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Turning Tables: Napa Valley's Restaurant at Meadowood Opens Casual Spin-Off

Charter Oak focuses on family-style dining. Plus, Jean-Georges Vongerichten's newest hotel restaurants, and Eleven Madison Park's Hamptons outpost debuts
The Charter Oak puts a cozy, casual spin on Napa Valley institution Restaurant at Meadowood.
Photo by: Courtesy of The Charter Oak, Photography by Kelly Puleio
The Charter Oak puts a cozy, casual spin on Napa Valley institution Restaurant at Meadowood.

Posted: June 22, 2017

Reporting for this edition of Turning Tables by Julie Harans, Lexi Williams, Victoria Sadosky, Samantha Falewée and Asmae Fahmy.

Now Open: Charter Oak in Napa Wine Country

Chef Christopher Kostow and partner Nathaniel Dorn, of the Wine Spectator Grand Award–winning Restaurant at Meadowood in St. Helena, Calif., have launched the Charter Oak, a casual take on their acclaimed fine-dining restaurant.

Meadowood focuses on seasonal produce and is built on strong relationships with local farmers. Kostow hopes to achieve the same community-centered sentiment with his second project. Charter Oak will offer a more accessible take on his upscale new-American cuisine. A large wood-fired hearth is the focal point of the 100-seat, rustic room. Chef Katianna Hong, former chef de cuisine at Meadowood, is at the helm of the kitchen.

The highly anticipated spot serves family-style dishes like grilled avocado with rhubarb, and trout with wild greens and fermented onion. It will also take advantage of Meadowood's prized culinary garden. With all entrees priced at a fixed $24, Charter Oak is an affordable alternative to the Meadowood experience.

The 200-selection wine list features exclusively Napa Valley wines. "Our wine list at the Charter Oak is about focusing on our community; a community built on hard work, passion and relationships," beverage director Doug Kahn told Wine Spectator in an email. "We've created this list as a way to honor these values and celebrate the Napa Valley."

Organized by AVA and accompanied by maps, the list offers small verticals from big names like Spottswoode, Bryant Family, Dunn and Stag's Leap. Fans of California bubbly will be pleased with the full page of vintage Schramsberg bottlings dating back to 1985. The beverage program also offers a variety of craft cocktails, both in single servings ($14) and six-serving batches ($60). Dorn says he "wanted to complement chef Kostow's vision of communal, family-style dining."—J.H.

More Details on Jean-Georges Vongerichten's Public (Hotel) Affair in NYC

New Jean-Georges Vongerichten projects are cropping up everywhere lately, including in New York, where Grand Award winner Jean-Georges has held court for two decades. The world-renowned chef opened two new dining concepts downtown from his flagship, both taking residence in hotelier Ian Schrager's much-buzzed-about Public Hotel on the Lower East Side.

Public Kitchen, the main restaurant, offers diverse cuisines, from snacks such as shrimp wonton soup and popcorn-cheddar frico to various pizza and pasta options to entrees like soy-garlic marinated steak, Maine lobster, and grilled lamb chops.

Matthew Charles, the director of bars and beverage for Ian Schrager Hotels, oversees the wine list, which is organized into fun sections like "White Wines That Go with Avocado and Nuts" and "Red Wines That Can Handle Spice or Lighter Fare." In keeping with the hotel's luxury-for-all theme, the list offers nearly 30 by-the-glass options and a bottle price range of about $35 to $185.

For a more casual meal, guests can stop by Louis, Vongerichten's all-in-one coffee shop, luncheonette and market concept, which offers freshly made sandwiches, healthy snacks and a build-your-own salad bar.—L.W.

Meanwhile, in Brazil: Vongerichten's New South American Hotel Restaurant

Photo courtesy of Palácio Tangará, Oetker Collection
The striking wine cellar at Tangará Jean-Georges houses South American gems.

All signs indicate Jean-Georges Vongerichten is not slowing down any time soon. Last month, the French chef opened Tangará Jean-Georges in the new Palácio Tangará hotel in São Paulo, Brazil, staking a claim in the southern hemisphere for the first time in his career.

As well as the restaurant and its chef's table, Vongerichten oversees the hotel's bar, lobby and lounge areas. Food and beverage director Wadim Alvarez and head sommelier Gabriele Frizon curate the wine program. Brazilian sparkling wines have a notable presence on the list, including Cave Geisse and Moët & Chandon's project in Brazil. Several red wines from the country are also available. Other countries in South America are well-represented, with bottlings from Argentina, Chile and a hint of Uruguay. The list then moves on to the Old World, with France and Italy the main strengths. U.S. wines are almost entirely absent.—S.F.

Eleven Madison Park's Summer in the Hamptons Kicks Off

Grand Award winner Eleven Madison Park's long-anticipated pop-up, EMP Summer House, arrives in East Hampton, N.Y., this weekend. Unlike the New York restaurant's 11-course tasting menu, the casual eatery will offer an à la carte menu, offering dishes such as wood-fired baby corn with bonito butter and lime, bucatini with clams, garlic and parsley, and larger plates like the bouillabaisse with black bass, prawns, squid, fennel and saffron.

The wine list will be an abbreviated version of the program at Eleven Madison Park, with the focus remaining on classic wine regions and producers throughout the U.S., France and Italy, with some selections from Germany and Austria, as well as highlights from lesser-known regions. A few offerings from neighboring Long Island wine country are also available.

"We focused on what I think people want to drink in the summer," wine director Cedric Nicaise told Wine Spectator via email. "For me, when I think of summer whites, I'm drawn to Chablis, northern Italy, and other coastal regions. For red, Beaujolais is of course a favorite." There'll be something for pockets large and small: A Vincent Dauvissat Chablis Les Clos 2004 ($365) and a Mastroberardino Greco di Tufo Novaserra 2015 ($60) will be among the wine offerings.

"Oh, and there will be rosé. Tons of rosé," Nicaise added. The pink section includes familiar names Domaine Tempier, Château Coussin, Matthiasson and Channing Daughters.

EMP Summer House will be open through Labor Day, accepting only American Express and cash. Eleven Madison Park is scheduled to reopen late September, after a summer-long renovation.—V.S.

Now Open: Oak Steakhouse's New Nashville Location

Courtesy of Oak Steakhouse
The bustling bar and dining room at the new Tennessee location

Oak Steakhouse, a contemporary restaurant from the Indigo Road Restaurant Group, opened a new location in Nashville, Tenn., this month. This will be the branch's fourth restaurant, an addition to the Charleston, S.C., (a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence winner), Charlotte, N.C., and Atlanta locations.

"The one constant for us in all our restaurants is hospitality, which we define as how we make people feel. We're very much a reflection of the South," Steve Palmer, a partner at Indigo Road, told Wine Spectator. "Nashville is a vibrant food community and we are very proud to be a part of it."

Oak Steakhouse is known for its innovate approach to classic staples, boasting farm-fresh fare and seasonal ingredients. With executive chef Eric Zizka at the helm, the restaurant features dishes such as Tennessee trout with pancetta, clams, fingerlings, cipollini onion and tomato fennel broth, and rabbit drizzled with mushrooms, chicory, parmesan and brown butter. Steak-house classics such as filet mignons, prime rib eyes, and New York and Kansas City strips are also on the menu.

"At Oak Steakhouse, we change menus a lot more than the traditional steak house, and we cook seasonally, so you might find something on the menu one month that's not there another," says Palmer.

The 165-selection wine list at the Nashville location continues Oak Steakhouse's focus on California, with a few international bottles. Familiar names include Melville, Banshee and Katherine Goldschmidt.—A.F.

Closing Soon: The Palm in Dallas

The Palm, a steak-house chain with 22 Wine Spectator Restaurant Award–winning restaurants, will be closing its Dallas location on June 30.

For the past 33 years, the Palm Dallas has delivered classic steak-house fare, along with Italian and seafood-focused dishes. The 150-selection wine list is California-dominant, with solid French and Italian selections.

"This is a decision that was very difficult for us. We are sorry to say goodbye and remain hopeful that we can find a new home here in the great city of Dallas," owners Wally Ganzi and Bruce Bozzi Jr. said in a statement.—V.S.

Closed: MK in Chicago

Chef-owner Michael Kornick's Best of Award of Excellence–winning Chicago restaurant, MK, closed on June 13 after operating for 18 years. Chef Kornick’s career took off in Boston after he became one of the youngest executive chefs to run a Four Seasons Hotel kitchen, at the age of 28. He later founded DMK Restaurants in 2009; in addition to MK, the restaurant group includes County Barbeque, Fish Bar, Ada Street, Henry’s, Rec Room and four locations of DMK Burger Bar.

MK wine director and general manager Jesus Garcia crafted the 800-selection wine list, which had strengths in Burgundy, California and Bordeaux. According to the Chicago Tribune, MK is closing due to a financial disagreement between Kornick and the building's landlord.—J.H.

Now Open: Mastro's Ocean Club's New Boston Location

Melissa Ostrow
Mastro's infamous seafood tower will be available at the new Boston location.

On June 15, Landry's Inc. expanded its portfolio of upscale steak house and seafood restaurants with the opening of Mastro's Ocean Club in Boston's Seaport District. Landry's also owns Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners Morton's, the Steakhouse and Vic & Anthony's Steakhouse.

Executive chef Todd Kozaka—whose previous experience includes stints at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse and Legal Sea Foods—mans the kitchen, which offers signature Mastro's dishes such as the 2-foot-tall seafood tower and various cuts of quality meats.

The wine list, curated by wine director Sophia Parise, is consistent with the national chain's Restaurant Award–winning standards. Look for strengths in California and France, plus a special rosé section available during weekend brunch.—L.W.

Closing Soon: Sweet Lorraine's in Michigan

Sweet Lorraine's, the beloved Southfield, Mich., café just outside Detroit, will close June 26. It was considered a pioneer in the city's farm-to-table dining scene. After running the restaurant with her husband, Gary Sussman, for more than 30 years, chef Lorraine Platman has decided to take a break from the fast pace of the restaurant and focus on her health, according to the Detroit Metro Times.

Sussman oversees the wine list, which has held an Award of Excellence since 1994 and offers strengths in California to complement the restaurant's modern American cuisine. The café is known for embracing vegetarian, gluten-free and locally sourced dishes before those trends swept the country. Some of their classics include vegetarian meatloaf, and a burger topped with Lorraine's signature macaroni and cheese.

Fans of the café will be happy to know that Lorraine's culinary name will live on through her other Michigan eateries, Mac n' Brewz! and Mac n' Cheez!—J.H.

Eddie V's Kicks Off Sparkling Sounds Summer Fiesta

Eddie V's annual Sparkling Sounds event is in full swing, pairing Champagne and other sparkling wines with fresh seafood dishes and a celebration of live jazz through the ages.

"Sparkling Sounds offers our guests a fine dining and entertainment experience perfect for hot summer nights," Brian Phillips, Eddie V's wine director for the Chicago and Tampa, Fla., locations, told Wine Spectator via email.

The chain, which has 13 Award of Excellence–winning restaurants, offers 200- to 300-selection wine lists that focus on California wines. But at Sparkling Sounds, guests can enjoy sparkling wines from a variety of regions. Selections include Riondo Prosecco, Ferrari Brut Rosé Trento, Moët & Chandon and Veuve Clicquot. Guests can also make a side-by-side tasting comparison of Roederer Estate from Anderson Valley and Louis Roederer from Champagne.

As guests drink and dine on the special menu of pearl oysters, and salt-and-pepper shrimp, among other seafood dishes, they can enjoy live jazz performances from the genre's 1920s roots to today's. This celebration of fine dining, great wine and music will go through July 30.—J.H.

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