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February 17, 2015
Restaurants
Where to Go, What to Eat, and What to Drink This Month
© Satoshi Nagare

Chef Jason Franey, formerly of Seattle’s Canlis, was just welcomed as the executive chef at Coastal Luxury Managemente Restaurant 1833 in Monterey, California. A three-time James Beard Best New Chef Northwest nominee, Franey cut his teeth working alongside top talent including Daniel Humm at Eleven Madison Park. 500 Hartnell St.; 83-643-1833. While the French Laundry is closed for renovations, Thomas Keller has launched a pop-up called Ad Lib at Napa’s Silverado Resort and Spa. There, he’ll serve classic American dishes like Carolina Creek shrimp cocktail and root vegetable pot-pie using produce from The French Laundry Culinary Garden. 1600 Atlas Peak Rd.; 707-754-4148. Nordic chef Rene Redzepi, four-time topper of San Pellegrino 50 Best List, has temporarily relocated his Copenhagen restaurant Noma to the Mandarin Oriental Tokyo. Redzepi and his team will apply their hyper-local, foraging-focused approach to Japanese cuisine at the hotel’s Signature restaurant through February 14. $380 a person; 2-1-1 Nihonbashimuromachi, Chuo; 81-3/3270-8800. See the full list here »

October 20, 2014
By Suzy Buckley Woodward | Restaurants
Is NAOE Miami's Best Japanese Restaurant?
Jeffery Salter

It’s only omakase (chef’s choice) at Kevin Cory’s two Japanese gems in downtown Miami, the eight-seat NAOE and 16-seat N by NAOE, where dining-time options are few and the reservations don’t come easy. The 41-year-old, Miami-born chef (above) personally helms the Aritsugu knives—which were passed down from his chef uncle—six days a week for all four reservation slots: “If I’m off, we close,” he says.

NAOE’s tagline—“It’s not fresh…it’s alive”—is meant to convey how just-off-the-boat his fish really is, whether it arrives overnight from Japan’s Tsukiji fish market or either U.S. coast, or is sourced from local Florida fishermen. Depending on the product availability and Cory’s whim, bento boxes might include a broiled blackbelly rosefish caught in 1,000-foot-deep waters off Miami, with organic trumpet mushrooms and fresh wasabi flowers, and homemade yuca tofu with jyunsai and sea urchin roe from Hokkaido; the nigiri sushi could be anything from local Spanish mackerel pickled in koji to the insides of a sea cucumber.

Desserts are often fruits, sponge cake and ice cream. Sake is from Nakamura Shuzou brewery, which Cory’s relatives founded in 1818. “We want our guests to leave believing we respectfully and joyfully represented Japan,” Cory says. “When NAOE first opened, a Japanese couple came in, and as I served the bento, the lady actually started crying with a big smile. Sincere happiness is the highest compliment.” 
At 661 Brickell Key Dr.; 305-947-6263; naoemiami.com.

October 15, 2014
By Shivani Vora | Restaurants
Michelin-Starred Chef Christian Bau Comes to Chicago’s L2O
Photo courtesy of Anjali Pinto

Forget pop-ups: The latest culinary trend among chefs is to lock the doors of their own top kitchens and temporarily take the helm of other noteworthy restaurants.

Alinea’s Grant Achatz brought his famed molecular gastronomy to Eleven Madison Park for five nights in 2012, and René Redzepi of the Copenhagen-based Noma is heading to the Mandarin Oriental in Tokyo early next year to try his hand at Japanese cooking. Another such high-profile residency will come to fruition on October 22 and 23, when Michelin three-star chef Christian Bau will close his nine-table boîte, Schloss Berg, in southwest Germany, to cook alongside Matthew Kirkley, executive chef at the upscale seafood-focused L2O in Chicago.

The duo’s collaborative, ten-course dinner reflects their mutual passion for cooking crustaceans: Bau’s dishes include a blue lobster with orange confit and umami foam and U.S. prime beef with eggplant, mushrooms and onions; while Kirkely will present creations like crab chip seasoned with Old Bay and marine cider vinegar and pigeon with red cabbage. Expect clever wine pairings, like single-vineyard Rieslings, with every course, each selected by the restaurants’ respective sommeliers.

The experience is an anomaly for both Bau and Kirkely, who rarely do collaborative dinners. “I started talking to [Bau] after finishing the most incredible four-hour dinner,” recalls Kirkley of the evening he spent at Schloss Berg this past January. “We drank German beer and hatched this plan to cook together.”

Nearly a year later, their shared fancy now takes shape on your plate. $350 a person with wine but without tax and gratuity; 2300 N. Lincoln Park West; 773-868-0002; l2orestaurant.com.

September 23, 2014
By Shivani Vora | Restaurants
Maison Kayser Opens for Dinner
Jim Franco Photography

Even the most carb-averse couldn’t resist indulging in Eric Kayser’s killer breads when the baker first opened a branch of his Paris boulangerie, Maison Kayser, on Manhattan’s Upper East Side two years ago (maison-kayser.com/en).

Since then, four more locations have opened around town, including the newest on East 87th Street; another is already slated for the Upper West Side in early November.

But while the cafés are always bustling with daytime customers stopping to pick up their unparalleled baguettes and loaves, or lunch from their menu of quiches, savory tarts and salads, served all day, the spaces are quiet come nightfall. That’s set to change on October 7, when corporate chef Olivier Reginensi debuts a new dinner-only offering of French bistro classics across all locations.

Reginensi, who worked at several Michelin-starred kitchens in his native France, like Les Prés d’Eugénie, and at top Manhattan eateries including Daniel, says he plans to overhaul the options at least four times a year and will use mostly organic and local ingredients. For fall, expect a savory tart of acorn squash puree, fresh ricotta and pomegranate, an endive salad with pears, Roquefort blue cheese and caramelized walnuts and duck rillettes on toast. Heartier picks to match the dropping temperatures will also be on offer, including a decadent cassoulet with duck legs confit and a coq au vin.

The brand doesn’t have a liquor license, but with the no-charge BYOB policy, oenophiles can bring their ideal Burgundy or Bordeaux to match the traditional fare.

French jazz, dimmed lights and burning votives will round out the scene of a Left Bank boîte, giving Manhattanites access to Maison Kayser’s irresistible creations day or night.

September 10, 2014
By Shivani Vora | Restaurants
Fall Openings: Three Buzzy NYC Restaurants
©Maya Jiménez

Fall in New York always means a new season of buzzy restaurant openings. While there are many to look forward to (Brooklyn Fare Manhattan, Martha and Upland, among them), the sheer bounty makes prioritizing a must. Here, our top three picks this season.

Aldo Sohm Wine Bar: Le Bernardin’s legendary Austrian wine director gets his turn in the limelight with this eponymous, newly opened wine bar. The bright, 60-seat space is far more casual than the restaurant, with its light-wood touches, high tables and deep couches. “The idea is that you’re coming into my living room,” Sohm says. Expect small plates like salads, panini, charcuterie and cheese, and a list of 230 wines (including 20 sparkling varieties) sourced from around the world. Make a dent in the list faster with the flight tastings and 40 by-the-glass options. 151 W. 51st St.; 646-334-2988; aldosohm.com.

High Line Restaurant: Light fare isn’t exactly a mainstay of the team behind hot spots Carbone and ZZ’s Clam Bar, but that’s set to change with this (still unnamed) coastal Italian-American eatery opening in mid-October in one of the three new Renzo Piano buildings beneath High Line Park. Designed as a neighborhood trattoria, the glass-cubed, 100-seat restaurant emphasizes seafood, featuring dishes like handmade spaghetti with mussels and julienned zucchini and red snapper baked with tomatoes, olives and citrus. “It’s certainly a departure for us to do light cuisine, but we were ready for it,” managing partner Jeff Zalaznick says. 820 Washington St.; 212-254-3000.

White Street: Close friends and media personalities Dan Abrams and Dave Zinczenko had long discussed opening a restaurant in the glamorous setting of old New York. With the help of Christine Cole (former BondSt general manager), the pair has turned their dream into reality with this modern American restaurant. Opening September 12 with a 125-seat dining room decked with crystal chandeliers, Venetian mirrors and black-and-white floor tiles, White Street offers a seasonal menu, crafted by executive chef Floyd Cardoz of North End Grill fame, that boasts global flavors like a Thai-inspired crab salad with palm sugar, basil and lime juice and short ribs braised in Indian spices. “We’re going to borrow culinary touches from all over the world, but the food will be distinctly American,” Cardoz says. 221 W. Broadway; 212-944-8378; whitestreetnyc.com.

August 27, 2014
By Jay Cheshes | Restaurants, Food

Milan's Hottest New Restaurant: Carlo e Camilla
Veronica Meewes / www.mywellfedlife.com

For years, Segheria, a former sawmill on the edge of Milan, was one of the city’s hottest venues for a fashionable event—for hosting exclusive, invite-only runway shows, art installations and A-list soirees (Sting performed at one of them), this was the place to book.

But this past spring, Tanja Solci, the freelance art director behind the unfinished industrial space, decided to make it far more accessible, and joined forces with top chef Carlo Cracco to open a restaurant, Carlo e Camilla.

The new spot features a tiled bar, crystal chandeliers, long communal wood tables and an open-door policy (walk-ins are welcome) that’s kept it packed every night. The offbeat food and cocktails often mirror each other—a poached egg with licorice and lavender might be paired with a bourbon cocktail with lavender smoke—making for a daring approach in this wine-obsessed city.

Carlo e Camilla’s eclectic yet minimal decor is also a real draw. While keeping the rawness of the space intact, Solci has filled her family’s once abandoned lumberyard with a striking mix of modern and flea market finds—a Ron Arad table lies beside antique steamer trunks that belonged to her grandmothers; Capellini chairs sit in front of old, mismatched Ginori plates. The mood boards she started with lean against a wall in the pebbled courtyard out front, showcasing in clippings and sketches how the whole look came to be. “My idea of modernity is respecting memories,” she says, “but also doing something up to date.” Via Giuseppe Meda 24; 39-2/837-3963, carloecamillainsegheria.it.

August 25, 2014
By Tom Parker Bowles | Restaurants, Hotels

British Chef Simon ROgan's New London Restaurant
Photo courtesy of Maybourne Hotel Group

Fera at Claridge’s, chef Simon Rogan’s new restaurant in London, is named after the Latin word for “wild.” But there’s nothing untamed about the food. The cooking is complex but never fussy, refined but without pretension. Rogan excels in drawing the quintessence of flavor from each and every dish. Rabbit is slow-cooked until it’s soft and silken, then encased in a crisp, burnished onion batter; it arrives perched atop a slick of intense lovage purée. The result is a riot of textures and a taste that lingers long after the dish has disappeared.

Potatoes are whipped with soft cheese, a very British version of aligot, and topped with duck hearts. The contrast of seductively lactic and quietly meaty is sublime—and technically assured, too. Ingredients, as you would expect, are top notch, British and distinctively seasonal (most are harvested from Rogan’s own 12-acre farm in Cartmel Valley, about 278 miles outside London). In the dying days of spring, I found strawberries, young rhubarb, exquisite shellfish and an entire meadow’s worth of edible flowers. In other, less talented chefs’ hands, this sort of food could quickly become trite and showy, a triumph of appearance over substance.

Service is predictably deft, and the room is quietly impressive, with a sand-blasted manzanita tree at its center. It has the feeling of restrained opulence and the gentle well-fed and -heeled chatter of people actually enjoying their meal. There’s little doubt Rogan will soon be adding to his haul of Michelin stars. (He has two already at L’Enclume in Cumbria.) But unlike so many other temples to haute cuisine, Fera has real heart. At Brook St.; 44-20/7107-8888; feraatclaridges.co.uk.

July 23, 2014
By Sasha Levine | Restaurants

An Art-Inspired Pop-Up Dinner Series at Quince
Coutesy of Quince

Michelin two-star restaurant Quince may be closing its doors temporarily on July 25 for renovations, but that doesn’t mean fans won’t have access to its award-winning cuisine from chef Michael Tusk until its September 19 reopening. In the interim, Quince is launching curATE, a pop-up dinner series at nearby Hedge Gallery (hedgegallery.com) running July 30 through August 30.

The five-course tasting menu will change every week to reflect the rotating exhibitions displayed on Hedge’s walls, courtesy of five San Francisco galleries—Fraenkel Gallery, Anthony Meier Fine Arts and Jessica Silverman Gallery among them. Consider, for example, Jessica Silverman’s “White Is the Warmest Color” showcase, for which a selection of white-themed works inspire Tusk’s menu of white gazpacho, white-peach salad, Dover sole and other similarly hued dishes (August 13–16).

“Without being too obvious, I wanted to reflect each artist’s vision and theme for his or her respective installation,” says Tusk. “It was really important for me to allow room for interpretation without being too direct. I always enjoy surprises in both art and food!” 501 Pacific Ave.; Wednesday–Saturday evenings; $50 for reception and gallery viewing (6:30 P.M.); $199 for reception and seated dinner (7:30 P.M.); $110 optional wine paring; sfcurate.com.

July 21, 2014
By Shivani Vora | Restaurants

Restaurant Opening: Obicà Mozzarella Bar
Photo courtesy of Evan Sung

When the Roman mozzarella-bar chain Obicà opened a café in 2008 in Midtown Manhattan (590 Madison Ave.), the crowds came quickly and have stayed ever since. While the atrium setting serves the eatery’s four signature varieties (classic bufala, smoked, burrata, burrata with black truffle), flown in twice a week from a small farm in Italy’s Campania region, the fast-dining-and-takeout format doesn’t lend itself to lingering.

That will change when the brand’s first New York restaurant (its 20th location worldwide) opens July 24 in the Flatiron District (928 Broadway; obika.com). The 120-seat outpost celebrates Obicà’s ten-year anniversary, with its star cheese highlighting dishes like thin-crust pizza topped with spicy sausage and oozing burrata or baked pasta binded with bufala. Umbrian executive chef Enzo Nero also offers cheese-free creations, such as a bone-in breaded veal cutlet with wild arugula and black cod with rosemary chickpea puree. 

Whatever the renditions, the real surprise might be the garlic-and-onion-free kitchen. Managing partner Raimondo Boggia, who oversees the cooking, talks here about his vision for the new space and why he serves Italian sans its two most prominent ingredients.

Q: What is the concept of the new restaurant?
A:
It’s contemporary Italian cuisine that’s simple. We want to stay away from overwhelming diners with too many flavors and we want to showcase the best ingredients, both local and from Italy. The produce is mostly organic and comes from farmers in the area, and everything else like the salami, olive oil, sea salt and pine nuts comes from Italy. We pride ourselves on making everything in-house, including the breads, pastas and gelatos.

Q: The café serves a small selection of wine. How does alcohol figure in here?
A:
It’s definitely something we are emphasizing more. We have 190 wines by the bottle and 16 by the glass from all the regions in Italy. They are from small, hard-to-find producers. There is also an extensive selection of cocktails.

Q: To the real question: What do you have against garlic and onions?
A:
The food is meant to be light and fresh and we want to let our superb ingredients shine. When we cook with garlic and onions, which do taste fantastic, there is a tendency to abuse them and use them to mask other flavors. They can weigh down dishes. Our goal was to let all of our other superb ingredients shine.

Q: But aren’t they essential to Italian cooking?
A:
Absolutely not. Italy has a variety of flavors that does not include garlic and onions. The country is like an artist who loves painting with two colors. That doesn’t mean he can’t have a picture without them.

Q: It’s hard to find a recipe for a basic tomato sauce without garlic. How do you make yours?
A:
Fresh Roma tomatoes, extra-virgin olive oil, fresh organic basil and sea salt. It’s delicious—as good as my grandmother’s back in Italy.

June 23, 2014
By Anthony Rotunno | Restaurants

Michael White
Photo courtesy of Anthony Jackson

Chefs Michael White and Jean-Georges Vongerichten have opened more than 20 New York City restaurants combined. This year each expands his empire northward with outposts in two separate but equally tony Westchester suburbs less than an hour from Manhattan: White with two restaurants at the Bedford Post Inn, in Bedford, and Von­ger­ich­ten at the Inn at Pound Ridge, in Pound Ridge. A taste of what to expect when city meets country.

 

The Bedford Post Inn

Culinary Kingdom: Since 2009, Michael White’s Altamarea Group has opened 15 establishments in cities all over the world (London, Hong Kong, Istanbul and Washington, D.C., among them). Still, his crown jewel remains his first restaurant: Manhattan’s swanky seafood temple, Marea, on Central Park South.
On the Menu: Not straying from his specialty Italian cuisine, White incorporates the Bedford Post Inn’s bucolic surroundings into his farm-to-table dishes (think housemade pastas and plenty of fowl and fish, like the olive-oil-poached swordfish above) through a seasonally driven selection of produce from nearby farms.
In the Details: The design of the eight-guest-room Relais & Châteaux property’s fine-dining restaurant, Campagna, has gone largely unchanged from the original structure (yes, the oversized woodburning grill remains). Same goes for the more casual Barn. Bedford Post Inn, 954 Old Post Rd., 914-234-7800, campagna-bedford.com.

 

The Inn at Pound Ridge

Culinary Kingdom: Alsatian chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s 26 restaurants include ten in New York City alone (ranging from the drowning-in-Michelin-stars Jean-Georges, on Central Park West, to Madison Square Garden’s Simply Chicken stand), along with locations in France, China and the Caribbean.
On the Menu: Rumors that Vongerichten would christen his first non-urban eatery ABC Country proved false, but they weren’t entirely off: At the Inn at Pound Ridge, dishes like baby beets with yogurt and herbs and fresh ricotta ravioli are near replicas of those served at his ABC Kitchen in Manhattan.
In the Details: The 181-year-old building’s interiors were transformed by Thomas Juul-Hansen—the chef’s design collaborator—to evoke rustic modernity: A soft gray palette is countrified with exposed wood beams and natural elements like marble and zinc. Inn at Pound Ridge, 258 Westchester Ave., 915-764-1400, theinnatpoundridge.com.

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