Danny Meyer's Union Square Hospitality Group is operating the dining concepts in the newly opened Intersect by Lexus, a three-story, multifunctional space with a first-floor cafe, a restaurant and a cocktail bar upstairs, as well as a retail area, a public gallery and a private space on the third floor.
The restaurant will have rotating chefs: Every four to six months, it will transition to a new executive chef and an entirely different menu, highlighting up-and-coming chefs from different countries. First up, London-based French chef Gregory Marchand is showcasing dishes like duck with sunchoke and sesame, and beef tenderloin served with short rib and artichoke.
The wine list will remain around 100 selections but will rotate with the resident chef. "It is a challenge, but it's one that I'm really excited about," said beverage director Andrea Morris. The opening list is mostly French, with focuses on the Rhône and Burgundy, Marchand's favorites, and the Loire, which is his birthplace. Value is a big priority for Morris: There are currently plenty of bottles under $100 and more than 20 wines available by the glass.
Though an unlikely one, Morris says the partnership between the car company and the restaurant group, which has six Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners, was a natural fit. "[There's] a lot of the same sort of desire for over-the-top hospitality as well as more environmental initiatives," she said. "So I think the two companies just felt aligned and it was a really cool opportunity."—J.H.
On Dec. 3, chef Michael Mina opened Trailblazer Tavern in San Francisco's East Cut neighborhood, a new casual concept in partnership with wife-and-husband chefs Michelle Karr-Ueoka and Wade Ueoka showcasing Hawaiian comfort food.
The menu includes starters like unagi and butterfish arancini, hearty meat entrées like short rib pot roast with black truffle and soy, as well as fresh seafood, noodle and rice dishes, and a raw bar. Sommelier Rajat Parr's wine list reflects the eclectic menu, covering regions from the Jura to Australia's Tasmania, including low-intervention wines with the freshness and vibrancy to complement the dishes' sweet, spicy and fermented flavors.
At around 80 selections, the list is shorter than the ones at Mina's Restaurant Award winners (which include five Bourbon Steak concepts, two Michael Mina locations and RN74 Seattle), yet Parr says it's the most interesting, personal wine list he's ever written. "This wine list is very current. It's a wine list of now," he told Wine Spectator. "It's producers and wines which are either hot or going to get hot very soon." He'll also be launching a reserve list with more heavy-hitters and older vintages in the next few weeks.—J.H.
Laura and Sayat Ozyilmaz, the chef-couple whose resumes include Grand Award winner Saison and Best of Award of Excellence winner Mourad, are gearing up to open Noosh, in partnership with restaurateur John Litz, by the end of the month.
"It's eastern Mediterranean–inspired, California-made," Litz said. "The goal with this is to really create a top tier in the casual dining space."
There will be a main casual dining area and a ticketed pre-fixe, family-style concept. The latter will have a 60-selection wine list, overseen by beverage director Andrew Meltzer, highlighting countries like Georgia, Hungary, Turkey, Greece and Lebanon, as well as local California selections and a few Champagne options.
"As somebody who has lived in the conflict of the region all his life before moving here, I just get really excited that all of these flavors from a food perspective as well as from a beverage perspective can co-exist within one menu," said Sayat, who's originally from Turkey.—B.G.
David Féau is no longer the executive chef of Grand Award winner Wally's Beverly Hills and its new Santa Monica location. According to co-owner Christian Navarro, Féau left to pursue other projects, including his vegan food line JeCook.
His replacement is Ryan Kluver, who as chef de cuisine helped create the menus at Wally's Beverly Hills and Santa Monica. Navarro said the shift won't cause any major changes; the core menu will remain the same, with a few added seasonal items.
"We're going to empower our entire staff to continue to execute and create things," Navarro said. "I'm happy for [Féau], and he'll carry our lineage with him and it'll be great."—J.H.
A Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse is now open in San Diego's InterContinental Hotel, the first West Coast location for the restaurant chain, which has 13 Restaurant Award winners. (The Del Frisco's Restaurant Group also owns Del Frisco's Grille and Barcelona Wine Bar.)
Wine director Faith Fulginiti oversees the San Diego wine program, after serving on the sommelier team in the Grand Award–winning flagship in New York. The 1,100-selection list covers classic regions and emphasizes local producers from Southern California and Mexico's Baja California. Napa Cabernets are another point of focus, with verticals of cult producers like Dominus Estate, Opus One and Shafer Hillside Select.
"I hope that it elevates the wine scene in the area," Fulginiti said. "We're kind of pushing the envelope for what the standard should be." There are more than 30 wines available by the glass and an additional 15 poured by Coravin. Fulginiti plans to build the program with the goal of reaching nearly 2,000 selections by the end of 2019.—J.H.
Best of Award of Excellence winner the Lambs Club in New York has a new executive chef, Galen Zamarra, who previously owned two restaurants in the city, the now-closed Mas (Farmhouse) and Mas (La Grillade).
"Galen's world understanding about the techniques driving food today, combined with his classical French training, speaks to his sophistication and his adept culinary talents," chef and partner Geoffrey Zakarian told Wine Spectator via email. "I'm honored to work alongside him daily at my flagship restaurant."
Zamarra plans to emphasize the Lambs Club's seasonality through more frequent menu changes, and has already added dishes like Piedmontese steak tartare and bone-marrow gratin.
The shift won't impact wine director A.J. Ojedas-Pons' list, but Zamarra stressed the importance of creating dishes with wine in mind. "I think the celebration of a meal isn't complete if the wine and food haven't been considered together," Zamarra said. "It is a massive learning experience to take on, but for a chef it is very rewarding."—J.H.
On Nov. 30, after more than a yearlong location search, the team behind San Francisco's West Coast Wine & Cheese opened its second wine bar, in Mill Valley. "In San Francisco, the business is fast-paced with very high foot traffic and relatively quick turn of seats," said owner and wine director Chris Wanner. "In contrast, Mill Valley will be a little slower paced, so we are investing more in the comfort aspects of the space for customers to hang out with us and stay a while."
Like the original outpost, the Mill Valley bar has a 325-selection wine list, with strengths in California, Washington and Oregon. The menu will be smaller, focusing on high-quality local cheese and charcuterie selections. "We're hoping to establish ourselves as the neighborhood gem that we've become in San Francisco," Wanner said.—B.G.
Philadelphia-based chef Marc Vetri opened a second location of his Best of Award of Excellence Vetri Cucina in the Palms Casino Resort in Las Vegas. The menu will feature the same Italian-inspired fare, with a 450-selection wine list strong in Piedmont and Tuscany, which will soon grow larger than the Philadelphia location's 500 selections.—B.G.
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