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Turning Tables: New York City's Somms and Sliders Will Celebrate Napa Valley Wines

Plus, Dovetail chef John Fraser opens another restaurant, Emeril Lagasse's Nola reopens, and we check in with Le Cirque amid rumors that it's closing
Photo by: RaeAnn Serra
City Winery will offer a lamb slider with a Napa Cabernet Franc.


Somms & Sliders Kicks Off Soon, Celebrating Napa Wine

From Oct. 20 to Nov. 5, nine Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners in New York City will take part in Napa Valley Vintners' third-annual Somms and Sliders promotion, featuring burgers paired with Napa Valley wines.

As wildfires in California continue to ravage wine country, the Napa Valley Vintners team is on the ground and focused on making sure their member wineries are safe. The organizers of Somms and Sliders told Wine Spectator that they spoke to NVV Tuesday night, and while they think it would be a great idea to incorporate a charitable aspect into the event, timing is tight and, for now, they are encouraging people to donate to the Napa Valley Community Foundation Disaster Relief Fund.

In the meantime, concerned patrons can support the region while enjoying a glass of Napa wine. Best of Award of Excellence winner Bowery Meat Company and Grand Award winner '21' Club will feature Cabernet Sauvignons, a classic grilled-meat accompaniment.

"You don't want something that's going to be pushed aside by the meat, so you want a wine that's got enough power and enough of its own personality to be an equal player," wine director Philip Pratt said of his Honig Cabernet selection for '21' Club.

Aureole sommelier Morgan Harris selected the Robert Sinskey Point of View 2012, a Bordeaux blend, to pair with their burger topped with pickled ramp dressing and smoked bacon.

David Gordon, wine director of Grand Award winner Tribeca Grill, went with a less traditional choice: Calder's Charbono. "Charbono is a grape with high natural acidity, something that can be lacking in other Napa grapes like Merlot and Cabernet," Gordon said via email.

Cheron Cowan, wine director of first-time participant Harold's Meat + Three, chose a 2012 Zinfandel from Grgich Hills. She mentioned that this ageworthy Zin provides the acidity to cut through the meat's richness, and adds a complementary leather component.

Ganna Fedorova, beverage director of City Winery New York, is excited about the spotlight on domestic producers. "I love that you have a whole world of wine in front of you in Napa Valley," she said via email. "[There are] so many people who are dedicated to making the best wines they can."

Other Restaurant Award–winning participants include Charlie Palmer Steak, the Lambs Club and Morrell Wine Bar & Café.—J.H.

What's Going On at Le Cirque?

Rumors of the impending closing of one of New York City's most venerable power tables have been circulating. Best of Award of Excellence winner Le Cirque, one of the most favored dining rooms among movers and shakers since Sirio Maccioni opened it in 1974, is in fact not closing, according to Carlo Mantica, an adviser for the Le Cirque International group.

"We're planning to move," he said. "We'll firm up the location and announce end [of the] year." Location is everything in this city, and their home since 2006, in the Bloomberg Building, has been less-than-perfect according to Mantica: "It's a little too far east, and our customer likes to drive up to the restaurant, but now it's gated."

Recent years have been challenging for the flagship restaurant, which filed for bankruptcy earlier this year. "People understand that the bankruptcy filing is a remedy for a turnaround," Mantica said. "We want to be a little smaller, a little more exclusive, more contemporary. It's always good to start fresh."—O.D.

Another Manhattan Restaurant for Dovetail Chef John Fraser

Colin Hofman
The Loyal's artsy-chic bar area

A mere three months after opening Narcbar, the more casual sister restaurant of Award of Excellence winner Narcissa in the Standard Hotel East Village, chef John Fraser unveiled a new restaurant across town. The Loyal, a casual brasserie serving American and European fare in the West Village, is a bit of a departure from the vegetable-focused cuisine the chef has gained recognition for at Award of Excellence winner Dovetail. The new restaurant is decidedly omnivorous, with a still-developing menu that includes veal dumplings with turnips, miso-honey chicken and vegetables, and roasted lamb with Moroccan pilaf.

The 100-selection wine list, created by John Fraser Restaurant Associates beverage director Amy Racine, represents a variety of regions like California, Italy, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Germany, with about half the offerings clocking in at under $100.—L.W.

Chef Jesse Schenker: Out with the Gander, in with 2 Spring

Evan Sung
2 Spring will be adding to Long Island's culinary scene with dishes like spicy lobster with bread pudding, carrots and harissa.

Chef Jesse Schenker has closed the doors of his Best of Award of Excellence winner, the Gander, in New York City's Flatiron District. "The Gander closed due to rising costs (labor, operational, rent, all of the above!) and also lower check averages," the chef's wife and restaurant's director of operations, Lindsay Schenker, said via email.

But the Gander team is bouncing right back. In November, they will open 2 Spring, an American brasserie in Oyster Bay, N.Y. Many members of the Gander's culinary and management teams will be heading to the coastal Long Island town to work at the new restaurant.

Like its Manhattan predecessor, 2 Spring will have a deep wine list, with around 500 selections. Jordan Lari, whose restaurant credits include the Lambs Club and Quality Italian, will spearhead the program which, according to Schenker, will be split into two sections. A "general provisions" list will include around 150 selections for $150 and under, with a focus on Burgundy, California, Italy and New York state. The other 350 "private stock" selections will include collectible wines from around the world, featuring producers like Domaine des Comtes Lafon, Jean-Louis Chave and Bryant Family. Schenker says they want to appeal to a wide range of wine lovers, "from the adventurous and price-conscious consumer to the collector of fine treasures."—L.W.

Boulud Restaurants Come and Go in Miami

Chef Daniel Boulud has announced that he will close his 7-year-old DB Bistro Moderne Miami. In its place, he will open a second location of Boulud Sud, the first of which is a Best of Award of Excellence winner on New York City's Upper West Side. The new restaurant will debut in December.

"Executive chef Clark Bowen and chef Boulud will work together to develop a menu that highlights local ingredients, while building on a foundation of existing Boulud Sud favorites using spices, seasonings and cooking methods found in the Mediterranean," sommelier Haunah Klein said via email.

Boulud currently has six other Restaurant Award–winning restaurants, and the wine program at the new Boulud Sud will have around 500 selections. "We are currently working to develop the wine list using our offerings from the DB Bistro Moderne list and integrating more wines from [the] Rhône, southern France and the Mediterranean," says Klein.—V.S.

Emeril Lagasse's Nola Reopens

Courtesy of Nola
Emeril Lagasse revamps the dining room at Nola in the French Quarter.

Nola, chef Emeril Lagasse's Best of Award of Excellence winner in New Orleans, reopened Sept. 22 after an eight-week renovation. The new space unveiled a more casual bar area, a brightened interior and new menu items like alligator-sausage bao buns, and oyster-and-brie pot pie. The changes come just ahead of Nola's 25th anniversary on Oct. 25.

Sommelier John Cooke said that the beverage program received a similar "facelift." Though the inventory remains the same, Nola's wines are now presented on two separate lists: a regular list of around 120 selections capped at about $180, and a reserve list containing between 700 and 800 selections. "We wanted to make the whole wine experience a little bit more accessible and less intimidating," Cooke said.—J.H.

Detroit's Rattlesnake Club Appoints New Executive Chef

Award of Excellence winner the Rattlesnake Club has appointed Jeff Lanctot as its new executive chef. He has been working at the Detroit restaurant since 2003, and is taking over the reins from Chris Franz, who left in May.

"I look forward to continuing the tradition of culinary excellence and innovation that has been the hallmark of the Rattlesnake Club for nearly 30 years," Lanctot said via email. "I am excited to bring my own style and creativity to the high quality and innovative preparations our customers have grown to expect."—V.S.

MGM Resorts Recovering from Las Vegas Shooting, Fundraising for Victims

Following the mass shooting outside Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino on Oct. 1, the hotel and its restaurant staff are recovering, while parent company MGM Resorts is raising money for victims of the tragedy. Resort restaurants including flagship Grand Award winner, Charlie Palmer's Aureole, are open for service. Donations to help shooting victims can be made to the Victim Relief & First Responders' Fund established through the MGM Resorts Foundation. "100 percent of donations made through this fund will support the needs of our community," said MGM Resorts public relations specialist Nicole Wozniak. You can give at mgmresortsfoundation.org.—Ben O'Donnell

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