Chef and Menu Report: Week of 7/13/14

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

The Grand Central Oyster Bar has announced plans to celebrate National Oyster Day.

Hong Kong
For the enjoyment of carnivores, The Steak House Winebar + Grill now features an exclusive knife menu. Diners can choose the best fit for their meal from a list of 10 knives, including a German Porsche designed blade. Additionally, the restaurant offers a selection of eight exotic sea salts from around the world, including Peruvian pink salt, chardonnay oak smoked French salt, and Cyprus flake salt, renowned for its fresh ocean flavor.

Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers has unveiled their Mexican-inspired Up in Smoke menu. The Southern-style pie substitutes the traditional red sauce base with a mole sauce, while the Holy Mole Hoagie is topped with Poblano peppers, and the Shrimp Rajas Salad is tossed in a chili lime vinaigrette. The new menu also introduces new margaritas such as the jalapeño-infused El Diablo and the Hot Mama, served with a half rim of orange cayenne salt. 

New York
Pastry chef Kierin Baldwin has left The Dutch and returned to Locanda Verde. Summer Bailey, her former sous chef, has been promoted in her place.

Critically-acclaimed chef Ryan Tate is the new executive chef of Blenheim. His menu of modern American dishes will use the vegetables, fruits, foraged ingredients, meats, and produce from owners Morten and Min’s proprietary 150-acre farm, Blenheim Hill Farm. The restaurant will offer an à la carte menu, as well as a five-course tasting menu for $95, based off the main menu. The grandson of a butcher and farmer, Michigan-born Tate developed a love for farm-fresh foods early on and has worked in kitchens for the last 15 years. Before coming to Blenheim, he was a partner at All Good Things in TriBeCa. Shortly after opening, he launched his own restaurant located in the basement of All Good Things, Le Restaurant, where he prepared daily prix-fixe tasting menus.  Le Restaurant quickly received critical acclaim with a Michelin star and a two-star review from The New York Times. Prior to opening his own restaurant, Tate was the chef de cuisine at Savoy, and worked as sous chef at Cookshop, an early proponent of the farm-to-table movement.

NYC Restaurant Week begins this Monday, July 21, and for three weeks New Yorkers and tourists alike can enjoy the best of the city’s culinary scene. Ristorante Asellina will offer a three-course lunch menu for $25, and dinner menu for just $38. Some of the lunch menu items include a choice of green salads, homemade pizza, and espresso Affogato. A few of the dinner choices are PEI mussels, beef carpaccio, and zucchini and sea bass ravioli.

STK Midtown will also participate with not one, but two three-course lunch menus, priced at $25 and $42. The first lunchtime list includes chilled melon soup, a BBQ pulled duck confit sandwich, and a coconut cake with lime curd and whipped cream. The second menu offers heirloom tomato salad, brick roasted chicken with corn, cherry tomatoes, and truffle jus, and a caramel-glazed rum cake with cola, served with a lime sorbet.

In honor of some upcoming national “holidays” this month, newly-opened Troy Liquor Bar has created a specialty cocktail for each occasion, each costing $8. Saturday, July 19, the bar will serve the Old Man and the Sea — a specialty daiquiri of white rum, fresh lime juice, fresh grapefruit juice, and maraschino in celebration of National Daiquiri Day. It will also be the birthday of Queen’s lead guitarist, Brian May, so Troy will offer the New Age, consisting of Solbeso Cacao spirit, Pimms, fresh green apple juice, peach liqueur, simple, fresh lemon juice, and a splash of ginger beer.

On Thursday, July 24, in honor of National Tequila Day, the bar will celebrate by including the Forbidden Fruit on its cocktail menu, which is made up of Don Julio Silver, Yellow Chartreuse, fresh grapefruit juice, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup. Just two days later on July 27, sip on a Scotch Whisky Julep for National Scotch Day, made up of Glenlivet Scotch, ginger syrup, lemon juice, chunks of pineapple, mint leaves, and soda water.

The historic Grand Central Oyster Bar will celebrate National Oyster Day all day Tuesday, August 5. The coup de grace will be the 5:00 p.m. drawing for a pearl necklace and earrings, sponsored by Casale Jewelers. In addition, the Oyster Bar’s champion shuckers will demonstrate their skills at 2:00 p.m. in the lounge, and a pair of bivalve — roasted Malpeque oysters with citrus-ginger butter, and chilled Wellfleet oysters with verjus mignonette and citrus caviar — will be served.

Due to redevelopment on the corner of Spring and Broadway, Baked by Melissa’s Soho pick-up window will be closing this Monday, July 21. To celebrate the place where it all began for the eatery, Melissa will personally be giving out a free cupcakes to everyone who stops by the window between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. that day.

Executive chef and partner Michael Lomonaco has introduced a new large format dinner at Porter House New York. This three-course menu stars a 120-Day Extra Aged Prime Rib accompanied by salads, sides, and dessert for the table for $155 per person. This particular piece of prime-grade beef is aged for more than twice as long as any other, giving it a greater depth of flavor and producing an especially tender cut of meat. Reservations are available Tuesday through Saturday, for 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. seatings only, and must be made at least 48 hours in advance. The dinner is available for a minimum of four, and a maximum of eight guests.

Newport Bar and Grill, located in Lakeview’s Southport corridor, will hold their Third Annual Crawfish Boil on Saturday, July 26. Resident Louisiana chef Allen Rochelle will boil 500 pounds of live crawfish with corn, potatoes, and Andouille sausage, all covered in his traditional homemade Cajun seasoning. Sides include red beans and rice, and a fried potato salad, and $4 Abita bottles and $15 Bud family buckets will be offered. “All-you-can-eat” tickets are available online for $25 a person.

Two years ago in July 2012, partners Tony Priolo and Ciro Longobardo opened their second restaurant, Piccolo Sogno Due, in Chicago's River North neighborhood. Now the culinary team, Chef di cucina Gabriel Hernandez and executive chef Tony Priolo, have collaborated closely to incorporate colorful produce like heirloom tomatoes, zucchini, and melon into their salads and homemade pastas, and to grill fresh seafood including swordfish, salmon, and halibut for Mediterranean entrées on their new seasonal summer menu. Highlights include zucchini flowers stuffed with Fontina cheese, tomato, and olive oil purée; Tuscan kale, squash, and fennel salad with squash chips and parmesan dressing; lamb sausage pizza with red chilies, salsa verde, and mozzarella; tagliolini with sea urchin butter, crab meat, garlic, and parsley; and wood-fired monkfish medallions with artichokes, peas, and fingerling potatoes. Furthermore, guests can enjoy their choice from over 400 Italian wines on the restaurant’s 50-seat patio.

Los Angeles
Four Seasons Hotel Westlake Village’s director of nutrition, Paulette Lambert, and executive chef Alex La Motte have created Sustained Living menus that are featured in multiple dining outlets in the hotel. Sustained Living dishes were created to give guests balanced and delicious dining options to maintain a healthy lifestyle. The new healthy and nutritious menus are based on California Health and Longevity Institute’s nutrition philosophy of plant-based meals with whole grain, high fiber carbohydrates and lean animal protein. Based on the Harvard School of Public Health’s nutrition and diet studies, this combination of foods aids in chronic disease prevention and improves overall health. Sustained Living menu items are available on the breakfast and lunch menus in the lobby lounge, all-day menu in The Spa, and will eventually appear on the hotel’s room service menus as well. Sustained Living breakfast options include ancient grain porridge with barley, quinoa, steel cut oats, non-fat Greek yogurt, peaches, and pecans, and nine-grain French toast with wild blueberry compote and assorted berries. Lunch dishes feature a mushroom and kale calzone with goat milk ricotta, kale pesto, eggplant, squash, whole grain crust, and a baby kale salad; quinoa and heirloom beans with Mohr Fry Calypso beans, garden beets, local peas, Cotija cheese, and green harissa, and chilled Thai coconut curry carrot soup with a pine nut and citrus relish.

PUMP Restaurant announces the launch of a Sunday brunch menu, curated by Food Network star chef Penny Davidi and featuring only the finest and freshest ingredients. Guest will find offerings that are high in protein and such as a spring vegetable omelet of bell peppers, asparagus, shallots, heirloom tomatoes, arugula, and mozzarella served with a small green salad and roasted fingerling potatoes; the Hamptons seafood roll, made of fresh shrimp and crab tossed in homemade aioli with paprika and diced tomatoes, served on a toasted Brioche bun, with thick cut fries and a mixed green salad, and the grilled skirt steak with two fried eggs, mixed greens, and roasted fingerling potatoes. Other menu items include the Pinky Pump burger and a pound cake with Greek yogurt and fresh fruit, among others. Refreshing brunch drinks like the LVP Sangria, Mimosa, and Mojito will be offered by the pitcher or by the glass.

New Orleans
During the Prohibition, it was common for partygoers to drink liquor from teacups to outsmart the authorities. On Saturday, Semptember 20, The Windsor Court Hotel will hold its second annual Prohibition Brunch Tea in Le Salon. Diners will be able to sip craft cocktails, including tea-infused vodka, in a speakeasy fashion and enjoy delights from the three-course brunch that will include hot and cold tea sandwiches, scones, and desserts, including house cured salmon on potato latke with crème fraîche, mini lobster and tarragon quiche, turkey sandwiches with curry aioli on white country bread, French toast with caramelized peaches, cucumber with watercress cream cheese on marble rye, and more. There will be one seating at 11:30 a.m., and it will be $45 per person, plus tax and gratuity.

Washington D.C.
The Willard InterContinental welcomes executive chef, Serge Devesa, who will define the hotel’s catering and banquet offerings, as well as supervise the quality and consistency of Café du Parc’s cuisine. Chef Devesa is known for utilizing fresh, local ingredients and cooking traditionally, resisting the modern shortcuts. Prior to joining the Willard, he was the executive chef for InterContinental New York Barclay where he cooked for the President and First Lady of the United States, the United Nations Secretary General, foreign royals, and heads of state. He worked on several community-based efforts to support local food banks, including a Chefs of World Leaders cooking and tasting event at the Xavier Mission Food Pantry in New York. Before the InterContinental New York Barclay, the chef served as executive chef for Colette Bar and Bistro at Hotel Sofitel, Minneapolis, where he gained considerable acclaim for his culinary artistry. While at the Sofitel, Chef Devesa also managed organization-wide chef services and provided French and international cuisine to hotel guests and visiting dignitaries. 

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