When top out-of-town chefs move to New York, it’s always a crapshoot. Some, like Fort Worth’s Tim Love, come in conspicuously and wash out; others, like Atlanta’s Sotohiro Kosugi, now at Soto, come in under the radar but quickly grab our attention. L.A.’s Govind Armstrong doesn’t expect much of a problem: The ultra-laid-back chef made South Beach his own and expects New York to treat him equally well. “A lot of New Yorkers come down here to Miami, and I’ve been coming up there forever, so I have a lot of friends to support me,” he tells us. “I’m not trying to reinvent the way New Yorkers eat. But I can’t not grow, you know?”
How has Govind canvassed the city he hopes to conquer? “I went to Fatty Crab — I had a sous-vide chicken thigh that was pretty phenomenal. Also some awesome charred-squid salad.” Armstrong says he does frequent drop-ins at the Spotted Pig, Gramercy Tavern, Eleven Madison, Pastis, and Kittichai, but lots of affluent out-of-towners stop in those places. If Armstrong is going to make a go of his light, understated California-style cooking, we think he ought to emulate some of the edgier places around town. Take a page out of Fatty Crab or Ssäm’s book, Govind. Get aggressive! New York will love your salt-crusted porterhouse, but most of your organic, locally sourced California food, lovely as it is, will not set you apart from your rivals.