Restaurant Openings Report: Week of August 17, 2014

Every week, we take a look at some of the restaurants that have opened or will soon open across the country

Mark Holley, previously of Pesce and Brennan’s in Houston and Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, has opened Holley’s Seafood Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Houston.

New York
This September, Eric Ripert and Maguy Le Coze will open Aldo Sohm Wine Bar, named for Le Bernardin's wine director, Aldo Sohm. Located just steps away from the restaurant, the wine bar will offer a curated wine list and a casual menu of salads, panini, charcuterie, cheese, and more.  Located upstairs, the new Le Bernardin Privé will be the first time Ripert and Le Coze have extended their private dining offerings beyond Les Salons at Le Bernardin; the space will be available to host private events such as weddings, cocktail receptions, intimate dinners, and wine tastings.

The Back Room at One57 will open Monday, August 25. An American grill with executive chef Sebastien Archambault at the helm, it will offer simple yet elegant preparations of top-quality meats, seafood, and vegetables to the backdrop of views of Carnegie Hall. Archambault comes to The Back Room from Blue Duck Tavern in Washington D.C., and he’s joined by chef de cuisine Solange Johnson (formerly of Veritas), pastry chef Scott Cioe (of The London NYC and Lure Fishbar), and beverage director Tristan Prat-Vincent (also of Veritas). Steps from The Back Room, The Living Room is a Champagne-focused lounge and bar with 70 seats offering champagnes and sparkling wines from around the world as well as light food by The Back Room’s culinary team throughout the day and into the evening.

Just in time for Fashion Week, Church St Tavern is set to open with a soft launch leading up to the grand opening by the end of September. Located in TriBeCa neighborhood, Church St Tavern will be lined with images of the city's humble beginnings. Newly appointed executive chef Kevin McGee will create a menu focused on ingredient-based American cuisine, especially highlighting seafood. Owned by first-time restaurateur Jon Behling, the restaurant will have some unique elements, including soda made in-house, wine and liquor lockers, (so patrons can store their alcohol to enjoy on a later date), and a downstairs speakeasy Bandit’s Roost that will only grant access to VIPs who have a nightly password.

Mark Grossich, owner and CEO of Hospitality Holdings, has opened Lexington's at The Court Hotel, a St Giles Premier Hotel. With its theme, "Life After Five," Lexington's will offer classic cocktails, craft beverages, and a selection of new American small plates. Featuring a carefully crafted drinks menu, Lexington's serves a wide selection of premium spirits — champagnes, wines, single malt scotches, bourbon, and rye — plus domestic and international beers. Also available on the menu are Lexington's housemade sodas and light to hearty cocktail accompaniments such as calamari served with classic tartar and cocktail sauces; mini burgers with red onion, lettuce, tomato, and Dijon mayo; charcuterie selections; deviled eggs with bacon and tomato, jalapeño, and crispy potato; and much more.

Jackson, Miss.
Saltine, an oyster bar and seafood restaurant created by husband and wife team chef Jesse Houston and Rachel Horn Houston, is now open. The Southern-influenced 100-seat eatery pays homage to the city’s rich history of seafood by pairing fresh fish, shrimp, and oysters with seasonal vegetables, craft beer, and rare rums. The casual restaurant has an open-air patio filled with vintage accents for a nautical theme. Custom beverage pairings from 31 craft beers on draught, a noteworthy selection of rum, and several signature cocktails highlight Saltine’s unique beverage program. By partnering with regional brewers to create proprietary craft beers and using a Randall system to infuse drafts on-site, the oyster bar will frequently feature one-of-a-kind drink offerings.

Holley’s Seafood Restaurant & Oyster Bar is now open with executive chef and owner Mark Holley, previously of Pesce and Brennan’s in Houston and Commander’s Palace in New Orleans, at the helm. Originally from Dayton, Ohio, Holley can trace his family’s history back through many states, and in the process, has learned the family meals he savored growing up were as much a history of all his past generations as they were a pathway toward becoming the chef he is today. Since leaving Pesce, the chef has traveled throughout the country exploring other restaurants, his family’s food traditions, and connecting with the men and women who work at sea to deliver the finest fish and shellfish to the nation’s restaurants.

Las Vegas
On September 12, Palms Casino Resort welcomes chef Tony Hu, who brings and his acclaimed Lao Sze Chuan to Las Vegas for the first time. A reinvention of Hu’s popular Chicaco-based restaurant, Lao Sze Chuan introduces an expansive menu of Sze Chuan cuisine as well as a selection of popular Mandarin, Cantonese, Hunan, and Shanghai dishes made especially for the Palms location. Hu’s latest creations include the Sze Chuan Peppercorn Fish, the Famous Empress Lobster topped with dry chili, ginger and scallions, and the twice cooked pork Szechuan style. The menu is packed with more than 200 beef, chicken, pork, and seafood options including a variety of soups, dim sum, and an emphasis on hot pots, like the House Special Chicken in Hot Mini Wok, simmered bone-in for delectable flavor and served to the table in a large pot. To complement the entrées, Lao Sze Chuan will also offer an assortment of authentic Chinese beers and specialty cocktails. Expertly selected to enhance the flavor of each dish, the imported Chinese beer selections include TsingTao, Tiger, and Lucky Buddha. Specialty cocktails include items such as Dragon’s Eye, a delicious blend of Skyy Infusions Dragon Fruit vodka and Calamansi juice served with dehydrated dragon fruit, as well as the exotic International Waltz, a combination of Bombay Sapphire East, Nagomi lychee syrup, Funkin Brazilian, and Fever Tree Elderflower Tonic.

Los Angeles
Urban Garden: Lebanese Kitchen has opened and is proud to serve an authentic menu of Lebanese cuisine. The locally sourced and sustainable menu offers the only free-range chicken and all-natural lamb shawarma in the Greater Los Angeles area, and fresh ingredients are supplied from local farms including Soledad Goat Farms and Mary’s Free Range Chicken in Petaluma. Integral ingredients are imported for authentic flavor, like Valbreso eta cheese sourced from the south of France. Notable menu items include falafel, multiple varieties of traditional hummus, and rosewater lemonade.

Sibling chefs Sophie and Eric Banh, of Monsoon and Ba Bar fame, are excited to announce their new project, 7 Beef, slated to open late this fall. Located just around the corner from Ba Bar, the restaurant will be a steakhouse, and will also serve their take on the traditional celebratory Vietnamese seven-course beef dinner. The kitchen will be equipped with a 48-inch wood fired grill that will also serve as a hearth, broiler, and smoker. The restaurant will receive whole cows from local purveyors and break them down into prime cuts and ground beef. The menu will be supplemented with additional cuts from other local farms, which will always be grass-fed and will often include some unexpected cuts like oyster and coulotte steaks. Alongside the beef there will be French-inspired sides, some with subtle Vietnamese twists. 7 beef will also offer a traditional Vietnamese seven-course beef dinner called Bò 7 Món, where diners sample a variety of small beef dishes. The Banhs will update this offering with new flavors and enhance each dish with the premium, grass-fed beef butchered right in the restaurant. Scott Emerick will be leading the kitchen — previously trained in Paris, he was the chef and owner of Crémant, and was most recently at Nora, a certified organic restaurant in Washington, D.C., and brings knowledge of organic produce and farming to 7 Beef.

Billy Lawless has announced the opening of Acanto, a casual Italian restaurant, in the historically landmarked Gage building. The word Acanto is the Italian translation of Acanthus — the flowery leaf used extensively in Roman architecture and by famed architect Louis Sullivan in his distinctive terracotta ornamentation found on the façade of the building at 18 South Michigan Avenue. At the kitchen’s helm is rising culinary star, executive chef Chris Gawronski, whose menu includes dishes inspired by childhood spent in his father's Italian restaurants. It spans the regions of Italy, including handcrafted pastas, stone oven pizzas, and daily salad and entrée specials.


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