The Hotdish

FOOD WITH A VIEW Prego, the perennially troubled restaurant atop the Renaissance Madison Hotel overlooking the freeway, gets a major makeover in January at the hands of Seattle restaurant legend Luciano Bartinelli. The man who made Settebello a Seattle dining destination and gave Bellevue something to sing about in Sans Souci says that the new place, dubbed Pellini, will follow the same formula as did his past triumphs: classic Italian cuisine with a fresh modern touch. What kind of Italian? Northern? Southern? Tuscan? Sicilian? "Let's say that I am a moderate where tomato and garlic are concerned," says Bardinelli. JEWEL OF BARǁ Surely, dahlings, you knew about Bar硧s vodka bar opening party on Friday the 13th. Anybody who's really anybody at all turned out, making it difficult to find a seat but easy to feel chic as all hell. And who could blame them? With over 70 vodkas screaming your name, one's hard-pressed not to listen. French Grey Goose, Dutch Vox and Van Gogh, Polish premiums, the Jewel of Russia Ultra. Potato-, corn-, or wheat-based, it's all there, upstairs in the vodka bar that opened last month. Quite a change for Bar硬 this new concept—used to be you couldn't even get a Stolichnaya Ohranj when you needed one. Now they've got seven Stoli varieties and a case full of the clear, cold stuff to back 'em up. At $5.50-$13 a shot, the vodkas don't come cheap. But neither do you. So put on your sleekest, blackest item and don your best disaffected gaze—once again, Bar硧s the place to be on Capitol Hill. 1510 11th Ave., 206-325-8263. POP CAREFULLY Champagne is an established New Year's Eve tradition. Unfortunately, so is massive eye injury, according to American Academy of Ophthalmology spokesperson Anne Sumers, M.D. In her many years of rectifying gruesome ocular damage, Dr. Sumers has noted that the popping of corks into the eyes of loved ones is generally not the result of some foolhardy prank. On the contrary, the vast majority of cork-to-eye trauma is the product of ignorance, and as it is our sincere intention to battle the forces of cluelessness, we offer some step-by-step advice on the art of holiday cork popping, courtesy of Dr. Sumers: 1. "Keep the bottle cold." (Recommended storage temperature: 45 degrees or lower.) 2. "Hold the cork down with the palm of your hand while you untwist the wire hood." 3. "Point the bottle away from yourself and others." 4. "Place a towel over the top and tilt the bottle at a 45-degree angle." 5. "Hold [the bottle] firmly with one hand." 6. "Use the other to slowly turn the cork with a slight upward pull." 7. "Ease it out with a whisper, never a pop." Happy holidays, everyone. And please be safe out there. Food and/or beverage news? E-mail Hot Dish at

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