On June 7, David Chang's Momofuku Restaurant Group opened Kōjin in Toronto. The cuisine is an ode to executive chef Paula Navarrete's Colombian childhood, with a focus on wood-fire grilling. Various cuts of local beef grilled on an open flame are the heart of the menu, supported by dishes like griddled corn flatbread, lacquered pork chops and sizzling prawns.
The 220-selection wine list embraces the meat-centric menu with grill-friendly reds from Pinot Noir and Syrah to Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon, with a particular focus on France and California, as well as a few Canadian selections. The whites have a similar regional focus, with additional picks from Germany, Austria, Italy and Spain.
Overseen by beverage director Steven Sousa, the program also highlights lesser-known wines that are becoming more accessible in Canada. A page titled "Something Different" features producers such as Cataldo Calabretta from Calabria and Foradori from Trentino-Alto Adige, both in Italy, and Domaine Le Soula from Roussillon in France.
"We are basically trying to push as hard as we can to get the most interesting things that would complement the food," corporate beverage director Jake Lewis told Wine Spectator.
Meanwhile in New York, Momofuku Má Pêche, which held a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, closed after eight years of service in Midtown Manhattan. According to Momofuku Restaurant Group, the closure will allow the company to focus on other projects, including an upcoming concept at Hudson Yards debuting in 2019.
On July 5, chef Michael Mina and celebrity restaurateur and partner Ayesha Curry will open their third International Smoke location, bringing global grilling techniques from Asia, South America and beyond to Houston, a city that's dominated by Texas-style barbecue. The first location opened Nov. 2017 in the former RN74 space in San Francisco, which held a Grand Award up until its closure.
"[People] will come thinking that it's going to be more on the American side, but then they really get that journey around the world," Mina told Wine Spectator. A well-rounded, 120-selection wine list continues the world journey, with selections from the U.S., Spain and France, many of which will be available by the glass.
"Restaurants are like children—different even if they have the same mother and father," Mina said of his International Smoke locations, revealing future plans to open more locations in San Diego and Miami. His restaurant group manages more than 30 eateries, including several Best of Award of Excellence winners: Michael Mina in San Francisco and Las Vegas, RN74 Seattle, and four locations of Bourbon Steak.—B.G.
Come July, RO Hospitality's Coalition Food and Beverage concept will bring American classics to downtown Alpharetta, Ga., in the Atlanta area. "CFB applies lessons we've learned about warm, neighborhood-focused hospitality in a broader, more casual format that better fits the 'live-work-play' environment people want in their daily life," Daniel Pernice, beverage director and co-owner, told Wine Spectator.
Similar to the group's two other concepts—including Award of Excellence winner Osteria Mattone—the new restaurant will put "great emphasis on finding fantastic wines and listing them at affordable prices," Pernice said.
The 50-selection wine list has New World highlights mostly from the U.S., including a range of well-priced by-the-glass options. The wine offerings are a good match for executive chef and co-owner Woody Back's wood-fire fare, said Pernice. He is excited for guests to try pairings like the blackened tuna burger with the 2016 Head High Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast, or the lobster Caesar salad with the Cass Mr. Blanc 2016 Rhône-style blend from Paso Robles.—B.G.
Award of Excellence winner Quaintrelle in Portland, Ore., has a new chef: Ryley Eckersley, who is from London and has worked in restaurants around the world since the age of 13. He replaces Bill Wallender.
"Ryley's time in Europe gave him a fond appreciation of wine and the craft of winemaking," Emily Everett, co-owner and general manager of Quaintrelle, told Wine Spectator via email. "He's looking forward to working closely with [wine director] Chis [Cooper] to take our winemaker dinner series to the next level and create new dishes for the menu that really complement our Wine Spectator Award–winning list even more than [our menu] already does."
Though diners can expect some alterations to Quaintrelle's seasonal, Pacific Northwest–inspired menu, the restaurant's 90-selection wine list, which highlights selections from its home state, is not expected to change.—L.W.
The Fallone Family, owners of Award of Excellence winner Cantoro Trattoria in Plymouth, Mich., opened a second location of their restaurant in nearby Troy, Mich. According to wine director Alex Bazzy, the new outpost features a 170-selection wine list with a dozen regions represented, with a particular focus on Italy, and a selection of 22 by-the-glass pours.—K.K.
New York's Dovetail, which had held a Restaurant Award since 2008, will close at the end of June. Chef John Fraser recently sold the restaurant to his partners, who will transform the space into an Italian restaurant slated to open in the fall. Wine director Amy Racine also left the restaurant to continue working with Fraser's group, which includes Award of Excellence winner Narcissa.—J.H.
The Chicago location of Sullivan's Steakhouse, which has been a staple in the River North neighborhood's dining scene for more than 19 years, served its last steak this week. The restaurant had held an Award of Excellence since 2001. Sullivan's has 14 other locations in the U.S., and is part of Del Frisco's Restaurant Group, which also includes the Del Frisco's Grille and Del Frisco's Double Eagle Steakhouse concepts.—L.W.