Restaurant Openings Report: Week of June 23, 2014

A look into this week’s restaurant openings.
Whisper Creek Farm
Website/ www.grandelakes.com/Whisper-Creek-125.html

The stunning setting at Grand Lakes Orlando's Whisper Creek Farm.

Every week, we take a look at some of the restaurants that have opened or will soon open across the country. Here’s this week’s roundup:

Orlando
JW Marriott Orlando executive chef Chris Brown and The Ritz-Carlton Orlando head chef Mark Jeffers are anticipating the opening of Highball & Harvest in late August, and JW Marriott Orlando's Whisper Creek Kitchen, set to open later this fall. Both dining outlets enhance the resort’s commitment to farm-to-fork dining and the use of the resort’s on-site Whisper Creek Farm. This year, JW Marriott Orlando will also launch its Whisper Creek Nano Brewery, which will provide signature bottled and draft beers throughout the resort and at a Brewery Chef’s Table. A few of the notable elements of the new restaurants that chef Brown and chef Jeffers are excited to introduce are old-world grains for Highball & Harvest's baked breads, a "curing room" at Whisper Creek Kitchen with meats, Himalayan salt, and an interactive cured meats countertop, a southern-inspired menu at Highball & Harvest that will combine low country and Cajun cuisine, and signature hop salt, hot sauce, and Whisper Creek BBQ sauce. Drinks are also getting the royal treatment from these two masters, with a wine list that boasts the most wine-from-the-cask of any Central Florida restaurant, and beer pairings executed by a Cicerone program certified level one bartending staff at Whisper Creek Kitchen.

St. Petersburg
James Beard Award-winning chef Michael Mina is partnering with celebrated chef and author Don Pintabona for a one-of-a-kind market and restaurant experience. Scheduled to open fall 2014, the new concepts will be located at Sundial, the shopping and dining complex currently being developed by The Edwards Group. Modeled after European markets, Locale Market will feature sourced ingredients and artisinal products including meats, seafood, fruits and vegetables, wine, fine cheeses, and charcuterie. The space will include  Farmtable Kitchen, a full-service restaurant utilizing the market’s available ingredients, as well as a full-service delicatessen, wine bar, coffee bar, and bakery.

Washington D.C.
Chef Spike Mendelsohn and partner Vinoda Basnayake have announced the opening of their  new cocktail bar, The Sheppard . Set to open on July 3, the menu will include an array of craft drinks developed by cocktail maestro, Jack Caminos, which will accompany a menu of bar snacks from chef Spike. The décor projects a prohibition-era  setting with dim lighting, banquettes, chandeliers, and featured photos from the time period, including one of Senator Morris Sheppard, who authored The Sheppard Bone-Dry Act of 1917 and inspired the name of the bar.

East Hampton, NY
Sushi chefs Nick Kim and Jimmy Lau are collaborating this summer as they take over the Highway Diner & Bar with Shuko Beach in East Hampton. This pop-up sushi restaurant, inspired by the local fresh fish and produce, will open July 1 and provide a casual and exciting dining experience throughout the summer with a menu made up of omakase favorites and small and large plates from the kitchen and sushi counter. The 90-seat venue will serve as the precursor to the team’s sushi-kaiseki restaurant opening this fall in New York City.

New York City
HPH restaurant group has announced its plan to open Le District in Brookfield Place at the World Financial Center in several phases beginning November 2014 through March 2015. Le District will overlook New York Harbor’s North Cove Marina with panoramic views of the Statue of Liberty and will be organized in four parts throughout the roughly 30,000 square-foot space. The Executive Culinary Director is chef Jordi Vallès, formerly of the St. Regis in Bal Harbour Resort.  Inspired not only by France but also regions that have been touched by its culture such as New Orleans, Morocco, Vietnam, and Martinique, Le District is sure to capture the hearts and minds of lovers of all things French.

This Monday, the East Village will pay tribute to the timeless recipes and traditions of rural America, with the opening of Root & Bone restaurant and The Little Root Market, both in Alphabet City. From Top Chef alums Jeff McInnis and Janine Booth, Root & Bone will be a neighborhood restaurant, while The Little Root Market will offer takeout options from lunch through late night. The predicted star of the menu is Bucket of Bird, which features the chefs’ take on the classic comfort dish. The bucket comes with 4, 8, or 12 pieces of chicken, an option for a Cheddar cheese waffle and whiskey maple syrup, and will be served with a choice of honey dipping sauces. Larger plates include braised short rib meat loaf with parsnip root whip, tomato ketchup jam and charred spring onion; and Australian rack of lamb with roasted roots, horseradish-crusted sweet potato and leek gratin, carrot barbeque sauce, and watercress. Salads and sides will also available, including the Southern Caprese with fried pimento cheese, grilled peaches, pickled green tomato, toy box heirlooms, sticky molasses, and basil.

On Monday, July 7, West Village staple Chez Sardine will close for a two-week renovation, after which it will be reborn as Bar Sardine, a food-focused neighborhood bar. Bar Sardine will showcase chef Mehdi’s culinary talent through a new menu of original snacks and casual dishes, moving away from the Asian-focused identity that was at the core of Chez Sardine’s menu. The extensive beverage program will be helmed by Brian Bartels, Little Wisco’s Director of Bar Operations, and will include a list of original cocktails as well as a wine and beer menu. 

San Diego
An Italian-inspired restaurant and specialty food marketplace is slated to open at the Thomas Jefferson School of Law building in August 2014. Bottega Americano will be centered around the restaurant-meets-market concept inspired by top-tier food halls, restaurants, and markets around the world, with the option to dine at communal tables surrounded by vibrant food bars or purchase freshly prepared foods and specialty items to take away. Within Bottega’s expansive space, patrons will be invited to enjoy full-service dining by sitting street-side for an alfresco meal, socializing over drinks at the bar, or ordering freshly prepared food to-go from the gourmet marketplace.

San Francisco
Causwells, the casual yet stylish restaurant and bar from partners Alvin Garcia and Tom Patella, is scheduled to open July 2. The menu will feature American comfort food with European influences created by executive chef Adam Rosenblum, formerly of Flour + Water. Causwells will initially serve dinner seven nights a week, with weekend brunch and lunch starting two weeks after opening.

Portland
Serving innovative cuisine from the eastern Mediterranean and beyond, Mediterranean Exploration Company (M.E.C.) is headed by executive chef Kasey Mills and Portland restaurateur, John Gorham. The new Pearl District restaurant will begin with a soft opening July 16, with a full opening scheduled for August 1. Drawing from extensive research and detail-gathering trips to Israel and its surrounding areas, the menu will feature plates that pay tribute to the exploration of people across the Mediterranean throughout history. Encouraging family-style dining, the menu is broken into five sections: Mezza, Oven, Grill (featuring a wood-assist gas grill), Piato, and Plancha. Mezza will be all about crudo, carpaccio, vegetable, and fish dishes from Greece and North Africa. Grilled dishes include lamb chops, octopus, kebabs, grilled breads, and kaftas. Piato specials will be hummus and lamb ragu, Eastern-style fried chicken, frikkah, and sweet and sour brisket. The Plancha section is set to feature calamari, couscous, and house-made gyro. Bar Manager Jamal Hassan plans to create liqueurs, syrups, and bitters to match M.E.C.’s cuisine, so the cocktails will explore the flavors of the Mediterranean with ingredients like figs, dates, rose water, and honey.

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

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