If you’re looking for delicious, confidently crafted food from a menu that doesn’t look much like anybody else’s, enhanced by one of the wackier wine lists (in the best possible sense) in Manhattan, you should settle yourself into a comfortable booth in the earth-toned dining room called Bevy, in the glamorous Park Hyatt across the street from Carnegie Hall.
The chef here is Chad Brauze (below), last seen cooking hearty French-inflected food at Rotisserie Georgette — though his résumé also includes stints at Per Se and Restaurant Daniel, as well as a stage at the late, legendary elBulli — along with pastry chef Scott Cioe, an alumnus of Bouchon Bakery and Lincoln Ristorante, among other places. (The executive chef for the entire hotel is the amiable Texas-born Frenchman Sebastien Archambault, who ran the kitchen at the original restaurant in the Bevy space when the hotel opened in 2014.)
Brauze's "bar bites," indulgent and varied, could almost make a meal in themselves. This isn't slider country; the choices include grilled emmer-flour flatbread with burrata, kale pesto, and n’duja; sweet potato chips with French onion dip; long, paper-thin shards of homemade lavash with spicy green pea hummus; and candied bacon dusted with cayenne and cinnamon — all full of flavor and fun to eat. Actual appetizers include Long Island oysters with mignonette "pearls" — a subtle touch of elBullian spherification — served with little grilled toasts topped with slices of fennel sausage (the combination of oysters with sausage, albeit of a different kind, is a tradition in Bordeaux); an unusual, vaguely Scandinavian-seeming tartare of Montauk fluke with wisps of turnip, cabbage sprouts, and dill pollen; and (the sole disappointment recently) a $35 serving of plump white asparagus in egg sauce — nothing wrong with the sauce, but the asparagus was strangely bland.
Seared diver scallops, perfectly cooked, were delicate in flavor, but had enough character to stand up to the accompanying romesco sauce. Grilled golden tile fish, a little-known but very tasty creature, was nicely grilled and moistened with fennel broth. Though Brauze doesn't have a rotisserie to work with here, fans of his Georgette-era cooking should be pleased with his to-share specialties, including a 40-ounce bone-in bison rib-eye and a rye-berry-stuffed Green Circle chicken. The imaginative vegetable selection includes a bright, spring-evoking preparation of fava beans in scallion soubise and crispy lemon oyster mushrooms with pickled ramps, which presents a nice contrast of textures.
There’s plenty more to choose from. Brauze's menu is one of those pleasantly maddening ones on which almost everything sounds irresistible. It could be a little more focused; it goes in a lot of directions at once (directions you want to follow, but still…). The restaurant isn’t much more than a month old, though, and I suspect Brauze will bring more stylistic coherence to his catalogue of dishes when he settles in a bit.
Pastry chef Cioe's creations are very good, tempting even to a non-dessert-eater like me, especially an individual apple pie, enclosed in a sugar-cookie crust, with gjetost (the brown Norwegian goat cheese) caramel and vanilla bean ice cream, and a "pavlova" — nothing like the original, but a buttery individual pie (again) filled with rhubarb preserves.
Wine director Tristan Prat-Vincent's ample selection is a monument to the variety of choice available to New York City wine-lovers. The wines by the glass alone are impressive, including a sémillon from Australia's Hunter Valley, an Austrian sauvignon blanc, a roussanne “orange wine” from Northern California, a plavac mali from Croatia, and Joey Tensley's definitive Santa Barbara County syrah. The bottle list is gloriously all over the map, literally and figuratively. Trophy drinkers will find the requisite well-chosen treasures from Bordeaux and Burgundy, Napa Valley and Piedmont, but there are also scores of wonderful rarities on offer — Forlorn Hope Que Saudade verdelho, Château Maris grenache gris from the Languedoc, Álvaro Castro’s encruzado from Portugal’s Dão, Arnot-Roberts touriga nacional rosé, El Corazon Birch Creek malbec from Washington State, Institut Agricole Régional cornalin from the Valle d’Aosta, Viñátigo listán negro from the Canary Islands, and on and on.
The service is friendly and efficient, though I was initially put off when the host asked me, as I arrived in the empty dining room one evening for an early (6 p.m.) dinner, to sit at the bar to await my companion. (I refused and was taken to my table).
All this quality is a little difficult to find. Though there is a discreet sign bearing the restaurant’s name outside the entrance to the hotel in which it nestles, there is no helpful signage once you enter the foyer; you’ll have to ask somebody where to go — which is up an escalator to the third-floor lobby, then through the very attractive bar area to the back of the building. (The original restaurant here was called The Back Room, in fact, a name that suggests highballs and chips and dip more than fine dining.)
Bevy describes itself as “New American.” That phrase is pretty tired by now — but Chad Brauze's cooking, while informed by French technique, is indeed proudly American, and much of what he’s putting on the plates is undeniably, refreshingly, new.