Laurent Tourondel’s empire was built of single theme restaurants: BLT Steak, BLT Fish, BLT Burger, etc. But BLT Market has been a critical success because of its loose format. One need look no further than one of the highlights of its fall menu, duck breast with a five-spice glaze. “They’re very forward flavors,” Tourondel says. “They go together well, and while it’s not completely original people in China were glazing ducks a long time before me! I do think this is a more modern kind of dish.” As always, mouse over the different elements to see them described in the chef’s own words.
Game season has started, but there’s only a handful of places in New York that make an effort to prepare wild animals the way the meat deserves. One such is A Voce, where Andrew Carmellini is cooking woodcock, a small woodland bird, for all it’s worth. “It’s not as gamey as grouse,” the chef says, “but it has a special wild taste that really needs to be experienced.” As always, mouse over the different elements to hear them described in the chef’s own words.
With nearly 50 locations in Japan, Chanto is one of the world's most established restaurants, but to date does not have a significant New York profile. Whatever the reason, it’s not the food, which is eclectic, inventive, and very, very delicious. One of Chanto’s signature items in Japan is the “King of Kimchee,” a marriage of pickled vegetables and sashimi that is much more than the sum of its parts. As always, mouse over the different elements to hear the dish described in Chef Kiyotaka Shinoki’s words.
Since taking over from Scott Conant at Alto, Michael White has instilled the menu with oversize flavors and resourceful techniques. This dish, sirloin with marrow bones and brasato reduction, fulfills both criteria. As always, mouse over the different parts of the image to hear them described in the chef’s own words.
Christophe Bellanca, the new chef at Le Cirque, is a veteran of a number of Michelin-starred kitchens in France, and his work at the venerable restaurant shows off classical French technique in spades. Everything is pared down to its most basic essence, and even dishes like this lamb trio seem elemental in a very purified, austere way. “I wanted something that was interesting, clean, and elegant,” the chef says, and he got it. As always, mouse over the different sections of the image to hear it described in Bellanca’s own words.
Fabio Trabocchi gained fame, and a James Beard award, for his modern Italian food at Maestro in Virginia. Now, he's Michael White’s replacement at Fiamma, and his contemporary take on porchetta, the most intensely rural and down-market of dishes, is a fair example of Trabocchi’s style: “In Italy, porchetta is a pig on a spit with wild fennel. It’s either boned and stuffed in a meat-loaf shape or opened up, like a book, on a spit. It’s something we tried to reinvent with a modern version without losing the original flavors.” As always, mouse over the different elements to see them described in the chef’s own words.
Lure Fishbar is rarely on anyone’s list of the city’s top seafood restaurants, and we always wondered why not. Chef Josh Capon’s end-of-summer appetizer of scallops and slab bacon just reinforces Lure’s strengths. “Even at the worst catering event in the world, scallops and bacon are good. To me they’re just good eating,” the salty chef says. “Our version is nothing too froufrou. But it’s a good plate, with a little bit of everything, and you should try to see if you can get it all in one bite.” Done and done. As always, mouse over the different elements to see them described in the chef’s own words.
Mexican food hovers close to the ground in New York, but with the opening of Toloache and Rayuela, it’s beginning to take its place among the city’s great restaurant cuisines. Considering how vital Mexican line cooks are to the city’s restaurants, this respect is long overdue. At Toloache, Julian Medina’s menu is both huge and modern, highlighted by a dozen different tacos drawing on his youth in Mexico City. “I’m a taco fanatic,” the chef says. “Now is a perfect opportunity for me to put them on my menu and show what they can be.” As always, mouse over the different elements of the image to see them described in the chef’s own words.
Johnny Iuzzini of Jean Georges is one of the leading figures in the modern Dessert Revolution and arguably the most influential dessert chef working today. Typically, any meal at Jean Georges ends with one of four dessert tastings four dishes united by a single theme. While summer strawberries last (likely another two or three weeks), this strawberry tasting will be available for both lunch and dinner. “The idea is to show how versatile strawberries are,” Iuzzini says. “There are so many ways to manipulate it and yet still maintain its integrity.” As always, mouse over the different desserts to hear them described in the chef’s own words.
Doug Psaltis at Country is a native of New England with a predictable seafood bent. In his case, however, it’s taken to an extreme: With this dish of cod braised in its own ocean water with local seaweed, he’s done everything except put a raincoat on the diners and blow an angry nor’easter in their face. After the jump, mouse over the different elements of the dish to hear them described in the chef’s own words.
Since taking over from Scott Conant at L’Impero in May, Michael White has made the restaurant’s menu his own. As Gael Greene says in this week’s issue, “His new menu reflects the dazzling sunniness of Southern Italy’s markets and his own unleashed exuberance.” Exhibit A is this appetizer of grilled pork belly with mission figs and arugula. “People don’t want to risk their whole entrée on a pork belly; this way they can order it knowing that they’re safe with their sea bass or whatever,” says White. As always, mouse over the different elements after the jump to hear them described in the chef’s own words.
Although Wakiya, the new high-end Chinese restaurant in Ian Schrager’s Gramercy Park Hotel, is staffed almost entirely by Japanese chefs, the food is traditional Chinese, only slightly modernized. A good example is this “Bang Bang Chicken,” a classic Szechuan recipe in which, historically, a stick was used to soften the meat (hence the name). As prepared by Yuji Wakiya’s able chef de cuisine, Koji Hagihara, there are some hidden Japanese elements as well, but none that the eye can easily detect. As always, mouse over the different elements to see them described in Hagihara’s own words.
Related: We Catch Wakiya’s First Guests on the Street
Wd-50’s kitchen, headed by chef Wylie Dufresne, is the locus of cutting-edge New York cookery. But for all their originality, the dishes are still nice to eat. This ocean trout, with fava bean, forbidden rice, and root-beer-date purée, is especially easy to love. “We started with the rice,” Dufresne tells us, “and then figured out where to go from there.” As always, mouse over the different elements of the dish to read them described in the chef’s own words.
Iacopo Falai impressed a lot of experienced eaters when he opened Falai, his small, eponymous restaurant on the Lower East Side, catching them off-guard with his very modern take on Italian food. This foie gras appetizer, rare enough on Italian menus, comes from out of left field. “There are more contrasting flavors and textures in this dish than any foie gras dish on the planet,” Falai boasts. “Start with the croquette and go clockwise. It’s warm and should be eaten right away. The chocolate I’d like to be last, because it gives a strong, savory end to the dish. There’s so much interaction here for the customer to discover.” As always, mouse over the different elements to read them described in Falai’s own words.
15 East, Tocqueville’s long-planned sister restaurant, has made a lot of fans with its excellent sushi and sashimi. But owner Marco Moreira’s proudest achievement may be the “degustation of sea lettuces,” a $14 appetizer that presents New Yorkers with eleven varieties of authentic Japanese seaweed. “Seaweed is so unappreciated here,” he says. “You see seaweed salads that come in already dressed and frozen, with different seaweeds mixed together. I wanted to create a dish that showcases different seaweeds, textures, looks, and flavors.” As always, mouse over the different elements of the dish to see them described in Moreira’s own words.
Although he denies it, Eric Ripert must occasionally regret the invention of his “surf and turf,” the Kobe steak and grilled escolar he serves at Le Bernardin. As the winner (along with Masa) of one of the only five-star ratings Adam Platt has ever bestowed, “The Ripper” has created a meat dish that has threatened to upstage the fish cookery for which Le Bernardin is known. Still: “I think we’ll keep the item on the menu, for sure. It’s a strong sell,” the chef says. “Something like 50 orders a night. But we’ll see [if we keep it] in the fall.” As always, mouse over the different elements of the dish to see them described in the chef’s own words.
One of the bigger upsets in recent food-award history came a couple of weeks ago: Bill Corbett of Anthos came out of nowhere to defeat Room 4 Dessert’s Will Goldfarb and wd-50’s Alex Stupak to win the Golden Scoop Award for Most Innovative Dessert. About his secret weapon, Sesame in Sesame, Corbett says, “I wanted to take a very simple ingredient and take it in as many directions as I could. It took me a long time to get it down, but I definitely feel like it's one of the ones that illustrates what I want to do on a plate.” As always, mouse over the different elements of the dish to see them described in the chef’s own words.
Related:Daniel and Anthos Hit Big at Dessert Awards
Pichet Ong first attracted notice as Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s No. 1 dessert man, and the complex, subtle, and painterly desserts he created at 66 and Spice Market helped bring him to national attention. Now he has opened up his first solo restaurant, P*ONG, and released an Asian dessert cookbook, The Sweet Spot. Still, though known as a dessert chef, Ong is stretching out with savory dishes like this one, an original pairing of scallops, soba noodles, and chamomile ice that tastes hot, cold, salty, sweet, and acidic, all at the same time and in perfect equilibrium. As always, mouse over the different elements of the dish to see them described in the chef’s own words.
The menu at Per Se changes almost every night, but Jonathan Benno keeps turning out this delicate, summery Wagyu-steak salad. Though technically chef de cuisine, Benno in fact runs the kitchen; Thomas Keller has recently called it “a Jonathan Benno restaurant,” and the younger man’s mania for detail has helped make the place one of the city’s top restaurants. This carefully formulated salad, in which seemingly simple ingredients are calibrated to complement the seared beef, is pure Benno. As usual, mouse over each arrow for the chef’s description of that element.
Gramercy Tavern’s Michael Anthony, not to be confused with Van Halen’s Michael Anthony, is one of the city’s top Haute Barnyard cooks, a veteran of Blue Hill and a natural with produce. His Spring Vegetable Medley is a centerpiece of both Gramercy’s market menu and its vegetable tasting menu. “The idea is to bring springiness to a spring menu,” he says. “I don’t know a better way to do that then with a dish that highlights the crunch and brightness of spring flavors.” Mouse over each element to read the chef’s description.