The sprawling, extravagant space formerly home to New York's Four Seasons restaurant is well underway to becoming a three-venue culinary endeavor, spearheaded by partners Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick. The powerhouse Major Food Group owns several hit eateries, including Best of Award of Excellence winner Carbone in Las Vegas. (The project is not associated with the ownership of the original Four Seasons, which will reopen in a new space a few blocks south.)
The massive project inside the Seagram Building is the group's most ambitious feat yet. The Grill, an homage to the classic 1950s New York steak house, opened in May, followed by the Pool in mid-July. The final piece of the trio, a Japanese restaurant called the Lobster Club, will be helmed by chef Tasuku Murakami and is expected to open in October.
The most recent debut, the Pool, is set in the iconic former Pool Room of the Four Seasons. The marble structure still sits at the center of the dining room, where floor-to-ceiling windows spill light onto the blue speckled floor. The restaurant serves seafood-focused, high-end fare with global influences, such as tuna carpaccio and Portuguese turbot.
Wine director John Slover says he's striving to create a wine program that's equally grand, with four sommeliers guiding guests to the perfect bottle. "First and foremost the goal is to provide our guests with an outstanding, deep selection of Old and New World wines that features the greatest estates from Europe and America," Slover told Wine Spectator via email.
The 80-page list includes more than 40 wines by the glass, ranging from $15 for a pour of François Chidaine from the Loire, to $69 for Dom Pérignon 2004. Four pages of Champagne offer a good mix of big houses and grower-producers. The overall list's main strengths are in Burgundy, the Rhône and Italy, with a sizable amount of grand cru bottlings from the former, as well as verticals from giants like Domaine Leflaive, Domaine de la Romanée-Conti and Marquis d'Angerville.
A solid California section with big names is also on show. Some lesser-known regions are represented, notably a whole page of Austrian wines showcasing a large vertical of Knoll, among others. At the end of the list, an impressive 74-vintage vertical of Château d'Yquem reaches all the way back to 1811. There are many half-bottles and magnums, too.
While the historic space carries connotations of luxury and prestige, Slover emphasized that the wine team is there to cater to diners' individual tastes. "We encourage everyone to drink what they want to drink," he said. "If they want to explore the list or put themselves in our hands we are ready with a deep selection of Chablis, Champagne, coastal Mediterranean whites and reds, and Burgundy—wines that will highlight and accentuate the array of seafood on the menu."
Particular selections that Slover is excited about include François Raveneau Chablis Montée de Tonnerre 1996 and Salon Brut Blanc de Blancs Champagne Le Mesnil 2002.—J.H.
A San Francisco restaurant opening Sept. 5 will flip the standard practice of selecting wines to complement food. Instead, the menu at Parigo will be designed around the wine list, free of a defined cuisine or format. Owners Sarah Trubnick and chef Manuel Hewitt also own the Barrel Room in San Francisco, which holds a Best of Award of Excellence.
"Many restaurants play with the idea of food-and-wine pairings. Some offer special pairing menus, others offer suggestions of wines when a guest orders a dish. We have decided to take this concept to the next level," Trubnick told Wine Spectator via email.
Parigo's menu will list each dish with two "complement" wine suggestions and two "contrast" wine suggestions. Guests can choose a glass of one pairing or a half-glass of both to compare. Examples include a baked eggplant with a complement pairing of Domaine Gerovassiliou Epanomi Avaton 2012, a red blend of indigenous varieties from Greece, and a contrasting Scacciadiavoli Montefalco Sagrantino 2008 from Italy.
To create the menu, Trubnick, Hewitt and chef de cuisine Danny Murcia conduct wine tastings where they brainstorm potential ingredients and flavor profiles that might pair well. From there, sample dishes are tasted alongside the wines to determine which dishes highlight them best.
Parigo will showcase all kinds of grapes and regions in a continuously changing wine list. Slovenia, Greece and Mexico will be among the countries initially featured, along with selections from local producers.
"Given the format of the menu, I have a bit of free reign to offer some lesser-known grapes and regions," Trubnick said. "I'm always excited to expand the palates of our guests."
In addition to the pairings, a reserve by-the-bottle list will offer approximately 200 selections, with some half-bottles. "Many of the bottles are allocated or older vintages, and there are some real gems," she added. However, the by-the-glass pairings are highly recommended to enjoy the full Parigo experience.—J.H.
A second location of Best of Award of Excellence–winning Wine Dive will open Sept. 5 in Manhattan, Kan. Brothers and co-owners Brad and Brent Steven plan to feature a larger wine list than the original Wichita outpost.
The new restaurant, Wine Dive & Kitchen, will take over the space and the inventory that belonged to 4 Olives Wine Bar, a former Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winner. When the Stevens sorted through 4 Olives' cellar, they found some rare selections and great depth in Burgundy and Bordeaux.
The discovery is particularly exciting in Kansas, where liquor laws are among the strictest in the country, making it sometimes difficult to acquire interesting selections and older bottles. "The old owner did a really good job of sourcing a lot of hard-to-get wines," Brad, who serves as the sommelier, told Wine Spectator. "We're really lucky to have them on our list."
Brad incorporated the 4 Olives inventory into a wine program that's consistent with Wine Dive's focus on small producers and family-owned wineries. The resulting list will be larger than Wichita's, with 400 to 450 selections and approximately 50 wines available by the glass.
Brad says he's looking forward to opening in college-town Manhattan, where Kansas State University brings a younger demographic and a growing, more adventurous wine scene. According to him, patrons are more open to trying new things and aren't as attracted by brand names. "I think Manhattan is a little more forward-thinking in that aspect than Wichita," he said.
The chef at 4 Olives, Mike Luftman, will stay on at Wine Dive & Kitchen, tailoring his high-end cuisine to fit the more laid-back vibe of the brothers' restaurant. The menu will offer small bites and larger sharing plates as well as the rib-eye steak Kansas diners have come to expect.
While there are no solid plans for further expansion, Brad said he's working on fine-tuning the Manhattan location into a scalable concept. "It's obviously too early to tell, but that's kind of our long-term goal," Brad said.—J.H.
Chef Thomas Keller's acclaimed New York fine-dining institution, Grand Award winner Per Se, is going through a big change. After 13 years at the New York restaurant, Eli Kaimeh has stepped down as chef de cuisine. Taking his place is Corey Chow, former executive sous chef and a mentee of Kaimeh's.
"It is a dream come true," Chow told Wine Spectator via email. "To become the chef de cuisine at a restaurant at this level is a great achievement. A lot of chefs don't get this kind of opportunity, and I am honored."
In his new role, Chow will continue to intertwine his work in the kitchen with the restaurant's wine program. "I love to cook with different wines and liquors and often work with the sommelier and bar managers on new products that come their way," he said. "I like to challenge the team to find something that I can use to complement a dish or sauce that I'm not as familiar with."
Chow first started at Per Se as a junior chef in 2007, working his way up the ranks until the end of 2013, when he left to gain more kitchen experience at two other New York hot spots, Major Food Group's now-closed Torrisi Italian Specialties and Best of Award of Excellence winner the NoMad. He returned to Per Se in 2015, working as an executive sous chef until his promotion.—L.W.
Those who remember the punk-rock institution CBGB might sense some déjà vu. Chef Daniel Boulud's original DBGB Kitchen & Bar location on the Bowery in New York City shut its doors last week following an eight-year run.
Boulud offered French brasserie–inspired fare at his Lower East Side spot, like oysters, charcuterie, saffron mussels and steak frites. While the beverage program was firmly rooted in Burgundy and the Rhône, it also featured smaller regions such as the Languedoc and the Loire, two-dozen craft beers on draft, and a selection of cocktails.
Executive chef Nic Tang will relocate to DBGB's Washington, D.C., location, and other staff members will take positions at Boulud's sister restaurants, seven of which have Restaurant Award–winning wine lists. Daniel, the flagship, has held a Grand Award since 2002.
But it's not all sad news for Boulud, who recently partnered with SL Green Realty on the upcoming One Vanderbilt building in Midtown Manhattan, where he is developing a new fine-dining concept. He will also be opening the fourth location of Epicerie Boulud within the complex.—V.S.
As the summer comes to an end, several Restaurant Award winners in the Washington, D.C., area are bringing in fresh new faces to helm their kitchens. Award of Excellence winner Blue Duck Tavern will welcome Daniel Hoefler as chef de cuisine, formerly of NoMi Kitchen at the Park Hyatt in Chicago.
In nearby Alexandria, Va., chef Thomas Cardarelli will replace William Morris at Vermilion, which has held an Award of Excellence since 2005 for its 200-selection wine list, with strengths in California and France. Cardarelli's resume includes New York City Restaurant Award winners Marea and Vaucluse, where he was an executive sous chef, and the Modern, now a Grand Award winner, where he started as a line cook.
BLT Steak, which has six Restaurant Award–winning locations, hired Michael Bonk as the D.C. outpost's chef de cuisine. The restaurant holds a Best of Award of Excellence for its 390-selection wine program.
Drew Adams will join the team at the D.C. location of Bourbon Steak, a Michael Mina brand that has five Best of Award of Excellence restaurants across the country. Adams formerly worked at Plume, also a Best of Award of Excellence winner, with 1,530 selections on its list.—J.H.
After nine years, Award of Excellence winner Bice San Diego closed its doors Aug. 2. The upscale Italian restaurant had received the award since 2015 for its 185-selection wine list, with strengths in Italy and California.
The location's owner, Mario Cassineri, who also served as the restaurant's chef and general manager, sent an email to patrons explaining the reasons for the closure. "Unfortunately, fine dining does not have the draw it once had," he wrote in the statement. "This reality, combined with unforgiving leases and the rising cost of labor, brought us to a very difficult decision."
Bice is part of a larger restaurant group that continues to operate other locations in places like Tokyo, Milan, Miami and Dubai, U.A.E.—J.H.