Hard-core Top Chef devotees take note: Top Chef season 5 contestant Jeff McInnis (most recently of Yardbird in Miami) and a new cheftestant, Janine Booth, who makes her debut tonight on season 11 in New Orleans, will be helming Root & Bone, slated to open in New York City’s East Village in January. Taking over a site formerly occupied by an old soul food restaurant, the new spot will celebrate Southern foodways through dishes like caramelized brisket meat loaf with smoky plantain crème, sunchoke and house-made ricotta “tater tots” and Carolina Gold rice risotto with butter beans and pickled egg yolk. To pair with the chefs’ modern takes on Southern dishes, the restaurant will serve an all-American beer and wine list with a focus on craft brews from the South. The chefs are also forming a partnership with Mama’s Bar next door to offer a hip, Southern gastropub late-night menu and weekend brunch. McInnis and Booth, his chef de cuisine, arrived in town only a few weeks ago but they are already inspired by the local produce: “I live near the Union Square farmers’ market and the vegetables are just amazing,” says McInnis. “The flavor of a carrot here is so beautiful and bright. It’s very different from what I could get in Miami.” And fanatics of the crave-worthy fried chicken he served at Yardbird can rest easy: He’ll be playing with different variations on the dish at Root & Bone, experimenting with spicy, mild and crunchy versions.
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