Do you love French fries, potato chips, salty pretzels…do you see where this is going, New York? If you’re a fan of salty foods (and who isn’t, really), you probably know that all that salt isn’t great for you. Now, the National Salt Reduction Initiative aims to do something about it.
New York City wants you to reduce your salt consumption, and for starters, 16 companies and restaurants have committed to help you do just that.
The initiative is voluntary, and participating companies, restaurants, and chains include Starbucks, Heinz, Au Bon Pain, Subway and Goya. They have agreed to reduce salt in their products by 25 percent over the next five years. Other restaurants and companies have been urged to join the initiative as well.
According to New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Americans get 80 percent of their salt intake from packaged foods and restaurants in the form of preservatives. Adding salt yourself only accounts for about 1 percent of salt consumption. About nine percent comes from sodium that occurs naturally in food. Health organizations recommend about 1500 to 2400 milligrams of salt per day per healthy adult.
Reducing salt intake has been shown to help reduce the risk of heart attacks and strokes; city officials say that as many as 23,000 New Yorkers could reduce their risks of dying from those problems.
Officials promise that the reduction will be gradual–and that New Yorkers won’t even notice the difference.
The city already has mandatory rules for posting calorie counts as well as a ban on trans fats.
The ultimate goal? To reduce American’s salt consumption by 20 percent by the year 2014.
A-OK: That’s what restaurants across New York City are hoping health inspectors will say after a new ruling that went into effect this week.
Starting in July, all restaurants will have to display a letter grade near their entrances, giving potential patrons immediate information about whether they want to keep their reservation–or keep walking. Signs will be dated and prominently displayed in the window or vestibule. The new ruling applies to all restaurants, from swanky four-star establishments to that local falafel joint on your corner. The system will measure how clean a restaurant is.
Other cities, such as Los Angeles, use similar systems.
Although the New York Restaurant Association has protested the new rule, officials countered by pointing out that after L.A. started using the system (it has been in effect for more than a decade there), the number of restaurants that met higher standards went up.
The Health Department says that most restaurants it inspects have good health conditions, but about a quarter aren’t up to speed in food safety practices. At this point, officials say that about 30 percent of New York eateries would earn an A grade. Restaurants that receive less than an A will have time to, yes, clean up their act before grades are posted. Restaurants can also appeal their grade, much like in middle school. A ‘Grade Pending” sign will then be posted. (But hmm, wouldn’t that make you wonder, just a tad, what was going on?)
Can’t wait to see the results? They’re already posted online, at nyc.gov/health.
The never-ending saga of New York’s Tavern on the Green sale and potential loss of name (reported extensively here since last summer…) actually has an end–at least in part.
A judge ruled yesterday that the city, not the operators of the restaurant, holds the rights to the famous name, which has been valued at $19 million.
The restaurant closed New Year’s Eve after a long series of legal problems that culminated in an auction of all the furnishings. More than 20,000 items were up for sale; the high bid was $180,000 for a Tiffany glass ceiling. The court-ordered auction was held to help erase the owners’ $8 million in debt.
Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum ruled that the city had licensed the facility and retained control. That included the right to end the license if it found that the restaurant was not being operated in a satisfactory manner. The “Tavern on the Green” name has been associated with a Central Park restaurant since 1934.
Prior to the recent recession, the restaurant had been one of the most famous in the country. It brought in $38 million a year in revenues, and served a staggering 700,000 meals a year.
The license was awarded last August to Dean Poll, who operates the Boathouse restaurant in Central Park. He won the license after the LeRoy family, which had operated the restaurant sine the 1970s, lost its bid renew the lease. He still plans to reopen the restaurant this spring. He will spend $25 million to refurbish the space, which clocks in at 27,000 square feet.
Feeling hungry…for someone else’s cooking? Longing for a nice meal…with somebody not related to you to wash the dishes? Well, grab your penny jar and head out, because it’s Restaurant Week in New York City.
The event, which began yesterday and runs through Feb. 7, offers three-course, prix-fixe lunches for $24.07, and dinners for $35 at some of the city’s top eateries. On the list: 21, Aquavit and Asia de Cuba; Blue Smoke, Butter, and Capsouto Freres. Down at the other end of the alphabet, you can dine at Orsay, The Palm, Rosa Mexicano and The Water Club. Several websites have additional information and ways to make reservations; check out nycgo.com.
While the restaurants don’t always bring their A game—expect a lot of chicken and fish–it’s still a chance to enjoy a meal in some of New York’s most famous dining establishments.
But even if you don’t feel like setting foot inside, say, Tribeca Grill, you can still enjoy soup from a roving Restaurant Week Truck. Hungry New Yorkers can find offerings from twenty-four restaurants at three street corners (Broadway between 50th and 51st from Jan. 25-29; Fifth Avenue between 18th and 19th from Feb. 1-3; and Greenwich Street, between Warren and Murray Streets, from Feb, 4-5.) The trucks, new this time around, will generally be there between 11 am and 2 pm, and will offer such soul-warming goodies as City Crab’s New England clam chowder, and gingered sweet potato and lobster bisque from The Sea Grill.
And if you need more incentive, $1 from every $6 truck purchase will go towards The Haiti Relief Fund.
Eat well; help others. A win-win deal all around.
Merry Christmas! While New Yorkers are opening presents, strolling down Fifth Avenue to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree and the department store windows, and generally displaying holiday-ish behavior, we’ll offer our holiday gift to you–a little insight into the minds of those trying to get you to spend money for meals out. Those savvy enough to plan ahead can think about facing the New Year and a new trend in restaurants: The menu gambit.
It is no shock that New Yorkers are eating out less frequently and spending less money when they do. In order to tweak this trend, restaurants have taken all sorts of steps, from re-pricing items to offering specials and tinkering with their service. In order to part you from your hard-earned dollars, restaurants have pulled out the big guns to entice you to order more, differently, and most important, more expensively. The most recent approach is to target the menu itself.
Take New York’s Tabla, for instance, one of restaurateur-extraordinaire Danny Meyer’s places. As reported in a recent “New York Times” article, you can see the thinking at work. No dollar signs appear next the prices, for example; you won’t see a zero as part of a price; and the name of the chef’s mother is heavily invoked beside a dish.
Diners will also notice such tricks at New York restaurants as using more descriptive language for higher-priced items or setting them off somehow. Using brand names (made with Aunt Mollie’s flour!) and nostalgic names (made with Aunt Mollie’s chocolate!) are also ploys.
(The trend also applies to national chains and restaurants in other cities as well.)
So Merry Christmas–and may your future eating out be merry, bright–and aware of the tug on your wallet strings.
After two years of waging war on artificial trans fats in New York City restaurants, nearly all city restaurants have successfully cut the artery-clogging unsaturated fats from their menus (or at least to low levels of less than 0.55 grams of trans fat per serving), health officials are reporting. New York City’s Department of Health announced in December 2006 all licensed dining establishments—not only restaurants, but school cafeterias and street vending carts as well—were required to phase out heart-unhealthy trans fats from their foods. Prior to the ban, the Department of Health found that about 50 percent of restaurants it inspected used artificial trans fats for cooking, frying, and baking in their shortenings, oils, and spreads.
The department originally tried a voluntary program and an educational campaign by mailing information to train restaurant workers about the issue to about 30,000 food establishments. This educational campaign had little to no effect after a year. The department decided to instead launch a full-on mandatory ban of trans fat, which has worked well, despite some resistance from the restaurant industry, thinking it would affect business.
By November 2009, less than two percent of restaurants still used trans fats, and that number has since decreased. Since the trans fat ban proved successful in New York, it has caught on and been adopted by at least 13 other jurisdictions, such as Boston.
This Sunday, July 12, marks the beginning of NYC Restaurant Week and will last for three weeks until July 31. Participating in the celebration of New York City dining this summer will be 250 restaurants featuring a wide range of cuisines.
The restaurants will offer three-course prix-fixe menus for lunch and dinner, allowing the opportunity to dine at some of the best restaurants in town and at hot newcomers for a fraction of the (usually expensive) cost. Prices are per person, with lunches priced at $24.07 and dinner at $35, not including drinks, gratuity or tax. Both lunch and dinner aren’t offered at all participating restaurants, but most do.
As some of the best restaurants can sell out quickly, it is recommended that reservations be booked ahead of time by simply calling the restaurant or reserving a table through OpenTable.com.
NYC Restaurant Week takes place twice a year for several weeks at a time, in January and every June or July. This summer is the first time that many of the restaurants will offer the program on Sundays, as it has traditionally been offered on weekdays only. Saturdays are still excluded.
NYC Restaurant Week first started in 1992 as a one-time culinary program to welcome the Democratic National Convention to New York City, and was such a hit that it developed from there, as residents wanted to take part in the event as well and eat at New York’s best restaurants.