot and restaurants that recently opened or closed in your neighborhood, let us know — the tipline is always open.
— Post critic Steve Cuozzo really didn't like his meal at Five Napkin Burger last night:
Five Napkin Burger supposed to be "way too juicy for 1 napkin or 4." Mine tonight at 2d Ave & 70th as dry as a dry napkin. Terrible.— Steve Cuozzo (@stevecuozzo) December 28, 2015
Five Napkin Burger, pt. 2: "tuna burger" inedible. "Supertuscan" = vinegar. Yet full house. People care only about design??— Steve Cuozzo (@stevecuozzo) December 28, 2015
— Multiple tipsters spotted Pete Wells at Times Square tourist trap Señor Frog's this month. Rumor has is that he's going to be filing an official review in the Times this week. Should be a fun read.
— Thailand cafe at 95 Second Avenue is closed for renovations.
— While dining at Sushi Roxx last week, Starr Jones performed a "go-go routine that would have made Lady Gaga blush," according to the Post.
— While on vacation in Baltimore, Robert Sietsema spotted the new location of a Brooklyn favorite: "The new Paulie Gee's in Baltimore's Hampden neighborhood already has two white-tiled beehive ovens inside the huge space, with Napoli inscribed on the face of each."
— The new cafe in the old Bluebird Coffee space on East First Street will be called The Lazy Llama.
— And finally, here's a look at the signature dish at A & B Bake & Doubles in Bed-Stuy: