Chef and Menu Report: Week of 8/03/14

Every week, we take a look at some new chefs and menus that have been announced across the country and around the world



The Hotel Hassler Roma has announced new monthly à la carte menus at its Palm Court Restaurant, focusing on a different fruit each month; August features watermelon, while September will feature figs.

Created by Imàgo's executive chef Francesco Apreda and sous chef Marcello Romano, the August à la carte menu features five dishes based upon melon and watermelon, including marinated white melon carpaccio with Culatello ham and sprouts, thyme-lemon flavored suckling pig loin with seared melon and baby lettuce, watermelon ice with yogurt mousse, and a cantaloupe mojito.

Gstaad, Switzerland
Last November, the Alpina Gstaad Hotel's Restaurant Sommet was awarded its first Michelin star and 18 out of 20 points by Gault Millau. On August 14, the hotel will host an exclusive wine event in partnership with l'Office des Vins Vaudois showcasing the top wines from the Vaud region. The 2014 Gault Millau Sommelier of the Year, Thibault Panas, will conduct a tasting of six wines from the region. Following the tasting, The Alpina Gstaad's executive chef Marcus Lindner will present a six-course dinner, each course paired to a Vaud wine from the tasting, and dishes include marinated Koho salmon with wasabi cream, and supreme of wild pigeon with blueberries and chanterelles. The Alpina Gstaad will feature these wines for its guests through August 24.

Through August 24, Rosa Mexicano will host their annual Ice Cream Festival, featuring a dedicated menu of Mexican classics gone sweet, served with authentically flavored ice creamsCalled “Flavors of Mexico a la Mode,” they are desserts inspired by classic savory dishes such as guacamole, tamales, and empanadas paired with handmade ice creams infused with Mexican flavors ranging from sweet corn-caramel to chili-spiced chocolate.

New York
Nobu, the iconic Japanese restaurant that started as a request from legendary actor Robert De Niro to chef Nobu Matsuhisa to bring his now-famed cuisine to New York, turns 20 this fall. Since first opening its doors in Tribeca in September 1994, Nobu has expanded to include 27 restaurants around the world, and to commemorate the anniversary, Nobu Restaurants will host a series of events, starting with a 20th Anniversary Party for Nobu New York on September 17 at Tribeca Rooftop. In addition to the signature dishes and cocktails Nobu is known for, the September kick-off event invites friends and fans to experience the street fare of chef Nobu's youth, and the inspiration behind many of his most famous creations with a traditional Japanese fall festival that will include a taiko drum performance and anniversary sake ceremony.

The Astor Room, the Astoria restaurant housed within the historic Kaufman Astoria Studios where Rudolph Valentino, the Gish sisters, and W.C. Fields once dined, has debuted an all new menu, new look dining room, and outdoor dining area. Recently-appointed head chef Nathaniel Felder, formerly of Manhattan hot spots Catch and Lavo, has created a menu that features a twist on traditional American cuisine with dishes such as a scallop and oxtail appetizer and pork ribs with a spiced dry-rub, served with coleslaw and fries. The signature cocktail list pays homage to the dining room’s cinematic heritage, with names such as the “Mary Pickford” and the “Clara Bow.”

Certé has turned their award-winning dish at this year’s Bacon & Beer Classic at Citi Field into a pizza and sandwich, which will be available through the month of September. The Bacon Wrapped Bacon Pizza consists of honey thyme-glazed pork belly, sea salt and cider vinegar potato salad purée, peppercress, fresh mozzarella, and crumbled crispy bacon. The Bacon Wrapped Bacon Sandwich has all of the above ingredients as well, but is served on grilled flatbread.

Savoury is commemorating Indian Independence Day on August 15 with a celebration of Bollywood music and a tasting menu by chef and owner Lala Sharma. Start with an appetizer like the Palak Moong Chaat: spinach and sprouted lentils tossed with onion, tamarind, and mint sauce, or the Tiranga Kebab: a mixture of basil, chicken tikka, and ginger kebabs in representation of the Indian flag. Have your pick of two entrees, like the Lamb and Goat Chettinad: crushed black pepper, curry leaves, tamarind, and coconut milk, or the Chaana Masala: chickpeas cooked with onion and tomatoes.  For dessert, try Gulab Jamun, which are small spheres of dried milk, slow cooked and boiled in sugar syrup. All main courses will be served with naan or garlic naan, Basmati rice, yellow daal, raita, and mango chutney, and guests also have a choice of a complimentary glass of wine or an Indian beer. The restaurant will also be selling its “1947 Beer” for $3 all weekend long, from August 15 through 17.

This year’s Pig Island, taking place in Red Hook, Brooklyn, will be held on Saturday, September 6 from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Among the just-announced chefs and dishes are Billy Durney of Hometown BBQ and Shane McBride of Balthazar, who will team up for Caribbean jerk bao and cochon au lait bao. Chef Katy Sparks of Tavern on the Green will also be in attendance, as will Martin Høedholt and Pablo Ventura of Revolving Dansk and Dassara Ramen, who will cook Danish-Asian crackling pork, topped with red cabbage and sweet Scandinavian pickles on a toasted baguette, and Copenhagen Street Dog, a mini grillpølser with Danish remoulade, crispy fried onions, and salty Lakrids. Many other renown chef have announced their attendance and participation, which ensures that Pig Island will showcase the best of New York State local farmers, chefs, brewers, cider makers, and vintners — all dedicated to making this year’s Pig Island the best pork fest ever.

The Smith is rolling out yet another new summer cocktail menu from beverage director Jeff Leanheart. Jeff's late-summer list is available at all three of the restaurant's locations, and highlights seasonal ingredients like watermelon and basil, house-made syrups like peach-tarragon, and local liquors like peach cider from a New Jersey farm. A few of the intriguing cocktail options are the “Don Pedro #2,” a blend of coconut tequila, watermelon juice, basil, and Mexican chocolate bitters, and the “Peach Smash,” consisting of beer-barrel-aged bourbon, muddled peach, peach tarragon syrup, and local peach cider.

National Rice Pudding Day is this Saturday, August 9, and the 21 Club is offering a delicious “Valencia Rice Pudding” with golden raisins and apricots. For something even sweeter, try the “Caramelized Warm Rice Pudding” with rhubarb compote and crème fraîche ice cream at The Writing Room.

Blenheim is launching brunch this weekend beginning August 9.  Served Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and some of the dishes that will be on the menu are a potato pancake with cheddar cheese, leeks, chanterelle mushrooms, poached eggs, and a hollandaise sauce, and as a French toast made of house baked brioche and Blenheim maple syrup. Sides include chef Ryan’s Grandpa’s Sausage Patties, Blenheim ham, and hickory smoked bacon. Special cocktails include the Red Snapper with gin, tomato, spices, and pickled farm vegetables, as well as the Currant 75 with Plymouth gin, red currants from the farm, lime, and cava.

David Bracha, owner and executive chef of Oak Tavern, is debuting a new Tuesday night “AOC” (Appellation D’Origine Contrôlée) menu this month. Every Tuesday evening from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., guests will taste unique food and wine pairings native to different regions of the world including Spain (8/05), California (8/12), Italy (8/19), and France (8/26). Moving across the globe, each week AOC will feature a different plate and wine pairing for $25 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) and will include two glasses of wine and two small plates.

The restaurant will also be launching an extensive wood oven pizza menu during their late-night bar hours on Friday and Saturdays, served from 11 p.m. until 2 a.m. Featured signature pizzas include their “Duck Pizza” with mushrooms, fontina, crème fraîche, and truffle, and “Cheese Pizza” with tomato, warm burrata, and basil.

Porfirio’s Restaurant is now open for lunch, offering a prix fixe menu for $25. For the first course, guests can choose Carnitas de Atún: crispy deep-fried tuna bits cooked in lard and served with avocado; or Sopa de Tortilla: a traditional Mexican recipe served with cheese, sour cream, Pasilla pepper, and avocado on the sideFor the second course, indulge in Puntas de Filete al Chipotle: beef tips simmered in a creamy chipotle sauce; or Pollo con Mole: a half chicken smothered in mole sauce served with Mexican-style rice on the sideFor dessert, sweet treats such as Flan Casero: a house-made caramel custard and Fresas con Crema y Merengue: strawberries with cream and meringue are offered.  

Los Angeles
For the first time, The Well in Hollywood is now serving lunch! Dishes include The Well Burger, short rib sliders, a pressed Cuban sandwich, jalapeño mac ‘n’ cheese, and charred broccoli parmesan served with chicken, steak, or Ahi tuna. The new lunch menu is also available to take out for the neighboring office and apartment buildings on Sunset and Vine.

Max’s Wine Dive has introduced a specially priced happy hour that runs from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and “reverse happy hour” Friday and Saturday from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m.. Executive chef Jessica Brumleve’s locally inspired summer additions include fried green tomatoes, made up of cornmeal-crusted green tomatoes, sweet corn succotash, and charred scallion-buttermilk dressing; a BLT salad, comprised of summer heirloom tomatoes, baby Bibb lettuce, bacon blue cheese, crispy prosciutto, biscuit crumble; and basil aioli; a jalapeño cornbread casserole of barbequed navy beans, chipotle butter, and micro cilantro, as well as a roasted chicken breast with a baby arugula and watermelon salad, goat cheese, candied pecans, and a lemon-balsamic vinaigrette.


Kate Kolenda is the Restaurant/City Guide Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @BeefWerky and @theconversant.