If you have any doubts regarding Miami’s importance as a food city, pay a visit during the month of February to understand just how huge the 305 is to the culinary world. For the past eleven years, Miami has played host to Food Network’s South Beach Wine & Food Festival, which is one of the country’s most important gastronomic events of the year. Next year, from February 21st through the 24th, locals and visitors will be able to attend tastings, lectures, demonstrations, special dinners, and unforgettable parties featuring such personalities as Duff Goldman, Ming Tsai, Emeril Lagasse, Todd English, Anthony Bourdain, John Besh, and many others.
Todd English is moving on from the failure of CrossBar --the gothic themed bar in Flat Iron that just didn't resonate well with New Yorkers. We now know that his next project will be a far cry from a creepy church-like scene; and from what we hear so far, the vibe will be much more appealing.
Taking over the space of the now defunct Crossbar will be French restaurant, Chateau Cherbuliez. According to its official website, it will not only be a restaurant and wine bar, but it will also house a vineyard. Interesting! Talk about taking "in house" to a whole other level.
Todd English’s CrossBar bites the dust. Since its opening last May, it has attracted those in search of a "quaint" (and a bit creepy if we may say so ourselves) atmosphere.
Located in the Limelight Marketplace, previously the home of Limelight Nightclub, CrossBar housed fireplaces and an iconic table in the shape of a cross. It also offered an array of original drinks, or “Spirited Offerings” including “Church Key” and “Smoked Float.” The the church-like restaurant closed abruptly, as its phone line is already disconnected and its website has disappeared. It is unknown what the structure will become, but it appears that construction is already in the works. It looks like the dark, dungeon vibe is not too popular with New Yorkers.
Chef Bill Telepan knows what diners want, especially discerning New York diners for Restaurant Week. They want to experience the expertise of a chef’s cuisine for a fraction of the cost, and not a careless assembly of leftovers - and they know the difference. Telepan’s Restaurant Week menu was the former, and Todd English’s Ca Va Brasserie menu tasted like the latter. Let me preface by saying that I had never dined at either restaurant prior to this sampling, so I cannot compare it to what is regularly on the menu. This disclaimer provides Chef English the benefit of the doubt; perhaps his regular menu is much more thoughtful and flavorful than the one I sampled (one could only pray).
While the service was meticulously attentive and overtly formal at Ca Va (with the pristine smell of “corporate” permeating the air, as an appendage to a Midtown hotel), unfortunately the food followed in that sense of the generic. Every dish ordered lacked the character it seemed to promise in print. With the custom Restaurant Week choice of appetizer, entree and dessert, each category provided a selection of three. Both appetizers ordered were utterly flavorless, which will take you by surprise, as they are sublimely plated.
The tarte provencal was a beautiful puff pastry mounded with crisp artichokes, a tomato marmalade, and goat cheese. The tarte was cold and the pastry stale, tasting as if it had been sitting on a cafeteria buffet table. Similarly, the courbine cru diced fish deceives the eyes presented in a jar on ice, colored with chopped orange melons, and all resting in an enticing juice. With each scoop, I could taste neither the sweetness of fruit nor the freshness of fish: nil.
The entree and dessert courses were split one for one. The octopus was definitely the standout dish when compared to the penne with rabbit at the culinary level of an Olive Garden pasta dish - whatever that means for you. Heavy on the pasta and not on the sparse rabbit pieces, it sat in a puddle of plain juice. Flavor finally presented itself with the coil of well-cooked, tender octopus that sat atop satisfying risotto grains with garden vegetables. This harmonious blend got my vote, as it was the only plate scraped clean.
Don’t be fooled by the blueberry-lemon cheesecake, which did not taste like blueberry, nor lemon! Its whipped consistency was not that of a cheesecake either. But it was dressed with blueberries and fit the sweet bill of a dessert. What you should get for your last course is the assortment of ice creams and sorbets, which are reportedly made in-house. Mango and pineapple sorbet was the perfect palate cleanser, and the creamy coffee ice cream was supremely silky and satisfies your post-dinner espresso fix.
Thus if you do find yourself in the tourist-laden Midtown are and feel compelled to taste Todd English, all I can standby is the octopus and the ice cream at Ca Va. For all else on this Restaurant Week menu, I wish you the best of luck.
But you do not have to flip a Restaurant Week coin for luck when transporting to the tranquil Telepan. With a refreshingly professional yet relaxed staff, the air is breathable in this breezy restaurant. Another aspect that sets apart this find from the rest is their unique approach to the Restaurant Week menu challenge. Diners can choose for their three courses to consist of an appetizer, mid-course, and entree, or appetizer, entree, and dessert - though whatever you choose, the whole table must participate. And for $10 more for all four courses, you can have your cake and eat it too! This place has it right and an excellent dish selection to back it up, with six choices in each category. A true tour of Telepan may commence.
To begin, get the surprisingly light sunny-side up egg with fried green tomatoes. The yolk glistened with gooey perfection, dressing the crispy tomatoes and subtle cheddar cheese. Also, don’t miss the simply refreshing pickled beets served with a scoop of sweet beet-tinted bulgar, which had the pleasant mouth-feel of moist Japanese sticky rice.
For the mid-course, every guest should order the veal tortelloni: a truly stellar standout. So much so that it overshadowed the garlicky linguine with Peekytoe crab, which was a bit oily and had a pronounced parsley flavor. The two gorgeous pieces of home-made tortelloni encased perfectly tender veal shreds, whose meatiness was mirrored by earthy wild mushrooms. The doughy pasta was expertly juxtaposed by the crispy thin greens beneath it. The only problem: we only ordered one.
While the tortelloni cannot be surpassed, the wild striped bass for the entree came in a close second. Thick and meaty, with a slightly pink center, it separated into fork-tender flakes with expert ease. Served with a potato gratin cube and a wonderfully refreshing green tomato tartar, the balance was excellent. The roasted trout as an entree was a bit lackluster I must admit. Though a sizable portion, the fillet (and plate) was dressed with too much oil, and the five white beans it was specked with did not make much of a contribution. With a preamble of such excellent fare, this dish was admittedly at a disadvantage. But know you can pass over this dish when thinking fish. And while it’s not included in the prix-fixe, finish off with their dark and strong espresso. Actually, make it a double.
Evidently, Restaurant Week is a true toss-up. It leaves you wondering if a restaurant’s sample menu is a true sample of the cuisine, which can be a very promising or very disappointing discovery. How does one proceed when Restaurant Week comes to a close? All I can say is this: If you like it, then you’ve found a gem; if you don’t, return at your own risk.
The past week has been a busy one for me. I'm moving into my new apartment and it's my birthday on June 20th!!! I went out Wednesday night with all my close NYC girlfriends for a early birthday dinner at Crossbar. It's Todd English's new resto-bar located in the Limelight Church on 47 W. 20th and 6th ave. The space is absolutely stunning! One of the most beautiful venues I have ever seen. With gothic marble cross tables, and red velvet church pews in the bar area to the Moroccan day beds and wooden tables in the patio, the entire design of the place was gorgeous. I'm a huge foodie and think about food all day. I swear I have a tapeworm (his name is Frank, he will be mentioned a lot in my future articles).
Todd English, one of the most respected chefs in the industry, has opened a new French brasserie at the InterContinental Hotel on West 44th Street. Ça Va will feature a traditional brasserie fare, lounge area with “bar bites”, and a 56 seat private dining room. The restaurant will also include Ça Va Marché, a quick-service market and café. It’s safe to say the hotel's Shake Shack has some heavy competition!
From Ming Tsai, (the East meets West fusion cuisine genius) and Todd English (the celebrity chef that people love and love to hate), to the "locally grown" culinary powerhouses such as Chef Lydia Shire and Chef Barbara Lynch, Boston has a great number of star chefs that shine well beyond New England. Taking their influence to the silver screen, these chefs have certainly been mixing the pot. Here is a look into what Boston's favorite cuisine characters have been up to.
3720 Las Vegas Boulevard South,
Las Vegas, NV
Eva Longoria Parker is giving Las Vegas a brand new Beso. You may recognize this Spanish "kiss" from Eva's first glamorous fine-dining restaurant in Hollywood, which has gained much popularity since its opening in 2008.