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a m u s e BOUCHE

by Brian Clarey

Big doings on the Triad restaurant scene, particularly in downtown Greensboro, where a changing of the guards at a (relatively) august institution, a new sushi offering and plenty of novel tastes keep things interesting. First off, there have been some changes at Much restaurant, Joey Medaloni’s Elm Street tribute to… “Land of the Lost”? Word has it that Araya Wossen, formerly of Montego Bay, and Diego Gomez, publisher of In the Carolinas Lifestyles magazine (and, incidentally, my old boss at In the Spotlight magazine, where I wrote a restaurant column called “In the Weeds”) are taking over the big waterfall and faux rock palisades. “I’m what you call a managing director here,” Wossen told me. Gomez will oversee marketing and promotions. To run the kitchen, they’ve tapped Mark Freedman, whose restaurant Mark’s on Westover was one of my favorite spots in town before it unceremoniously closed in 2005. The space, which is now called Level 2, will feature American bistro-style cuisine. And though the management situation has changed somewhat, Wossen told me that Rocco Scarfone, who took over Much and the N Club after Medaloni headed for other pastures in 2007, is still in the ownership picture. However… Scarfone has opened his newest venture, Zen Sushi & Sake Bar, just across the street at 216 S. Elm St. There have been other tweaks at some of Elm Street’s most notorious joints, which I will elaborate on at a future date — which means, “When I can nail it down.” The question remains: Will there be a struggle for restaurant and nightlife dominance in downtown Greensboro, or will there be peace on Elm? Moving on…. Rumors of the demise of Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar are greatly exaggerated — at least, according to Caroline, who answered the phone there Monday night. “Nope,” she said,” we’re still open,” to the clink of silverware in the background. Vintage 301, which is the new name for the old Press Wine Café, is taking reservations for a Spanish wine dinner on Jan. 21. “We will be exploring the up and coming appellations of Rueda, Toro and Ribero del Duero that lay in the heart of Spain,” the press release promises. “Come discover what the Spanish have been secretly enjoying for centuries!” The dinner menu includes grilled shellfish, pork-belly confit with giant beans and salted caramel flan with cashews and fig reduction. Nice. Hit the new website, www. vintage301.com, to get the true lowdown. And hey, get this: New York City’s Rainbow Room, once the gem of Rockefeller Plaza, was served with an eviction notice this weekend. The Rainbow Room opened in 1934, during the Great Depression, and has hosted celebrities as varied as Frank Sinatra and Keith Richards. It also has the best view of New York City of any building in town — that’s according to my father. And the Cipriani family, which owns the restaurant, has vowed to fight the termination of their lease — that’s according to The New York Times. But I ask you: If the Rainbow Room can’t make a go of it, what hope is there for the rest of us?

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