F&W editors make it their business to know about the best new restaurants and chefs. Here, in this web-exclusive, they’ve selected some of the best new and amazing restaurant dishes to try in 2008— from pork belly BLTs in Key West, Florida, to sake pairings in Chicago and langoustines with Prosecco-lemon sorbet in New York City.
Craft Tom Colicchio built his ever-expanding empire on dishes that revel in regional ingredients; Atlanta gets its first taste this spring at Rosewood Hotels & Resorts' new Mansion on Peachtree. 3376 Peachtree Rd. NE; 404-995-7500.
Spice Market (Atlanta and Istanbul) Star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten will spread his passion for Asian street food with Spice Market, opening in Starwood hotels throughout the world. The first opens in February 2008 in a techno-glam space at the new W Atlanta. In March, a Spice Market will debut at the W Istanbul. Menu items like mushroom spring rolls and panko-and-sesame-coated crab balls mirror signature dishes from the original New York City restaurant. W Atlanta, 188 14th St. NE; 404-892-6000. W Istanbul, Suleyman Seba Cad 19; 011-90-212-327-9116 or starwoodhotels.com.
Myers + Chang Chef Joanne Chang (Flour Bakery + Café) serves distinctive interpretations of Chinese, Vietnamese and Thai dishes like mu la lat wraps (lemongrass pork meatballs, lettuce and Thai basil) and a pork stir-fry with yellow chives, crispy fried sweetbreads and bamboo shoots at this hip South End diner that opened in September 2007. 1145 Washington St.; 617-542-5200.
Laurent Gras At his as yet-unnamed Chicago restaurant set to open this spring, Laurent Gras (an F&W Best New Chef 2002) will make almost everything by hand, from the bread and butter (and crème fraîche and yogurt) to the smoked fish and charcuterie. He'll also source fish from small suppliers around the world for the modern seafood menu. 2300 N. Lincoln Park West; no phone yet.
Mercat a la Planxa After making his name with Amada and Tinto in Philadelphia, star chef Jose Garces is going back to his Midwestern roots: In the spring, the Chicago native is opening Mercat a la Planxa, focusing on Catalan tapas cooked on the grill, at the Blackstone Hotel in the city's South Loop. 636 S. Michigan Ave.; 312-765-0524.
Sepia Opened last summer, showcases chef Kendal Duque's robust market-driven dishes—like veal-cheek terrine with salt-cured duck liver and quince, and elk chop with roasted root vegetables—in an elegant room with Art Nouveau-style tiles. 123 N. Jefferson St.; 312-441-1920 or sepiachicago.com.
Takashi F&W Best New Chef 2000 Takashi Yagihashi's latest venture is also his most intimate—just 55 seats. Inspired dishes combining American, Japanese and French influences, like roasted New York strip steak with fresh wasabi, miso-glazed fingerling potatoes and fried salsify, are paired with sake from the chef's home province of Ibaraki Prefecture, Japan. 1952 N. Damen Ave.; 773-772-6170.
Mansion Restaurant After the departure of chef Dean Fearing (to open Fearing's) and a $20 million renovation of the historic Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek in Dallas, the restaurant's chef, John Tesar, introduced a luxurious new menu. Dishes include Texas guinea fowl raised exclusively for the restaurant and beef-cheek ravioli with crispy sweetbreads, as well as lobster fritters and foie gras sliders, served in the leather-walled barroom. 2821 Turtle Creek Blvd.; 214-443-4747.
KEY WEST, FL
Tavern N Town At Key West's new Beachside Resort & Conference Center, chef Norman Van Aken serves his signature "new world cuisine," a blend of Floridian and Caribbean influences. His casual Tavern menu features international small plates like deep-fried sushi and pork belly BLTs; the more elegant Town offers a nightly menu with dishes like veal osso buco. 3841 N. Roosevelt Blvd.; 305-296-8100 or beachsidekeywest.com.
Nick's Cove Restaurateur Pat Kuleto restored this historic bayside roadhouse with chef Mark Franz, whose seafood-centric menu revives classics like New England littleneck clam chowder and pan-seared sand dabs. 23240 Hwy. 1; 415-663-1033 or nickscove.com.
Ubuntu Sandy Lawrence—winery owner, biodynamic gardener and yoga enthusiast—combines all of her passions at downtown Napa's only vegetarian restaurant. The upstairs yoga studio overlooks the stylish dining room, where veteran Manresa chef Jeremy Fox creates elegant, vegetable-driven dishes like artichoke salad with celery salsa verde and grilled peach panzanella, made with produce from the restaurant's garden. 1140 Main St.; 707-251-5656 or ubuntunapa.com.
Lüke At his fourth and latest restaurant, top New Orleans chef John Besh pairs Creole-accented bistro food (Alsatian tarts, duck cassoulet) with Lüke's own line of custom-blended beers. 333 St. Charles Ave.; 504-378-2840 or lukeneworleans.com.
MiLa Slade Rushing and Allison Vines-Rushing's modern Southern cuisine—missing in action after the lamentable demise of their ambitious restaurant Longbranch—reappears in central New Orleans at the Renaissance Pere Marquette Hotel. 817 Common St.; 504-412-2580 or milaneworleans.com.
NEW YORK CITY
Fiamma F&W Best New Chef 2002 Fabio Trabocchi replaced Michael White at Fiamma, leaving Washington, DC's Maestro restaurant to partner with restaurateur Stephen Hanson. Trabocchi brings his meticulous attention to detail to Fiamma's menu, and dishes like langoustines with Prosecco-lemon sorbet show off his reinterpretations of Italian flavors. 206 Spring St.; 212-653-0100.
L'Impero and Alto Chef Michael White, formerly of Manhattan's Fiamma, took over restaurants L'Impero and Alto last year. At both restaurants, White excels at pasta, like Alto's luscious agnolotti stuffed with veal, rabbit, prosciutto and mortadella and L'Impero's fusilli with a meaty pork-shoulder ragù. L'Impero, 45 Tudor City Pl.; 212-599-5045. Alto, 11 E. 53rd St.; 212-308-1099.