BARBECUE FROM AFAR Braai is a South African term for barbecue, and it is also the name of a restaurant scheduled to open on Saturday in Hell's Kitchen (329 W. 51st St., between Eighth and Ninth avenues, 212-315-3315). One focus will be specialty meats: The owners, who also run Xai Xai Winebar on the same block, are working on getting South African springbok, a type of antelope, for the menu. But in the meantime, they are featuring ostrich, as well as South African lobster tails and prawns.
MOVING ON UP Ryan Grant, formerly of Ilili, is now the new chef de cuisine of Elizabeth (265 Elizabeth St., between Prince and Houston streets, 212-334-2426), following the sudden departure of John Iconomou. His new menu is still in the works.
GOODBYE, MANHATTAN Chef Alex Garcia, probably best known for the restaurant Calle Ocho (446 Columbus Ave., between 81st and 82nd streets), is moving to Los Angeles this fall to be chef of the Conga Room there.
TRUFFLE RUFFLE La Maison du Chocolat plans to open a new boutique on Wall Street (63 Wall St., between Hanover and Pearl streets) this October, featuring chocolates, desserts, and a "chocolate salon" — a small café where coffee, tea, hot chocolate and ice cream will be served.
AROUND THE WORLD, AT HOME JoeDoe (45 E. 1st St., between First and Second avenues, 212-780-0262), a 30-seat restaurant by chef Joe Dobias, is opening softly for a preview of sorts, serving food but no alcohol tomorrow, Friday, and Saturday between 6 and 10 p.m. Mr. Dobias is touting the food as "American," and the menu is a bit of a melting pot. One item is beef and tongue served with tater tots and what he calls "American kimchee." Another is mushroom streusel with the North African accompaniments of harissa and preserved lemon. Raw lobster is served with corn custard and bacon. Scallops are cured in Veev — a spirit made from the trendy, high-antioxidant fruit, açaí — and are served with galangal mayonnaise and Kaffir lime.
PUCK GETS FLAVOR Hudson Yards, the catering arm of Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group, is now in charge of the food at the Puck Building (295 Lafayette St. at Jersey Street, 212-274-8900). That building is closing its Grand Ballroom for renovations at the end of the year. It is scheduled to reopen on May 1, 2009.
BIRTHDAY PRESENTS In celebration of its 15th anniversary, Picholine (35 W. 64th St., between Broadway and Central Park West, 212-724-8585) is offering a $50 gift card to anyone who signs up for its mailing list at picholinenyc.com.
RAMBLE AWAY Las Ramblas (170 W. 4th St., between Sixth and Seventh avenues, 646-415-7924), has launched a daily happy hour (actually two hours) between 5 and 7 p.m., for the month of August, when select Spanish wines are $5-$7. Guests who snag a bar stool will also be treated to free tapas during that time.
BOBO'S REVOLVING DOOR Patrick Connolly, the James Beard Award-winning chef de cuisine of Radius restaurant, in Boston, is moving to New York to take the helm in the kitchen of Bobo (181 W 10th St., between Seventh Avenue South and 4th Street, 212-488-2626), replacing Jared Stafford-Hill.
Mr. Thorn is food editor of Nation's Restaurant News. He maintains nrnfoodwriter.blogspot.com.