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Pete Wells Salutes the Top Dishes of 2016, EMP Crushes the Mannequin Challenge, and More Intel

Bombay Sandwich Co. expands to West 35th Street, plus more news and gossip from around NYC

[The dining room at Empellon Cocina in the East Village]
[Daniel Krieger]

The  honey mesquite cake from Pondicheri and cacio e pepe fritelle from Lilia both land on Pete Wells’s list of the best new dishes of 2016. The Times critic is also a big fan of the clam pizza at Pasquale Jones, and the pheasant at Le Coucou in Soho. His description of that last dish: "Oh, just beautifully juicy pheasant breast, a little meatball of braised pheasant leg cooked in cabbage, and enough wobbly foie gras to make you forget that the United States recently held an election."

— The owners of Bombay Sandwich Co. on West 27th Street are opening a new location at 224 West 35th Street. Proprietor Shiv Puri tells Eater that the new outpost will have the same menu but more seating than the original. It’s slated to open in winter 2017.

Since The Modern ended tipping a year ago, profits have dropped, but the Union Square Hospitality team expected that to happen and the crew believes that the issue will fix itself over time. Julia Moskin notes that many of the NYC restaurants that recently abolished tipping have made adjustments in an effort to change how customers perceive value in the dining room. Huertas in the East Village added an extra tentacle to an octopus dish when it jumped from $16 before tipping to $21 after the restaurant nixed gratuity. Owner Nate Adler explains: "Ultimately it’s not about the numbers on the check, but about whether the balance and the value feels right to people as they leave the restaurant."

— The Eleven Madison Park team just raised the bar for restaurant mannequin challenges pretty high:

Happy Holidays!! #elevenmadisonpark #manequinchallenge #makeitnice

A video posted by Will Guidara (@wguidara) on

— An Eater reader writes in: "Walked by Boomwich today and it's dunzo, space is up for lease." Yelp also lists this restaurant as "closed." The Boerum Hill restaurant opened two years ago with a menu of kooky sandwiches from Pete Zaaz veteran Peter Entner. No word yet on what will happen to the space. If you spot any restaurants opening or closing in your neighborhood, please send any intel or photos to the tipline.

Post critic Steve Cuozzo is cautiously optimistic about Midtown’s new quinoa automat: "Eatsa isn’t the best lunch I’ve ever had, but it’s better than many similar offerings, and at $6.95 it’s a bargain. Plus, the delivery device makes the normally mundane lunch experience fun — although I’m slightly skeptical about how well it might work with large crowds."

— The Clinton Hill location of Middle Eastern mini-chain Zaytoon’s closed earlier this month, but the owner, Ahmad Samhan, plans to reopen the space as a taqueria in January called Villa Pancho. The restaurateur tells DNAinfo: "I was holding on and holding on and I realized that Zaytoon’s was one of the first restaurants, sort of like a frontier store on Myrtle Avenue....I still believe in Myrtle Avenue, I just don’t believe in Zaytoon’s on Myrtle Avenue." The Zaytoon’s locations in Carroll Gardens and Prospect Heights will remain open.

The bar carts and beer counters inside Grand Central Terminal have been closed since last Wednesday because the MTA is investigating how some cash went missing. An MTA spokesperson tells Gothamist: "We will re-open the commissary as quickly as possible." Hopefully, the concessions will return in time for next week’s big holiday travel rush.

— Following a round of repairs to fix some holes in the basement, ancient East Village pub McSorley’s now rocks an "A" grade from the Department of Health.

According to critic Adam Platt, New York is now a "vegetable paradise." From his "reasons to love New York" essay: "All around this desperately fashion-conscious town, discerning gourmets who once closed their eyes in fits of ecstatic pleasure while tasting that perfectly seared lobe of foie gras now affect the same expressions of faux rapture while tasting bowls of well-turned turnip soup cooked in the Japanese Buddhist style."

— And finally, here’s how to frost a cake like the team at Baked:

The Modern

9 West 53rd Street, Manhattan, NY 10019 (212) 333-1220 Visit Website

Pasquale Jones

187 Mulberry Street, Manhattan, NY 10012 (917) 453-0339 Visit Website

Eleven Madison Park

11 Madison Avenue, Manhattan, NY 10010 (212) 889-0905 Visit Website

Pondicheri [NYC]

15 West 27th St., New York, NY 10001

Lilia

567 Union Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11222 (718) 576-3095 Visit Website

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