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City Chef, Country Cooking

Geoffrey Zakarian serves some of Manhattan's most elegant cuisine at Town. Now, as he prepares to open a casual counterpart called Country, he reimagines his most sophisticated dishes in their equally delicious and rustic incarnations.

The food at Geoffrey Zakarian's restaurant, Town, in New York City (like tea-crusted tuna sashimi with a tart lemon-and-yuzu emulsion) is stunning and delicious, but so complex you'd never try to replicate it at home. His next restaurant, Country, scheduled to open late this summer in Manhattan, takes a far more casual approach. "Eating at Country is going to be like going to someone's house for dinner," says Zakarian, who built his reputation as chef at the New York City restaurants Patroon and "44."

At Country, diners will sit down to cocktails and passed hors d'oeuvres. Then it's a set meal—there's no menu—just a few appetizers, an entrée and several desserts, all served family-style on platters. As Zakarian puts it, "You have no choice, so you have to trust the chef." On Mondays, diners can call to see what dishes are planned for the week, so if they don't like the sound of the main course on a given night, say, they can change their reservation. Or those who prefer a conventional menu can eat in the downstairs dining room, the Grand Café (which doesn't take reservations).

Here, F&W has asked Zakarian to start with the main ingredient in a Town recipe and dream up a Country counterpart. Take beef—at Town, it's served as an elegant tartare with caviar; at Country, it would be a juicy tenderloin accompanied by a pile of creamed leeks with bacon. It's easy to go to town at Town, but for more casual occasions, there's nothing like Country cooking.

Published May 2004
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