Food & Wine Restaurants of the Year 2015
The Grey; Savannah, GA
Lots of restaurants reinvent old buildings, but The Grey is one of the most beautiful. The 1938 Greyhound bus station got a gorgeous renovation that accentuates the colors and lines of its Art Deco facade. 109 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.; thegreyrestaurant.com
The dining room is super-swanky, with steel-blue booths and terrazzo flooring; it could double as a Mad Men set. Plus, the kitchen was once the ticket booth, a brilliant act of repurposing.
Chef Mashama Bailey worked for the one-and-only Gabrielle Hamilton for four years at NYC’s acclaimed Prune.
Bailey was born in the Bronx, but she knows her Southern flavors. She makes a fantastic tangy white barbecue sauce to spread on her chicken schnitzel sandwich.
Spoon and Stable; Minneapolis
Chef Gavin Kaysen left his enviable job at NYC’s Café Boulud to open S&S; he’s a big reason the Minneapolis restaurant scene has become one of the best in the US. 211 1st St. N.; spoonandstable.com.
Kaysen isn’t just a great cook, he’s also an excellent host, both inside and outside his restaurant. He will deliver drinks like grapefruit punch to customers waiting in line.
Kaysen serves a stellar modern American menu, but he can cook anything. On Saturday nights, he makes pork-confit ramen for 15 lucky diners at the bar.
Spoon and Stable has wonderful idiosyncratic style. Kaysen decorated it with his crazy spoon collection (he has about 500, many stolen from famous chefs). He uses his grandmother’s old cake tins to serve petits fours with the check.
Cosme; New York City
Chef Enrique Olvera is one of the world’s great chefs; he helped put Mexico City on everyone’s culinary map. Now New York City can claim him, too. 35 E. 21st St.; cosmenyc.com.
The dining room is so many things that others in New York City are not: It’s spacious; it’s sexy; each table feels like its own little world. And it’s not lined with reclaimed wood—instead, the walls are a rich gray (selected from multiple paint samples).
Olvera takes corn to the next level, making tortillas and chips in-house with the most meticulously sourced kernels. You can never be sure what color your tortillas will be—yellow, purple, pale black—it all depends on the varieties Olvera finds that week.
There’s always a good crowd at the bar. A lot of those people are exploring the incredible, hard-to-find mezcals served with orange and Mexican worm salt.
Cosme’s menu is full of outstanding, attention-getting food, including what must be the year’s most Instagrammed dish: a burnt-cornhusk meringue, which you crack open to reveal the rich, sweet corn mousse inside.
The Progress; San Francisco
Chefs Stuart Brioza and Nicole Krasinski are unstoppable: first at State Bird Provisions, and now at The Progress. 1525 Fillmore St.; theprogress-sf.com.
The concept of sharing is a big, satisfying part of The Progress. The best seats in the house are at the Balcony Table, which is outfitted with the ultimate dish-passing accessory: a lazy Susan. As an added bonus, the table has the best views of the lovely dining room.
Dinner is a bargain: $65 for six dishes such as a stunning halibut tartare with turnips, left. That price includes snacks like tempura mussels, served soon after you sit down.
Brioza is the flavor genius behind Treasure Chest: sausage, trout quenelles and sweet onion-and-rice dumplings in a rich pork broth.
Brioza is so creative, he’s also an avid potter. He got his former studio mate, ceramist Mary Mar Keenan, to make every plate and platter at the restaurant.
Petit Trois; Los Angeles
At his LudoBites pop-ups, Lefebvre was the poster boy for modernist cooking in L.A. Petit Trois is the opposite: No tool is fancier than the tongs that accompany the parsley-butter escargots. 718 Highland Ave.; petittrois.com.
A checklist of the details of a quintessential Paris bistro that Lefebvre gets exactly right: black-and-white-tiled floor; mirror-lined wall; long marble bar; uniform Petit Trois–stamped plates; metal bread basket with sliced baguette; and ashtrays from French aperitif makers.
Lefebvre takes unremarkable French dishes like steak frites and makes them superstars—from confited chicken legs with brioche-crumb butter to a melty Boursin-stuffed omelet that even Justin Timberlake has Instagrammed.
Petit Trois packs so much into the tiniest space, it’s a marvel. The teensy room includes the open kitchen and 21 seats, all stools.
Lefebvre kept the sign from the former occupants, a Thai takeout spot. His popular avant-garde place Trois Mec, which still has its raffallo’s pizza sign, is right next door.