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Soothsayer Goes Dark, Esther Choi Expands to the LES, and More Intel

LeBron James professes his love for Major Food Group, plus more news and gossip from around NYC

[The dining room at French Louie in Cobble Hill]
[Daniel Krieger]

Avenue A Vietnamese restaurant Soothsayer is currently closed and paper is covering the windows. The restaurant opened last January. EV Grieve notes that although the space is dark, the owners are currently applying for a full liquor license at this address, so presumably, they will be reopening the restaurant if everything goes according to plan.

— The chef behind Chelsea Market’s Korean ramen operation Mokbar is expanding to the Lower East Side. Proprietor Esther Choi applied for a beer and wine license at 163 Allen Street, which is the space that previously housed People Kitchen & Lounge. No word yet on what Choi has planned for this space, but a rep says that it will not be a Mokbar.

— An update on the West Village location of lunch/brunch favorite Westville: In August, the restaurant was forced to close when Con-Ed found an illegal gas hook-up in the basement. Owner Jay Straus claimed that he had no knowledge of this violation prior to the inspection. It took almost a month, but the issue got sorted out and Westville reopened at the end of September:

[Westville in the West Village, back open for business as usual]
[Robert Sietsema]

If you happen to spy a restaurant in your neighborhood that recently opened or closed, please send any photos or tips to the tipline. Anonymity is guaranteed.

Basketball mega-star LeBron James wrote an op-ed for Variety recently about how much he loves Major Food Group’s NYC restaurants: "I try to get to Carbone, Dirty French and ZZ’s Clam Bar any time I come because the atmosphere is great and they have some of my favorite meals. The rigatoni and the porterhouse at Carbone are unbelievable, and the chicken at Dirty French is unlike any chicken I’ve ever tasted. And if I’m lucky enough to swing by Sadelle’s for breakfast when I’m in the city, they take pancakes to another level."

Becky Cooper of Tables for Two visits the "Disneyland of organic delight" known as Olmsted: "‘Order the carrot crêpe,’ the knowledgeable wait staff advise. It’s exquisite: a tender crêpe, decorated with petals and sunflower seeds, draped over carrots and plump littleneck clams, swimming in butter and carrot juice. Ask for bread—it’s free, but by request only—to scrape up the sauce."

— One corner of Keith McNally’s unbeatable Soho brasserie Balthazar is cloaked in a thick layer of plywood right now:

[Nick Solares]

It's not a pretty sight, but Balth is still open for business as usual. Inside, you probably can’t tell that anything is different.

— Here’s a plywood dispatch from Robert Sietsema: "The storefront on Hudson Street that once held West Village favorite Sung Chu Mei has been vacant for over five years. Now, it is undergoing a gut renovation, but the workers at the site couldn't tell me what it will become. Another restaurant? Bar Bolonat and the closed Bespoke Kitchen are on the same side of the block."

[The old Sung Chu Mei space]
[Robert Sietsema]

John Mayer made a surprise musical appearance at Bemelmans Bar on the Upper East Side on Friday night. At one point, Mayer told the audience: "This is the best bar in New York City."

— Cronut fiends are lining up for Dominique Ansel’s London bakery, just like they do in NYC:

Chance The Rapper and Zac Efron hung out at Up & Down in Chelsea on Saturday night.

— And finally, here is a look at the tortilla machine inside East Williamsburg’s Tortilleria Chinantla: