Food & Beverage

Lunch Transgressions

dirty fish.jpg Before the Fed, Dealbreaker is considering lunch. A little salad action perhaps? Or maybe you’re hung-over, in which case we recommend the duo pepperoni slices with extra Tabasco slathered on those bad boys [nothing like that to get all systems running again after a heavy night out at Scores]. We realize that working in an open environment with either rows of desks or even cubes can cramp a person’s lunch style. Out of consideration for your coworkers and to avoid being publicly flogged/ridiculed/ostracized from the floor here are some foods you may want to avoid while eating at your desk:
ANYTHING and let us repeat that ANYTHING that once resided in a body of water. You may not win friends with salad – but you’re going to make enemies with fish. Just say no.
Indian Food. Sorry, but chicken tiki has a pungent way of filling up even the largest rooms. You don’t want the trading floor smelling like Curry in a Hurry.
There’s something about cooked broccoli that rubs people the wrong way. It’s reminiscent of someone who has serious intestinal distress. Proceed with caution.
Eggs – maybe it’s the touches of sulfur and while not common lunch fare this can be met with a snide utterance along the lines of, “Is SOMEONE eating eggs???” while standing up and publicly humiliating the guilty party.
Surely there are other odious culprits not mentioned on this list that rub people’s noses the wrong way… Feel free to vent to us about your neighbor who eats fish tacos every day for lunch.

The Murdochification of the Journal continues…

DealBreaker’s Guide To Eating Out

l'autrepiedbloomberg.jpgWhen selecting a restaurant for a special occasion, it’s important to judge candidates in several areas. They are as follows: food, décor, fellow diners, and how you feel about yourself when you tell other people you ate there. Take the upcoming French eatery, L’Autre Pied, being opened by the owners of the famed London restaurant Pied a Terre, this October in the City.
Food: The menu will be modern French and include dishes such as poached breast of quail and ragout of girolles with toasted hazelnut. Do you even know what a girolle is? Did you feel unintelligent, uncultured and unworthy for answering ‘no’? Do you now have the overwhelming desire to blow your entire bonus (if you’re a Sun Trust employee, ½ of your bonus if you’re with Goldman Sachs) on a meal owned by the people who went out of their way via menu to make you feel so worthless? Mission accomplished.
Décor: As far as interior decoration, we refer you to the picture above. More important, however, is the private dining room, which will seat around 10-15 people (the main room will accommodate 45-50), and whose use will be prohibitively expensive. We are fans of any restaurant that aims to create class wars among its own diners so, as they say, 2 points.
Fellow Diners: Owner David Moore said he and his partner, Shane Osborn, hope to attract the “hedge fund crowd, as well as the ladies who lunch.”
How it makes you feel to tell people you ate there: It goes without saying that any establishment whose goal is to attract hedgies and the ladies who love their money will go out of its way to make sure that the “I’m better than you because I dined on Pan-fried Fillet of Hake with Choucroute, Red Wine Sauce and Crispy Ventreche and you didn’t (and all I got was this lousy t-shirt)” factor is overt. The bonus (and genius) is in the timing of the opening. Considering that many of our readers in the hedge fund-specific financial services will be out of a job by the time L’Autre Pied is open for business, being able to tell your friend(s), erstwhile employee(s) of Sowood (Basis, AQR, Goldman), that you ate the aforementioned while he (they) dined on whatever food stamps were buying makes a meal at this restaurant so very worth it.
Pied a Terre Plans New London Restaurant for Hedge-Fund Diners [Bloomberg]

One Bourbon, One Scotch, and One Beer, for $8,000

franzia.jpg The New York Sun explores the refined palettes of hedge fund managers who are trying too hard to get wasted, while DealBook muses on whether an alcohol downgrade is necessary in these troubled times.
Hedge fund managers may love their $4,800 cognac, but we’re thinking hedglings still prefer the best kept alcoholic secret in Manhattan – the Silk Road on 81st and Amsterdam. We’re talking free unlimited generic box wine (no primo Franzia here) and cheap Chinese food. You can even drink for free (from a plastic glass) while you wait for a bunch of Columbia students with fake IDs to free up a table. Be warned – the Silk Road is a dangerous road, and one of our former banker colleagues has never traversed it without getting a police citation in the ensuing evening.
We all know about the places that try to peddle $800 shots to finance suckers, but what are the best places to realistically throw back a few in the city? Criteria could include, quality, atmosphere and price, almost like a Zagats for taking the edge off those banking hours.
Put in your suggestions below.
When Hedgies Drink Box Wine, That’s News [DealBook]
Taste for Booze Is Fine Among Hedge Funders [New York Sun]

Private equity looks for a spicier meatball

pizza_pepperoni_pizza.jpg Sick of being called “tossers” in England without having a snappy literal comeback, Blackstone partners have started the next phase of their bold new European investing strategy with the acquisition of a pizza chain. Italian restaurants are all the investing rage this week, as UK millionaire Richard Caring (aside from having one of the greatest porn names of all time) sold his Strada pizza chain for 140m pounds to the PE giant. Caring is known for owning the celebrity hangout The Ivy, and for being, according to the Guardian, “notoriously secretive,” and “the first man in the UK to spot the opportunity of manufacturing clothes in the far east, [making] his fortune in supplying the big retailers.” Caring recently bought a 3% stake in the Carluccio’s restaurant chain, which, along with the Blackstone sale, is causing a lot of restaurant shuffling speculation. With the Strada move, Blackstone bolsters its European restaurant asset base of Tragus, the Café Rouge and Bella Italia.
Since fewer Brits can light up in bars these days, they’re actually eating again, creating a boom in the restaurant sector. The complete smoking ban in UK pubs goes into effect on July 1. Without deadened taste buds, the casual restaurant patron is starting to realize just how bad British food really is, forcing chains to serve things in the category of “edible.” For a UK restaurateur or potential investor, things have never looked better:

The [restaurant] sector generates a huge amount of cash and is very fragmented. Out of 20,000 restaurants in the UK, only 350 are owned by the largest independent restaurant group.
The trend towards eating out is growing at a rate of around 4% a year. And the smoking ban, which comes into effect in England on July 1, is also an incentive to invest in restaurants rather than bars or pubs, which are generally less well placed to cope with the change.

Private equity is showing interest in the space, with Cinven’s acquisition of Gondola Group (owner of Pizza Express, ASK and Zizzi) for 559m pounds last October.
Ivy owner sells Strada chain for 140m (pounds) [The Guardian]

“Gimmie some rebiana” just doesn’t sound as hot

cokemonkey.jpg Good news for the self consciously pudgy – now ice cream, cereals and granola may be able to give you cancer. Coca-Cola and Cargill are ready to release lines of products sweetened with rebiana, the latest low-calorie sweetener pending regulatory approval. The marketing rationale here is that as long as that calorie number on the package goes down, all is permitted (next up – low calorie bleach, low calorie gasoline). Now you can dip your trans-fat free french fries in that vanilla cookie dough blend without gaining a pound!
Coca-Cola also plans to make the obvious switch to rebiana in its soft drinks, in attempts to assuage the guilt of people who feel they need 200% of the recommended daily dose of B12 from sugar water (a market Coca-Cola now has covered courtesy of Glaceau).
Despite recent market share losses from the happy magic water and happy magic energy drink beverage categories, carbonated soft-drinks are the second most consumed food & drink item in the universe next to sandwiches, according to food industry analyst Harry Balzer at the NPD group (watch his MarketWatch commentary here).
Rebiana comes from a natural herb (the cyclohexatriene herb) and doesn’t add any calories – making it the presumed “holy grail” of sweeteners (or just the lowest calorie most sugary tasting of sweeteners).
Word on the Sweet [MarketWatch]