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Insights, tips, and restaurant reports from CHOW editors and Chowhound.

A Neighborhood Bistro Dances with the Stars

The old-line bistro La Mangeoire has brought in a ringer, and hounds are on to him. He's Christian Delouvrier, who landed here after gigs at (among other places) the short-lived Secession and, back in the day, the four-starred Lespinasse.

Now, out of the spotlight, he's turning out French comfort food from Provence and beyond that is unexpectedly fine for a decades-old neighborhood place. JoanN was blown away by choucroute garni, a recent special that featured around six kinds of sausage plus oxtail, pork, and meaty fatback in a bounteous portion that could've served two. A crispy salt cod cake with basil, olives, tomatoes, and capers was also outstanding, she says.

Miss Needle reports a delicious pâté course, calf's liver with sage sauce and mashed potatoes, and seared scallops with pasta and lobster-lemongrass sauce. But several of these dishes, curiously, were undersalted. "Never had this issue at Lespinasse nor the vast majority of restaurants," she says.

La Mangeoire [Midtown East]
1008 Second Avenue (near E. 53rd Street), Manhattan

Discuss: Best French bistro in NYC??
French for a Francophile

Overheard on the New York Boards

"Crunchy skin, tender chicken falling off the bone, covered in garlic sauce. Everything about it was delicious and I'd come back just to eat this again." - robertgoulet, on crispy chicken with garlic at South China Garden

"As you walk in you'll see a display case with beautifully colored, clear-eyed, fresh fish.... Try the Chilean sea bass in grape leaves with parsnip mash. Sounds gimmicky, but was delicious." - paulnyc, on Kellari

"Hornado Ecuatoriano does a greeeaaat lechon. And if you walk past the kitchen, you will probably see the pig." - Jeffsayyes

El Bulli to Be a Culinary Academy

Yes, it's true: One of the world's most prominent restaurants is shuttering for good at the end of 2011. Citing a "bestial pace" and money problems, Ferran Adrià is calling it quits.

Adrià has long said that El Bulli doesn't make money and that he never intended to be a chef, so maybe his exit makes sense. The good news is that starting in 2014, El Bulli will be a nonprofit academy for molecular gastronomy. Reports AFP: "The private foundation will grant between 20 and 25 scholarships annually for chefs and other industry professionals and one of its long-term aims will be to compile an 'exhaustive and detailed' encyclopaedia of contemporary cuisine."

Aspiring molecular gastronomists: Start polishing your CVs now!

The Basics: How to Make Chocolate Mousse

The Basics: How to Make Chocolate Mousse

A classic and impressive dessert. READ MORE

Tuba Plays to a Packed House

With a chef/owner from Marina & Kebab and manager from Chowhound fave New Kapadokia in Redwood City, Tuba Restaurant has transformed a previously undistinguished space in the Mission into a popular Mediterranean hangout, says Windy.

Although its roots are Turkish, the restaurant's menu ranges throughout the Mediterranean—the hot or cold appetizer platters are a good way to go. And Turkish standards such as kofta and Turkish moussaka are excellent. The details are just right, too, including "exceptional" rice alongside the moussaka and "the first decent tasting tomato slices I've had in months," says Windy. Portions are huge and come with small salads.

A beer and wine license is pending, but there is Turkish coffee, plus dessert, if you have room.

Tuba Restaurant [Mission]
1007 Guerrero Street, San Francisco

Discuss: Tuba Turkish restaurant

The Surprises of Somali Cuisine

Tucked next to a VTA light rail station in San Jose is an unlikely outlet for a cuisine we don't see much around these parts: Somali. Jubba is a year-old restaurant with a short menu of Somali dishes. If you're expecting the food to be just a step away from Ethiopian, you'd be wrong—there are Indian and Persian influences, and not a vegetable stew in sight.

Highlights are the super-tender goat, beef sambusas (a version of samosas), and spiced rice with raisins, says jmarek, but give the beef steak a pass.

Your editor gave the goat a try and was knocked out by its mysterious tastiness: not exotically spicy, but somehow unique and delicious.

Suqaar is a spicier dish, a stir-fry that you can get with chicken or beef. It's kind of like a piquant version of a Peruvian saltado, a meaty stir-fry with parsley, onions, and tomatoes. Like Jubba's other offerings, you have a choice of rice, chapati, injera (a pancake-style bread), or pasta on the side. Oddly enough, the pasta option also gets you a whole banana. Somali chapati, it turns out, is slightly sweet—a great foil for either the meaty (but not gamy) goat or the spicy suqaar. Somali injera is less intense than the Ethiopian version—paler and with less fermented flavor.

Try the sinus-clearing chai, sweetened but milk-free, which is in a self-serve carafe at the back of the café.

Jubba Restaurant [South Bay]
5330 Terner Way, Suite 40, San Jose

Discuss: Jubba, Somali in San Jose

Same Great Food, Less-Divey Locale

It used to seem like you had to risk your safety for a tasty taco at Gallegos Mexican Food, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant wedged between a machine shop and a discount liquor store. But now it's moved to a better location (with parking!), and the food is just as good, says chocolatetartguy. The complex mole is always a good bet, he says, but jumbo albóndigas (meatballs) in soup make for an ultra-satisfying meal, albeit one served only on Mondays.

"Though a bit salty for my taste, the tacos were great, and it's a lovely family-run business," says escargot3.

Gallegos Mexican Food [East Bay]
2309 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley

Discuss: Gallego's Mexican Food Moves

Overheard on the San Francisco Boards

"Pho Ga Huong Que Cafe is a noodle whore's paradise!" - Bon Vivant

"Fried to order and made with pâte à choux, these golden orbs were richly eggy in flavor yet delicately constructed at the same time." - Melanie Wong, on the French-style beignets at Bistro 29

"CTM was excellent. Not as creamy and heavy as Pakwan's, it had a good hint of tamarind and was fairly spicy." - Tobias, on the chicken tikka masala at the new Curry Village

Notes from the DIY Food Revolution

By Iso Rabins

Twittering food carts, underground dinners, new kinds of under-the-radar food markets: There's a DIY food revolution happening on the quasi-legal fringes of major American cities. One of the leaders of the movement is Iso Rabins. He hosts underground dinners in San Francisco through his organization forageSF (each course focusing on wild ingredients like nettles and snails). And, in December, Rabins launched the city's first underground farmers' market, held in a friend's flat. Rabins will be guest blogging on, and this is his first post.

Frozen Corn Satisfies Winter Cravings

While freshly picked summer corn can't be beat, you can make dishes with great corn flavor using frozen corn kernels during months when it isn't in season.

cheesecake17 says roasting corn kernels "really changes the corn and adds a nice sweetness." She spreads the kernels in a single layer on a baking sheet and pats them dry with a paper towel. Use the roasted corn in salsa or salad. alkapal likes roasted corn with diced red bell pepper, black-eyed peas, lime juice, and cilantro.

Corn marries well with shellfish in corn and crab bisque and crisp chipotle shrimp with corn and scallions, which is "really great," says Val. "The colors in this dish are amazing too," she adds.

For a side dish, try spicy Indian corn with mustard seeds, or Mexican-style corn with crème fraîche, lime, and chile, suggest hounds.

AndrewK512 suggests a delicious pasta sauce made by puréeing the corn and lightly pressing it through a sieve until you have corn milk; bring to a simmer, emulsify with butter, add whole corn kernels and chives. Gild the lily with truffle oil if you wish.

Discuss: what to do with all this corn?