The casoncelli with butternut squash, amaretti, Parmesan and pomegranate ($15) at Fat Ox in Scottsdale
10 Most Exciting New Restaurants
By Riki Altman-Yee, Lad Makinde, Teresa K. Traverse, David Tyda and Lauren Swanson
Photo by Ayo Skeete of MMPR Marketing
The city’s booming culinary scene is hallmarked by inspiring new restaurant openings, impressive chefs, dishes to die for, experiences to savor and a spectrum of food and drink trends that take dining out into a whole new and exciting realm.
Barrio Café Gran Reserva
Securing a seat at this 30-seater might prove to be challenging, but the effort pays off as soon as a spoonful of chef Silvana Salcido Esparza’s zesty posole verde hits the palate, followed by a cool sip of Bosscal mezcal with Grand Marnier. The five-course tasting menu is a must-do, at least once, especially since it only costs $42 and comes with colorful explanations (those are complimentary). 1301 W. Grand Ave., Phoenix, 602.252.2777
STABLE LIFE Stock & Stable in Uptown Phoenix blends old with new in a modern-industrial atmosphere.
Though the restaurant’s namesake and owner, Sonata Molocajeviene Tuft, was born in Lithuania, she and her co-owners, along with Executive Chef Josh Bracher, created a menu that represents dishes inspired by at least nine European countries. Now we can eat modern takes on pickled herring ($12), chicken Kiev ($17) and oxtail stew ($18) without having to hide a passport or learn a foreign language, all in a Scottsdale-chic atmosphere. 10050 N. Scottsdale Road, Ste. 127, Scottsdale, 480.477.1390
Stock & Stable
This gastropub seated firmly in the chic Seventh Street Dining District not only has the market cornered on cool, but it also offers a mind-blowing salumi board ($25) and an entirely craveworthy menu, with everything from sloppy Joe tostadas ($12) to double-cut pork chops with apple gastrique ($18). Insiders know the end of the meal signals the start of the night: Stairs at the back of the eatery lead to Honor Amongst Thieves, a wildly popular speakeasy component serving martinis, tonics and cocktails “stolen” from the classics. 5538 N. Seventh St., Phoenix, 602.313.1001
Weft & Warp Art Bar + Kitchen
Executive Chef Adam Sheff pulls from a multitude of local sources to create breakfast dishes like blue corn pancakes with orange-poppy curd and rye whiskey syrup ($16), and dirty hash browns with green chili pork, queso and housemade hot sauce ($14), along with his rotating selection of homemade jerky bar snacks, some made with honey from an on-site apiary. The biggest selling point, however, is that breakfast is served until 2pm. Andaz Scottsdale Resort & Spa, 6114 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale, 480.368.1234
James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Bianco already had quite a following with his Pizzeria Bianco concept; then he took a brave step away from the pizza oven to open a tiny trattoria—literally one step away. His fan base swelled, as crowds giddily consumed dishes like spaghetti alla chitarra with cherry tomato passata, shaved elephant garlic and pecorino ($19), and his braised pork shank, occasionally offered with slow-roasted peaches and chicos corn ($30). 4743 N. 20th St., Phoenix, 602.296.7761
Handcrafted sushi, smoked-tea sea bass ($36) and curry dishes (from $14) are just the start of Zen’s menu, designed to represent both land and sea. Boasting 300 seats and Asian-inspired interiors, the restaurant and lounge offer two patios, perfectly suited for the enjoyment of late-night cocktails. We recommend the Protagonist ($12), a mix of Japanese whisky, Luxardo Cherry Sangue Morlacco, banana liqueur and toasted sesame tincture—followed by an Uber. 15544 N. Pima Road, Scottsdale, 480.296.0030
Dishes like chiboust à la vanille with red wine cherries ($12) make Le Coucou stand out from the crowded restaurant scene.
Best of Manhattan: Food & Nightlife
By The Editors
Photo by Corry Arnold
We are a town of beautiful ideas, of course, and all of the big ones—from the arts to design to food—take center stage throughout the next 12 pages. Consider this your carefully curated primer for the season ahead. Happy 2017!
Cuckoo for Le Coucou
The city’s best new restaurant comes from a Philadelphia-based restaurateur and is helmed by a Chicagoan chef who’s spent half his life living in France. Perhaps it took a band of outsiders to give New York something truly new—a restaurant the city didn’t know it needed until it was upon us.
EURO VISION Italienne in the Flatiron District features two dining room concepts and, of course, plenty of wine.
Foodies cheered when chef Jared Sippel, previously of San Francisco’s Quince and Boulder, Colo.’s critics’ darling Frasca, announced he’d relocate to NYC to helm Brooklyn Fare’s new Manhattan outpost. When that fell through, Sippel stuck around—partnering with James King to open Italienne. Focused on eats from the borders of Southern France and Northern Italy, Italienne has a double-dining-room concept: one features Sippel’s four-course tasting menu ($98); the other, small plates in a taverna setting ($3 to $40). 19 W. 24th St., 212.600.5139
Italienne Photo by Ken Goodman
Nordic Charm Aska’s sleek dining room with only nine well-spaced tables makes for an intimate and dramatic experience. Lights shine brightly on the chefs in the open kitchen; it’s a stage, but the real theater happens on your plate—and palate. Go for the full 19-course menu of chef Fredrik Berselius’ Nordic-style cuisine and you’re likely to encounter tastes like lamb hearts reduced to ash or a pig’s blood pancake topped with rose petals. 47 S. 5th St., 929.337.6762, Brooklyn
GOING GREEN The Mean Green Machine at The Cannibal Liquor House
Cheers! Best New Cocktails
From freshly squeezed greens to a cocktail designed to share to a painstakingly perfected rum mixture, here’s what we’ll be toasting with in the new year.
1. Can’t make it down to Cuba? Try the Southside ($16) at Prohibition Era-inspired BlackTail (from the team behind the Dead Rabbit), a take on the mojito made from the joint’s own blend of nearly 30 rums. 22 Battery Place
2. The Cannibal Liquor House takes juicing to the next level with the Mean Green Machine ($12), a “healthy” brunch cocktail with celery, apple and cucumber juice, topped with Chartreuse and Salers liqueur. 113 E. 29th St.
3. AvroKOHospitality Group is at it again with mezcal and tequilla bar Ghost Donkey. Go for signature cocktail El Burro Fantasma ($26), meant for two, with peloton de la muerte, aperol, agave, lime, pink grapefruit and chili. 4 Bleeker St.
Loin of lamb with nicoise olives, Swiss chard and lemon confit ($45)
Well and Good
By Kathryn Maier
Food photos by Jim Franco; Interior photos by Bjorn Wallander
Celebrity chef Tom Colicchio is back with the new eatery Fowler & Wells in The Beekman hotel, a beautifully restored landmark from New York City’s past. But does that beauty continue into Colicchio’s culinary creations?
There’s a small birthday party at the next table during one of my visits to Fowler & Wells. Throughout the evening, I witness more desserts with candles being paraded through the dining room. It’s clearly the current hot spot for special occasions, a suspicion confirmed when a reservationist on a different day asks whether any milestones will be observed on my visit. After all, who wouldn’t want to party in the new culinary cathedral of the Top Chef himself?
In the dining room, stained-glass panels and velvet banquettes add an industrial charm.
The compact menu offers fare that could be described as “Colicchio classic,” harking back to when Gramercy Tavern was young or even to Colicchio & Sons when it first opened in 2010. It’s New American food, from when that term itself was new. This style of cooking has, in the ensuing decades, become a sort of comfort cuisine for those who came of culinary age around that time. For those diners, Fowler & Wells is a new haven.
Bryan Hunt, the executive chef of Fowler & Wells, previously oversaw the kitchen at Riverpark, another Colicchio restaurant; he seems to still be finding his feet in this one. In one appetizer, fluke—sliced thin and layered with concentric circles of vibrantly colored radishes, dotted with clusters of finger lime spheres—formed an Instagram-bait mandala on the plate. It was visually stunning, yet the fish seemed an afterthought, its texture at opposition with the crisp radishes. Better was an entree: diver scallops, perfectly seared and joined on the plate by Jerusalem artichokes, leeks and savoy cabbage, all sending up a heady aroma. It was lovely. And yet I felt a pang of envy when I looked across the table, where my guest was enjoying the rabbit schnitzel.
For that’s where Colicchio’s style shines most brightly: with meats like rabbit, pork and duck. They’re excellent bases for his signature gusto, all fat and salt and tangy acid. Sweetbreads, an appetizer, are scattered across a plate strewn with Brussels sprouts, bacon and chanterelles: nothing new here, but still richly delicious. The porcelet, 10-week-old milk-fed piglet, is served porchetta style, a massive chunk studded with apple sausage and wrapped in crisp fat atop a bed of red wine-braised cabbage; it’s hearty and satisfying, perfect on a cold winter night.
And, oh, that rabbit. A wheel of breaded and fried loin rises tall off the plate; more rabbit, braised, is mixed with a rich blend of chanterelles, pistachios and chickpeas, with lemon and garlic adding brightness. It’s certainly the most unusual dish on the menu, and it’s by far the best.
You’d be well-advised to skip the sweets—which range from poorly conceived to badly executed—and instead end your evening with a cocktail or Calvados in the lounge area dubbed the Bar Room. Set at the bottom of a nine-story atrium capped by an enormous skylight and filled with velvet-upholstered sofas and mismatched leather armchairs, it’s the city’s most stunning new space. Colicchio has a separate menu of savory dishes out here as well—small plates like clams casino and fried spicy rabbit. As at the tavern room at Gramercy Tavern, it’s a more casual and less expensive way to enjoy the kitchen’s more creative offerings.
Colicchio’s signature touches—when in doubt, throw some chanterelles on the plate! Add bacon!—which were exciting in Gramercy Tavern’s early days, come off as a little predictable, if not played-out, in modern times. Like a band that never modifies its style yet keeps churning out records, Colicchio has found what he does best and apparently intends to stick with it. Diners would be forgiven for wanting him to go further, take more risks, not play it so safe. But if they want the same comforting modern classics, in an updated opulent setting, they’ll be quite happy at Fowler & Wells.
Chestnut agnolotti with celery root and black truffles ($21)
The traditional brick house was designed by architect Thomas J. Ryan Jr. and built by Oxford Development.
By Tate Gunnerson
Photos by Werner Straube and Anthony Tahlier
Bold patterns, striking color and a rich stew of ethnic influences lie behind the double doors of this traditional residence on a leafy half-acre lot in Deerfield.
“This home has layers and interest that create a well-traveled look,” says interior designer Michelle Williams (michellewilliamsinteriors.com) of the handsome five-bedroom gabled brick dwelling that she designed for a professional couple and their children. “My clients wanted a lovely family-friendly house with young, fresh decor,” Williams explains. “It’s somewhat traditional, but there’s an edge.”
SOAK IT IN The dialogue between modern and antique influences carried into the master bathroom, where the hexagonal-shaped Carrara marble floor and wall tile from The Tile Shop in Deerfield inspired the shape of the ceiling.
A zebra hide rug, vintage polished brass accents and pops of chartreuse do the same for the dark-gray walls and sisal wall-to-wall carpeting that Williams selected for the intimate library located on the other side of the entry foyer. “I wanted this room to make a statement,” she says. “Chartreuse is a major color here, and it really creates that pop.”
Colorful accents also play a supporting role in the open living room, where plank walls and a simple honed granite fireplace hearth emphasize the informal feeling that jived with the owners’ personality. “Plank floors lend a room a younger, hipper feel,” Williams says. “They feel casual and not so heavy.”
The light walls provide a crisp backdrop for a mix of influences that include plush custom furnishings alongside African tables (painted white for a fresh take), midcentury Italian vases and a bone-inlaid bookcase—one of the many Moroccan elements throughout the interior. “We wanted a chic, boho kind of feel,” the wife says. “It allows us to mix colors and patterns very easily.”
The wood planks have been placed on the lofted ceiling in the spacious open kitchen, where they complement the painted brick accent wall and antique Parisian chandeliers, and create a sense of history. “I almost screamed when I saw those lights, and emailed my clients a picture right away,” Williams says, pointing to the juxtaposition of the industrial metal fixtures over the windows. “This whole project is a push-pull between glam and industrial influences, and that elevated the design. There is a yin-yang between feminine and masculine influences.”
DRAMA QUEEN Williams made the library a focal point by painting the moldings and custom bookshelves the same dark color as the walls.
Indeed, black-painted windows frame the view of the exterior and provide a sharp contrast to the white subway-tile walls and the custom white and gray cabinetry, while Lucite stools and clear dining chairs add a modern touch. “I liked the combination of the modern chairs with the old wood table and the antique chandeliers,” Williams explains. “It feels fresh and unexpected.”
The open layout and double islands come in especially useful when the couple hosts friends and family for parties and holidays. “Both of our families live in town, so we host a lot of holidays,” the wife says, noting that they had dozens for Thanksgiving, and there was plenty of room for everybody. “We worked really well with the entire team, and Michelle made the entire process fun. We were very appreciative that we were able to do this.”
The dining room at the newly opened Evanston restaurant
Thai One On
By Julie Chernoff
Photography by Dan LaFayette
Two Bangkok natives bring authentic, bright flavors to one of this year’s best new restaurants.
When you have a yearning for Thai food, what do you crave? Most people immediately think of mainstays pad thai or chicken satay with peanut sauce. But NaKorn, which recently opened in downtown Evanston, is not your standard Thai restaurant. It’s co-owned by friends and Bangkok natives Mina Sudsaard (now an Evanston resident) and Sam Rattanopas (a Chicago restaurant vet with Oysy and Gioco). Rattanopas tells us her intention was to fill a void.
The grilled sliced beef tenderloin at NaKorn is served with scallions, heart of palm, young ginger, peanuts, toasted sticky-rice powder and a chile-lime drizzle
NaKorn’s fall menu features the cuisine of Southern Thailand with a plethora of tart tamarind, coconut in many guises, jasmine rice and turmeric. Here, it’s served in a graceful atmosphere, with handpainted surfaces and warm woods all softly lit by clever birdcage fixtures. Start your meal off with the One of Five ($11), a well-balanced, slightly exotic cocktail made with local Koval vodka, fresh lime juice, Bangkok Betty Thai spice bitters and coconut sugar simple syrup, accompanied by pandan tapioca pearl crackers ($9), served with a “relish” of minced chicken and shrimp in tamarind-coconut sauce. The roasted duck breast ($16), slow-cooked in broth with shiitake mushrooms, confit daikon and young coconut, is a revelation. Order Khun Sompit’s Big Fish ($32), a whole crispy branzino with Belgian endive and lime gastrique, and every head in the restaurant will turn. Wet your whistle with a housemade soda (hibiscus, Meyer lemonade or cranberry-ginger) or a bottle from the short but well-chosen beer and wine list. Finish with the coconut cream pie parfait ($8), a scrumptious deconstruction of the classic, and you will want for nothing. That is, until the next time you think about Thai food and find your cravings for the usual suspects totally upended by NaKorn’s vibrant tastes.
The vegetarian “scallop” is made with a medallion of Eringi king mushroom and served with housemade chile jam.
With soaring ceilings, this former barn housing milk-delivery horses is now a chic space hidden down an Evanston alley
By Laura Hine
Photography by Neil Burger
Down an Evanston alley, you’ll find The Barn—a new restaurant by Amy Morton and her team that marries classic dining with urbane sophistication.
Food reviewers like to give a new restaurant a month or more to settle in and work out the kinks, but when The Barn opened Nov. 1, my party of four already had a reservation for two short weeks from opening night. Hello, deadline! I was quite prepared to cut the food and service some slack because of the timing, but no need. The Barn’s waitstaff and kitchen worked in seamless perfection. Director of Operations Stefen Bosworth, Executive Chef Nicole Pederson and owner Amy Morton have turned what was literally a horse stable into a gorgeous gathering spot.
Herb-crusted pork tenderloin ($27) is served over a sweet-potato puree and topped with a hazelnut relish
That dedication to persevering until a dish is perfect is also evident in the steaks. While The Barn isn’t a steakhouse, in a nod to both the setting and to Morton’s father, Arnie (founder of Morton’s Steakhouses), Morton wanted the steak to be a dish diners would rave about. “Amy and I went to Kansas and met with ranchers; then we did 20 or 30 blind taste tests to narrow it down,” Pederson says. In the end, they found a fourth-generation butcher who breeds black Angus cows and farms them out to small ranches in the Midwest. “We wanted to feel good about the meat, but it also had to have the best taste, and this purveyor had it all.” Right up there with the beef is the whole-roasted branzino. The whole fish sounded a little overwhelming on the menu, but when it came to the table, the server deftly skinned and boned the fish into perfect fillets before drenching them with a delicious beurre blanc sauce. Like the steak, you get all the flavor of the cooking on the bone, but you don’t have to do any of the work.
Also of note, for liver lovers (and no one at our table fit that category), The Barn has a pan-seared calf’s liver that Pederson put on the menu after having the dish on a recent trip to Montreal. “I thought no one would order it, but people love it,” she says.
While the entrees come with nicely dressed plates, including vegetables and sauces, don’t ignore the sides. We ate every drop of the creamed Swiss chard with tiny cipollini onions. It was like the best version of a Thanksgiving green-bean casserole that you’ve never had. The Swiss chard is silky in its rich sauce, and the fried onions on top are perfectly crisp. We didn’t have room for the mac and cheese, but the fact that it’s listed as “Amy’s daughter’s favorite,” makes it seem like a must-order for our next visit.
The desserts veer toward the classic: chocolate mousse served with candied hazelnuts and whipped cream, and creme brulee served with a shortbread cookie. But when done right—as with the rest of the menu—a classic tastes fresh and new.
The service at The Barn has a lot to do with this feeling that it’s a restaurant that spins the tried and true into improved versions. Many dishes are served tableside, but not in a pretentious or intrusive way. Instead, as the server made our salads—we were all in for the bacon and anchovies—he joked with us as he mixed. We found that same attitude of good cheer with the drinks service. Cocktails were explained (like Found, you will not recognize every ingredient, but you will love the result), and wine by the glass is served at the table with a sip offered before you commit. Other small touches—like the warm butter that we smeared on every bite of the sourdough rolls—make you wonder why every restaurant doesn’t take that step. And if these refinements are evident after just two weeks, the diner who is making reservations for two months or two years from now will certainly find the same warm greeting, delicious food and snap-on service that we thoroughly enjoyed.
The Daiquiri Flip ($12) mixes two rums and an egg
Rear 1016 Church St. (in the alley that runs between Maple and Oak streets), Evanston, 847.868.8041,
Open for dinner Tue.-Sat., Valet parking
Appetizers, $8-$18; entrees, $19-$48; side dishes, $7-$12; desserts, $7-$11
René Romero Schuler’s Lake Forest home is filled with contemporary art, including many of her own works.
By Laura Hine
Portrait by Katrina Wittkamp
Artist René Romero Schuler moves fluently from creating public murals to intimate luxury-building commissions.
The day we met, the artist René Romero Schuler should have been prepping for the TEDx panel she was speaking on in a few short days, but within minutes of starting our interview, it was clear that Romero Schuler and the topic, The Curated Life, were made for each other. The Lake Forest resident looks like someone whose life has always been curated, perhaps with a posh start and an easy transition into the artistic life.
Terrariums, $75-$2,000, by Noble Terraria at Cultivate Urban Rainforest & Gallery and FEW Spirits, Evanston
By Marjie Killeen
Laura Mae Noble Photo by John Michaels of Protokulture
Laura Mae Noble creates tiny worlds of beauty under glass.
Artist Laura Mae Noble’s latest work with terrarium design explores the concept of biophilia—the idea that humans are innately attracted to nature and other forms of life. “These little ecosystems are the next level for me in expressing the essence of my creative work,” says the founder of Noble Terraria. “My visual art and my terrarium art are really about life.”
“Do You Feel Like We Do?” If the answer is yes, Peter Frampton is coming to Skokie for an acoustic set.
Skokie Comes Alive!
By Laura Hine
Peter Frampton photo by Gregg Roth
Legendary rock star Peter Frampton strips it down for an acoustic tour.
Totally different from his band tour, which regularly swings through Ravinia, Peter Frampton is bringing his acoustic show to the North Shore Center for the Performing Arts. “I was very anxious about doing it at all, but I said, ‘Let’s just book half a dozen shows and see how it goes,’” Frampton says.
HOME, JEN! Jennifer Wagner Schmidt lives what she preaches (a contemporary vibe) in her own Reston home.
By Michael McCarthy
Photography by Greg Powers
Armed with fresh brand partnerships and clients who crave more than the classic DC look, Jennifer Wagner Schmidt sees the horizon—and it’s decidedly modern.
Washington sits at a watershed moment, not only politically and culturally, but, as Jennifer Wagner Schmidt would argue, aesthetically. The Virginia-based interior designer and owner of JWS Interiors (jws-interiors.com) says that while some devotees to classic design will cling to their Shaker chairs and muted-tone settees forever, the contemporary revolution frames almost every conversation she has with clients these days.