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Turning Tables: Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Big Hotel Openings

Famed chef opens restaurant in the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills. Plus, San Francisco's Rich Table's casual spin-off, and chef José Andrés' Jaleo goes to Disney World
Photo by: Billy Farrell
From left: Executive chef Steven Benjamin, Jean-Georges Vongerichten, executive pastry chef Deden Putra and chef de cuisine Richard Archuleta of the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills

Lexi Williams, Victoria Sadosky, Asmae Fahmy
Posted: June 8, 2017

Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Big Hotel Openings

Star chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten can now add Los Angeles to the ever-expanding list of cities conquered by his culinary empire. With the June 1 opening of the Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills, three Vongerichten-branded venues (all located within the hotel) hit the L.A. dining scene, marking the chef's first venture into the Golden State.

At the hotel's centerpiece restaurant, Jean-Georges Beverly Hills, guests can dine in an opulent, sun-drenched dining room, or alfresco on the vine-covered terrace. Helmed by executive chef Steven Benjamin, formerly of L'Atelier de Joël Robuchon in Las Vegas, the kitchen serves favorites from the flagship Jean-Georges in New York City, a Wine Spectator Grand Award winner, with a fresh California spin.

"Following chef Jean-Georges’ dedication to using locally grown and sourced foods in all his restaurants, our menus will highlight seasonal local ingredients grown in Southern California, via collaborations with local farmers and weekly visits to the Santa Monica farmers market," Benjamin said in a press statement. "We believe that a local focus adds another level of freshness and innovation to every dish we will serve."

With more than 500 selections, the wine list is well-equipped to match any dish on the wide-ranging menu, which features Vongerichten's classic French-American style with other European and South American influences. An extensive sparkling wine selection features prestige cuvées from Salon, Bollinger and Krug, while the California reds section includes heavy hitters like Harlan and Bond. Wine director Jordan Nova, previously of Spago Beverly Hills and Napa's 1313 Main, brings even more name recognition to the star-powered restaurant.

The Waldorf Astoria Beverly Hills is not the only hotel collaboration news from the acclaimed French chef this month. On June 10, Vongerichten's casual Public Kitchen will open inside hotelier Ian Schrager's brand-new Public Hotel in New York. Public Kitchen will boast an eclectic menu with a slew of vegan options. The kitchen will revolve around a smoker and a wood-burning oven and grill. Wine and a full bar will be available, but no further details have been announced at this time.—L.W.

Now Open in San Francisco: Rich Table's Spin-Off, RT Rotisserie

Five years ago, husband-and-wife duo Evan and Sarah Rich opened Rich Table in San Francisco, an Award of Excellence winner.

On May 30, the couple opened a casual spin-off restaurant, RT Rotisserie, just down the street from Rich Table. "We didn't set out to create a fast-casual restaurant," Evan told Wine Spectator via email. "This is just the food that we crave, and that we want to be eating right now. We wanted to create a menu that's simple but delicious enough that you can eat this food for lunch, dinner or both, every day, and know that the Rich Table team is behind it."

The menu is dedicated to roast chicken and pork from the rotisserie. It also offers sides such as charred cabbage and almond, and roasted beet hummus, as well as salads and sandwiches, like the pork, chipotle, broccolini and fried onion sandwich.

Although the beverage program is not as extensive as the one at Rich Table, the Riches, along with Rich Table general manager Jonny Gilbert, have selected a range of easy-drinking wines for the list. They are also partnering with winemakers to make proprietary bottlings, including a Mendocino Zinfandel developed with Kivelstadt, which is already on the menu.—V.S.

José Andrés Announces Jaleo Walt Disney World

Greg Powers
Jaleo's colorful D.C. outpost

It's a small world, after all. Internationally renowned chef José Andrés will soon open a sixth location of his Spanish restaurant chain, Jaleo, in the Walt Disney World resort in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. It is scheduled to open in 2018.

The Disney Springs outpost is expected to be Andrés' largest Jaleo yet, with a multi-level space celebrating the culture of his native country. Jaleo has a strong wine culture, too, with four locations in Wine Spectator's Restaurant Awards program. Although no specific wine details have been announced, Andrés' team assured in a press release there would be a "robust wine program" (for thirsty accompanying adults).

The food menu will feature contemporary and traditional Spanish cuisine, offering small plates like hand-carved jamón Ibérico de bellota, gambas al ajillo and pollo croquetas, as well as wood-fired paellas. The ground floor will also offer a take-out section where guests can order bocatas (Spanish-style sandwiches).—V.S.

Now Closed in NOLA: Mat & Naddie’s

Mat & Naddie's, an Award of Excellence winner in New Orleans, had its last dinner service May 23. The restaurant had long been recognized for its regional cuisine as well as its beverage program, which spans 215 wine selections with strengths in California, France, Spain and Italy.

According to managing partner Melissa Strong, chef and owner Stephen Schwartz closed the restaurant to focus on the catering side of the business, Michael's Catering. To this end, Mat & Naddie's will continue to operate as a private event space. The wine program will still be offered, remaining unchanged except for the absence of by-the-glass offerings.—V.S.

Ocean House in Rhode Island Appoints New Executive Chef

Chef Nicolas Bour has taken over the kitchens of the historic Ocean House resort in Watch Hill, R.I. This includes the fine-dining restaurant and Best of Award of Excellence winner Seasons, as well as its more casual bistro and outdoor dining venues.

A Providence, R.I., native, Bour traded coasts for San Diego, where he opened Avant at the Rancho Bernardo Inn and later became the executive chef of Humphreys, both Award of Excellence winners. He also served as the executive chef for the Loews at Coronado Bay, Calif.

Back in Rhode Island, Bour intends to bring his philosophy to "the next chapter of Ocean House," he says. His cuisine has a classical approach, focusing on just a few ingredients. "One thing that distinguishes my cooking from that of many of my younger peers is my resistance to the current trend of over-manipulation of ingredients," Bour told Wine Spectator via email. "I have a very strong belief that a truly great product, cooked with care, will speak for itself."

Back in March, Charlotte Berdensey became the director of wine education and head sommelier for Seasons' 880-selection wine program.—A.F.

A Chateau Montelena Wine Dinner at Ruth's Chris Steak House

Courtesy of Ruth's Chris Steak House
The filet mignon is served with wild mushrooms and a cauliflower mash.

With 107 Ruth's Chris Steak House restaurants in the Wine Spectator Restaurant Awards program, it's no surprise that the upscale-yet-approachable chain has partnered with some big names in the beverage industry for its "Taste Makers" dinner series.

On June 15, Ruth's Chris locations nationwide will offer a specially curated menu to pair with wines from Napa's historic Chateau Montelena winery.

The five-course menu will pair sesame grilled chicken and udon noodle salad with the Potter Valley Riesling, pan-seared sea scallops with the Napa Valley Chardonnay, white bean and chorizo stew with the Calistoga Zinfandel, filet mignon with the 2006 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon (a rare library release), and a chocolate dacquoise with the Napa Valley Petite Sirah for dessert.

Inspired by the steak house's founder, Ruth Fertel, the "Taste Maker" series recognizes those in the beverage industry who exemplify an entrepreneurial spirit and dedication to quality. Since Chateau Montelena's Chardonnay beat a Burgundian lineup at the 1976 Judgment of Paris tasting, the estate has been hailed for changing the way the world sees American wine. "Combining Ruth's humble beginnings with the underdog story of Chateau Montelena allows us to create an evening that's as rich in history as it is in taste," Abdiel Aleman, vice president of culinary development for Ruth's Chris, said in a press statement.

Future "Taste Maker" dinners will spotlight other legendary wine brands like Moët-Hennessy and Marchesi Antinori.—L.W.

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