On March 29, chef Mitsunobu Nagae opened his new restaurant, l’Abeille, in New York City’s Tribeca neighborhood, offering French cuisine in a 54-seat dining room. Following years at Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning destinations from Joël Robuchon in Tokyo and New York, as well as at Michelin-starred restaurants in France, l’Abeille is Nagae’s first solo venture as chef and co-owner.
The restaurant, whose name translates to “the bee,” features six-course set menus (with optional wine pairings) that rotate seasonally, along with a selection of dishes à la carte. Hailing from Japan, Nagae has married delicate Japanese technique with French haute cuisine in a more relaxed, bistro-like atmosphere, with bar seating providing a glimpse into the kitchen and floor-to-ceiling windows opening to the sidewalk in warmer weather. Dishes like scallop crudo with beet gazpacho sorbet and makrut lime oil; pan-fried tilefish served with fennel puree, potato and bouillabaisse sauce, and miso-glazed roasted squab with Bourbon sauce grace the menus.
John Mckenna, who also held positions at L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon in New York as well as at Restaurant Award winners Ai Fiori and Atera, is leading the beverage program. Along with a focused cocktail program, Mckenna has built an almost exclusively French wine list standing at 170 selections, of which white and red Burgundy, Bordeaux reds and Champagne are the highlights. “French wines are incredibly broad in style but generally have a presence that is clearly identifiable, which brings a sense of place to the glass,” Mckenna said. “Being able to work in this specific category allows for a deeper look into what France has to offer while also mixing with the delicacies of chef’s work.”