Charlie Palmer Steak Headlines Opening of Napa's Highly Anticipated Archer Hotel
Napa's just-opened Archer Hotel is anchored by chef Charlie Palmer's newest steak house. The 120-seat restaurant inhabits the ground floor of the hotel, with lounge and bar seating extending into the lobby; the restaurant will also serve a soon-to-open rooftop bar and will provide room service for hotel guests.
This is the fifth iteration of Palmer's steak-house concept. The four others are all Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners, as are several other restaurants in his group, including Aureole's New York and Las Vegas locations, and Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, Calif.
Steaks and chops anchor the menu, created by Palmer and executive chef Jeffrey Russell, with an assortment of sauces, add-ons and sides. Signature dishes from Palmer's other steak houses were brought on, like a Wagyu beef carpaccio and lobster corn dogs.
Charlie Palmer Group food-and-beverage director Peter Triolo oversees the 400-selection wine list, half of which hails from Napa Valley. "We wanted something that represents a steak house," said Triolo, noting the presence of major staples like Cabernet, Burgundy and Champagne. The lounge and rooftop bar will allow for more fun, eclectic wines, like Arneis and Grüner Veltliner, he added.
The bar and lounge menus will also have more than 20 wines by the glass, including Coravin pours of Grace Family and Opus One's Overture, and a rotating selection of high-end flights. Triolo emphasizes accessibility as well: Several dozen bottles are priced at less than $100.—A.R.
Stephen Starr and Aimee Olexy Open the Love Restaurant in Philly
Philadelphia-based restaurateurs Stephen Starr and Aimee Olexy opened their latest project, the Love, Nov. 8 near the city's historic Rittenhouse Square.
Starr owns three Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winners: Le Diplomate in Washington, D.C., Upland in Miami Beach and Le Coucou in New York City. Olexy owns Talula's Garden and Talula's Daily in Philly, in partnership with Starr.
The menu at the Love focuses on seasonal, local ingredients. The wine list reflects this ethos, highlighting small, local producers. With sommelier Alexandra Cherniavsky, Olexy built a list of nearly 100 selections with whimsical categories like "It's Willamette, Dammit!" and "Dolla Dolla Bills" for pricier bottles.
"There's a little bit of magic that happens in the sharing of a bottle of wine," Olexy said. She's particularly excited about pairing the menu's buttermilk fried chicken with bubblies like Onabay Blanc de Blancs North Fork of Long Island 2013 ($82) and Parés Baltà Brut Rosé Cava Pink NV ($66).—J.H.
Chefs Michael Mina and Hugo Ortega Announce Restaurant in L.A.
Hugo Ortega, one of Houston's most celebrated chefs, is expanding his footprint to the West Coast. Mi Almita, his pop-up restaurant in chef Michael Mina's Mina Test Kitchen in San Francisco, was so well received that the Mina Group announced plans to create a permanent home for the concept in the Beverly Center, a luxury shopping mall in Los Angeles.
"I did not have a clue exactly where this [project] was leading me," Ortega told Wine Spectator. "I can't thank [Mina] enough for giving me the opportunity to express myself through food, the thing that I love the most." Ortega is the co-owner of four Restaurant Award winners in Houston, including Hugo's, the flagship.
Expected to open in 2019, Mi Almita—meaning "my little soul" in Spanish—will serve Ortega's traditional Mexican cuisine, featuring at least a few dishes from the pop-up menu. There's no official word yet on beverage-program details, but judging by the Mina Test Kitchen version, which featured several Mexican wines and a wide range of tequila and mezcal, expect plenty of options from south of the border.—L.W.
Mina Also Teams with Ayesha Curry in San Francisco
Michael Mina, owner of 10 Restaurant Award winners, partnered with chef and Food Network star Ayesha Curry on International Smoke, a barbecue restaurant in San Francisco that opened in November. The eatery had also been a pop-up in the Mina Test Kitchen.
The wine list offers nearly 100 selections, including a reserve list of special selections and 15 wines available by the glass. "We wanted to feature wines with a sense of place, that were well balanced and could lend themselves to the diverse flavors of the menu," Benito Martinez, Mina Group director of beverage, told Wine Spectator via email. He says he loves pairing the smoked pork ribs with a California Rhône blend like the Kunin Pape Star Central Coast 2015.
International Smoke replaced RN74 in the former Grand Award winner's space, another Mina concept that closed last October. The new restaurant features an RN74 prime burger as an ode to the former tenant.—J.H.
Masa Takayama's Tetsu Opens in New York
Chef Masa Takayama, whose Bar Masa in Las Vegas holds a Best of Award of Excellence, opened a casual restaurant in New York's Tribeca neighborhood.
Branding itself as a robatayaki—a name derived from a Japanese open-fire grilling method—Tetsu is a departure from the acclaimed sushi of the chef's flagship New York restaurant, Masa. There will be sushi at Tetsu, but the core of the menu will revolve around grilling, with dishes like coconut-curry shrimp and chile pork sausage skewers.
"I designed Tetsu as a neighborhood restaurant, and we thought the same way when putting together the beverage program," Takayama told Wine Spectator via email. "We wanted to include something for everyone. There are lots of wines that people know and love, plus plenty of fun and unique stuff for those who are a bit more adventurous."
Alongside sake and cocktails, the wine list spans 150 selections, with half under $100, and is divided into categories like "salt-of-the-earth whites" and "funky fresh reds."—V.S.
Boka Opens Bellemore in Chicago
With the opening of Bellemore in Chicago, Boka Restaurant Group adds a new name to its roster of Windy City eateries. Boka cofounders Rob Katz and Kevin Boehm partnered with chef Jimmy Papadopoulos, formerly of Bohemian House.
Several Boka-owned restaurants have earned Restaurant Award winners, including Boka, GT Fish & Oyster and Swift & Sons. The wine list at Bellemore follows in these footsteps, offering 200 selections overseen by wine director Sarah Carpenter. She focuses on lean, high-acid wines that are well-suited to Papadopoulos' food, from winegrowing regions in California, Italy, France, Argentina, Chile, Austria and more.—L.W.
San Francisco's Coi Welcomes New Chef
Erik Anderson is the new executive chef at San Francisco Best of Award of Excellence winner Coi. Anderson worked in several acclaimed kitchens, including Grand Award winner the French Laundry in Napa Valley, before replacing Matthew Kirkley at the restaurant.
"I have realized the importance of working closely with your sommelier and developing things that offer the guests a more thoughtful and personal experience," Anderson told Wine Spectator via email. He looks forward to working with wine director Courtney Olson, he added.—J.H.
Wisconsin Gets a Texas de Brazil
Texas de Brazil opened its first Wisconsin location in the Milwaukee metro area. The Brazilian steak-house chain has two Award of Excellence–winning locations. Rodrigo Davila, corporate director of wine and spirits, will oversee the 124-selection wine list, which has 26 wines by the glass.—J.H.
Closing: The James Hotel's Primehouse in Chicago
Award of Excellence winner Primehouse, in the James Hotel Chicago, will have its final dinner service Dec. 9.
"After 11 great years, Primehouse is closing its doors to make way for the next wave of culinary reinvention at the James Chicago," general manager Paul Cardona said in a statement. The steak house had a 370-selection wine list, with strengths in California, Italy and France.—V.S.