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Millesime: Gorgeous Restaurant, Classy Fare, Not Enough Customers

Millesime: Gorgeous Restaurant, Classy Fare, Not Enough Customers


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Millesime, nestled inside the Carlton Hotel on lower Madison Avenue, has one of the most gorgeous dining rooms you’ll ever enter. Utilizing much of the original interior architecture of the hotel’s nearly hundred year-old dining room, the cream-colored, long space is ornate, with Beaux-Arts touches like arched doorways, crown molding, chandeliers, and Art Nouveau lighting sconces. It’s not easy to find if you enter through the hotel (you need to walk through the bar and go up a flight of stairs), but there’s a new entrance around the corner that heads right into the dining room (you should still check out the bar downstairs, though).

If it wasn’t clear from walking in that you’re in a high-quality French brasserie, then all you need to do is look at the menu. We dined there at the invitation of the restaurant, and had the opportunity to sample the selection of homemade terrines and pates, including a stellar country pate; deviled eggs, which are given a rich smokiness by the addition of smoked sprats; a chilled white gazpacho that’s both and light and creamy at the same time; a decadent smoked salmon rillette with pickled beets that would be equally at home on a bagel (in a good way); Atlantic cod with clams, nduja broth, and pork sausage that was delicate, incredibly flavorful and perfectly cooked; rigatoni in a saffron-scented lobster sauce that hot all the right, lobster notes (it didn’t skimp on the lobster, either); and finally a play on traditional bouillabaisse with big chunks of cod, scallops, shrimp, clams and mussels in a satisfyingly robust sauce. All the food hit all the right notes and was very nicely cooked. The maître d’, Remy, was a perfect host, carefully orchestrating the meal and pairing each course with well-chosen wines.

We were disappointed to find, however, that the restaurant was nearly empty for the entire time that we were there. While the food was nothing short of delicious, the dishes on the menu themselves weren’t necessarily breaking new ground, and there isn’t that one dish that keeps customers coming back. While it’s certainly respectable to serve classic French fare in classic French preparations, it’s a shame that that isn’t enough to pull in the big crowds. Because the food here is very good, and Millesime deserves to be filling every seat, every night.


25 Best Restaurants in Richmond

Stuffed squid with white beans and greens at Restaurant Adarra (Photo by Shawnee Custalow)

From a Basque-inspired escape in Jackson Ward to comfort food that feels like a warm embrace, we present our collection of the 25 best restaurants in Richmond for 2019. We ate our way through the region, hand-picking new gems that have become a part of our regular dining rotation and revisiting timeless institutions that have remained favorites.

On the following pages you will find places that have paved the way and remind us to reflect on the dawn of Richmond dining alongside those that are pushing culinary boundaries, showing us how far it can go. Our list represents restaurants that are doing it right — from service and consistency to memorable meals that conjure memorable moments.

With a burgeoning class size, choosing just 25 was a feat. For the sake of narrowing the field, we did not consider counter-service restaurants, spots that don’t offer dinner or ones that opened after July 31, 2019. Sit back and relish these standouts from a crowded, ever-growing and talented field. Come hungry.

Restaurant Adarra

618 N. First St., 804-477-3456

THE CUISINE: Loosely Spanish-inspired small plates. Think pintxos, stuffed squid, roasted olives and jamon Ibérico.

KEY FACE: Lyne Doetzer, sommelier and one-half of Adarra’s restaurant power couple along with chef Randall Doetzer, is usually working the floor. Ask her about her favorite bottles.

THE MOOD: Intimate and sophisticated, but convivial.

BEST FOR: A double date or a night out with a small group of friends so you can order plenty of dishes and split a bottle or two of wine.

IDEAL MEAL: Tuna conserva and roasted olives to start, followed by the seasonal fish stew. Pair it with one of the fun, low-intervention Old World or natural wines from Adarra’s frequently changing list.

MOST LIKE TO APPEAR IN BON APPETIT

Longoven

2939 W. Clay St., 804-308-3497

BEST FOR: An evening when you can dedicate a few hours to a thoughtful adventure through the multicourse tasting menu.

THE CUISINE: Strikingly beautiful dishes ebb and flow with the seasons, and everything is executed with flawless attention to detail. Expect to find mushrooms and tinges of Japanese influence.

KEY FACES: The gastronomic threesome of culinary prowess — owners Patrick Phelan, the tweezer tycoon his wife and pastry empress Megan Fitzroy Phelan and fermentation mastermind Andrew Manning

INSIDER TIP: Flock to the patio during warmer months — the bar bites remind you that Longoven can also be cool and casual.

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE: How there’s nothing else like it in Richmond.

BEST AT SETTING THE STANDARD

Acacia Mid-town

2601 W. Cary St., 804-562-0138

THE CUISINE: Serving dishes focused on the freshest ingredients for over 20 years, Acacia is an “eat local” pioneer.

KEY FACES: Dale and Aline Reitzer run the back and front of the house, respectively. Dale has nurtured and mentored some of Richmond’s finest culinary talent while continuing to turn out innovative dishes. Aline, founder of Richmond Restaurant Week, consistently delivers top-notch service.

BEST FOR: Seafood — soft-shell crabs, crab cakes, ceviche, rockfish and white anchovies with radicchio are favorites.

INSIDER TIP: Take advantage of the three-course prix fixe menu ($27 Monday to Thursday all night and 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday), as well as half-price wine by the bottle on Tuesdays.

MOST STRIKING PRESENTATION

3103 W. Leigh St., 804-355-5555

THE CUISINE: An alloy of umami and the harvest, showcasing an alchemist’s dexterity with fish. Anchovy puree underscores miso-marinated halibut with crisp cucumber, and sweet onion consommé warms steelhead trout over roasted corn — but don’t expect these specific spellbinders. The kitchen conjures seasonality.

THE MOOD: Music flows from above Aloi’s entrance, ushering you inside the exotic bunker where undulating wood ripples through the ceiling and art hangs on dimly lit walls.

WHAT YOU'LL LIKE: Eating with your eyes — the plating is gorgeous.

INSIDER TIP: Cocktail hour on the secluded rear patio offers discounted tipples, fragrant bowls of mussels, a clutch of airy bone-marrow beignets.

MOST LIKE A CELEBRITY CHEF

Brenner Pass

3200 Rockbridge St. Suite 100, 804-658-9868

THE CUISINE: Alpine-inspired dishes, including rustic cheese fondue and house-made charcuterie, served in a space that feels more like a trendy big-city restaurant than little old RVA. James Beard Award-nominated chef/co-owner Brittanny Anderson has appeared on “Iron Chef America” and often hosts visiting chefs for special dinners at Brenner.

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE: The elegant simplicity. Take the oeufs mayonnaise, literally a hard-boiled egg with house-made mayo — only two ingredients, yet it’s stunningly memorable.

INSIDER TIP: Order a glass (or a bottle) of the Le Morget. Blended exclusively for Brenner Pass, this Swiss white is one of a few wines exported from Switzerland.

BEST AT BEING EFFORTLESSLY COOL

Saison

23 W. Marshall St., 804-269-3689

THE CUISINE: Hearty, seasonal new American fare that pays homage to both Latin American and Southern foodways.

KEY FACES: Justin Ayotte, the restaurant’s beverage director and co-owner, and Sophia Kim, Richmond’s hometown hero who graced the national stage by winning the Woodford Reserve Manhattan Experience cocktail competition, are both often found behind the bar.

THE MOOD: Cozy and hip. You’ll find friends meeting for a happy hour drink, couples on dates and regulars chatting at the bar.

INSIDER TIP: Don't miss their Sunday fried chicken night, with some of the best fried chicken in the city at just $8.

DRINK PICK: Anything from the inventive, oft-changing cocktail list.

Belmont Food Shop

27 N. Belmont Ave., 804-358-7467

THE AMBIANCE: A snug dining room with worn wood tables and a prominent eight-seater bar makes dining here an intimate, cozy experience.

IDEAL FOR: A date or a solo night at the bar, where you’ll be greeted warmly and tended to unobtrusively, however long you choose to linger.

INSIDER TIP: In an effort to be open on Monday so hospitality pros can have a nice repast on their day off, BFS is closed on Tuesday. We always forget, but you don’t have to.

BEST FOR: The classics. Tuck into a green salad, simple and right, or the roast chicken, a litmus test for chefs and one that owner Mike Yavorsky nails every time. Served with creamy spoonbread, it’s a menu staple that’s always there when you need it.

Alewife

3120 E. Marshall St., 804-325-3426

THE CUISINE: Chef-owner Lee Gregory’s solo venture yields unexpected fruits from Mid-Atlantic seas: smelts, skate and the “trash fish” alewife, a Chesapeake Bay throwback.

THE MOOD: A busy port o’ call, minimally outfitted with a token tiki and a bulbous, nautical mirror. Most of the atmosphere comes from the historic building’s bones, which seem to emit the kitchen’s energy as if a secret portal to seafaring delicacies.

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE: Brunch sails around the world. Try skate chops with red-eye gravy or a rolled omelet with rock shrimp and tobiko herb salad.

DRINK PICK: Pair oysters or ceviche with a stellar Rangpur G&T scented with orange blossoms, or steer toward one of the many low-tannin red wines.

FRESHEST FACE OF THE VASAIO EMPIRE

Dinamo

THE CUISINE: A beautiful mashup of Jewish and Italian food, from Reubens to broccoletti and provolone sausage with polenta and beans. Dishes tend to be simple, rustic and slightly more veg-forward than sister restaurants Edo’s Squid and Mamma ’Zu.

THE MOOD: Lively, casual and intimate, with futuristic decor.

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE: Everything is made with such fresh ingredients that the restaurant doesn’t even have a walk-in refrigerator.

BEST FOR: When you’re craving something homey.

IDEAL MEAL: It’s hard to go wrong, but you can’t beat mussels marinara and a glass of wine at the bar. And when it’s on the menu, don’t sleep on a big plate of their impossibly creamy, tender cabbage (just trust us).

MOST LIKELY TO PUSH BOUNDARIES

Full Kee

6400 Horsepen Road, 804-673-2233

THE CUISINE: Light-years beyond your typical Chinese restaurant.

BEST FOR: Testing your culinary limits. Where else in Richmond can you order Cantonese delicacies like duck tongue?

ALSO BEST FOR: Serving familiar Chinese dishes, authentically. Not everyone seeks the unfamiliar, and Full Kee’s lo mein, chow mein and fried rice dishes deliver accessibility that’s several steps above the norm.

INSIDER TIP: Ask questions. During their busy brunch, it can be difficult to determine what the rolling dim sum cart bestows. Service may seem fast-paced, but they will happily reveal what’s inside each delectable dumpling.

DON’T MISS: Divine deep-fried spicy soft-shell crab.

Heritage

1627 W. Main St., 804-353-4060

THE CUISINE: Heritage relies on the bounty of local producers to create an eclectic menu where Chef Joe Sparatta draws heavily on the culinary traditions of Virginia, Italy and Japan.

KEY FACES: Joe and his wife and co-owner Emilia Sparatta — a hospitality yin and yang. Lindsey Scheer helms the bar, garnering a 2019 Best Bartender Elby Award for her craft.

DON’T MISS: Some of the most cleverly named and curated cocktails.

BEST FOR: The overall experience. Unobtrusive, yet all-knowing, the service shines every step of the way, from drinks to dessert.

INSIDER TIP: The pasta is made in house, and it’s sublime. Unique ingredients make for memorable, not-so-typical Italian fare.

Edo’s Squid

411 N. Harrison St., 804-864-5488

THE CUISINE: Classic red-sauce Italian heaven: spaghetti all’ amatriciana, whole branzino, and squid salad with white beans and arugula.

THE MOOD: Lively and a bit chaotic inside the second-floor, brick-lined eatery — expect a significant wait during peak times.

BEST FOR: A date where you’re more interested in eavesdropping on the diners sitting nearby than in hearing what your partner is saying a group dinner where you can feast family-style on white linen tabletops in the classic Italian manner.

IDEAL MEAL: Dinner at the big table with five friends passing around perfectly executed, Italian delights like scungilli salad, broccoletti drenched in olive oil and garlic, penne puttanesca, and shrimp fra diavolo. Oh, and Chianti — lots of Chianti.

Dutch & Co.

THE CUISINE: Truly seasonal fare with global flair.

THE MOOD: Intimate and intricate. From the miniature embellished clothespins on the bread basket to the tiny tasting dishes, every detail is exact and intentional.

KEY FACES: Partners in business and life, Michelle and Caleb Shriver are always present. She attentively presides over every aspect of the front of the house, while he rocks it out in the kitchen.

INSIDER TIP: Every night from 5 to 10 p.m., they offer a $30 prix fixe menu for three courses. Indulge in the famed Perfect Egg and its crispy rye exterior, then move to a hunk of monkfish with bright and acidic succotash. Find your happy ending in the honey pot, an amalgamation of crunchy and sweet panna cotta with crumbly granola.

Lemaire

101 W. Franklin St., 804-649-4629

THE CUISINE: Chef Patrick Willis’ upscale nod to Southern-inspired dining and Virginia ingredients is delivered inside the nearly 125-year-old Jefferson Hotel.

BEST FOR: An evening to remember — the grand dining room and white tablecloths scream elegance. The elevated yet approachable menu is topped only by the attentive service.

INSIDER TIP: Happy hour diners can indulge in three appetizers for $25 (except in December) such as oysters paired with champagne mignonette, fried deviled eggs and a cheese plate. Start the weekend with $5 Old Fashioned Fridays, and don’t be surprised to spot VCU students and local pols rubbing elbows.

KEY FACE: General Manager Chauncey Jenkins sets the bar for RVA hospitality.

Lehja

11800 W. Broad St., Suite 910, 804-364-1111

ORDER: Any naan, though Sunny Baweja, Lehja’s James Beard Award-nominated chef-owner, will tell you the garlic variety is the most popular. Other notable dishes include Pondicherry duck, featuring shredded duck with a hint of peppery spice, and Andhra chicken curry.

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE: Ample parking at Short Pump Town Center, uber-knowledgeable service.

DRINK PICK: Anything from their impressive wine list, which includes bottles from India.

INSIDER TIP: Chaat is a type of savory Indian street fare, and Lehja serves one daily. Ranging from large chunks of blue crab speckled with pomegranate seeds to fried translucent spinach leaves that are lightly dressed, the ever-changing offerings are a must-try.

L’Opossum

THE CUISINE: Fancy yet soul-baring French fare with a Southern bent that has diners leaning into their plates as if they’re sharing secrets.

THE MOOD: L’Opossum’s homoeroticism-meets-1970s-Americana vibe matches Proust’s definition of style: “The revelation of the particular universe which each of us sees but which is not seen by others.”

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE: Like an artsy dinner party, escargots and ham biscuits arrive on decorative china placed atop an elaborate, Warhol-print tabletop.

INSIDER TIP: Skip OpenTable, which offers limited seatings, and call for reservations.

KEY FACE: Cocktail captain William Seidensticker, a quick-witted 25-year industry veteran with a dry sense of humor.

Umi Sushi Bistro

11645 W. Broad St., 804-360-3336

THE AMBIANCE: A chic and sexy sushi outpost that feels more like SoHo than Short Pump. The dim blue lights, plush seats and metal chopsticks lend to a sleek vibe.

BEST FOR: A date who will go halfsies with you on a parade of sashimi and rolls.

IDEAL MEAL: Start with tuna tataki, silky ribbons of gently seared ahi drizzled with ponzu sauce, and sake. Order a melange of sashimi and specialty rolls like The Richmond, crisp tempura shrimp and avocado roll topped with eel and sprinkled with roe.

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE: Seamless service. Informative without being overbearing, servers guide you through the menu with care.

INSIDER TIP: Inquire about daily specials, which recently featured buttery, highly desirable toro tuna.

Can Can Brasserie

3120 W. Cary St., 804-358-7274

THE CUISINE: Casual, classic French food is served all day long, from croissants with your café au lait for breakfast to croque-monsieurs and French onion soup for lunch to plats du jour that rotate through classic French preparations every evening.

THE DECOR: Flooded with natural light and breezes from an open front on nice days, this boisterous and lively spot features a lovely bar, beautiful tile work, fresh flowers and white tablecloths.

BEST FOR: Morning meetings, long lunches and romantic dinners. It’s a community meeting spot, and as the light shifts throughout the day so does the vibe. It's a place for everyone, anytime.

INSIDER TIP: Can Can dancers kick up their heels on the bar for Bastille Day/Fête Nationale on July 14.

Peter Chang China Cafe

11424 W. Broad St., 804-364-1688

THE CUISINE: Szechuan chili oil perfumes the air, wafting from a bowl of hand-pulled Grandma’s Noodles.

BEST FOR: Your entire brood. With Lazy Susans, ample room to spread out and portions big enough to share, this is a smart pick for a crowd.

YOU’LL LOVE: The cartoonishly large scallion bubble pancakes that bounce to your table joined by a little ramekin of curry dipping sauce. Embrace your inner Wonka as you stare down these silly looking but seriously tasty appetizers.

INSIDER TIP: Take your leftover scallion pancake home and use the now deflated flavor balloon to wrap up thinly sliced beef for a quick riff on a Taiwanese classic.

BEST FOR TAKING OUT-OF-TOWNERS

Perly’s

111 E. Grace St., 804-912-1560

THE CUISINE: Chef Kevin Roberts and the crew at this Richmond institution give Jewish deli classics a modern spin.

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE: Sipping coffee out of diner mugs or drinking a Bloody Miriam rimmed with everything bagel seasoning.

WHAT YOU WON’T: That you can’t make reservations. (Though it’s also something you secretly love them for.)

BEST FOR: A late breakfast after spending the wee hours rehashing decade-old memories with visiting friends. Perly’s is also a solid go-to birthday spot.

ORDER: Where to begin? Latkes. The famed fish board. Matzoh ball soup. Schlubby Fries. A breakfast or deli sammie. Babka. Do it all and live your best Yiddish life.

Shagbark

4901 Libbie Mill East Blvd., Suite 175, 804-358-7424

IDEAL MEAL: You’ve come for Walter Bundy’s reimagining of Southern classics, so surrender to the concept via Up South fried green tomatoes with Edwards Smokehouse bacon, or try the Compass Winds sorghum molasses-glazed duck, which Bundy serves with a Hubs peanut-studded rice. And don’t you dare skip dessert. The honey gelato, made using Bundy’s own supply, is worth it.

INSIDER TIP: When the weather allows, Shaggy B’s patio is the perfect happy hour hideaway, with dollar oysters on the half shell and $6 classic cocktails.

THE AMBIANCE: The devil dwells in the details of Shagbark’s meticulous interior, with its shagbark hickory partitions, sumptuous lighting and deer-antler chandeliers — a nod to the avid outdoorsman in the kitchen.

MOST OVERDUE FOR JAMES BEARD LOVE

Stella’s

1012 Lafayette St., 804-358-2011

THE CUISINE: Bold and comforting. Large plates of unctuous pastitsio and No. 5 pasta (the number refers to the pasta’s size), traditional Greek specialties loaded with cheese and noodles. Flaky pastry triangles with various fillings — spinach, spiced ground beef and tart cheese.

WHAT YOU’LL LOVE: Stella’s ambiance feels similar to that of a large family gathering. It’s loud, a little cramped and happy. Dishes are super shareable.

BEST SEAT IN THE HOUSE: The corner of the bar near the window. Head in for Meze Ora, a happy hour with great specials, and stay to watch the crowds arrive.

WHAT YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW: Why matriarch Stella Dikos doesn’t have a James Beard Award nomination yet? We don’t know, either.

Tazza Kitchen

Multiple locations tazzakitchen.com

WHAT TO EAT: The pizzas or anything from their central brick oven. Think charred cauliflower with pops of fresh mint cast-iron-cooked goat cheese, gooey and tart or smoked pork nachos.

THE AMBIANCE: Chic, modern and edgy. High bar tables in front, low dining tables throughout. Open kitchens with direct views of the action.

WHAT YOU'LL LOVE: The Short Pump, Midlothian and Scott’s Addition locations have sizable patios that are perfect for three seasons, thanks to heaters and fans.

INSIDER TIP: They have a few locations in the Carolinas, if you happen to be traveling and want a little taste of home.

BEST FOR A GLOBAL LUNCH EXPERIENCE

Temple

2713 W. Broad St., 804-367-4990

THE CUISINE: Temple explores Laos and its bordering countries with dishes like Guay Teaw Sukhothai, a soupy frenzy that demands your spoon dip back for slurp after slurp of red-lacquered barbecue pork, house-made egg noodles, peanuts and scallions. On a cold afternoon, nothing beats the velvety Jok Gai, a steaming rice congee with a runny egg, crispy dried pork and earthy shiitakes.

DRINK PICKS: A sparkling negroni (on tap!) is brightened with a fuschia-hued hibiscus flower. Their Muy Thai Punch and red and white sangrias are fun, fruity and rum-forward, perfect for sipping with something spicy.

INSIDER TIP: This smart, quick spot features a ridiculously good midday deal — a $12 boxed lunch complete with appetizer, entree and drink.

MOST LIKELY TO FEEL LIKE HOME

Mama J’s

415 N. First St., 804-225-7449

THE CUISINE: Soul food with a smile in the heart of Jackson Ward.

KEY FACE: Mama herself, Velma Johnson. If you're there when she is, let her share a story about growing up in Richmond. Maybe she'll let a family recipe slip.

IDEAL MEAL: Mac and cheese and perfectly flaky and seasoned catfish, or the pork chops that come baked or grilled: order one of each. Finish with a slice of Mama J's homemade cake, especially if there’s lemon or coconut-pineapple on deck.

BEST FOR: That Sunday night when you need comfort food to prepare you for the week. Mama J's exudes a family feel — they weren’t nominated for outstanding service by the James Beard Foundation for nothing.


Restaurant Names With Puns

A clever pun is certainly one of the more humorous ways to come up with a cool restaurant name. Check out some of these pun-tacular places!

Party Fowl • Nashville, Tennessee

This Nashville restaurant specializes in local delicacy hot chicken, and they have varying degrees of heat levels ranging from mild to “Poultrygeist.”

Like No Udder • Providence, Rhode Island

This vegan ice cream company started out as an ice cream truck back in 2010 and was recognized as being the world’s first all-vegan soft serve ice cream truck. After cultivating a loyal following, owners opened a permanent brick-and-mortar location in early 2016.

Basic Kneads Pizza • Denver, Colorado

We all have our basic needs, and pizza is definitely one of them. Basic Kneads Pizza is 100% mobile and consists of four mobile wood fired ovens traveling at events throughout metro Denver.

A Salt & Battery • New York, New York

This New York City establishment specializes in traditional British fish and chips. They try as much as possible to source their ingredients locally, but their cooking techniques and their traditional British fryers were brought over from the UK. This is also the perfect place to pick up a Cod Save The Queen t-shirt.

Lox Stock & Bagels • West Hartford, Granby and Bloomfield, Connecticut

This bagel café began in 1990 by a couple with young children, and now their entire family runs three different locations. Clearly, they take their bagels seriously.

Thai Me Up Restaurant & Brewery • Jackson, Wyoming

This Wyoming restaurant is nearby local ski resorts and founded by a ski bum. Their menu is American-influenced modern Thai cuisine, as well as classic Thai dishes. They also brew beer and have 20 craft beers on tap.

Brew’d Awakening Coffeehaus • Lowell, Massachusetts

Brew’d Awakening opened in the former mill town of Lowell, Massachusetts in 2005. Ten years later, inspired by the thriving cultural and art scene in the city, they started to roast their own coffee, and now have three different roasts available at a time.

Wild Thyme Café • Smithville, Tennessee

At this Tennessee café, they serve up healthy options, many of which are organic or sourced locally. They are sure to offer gluten-free and vegan options, and clearly, love a good food pun.


2. Ruxbin

Next, we have the Ruxbin restaurant menu design. This menu design of this one-pager is super clean and elegant, something which matches the company’s branding and the rest of the website style. Although this menu looks like a menu you can come across on other websites as well, it simply makes more sense than it does elsewhere because of the overall feeling you get on the website. There’s also this subtle effect on scroll that makes the menu appear when you come across that part of the page. This website is enjoyable to scroll through and the menu provides visitors all the information they need elegantly.


The 15 Most Beautiful Restaurants and Cafes in Chicago

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Surprisingly, the atmosphere of a dining location substantially influences our subconscious perception of food we eat there. Long noted in a New York Times article published in 1986, every minute detail down to the noise, the lighting and the structure of the restaurant interior can either enhance or detract from our experience.

It’s no surprise that the highest commended restaurants are easily the most beautiful. Whether you care for the science, or just want a perfect Instagram picture, below are the 15 most aesthetically pleasing cafes and restaurants in Chicago.

1. Union Pizzeria

Photo by Charlotte (Charli) Hu

In conjunction with SPACE, Union Pizzeria is an informal setting which hosts occasional local performances. At night, the place is lit by thousands of suspended lights, reminiscent of the floating lanterns from Tangled. Due to its popularity in the neighborhood, lines start forming outside 15 minutes before open.

2. The Allis at SoHo House

Photo courtesy of The Allis on theallis.com

Located in the lobby of the Chicago SoHo house, the Allis is a popular brunch place in the west loop. Famed for its rustic and refined vibe, the style of the food parallels the decor: simple. Afternoon tea is also offered here for those aspiring for something a little more fancy.

3. The Wormhole Coffee

Photo by Charlotte (Charli) Hu

Like a trip back in time, The Wormhole Coffee in Wicker Park serves coffee in an atmosphere filled with quintessential nostalgia pieces, complete with an almost-to-scale model of the Delorean.

4. 3 Arts Club Cafe

Photo courtesy of Galdon Photography for 3 arts club cafe

Recreated through the restoration of an old hardware and furniture store, the cafe proudly displays remnants from its last ownership and is a conglomeration of cafe, wine bar and restaurant (not to mention the lofty and stunning seating area). The lighting in here is absolutely fantastic and will make all your pictures Insta-worthy.

5. Bohemian House

Photo courtesy of @boho_chi on Instagram

Boho Chi(c). A perfect place to go when your inner hippie is also feeling classy.

6. The Boarding House

Photo courtesy of Boarding House Chicago on boardinghousechicago.com

Floor-to-ceiling windows allow natural light to stream into the dining area, lending to an open atmosphere. The interior design is also extremely interesting, and the installation made completely from empty wine bottles exemplifies it perfectly.

7. Heritage Outpost

Photo courtesy of @heritagebicycle on Instagram

Who would’ve thought bikes and coffee made such a perfect pair? Heritage outpost combines a bicycle shop and a cafe all in one lofty space. An opportune location for photography, it’s a great little spot in uptown to relax and grab a coffee.

8. Geja’s Cafe

Photo courtesy of Geja’s Cafe on gejascafe.com

A romantic little nook that’s been around since 1965, Geja’s cafe offers fondue dining with occasional features of live Flamenco and classical guitar. Plus, you can’t ask for a more romantic setting than this if you tried.

9. RM Champagne Salon

Photo courtesy of RM Champagne Salon on rmchampagnesalon.com

A quaint, European inspired place. The salon is made even more cozy with the installation of marble fireplaces and a roomy patio.

10. Nellcôte

Photo courtesy of Nellcote on nellcoterestaurant.com

The more posh sibling of RM Champagne Salon, Nellcote offers Euro-style small plates and cocktails.

11. Signature Room at the 95th

Photo courtesy of @signatureroom95 on Instagram

While a full-priced meal can get pretty costly, the view of the skyline running along the lakeshore is worth at least an appetizer and a drink to see.

12. Tavern at the Park and Tree House

Photo courtesy of @tavernatthepark on Instagram

A two-story contemporary pub that is seated right across from Millenium Park, guaranteeing you nice views with your good food and drinks.

13. Cité

Photo courtesy of Cite Chicago on Facebook

The french-influenced restaurant does fare a little on the pricey side, but the views of Navy Pier at night are incomparable to any other nighttime aerial view. The popularity of bookings spike on the nights when Navy Pier has fireworks.

14. Grand Lux Cafe

Photo courtesy of Ben B. on Yelp

Situated perfectly on the strip of the Magnificent Mile, the cafe overlooks Michigan Ave. From the cafe, especially during nighttime, the view from the outside looking in is just as grand as the view from the inside looking out.

15. Siena Tavern

Photo courtesy of Siena Tavern on sienatavern.com

Sleek and modern inside and out, this restaurant is not only pretty, but substantial as well. Homemade pasta, neapolitan pies, a mozzarella bar and more. Siena Tavern puts a spin on without distorting the classic Italian style.


Seafood Recipes That Are Great Options for Entertaining

Serve seafood at your next meal that brings together hungry friends and family, and make it the appealing focus of the shared table. Why should you serve snappingly fresh fish, like the plump fillets of sautéed seabass pictured here, and crustaceans, both freshwater and salt? There are two compelling reasons: They are delicious, and they are good for us.

But there are many more reasons to entertain with these proteins: Fish and shellfish tend to sit more lightly in our tummies than their land-based, grazing brethren because their proteins are easier to digest&mdashwe rise lighter from a fishy table. Wild-caught mollusks and fish tend to be seasonal, and that's especially true if you like to shop locally and sustainably. There is something intrinsically satisfying and celebratory in knowing that you are enjoying a food whose season is fleeting. And for farmed fare (like salmon and branzino), it is reassuring to know that your favorite way of preparing them is unaffected by the time of year.

Visiting your local seafood and farmers' market is always an education in what is available locally (and when), and instant connectivity makes checking the sustainability of a particular catch or briny crop a cinch. If that's not an option for you, we recommend Monterrey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch, to check on what seafood options are most sustainable at your local grocery store.

From a refreshing salad of raw Arctic char "cooked" simply in citrus juice and grilled oysters drenched in brown butter the most simple, seared fillets of sole and a satisfyingly ample pot pie of salmon, here are our top pescatarian picks to feed a crowd deliciously.


Classy Casual Fare at Santiago’s in St. Augustine Beach

With an elevated update and a fresh new take on their menu, this beachside resort restaurant has a recipe for delicious success.

I t can be difficult for a resort restaurant to escape the tourist market. With the hotel necessarily catering only to visitors, locals will often pass by without a thought of the dining scene inside. But despite its location inside Guy Harvey Resort, Santiago’s is about to become St. Augustine’s favorite new heightened dining destination. The restaurant is the fresh and flavorful update of the former Guy Harvey’s Grille & Grog, a laid-back beach-food spot. The Guy Harvey team has revamped the menu and the space and created a beautiful scene for classy casual fare that focuses on local culture and ingredients.

Paying homage to Guy Harvey’s first artistic series and wishing to keep their ties to the ocean atmosphere, Santiago’s was named after the title character in Ernest Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea. The name change is indicative of the elevated alteration of the restaurant as a whole – more purposeful and intentional in all it does.

The new menu is a fusion of Spanish, Southern, and Latin American that draws upon the local culture for inspiration, so the first dish brought to our table was the area’s ever-popular Conch Fritters. This appetizer has been a favorite since the resort first opened, so the team knew that it was a dish that had to stay after the update. They’ve been told by guests time and again that these fritters are “the best on the beach.” After a sampling of our own, we might just have to join the cries of the throng. The recipe itself is fairly traditional, but the obviously fresh ingredients and the fried-to-perfection crispness take these Conch Fritters up a few notches. And the honey citrus sauce that comes with them could be a meal all its own.

We were then served the Tuna Poke Bowl, overflowing with bright veggies and the unmistakable hue of fresh tuna. The bowl starts with teriyaki grilled vegetables – cucumbers, carrots, and squash – and some pineapple (that adds an always welcome tarty sweetness) served over sticky rice with avocado, pickled onions, and a beautifully seared rare tuna. The Poke Bowl offers a ton of flavors that work in perfect harmony to appeal to all of your tastes – from sweet to salty to sour.

Last on our plates (or not really “plates” but a live edge wood board) was the totally-shareable-but-you-won’t-want-to-share-it Cheese Board. The gorgeous cheese board is one of those dishes where you don’t really want to mess up the presentation but you’re definitely going to because it tastes so delicious. On the board are a variety of Spanish cheeses, – like Manchego and Cabrales – sopressata, a house-made guava datil jam, marcona almonds, and a honeycomb. Despite being totally separate elements of the cheese board, the flavors of each ingredient are so complementary. Like we said, you won’t be judged if you don’t feel like sharing.

Last but not least, the cocktails at Santiago’s have taken on a life of their own. In the middle of the restaurant is a beautifully-designed bar where bartenders mix up supremely fresh drinks from the traditional to the unusual. The flavors of these libations don’t hide behind sugary sweetness – they don’t need to. The fruit juices are squeezed fresh and the recipes are curated with calculated deliberation. The intentionality behind the menu at Santiago’s is immediately apparent. Chef Joe and his team have designed a St. Augustine culinary experience that locals aren’t soon to forget.


A St. Louis restaurant requiem for 2019

The rear courtyard at Scape American Bistro

It actually closed at the end of 2018, but such a storied place deserves a proper period of mourning, and we’re still doing just that. Not only was this classic, upscale eatery an originator of “seasonal cuisine” locally, but it was also the launching pad for more than a dozen of the area’s current culinary stars. Closed December 23, 2018.

Sure, a reincarnation debuted at Westport Plaza. But when the original toasted its final ravioli, the city lost one of its signature vecchia scuola Italian spots. It also lost that magnificent and dramatic dining room view of downtown that seemed to make St. Louis sparkle on any evening of the year. Moved to Westport in February.

The idea was well-meant, but trying to please all is a sure way to satisfy none. A menu balanced by half vegetarian, half omnivore dishes went over like a vegan Trump-burger. While live music and a beautiful brick-floored patio added to the ambience, it wasn’t enough to make the combination successful. Closed in February.

Small-batch sauces and innovative, Sicilian-inspired fare made Brazie's one of the most consistent, high-quality Italian restaurants around, though it rarely received the attention that it deserved. It was “just off The Hill,” yet always right in the middle of the hearts—and appetites—of loyal customers. Arrivederci, Brazie’s. Closed in April.

Did you ever have a bad meal here? No, and it always seemed the quintessential upscale CWE dining spot. Tucked unobtrusively off Maryland Avenue, it flourished, feeding a cross-section of the neighborhood's denizens. The ivy walled patio was summer splendid. Another one gone too soon. Closed in April.

What a kooky gas it was, huh? You would drop in one night, and the restaurant would be serving “breakfast ramen.”The next night, it would host a hands-only, authentic kamayan banquet. Chef/owner Bernie Lee recently opened akar, which is excellent. Alas, Hiro’s “Kimchi Bloody Marys” are now just a weird, wonderful memory. Closed in May.

Run by a group that was the equivalent of a culinary Avengers (including Andrey Ivanov, who went on to become the city's first master sommelier), the tables rocked with creative dishes, great drinks, and a cool, low-key style. Closed in July.

A “sushi lounge” was a welcome concept, especially in a hotel near Midtown’s theater district. The sake selection was impressive. The kitchen balanced between traditional sushi and some unexpected riffs. It was as much a place to hang, enjoy a drink, and sample your way through the menu. Closed in September.

Piccione Pastry

If you never got around to going, then you missed the cannoli and cassata cake, the stuffed shell sfogliatella, the weekend brunches, before-work espresso, and the evening’s coffee grounds–flavored gelato. Next time we suggest going, be sure to heed our advice right away. Closed in September.

A French restaurant opens right in the middle of our most historic, French-centric neighborhood and serves great food: snails, cassoulet, steak-freakin’-frites. And the ambience? Classy and intimate. Yet for whatever reason, it only lasted eight months. Closed in September.

Café Ventana

Students at Saint Louis University hit this place early for morning coffee and beignets and to stoke the boilers of their laptops for another day of scholarship. Late-night swarms gathered for live music. Side rooms accommodated. Cajun-sparked biscuits and gravy, big omelets, and quiches did the job. Ventana will be missed. Closed in September.

It was a '70s time capsule from the décor to the menu of your Grandma’s Italian favorites. Lord, though, that wine list—few restaurants in St. Louis could match it. Next time you pop the cork on a bottle of Romanee-Conti plonk, hoist a glass to the memory of Gerard’s. Closed in September.

Dining’s Grim Reaper scraped crumbs from the tablecloth here way too early. It was cool and classy, with excellent food, service, and a piano bar—a real standout among new restaurants. We figured it to have a storied run, but the good die young, and it took that delightful tree-shaded courtyard with it. Closed in October.

The bad news: This popular West County spot, with its handsome patio, outdoor concerts, and modern American fare, is gone. The good news: Its owner has opened a new restaurant in a century-old barn in St. Albans that promises a similar menu and gobs of rustic charm. Circle of life. Closed in November.

Services were held late this year for the beloved, long-celebrated restaurant, a ritual conclave for CWE flaneurs. Mourners raised wings, onion rings, and Euclid mimosas in tribute to the many Saturday nights of yore spent within its Buffalo sauce–stained confines. (It was around since 1935.) Adieu, Pep's. Closed in December.

There are more memories here than at a yearbook publisher. Family gatherings, office parties, reunions. The half-timbered walls and patio hosted it all for more than 60 years. A "St. Louis Does Bavaria" icon, it will never be equaled. Closed in December.

Schneithorst's had been the beacon at the corner of Clayton Road and Lindbergh Blvd. since the 1950s.


9 Favorite Foodie Destinations on Route 66

Route 66, the mythic gateway road that led from Lake Michigan to the Pacific Coast, was in danger of being completely forgotten in the late 20th century as super highways replaced the main artery in each state. But in recent years there has been a resurgence of interest in the “Mother Road” as business owners, preservationists and travelers have banded together to save and support some of the route’s most famous landmarks.

Route 66: America's Longest Small Town

This is the book cover to a history of Route 66 by Jim Hinckley with photos by Jim and Judy Hinckley.

A new book, Route 66: America’s Longest Small Town by Jim Hinckley, is a photographic journey that travels from Chicago, Illinois to Santa Monica, California and serves as both a history of the iconic highway as well as a welcome update on the attractions and businesses that are still in operation and thriving such as local diners, fast food drive-ins and rustic steakhouses.

Thanks to this book you can map out a Route 66 road trip and experience some of the delicious cuisine and comfort foods that travelers have enjoyed along the highway for decades. Here is just a small sampling of the book's foodie mainstays that you can visit as you wander from Illinois to California.

Lou Mitchell’s Bakery and Restaurant

Lou Mitchell's Restaurant & Bakery

This iconic Chicago eatery, located on the fabled Route 66, has been in operation since 1923 and is a particularly popular breakfast destination.

Located at the beginning of Route 66 on 565 W. Jackson Boulevard in Chicago, this local landmark has been in operation since 1923 and, as their exterior sign proudly proclaims, “Serving the world’s finest coffee.” Breakfast is their specialty and the locals rave about the jumbo omelets, fluffy pancakes, malted Belgian waffles and fresh squeezed juices (orange and grapefruit). Continuing a long-standing tradition of hospitality, Lou Mitchell's offers arriving patrons complimentary doughnut holes and milk duds. Could this inspire a new trend?

The Berghoff Restaurant in Chicago

A city favorite since 1989, this landmark establishment on Route 66 is still in operation, serving up German-American specialities like wiener schnitzel and creamed spinach.

Another Chicago institution, this family run restaurant can lay claim to being the oldest eatery on Route 66 that has been in almost continuous operation since 1898. Located in the city’s theater district, the Berghoff is famous for its German-American cuisine and an atmospheric interior of dark wood, stained glass and gold lamps. Among the popular dishes are the Kartoffelsuppe Mit Thuringer (Munich style potato soup with smoked Thuringer), wiener schnitzel, duck strudel, creamed spinach and Black Forest cake. Despite the old school ambiance, the Berghoff’s menu includes plenty of contemporary touches such as gluten-free dishes and a range of craft beers.

The Cozy Dog Cafe

Famous for its "cozy dogs" (weiners baked in cornbread on a stick), this road food icon is still in operation in Springfield, Illinois.

Ed Waldmire and his wife Virginia expanded a hot dog stand business into three locations in Springfield, Illinois in the late Forties which featured their famous hot dog on a stick - the Cozy Dog (a weiner baked in cornmeal). Eventually the Cozy Dog Drive-In, which was established in 1949 and located on Route 66’s South Sixth Street, became their main focus. Although it moved into a new location next door in 1996, the fast food legend continues to serve up its signature dog along with burgers, fries, sandwiches (ham and egg, grilled cheese, etc.) and breakfast items.

Waylan's Ku Ku Burger

The famous green and yellow neon sign still adorns this popular Route 66 mainstay in Miami, Oklahoma which still boasts the best burgers around.

When driving through Miami, Oklahoma keep a lookout for a towering green and yellow neon sign bordered by a cuckoo bird in a chef hat and a soft serve vanilla cone. Welcome to Waylan’s Ku Ku Burger, a must-visit destination for hamburger aficionados since 1965. Their juicy quarter pound Ku Ku burger that comes on a toasted bun with all the trimmings is still the main lure but be sure to try one of their classic malts, milk shakes or soft serve ice creams.

Big Vern's Steakhouse and Saloon

The best place to get a classic grilled steak with all the fixings in Shamrock, Texas is this popular Route 66 institution.

If you happen to find yourself in Shamrock, Texas and smell the enticing aroma of grilled meat, then you are probably in the vicinity of Big Vern’s Steakhouse on 12th Street. A longtime favorite among Route 66 sojourners, Big Vern’s is famous for their ribeye, New York strip and filet mignon dinners. Diners also rave about their homemade beer bread, crisp green salads and fruit cobblers.

El Comedor De Anayas Restaurant

El Comedor Restaurant

This popular Tex-Mex restaurant in Moriaty, New Mexico is easy to find on Route 66. Just look for the towering neon rotosphere outside the restaurant.

For years this family-owned Mexican restaurant was the place to stop for lunch or dinner on Old Hwy 66 in the tiny town of Moriarty, Texas. Distinguished by the iconic neon rotosphere outside the restaurant, the no-frills interior is frequented by folks with an appetite for authentic chile rellenos, enchiladas, tamales and taco salads. Although El Comedor has recently changed management and their name (it is now called El Rey Comedor), it continues to serve the traditional cuisine that made it an essential stop on the drive out West.

Western View Diner & Steakhouse

Western View Steak House & Coffee Shop

In operation since 1937, this popular community restaurant in Albuquerque, New Mexico serves up classic roadhouse food like triple decker sandwiches.

When you enter this landmark roadhouse on Central Avenue NW in Albuquerque, New Mexico, say goodbye to the outside world and hello to 1937, the year Western View Diner & Steakhouse first opened. The ambiance and the daily fare hasn’t changed much since then which is probably why it remaina a community favorite. Enjoy triple-decker sandwiches, green chile chicken soup, beef tips over noodles or the special house dessert - Bavarian cream berry pound cake. And breakfast is served all day.

Miz Zip's Cafe

Hamburgers and homemade pies are the main attraction at this Route 66 landmark in Flagstaff, Arizona.

First-rate comfort food served in a cozy, informal setting has always been the allure of this Flagstaff, Arizona institution that is well known for its burgers and homemade pies. Miz Zip's was opened in 1952 by Norma and Bob Leonard and continues to serve classic American diner food but some folks drop in just to order pie a la mode from a tempting selection of daily offerings.

The Sycamore Inn Steak House

The Sycamore Inn Steak House

Located in Rancho Cucamonga, California, this rustic restaurant has been a fine dining establishment since 1848 and specializes in steaks and seafood.

Dating back to 1848 the Sycamore Inn in Rancho Cucamonga, California was first a tavern and post office, then a stop for the Butterfield stagecoach and finally a steak house that enjoyed a steady stream of customers from Route 66 during its heyday. Today the landmark location is a fine-dining establishment with such classy fare as oysters Rockefeller, rack of lamb, porterhouse steak, Australian lobster tail and Grand Marnier souffle. There is also an excellent wine bar and a full range of craft cocktails from Pear Flower Martinis to Rye Manhattans.


3 Best-of-Summer Vegetarian Recipes From the Chicest New Café in L.A.

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Botanica, a restaurant in Los Angeles's Silver Lake neighborhood, takes a vibrant approach to healthy, Mediterranean-inspired cooking. Photo: Courtesy of Botanica

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“You have no excuse not to be cooking with beautiful vegetables right now because they’re everywhere,” Heather Sperling says by phone from Los Angeles. The West Coast transplant might be living in the land of year-round plenty, but she has a point: Produce across the country is at its most gloriously abundant. For Sperling, the push to shop local is more than an ultimatum: At Botanica, the all-day restaurant in Silver Lake that she and fellow chef-owner Emily Fiffer opened in May, the menu mainlines the farmers' market: The march of spring peas and asparagus has given way to summer squash, stone fruit, and, soon, peak-season tomatoes. Where vegetables shine, health benefits follow—but here, the only prescription is for full-force flavor.

“We don’t have any rules,” Sperling explains of Botanica’s inclusive approach to food, which relies on culinary pillars like fresh herbs, bracing citrus, and good olive oil—along with “gorgeous dairy,” a generous dusting of sea salt, and, more often than not, a glass of natural wine. After all, the modern wellness movement is more about a way of life than short-lived willpower: “If it’s not fun and delicious and satisfying, it’s not sustainable,” she adds.

That philosophy is clear in the three recipes that she and Fiffer have created here for Vogue, where the kaleidoscopic colors are just as vibrant as the layered Mediterranean influences. A tartine topped with apricots, peaches, and tomatoes riffs on the Italian bread salad, panzanella. Bright, za’atar-flecked greens reimagine classic fattoush, a Lebanese salad that plays to Sperling’s roots. And a smear of basil-arugula pesto underpins a mélange of squash, snap peas, and tomatoes roasted to candylike intensity. The fact that Botanica is drawing a crowd for its global twist on the California bounty is “validating,” confirms Sperling. “People are excited to encounter a serious, creative, ambitious restaurant that also cares about healthfulness in a nonaggressive, nonobnoxious way.”

But what sets Botanica apart runs deeper than the menu itself. The founders, who have backgrounds in food journalism, approached the business with an intent to shape the culture for the better. To help counter the pay inequity between servers and back-of-house—“a huge conversation that’s happening in the restaurant world right now,” says Sperling—Botanica is giving back three percent of sales to the kitchen staff as a de facto tip. Health insurance, a rare benefit in the industry, is offered to all employees working more than 20 hours a week. And the café will soon host events for the Freya Project, a fundraising series for undersung nonprofits in the women's health sector.

The palpable good vibes extend to the former liquor-store space, which retains the original wood-beamed ceiling, natural light, and even its brown-bag inventory: A cache of natural and biodynamic wines on Botanica’s list is available for sale in the adjoining market, along with housemade granola and romesco sauce, spice blends from New York’s La Boîte, and a cross-section of market produce. It’s all to inspire good living beyond Botanica’s walls, helped along by the handsomely photographed recipes at botanicamag.com. The goal is “not at all aspirational” at the expense of practicality, says Sperling. Instead, the founders hope that people will walk in and think, "This is what I want to eat every day"—and then get to work.

It’s rare to find something insanely delicious that’s also insanely easy to make. Fortunately, roasted tiny tomatoes are just that. Early (or late) in tomato season, roasting concentrates the flavors and makes sub-par tomatoes exciting. Peak-season roasting creates an addictive tomato flavor bomb. This dish exists as a method for getting roasted tomatoes into people’s mouths (we think they’re that good). Pro tip: Double the batch of roasted tomatoes and stir the extra into soft-scrambled eggs, or toss with shaved raw zucchini, pappardelle, and loads of basil.

3 cups tiny tomatoes (sungolds, sweet 100s or the like) 1 3/4 cups olive oil, 1/4 cup reserved 8 small garlic cloves, lightly smashed and peeled Few sprigs of thyme Sea salt and black pepper 2 to 3 summer squash, cut in irregular 1-inch jewels (about 3 cups total) 3 cups sugar snap peas, thinly sliced on the bias 1 cup mint leaves, thinly sliced Zest from 2 large lemons 2 cups arugula pesto (recipe below) A wedge of ricotta salata Chive blossoms

Preheat your oven to 350°F. Place the tomatoes in a single layer on a pan and pour 1 1/2 cups of the olive oil over top. You don’t want them swimming, but you want them ankle-deep in an olive oil pool. Shake the pan so each tomato is solidly covered, tuck in the garlic cloves and sprigs of thyme, and shower the pan with sea salt and fresh black pepper. Roast for as long as it takes the tomatoes to balloon and just begin to burst (this should take around 20 minutes, give or take, depending on size and ripeness). Remove from the oven and let cool. Discard the thyme sprigs, but leave the garlic cloves in there (so tasty!).

Toss the cut summer squash with the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and season with salt. Cook the pieces on a grill or in a hot pan (with more olive oil)—place them with one cut side down, and don’t touch for 30 seconds. You want to get a nice sear on one side while still leaving the squash al dente. Turn the pieces and cook for another 15 to 30 seconds, then remove from the heat and let cool.

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, 1/2 cup of their roasting oil, the seared summer squash, sliced snap peas, and 3/4 cup of the mint leaves, and shower with a good bit of lemon zest. Toss gently and taste add salt, black pepper, more roasting oil, and more zest as desired. You want the vegetables to be draped in the luscious tomato roasting oil, with a tiny bit of it pooling at the bottom of the bowl.

To serve, spread the pesto across one half and up the side of a shallow serving bowl. Mound the tomato-summer squash-snap pea mixture in the center of the bowl. Shave ricotta salata over top (if you don’t have a mandolin, use a vegetable peeler) until the tomato pile is nicely blanketed. Finish with the rest of the mint, more lemon zest, more freshly ground black pepper, and a shower of chive blossoms.

Basil-Arugula PestoMakes about 2 cups pesto

1/2 cup toasted almonds 1/2 cup toasted pistachios Heaping 2 1/2 cups basil (loosely packed) Heaping 1 1/2 cup arugula*, roughly chopped (loosely packed) 1/4 cup lemon juice, plus more to taste 2 garlic cloves, smashed Delicious olive oil Lots of sea salt Fresh black pepper

Add everything to a food processor except the olive oil. Whizz, scraping down the sides as necessary, until well incorporated. With the motor running, slowly stream in olive oil until you reach your desired consistency (keep in mind it’ll thicken a bit as it cools). Season well with salt and pepper, whizz again, and taste. Add more salt, pepper, or lemon to taste.

*We love using alternative greens for pesto, especially if it means eliminating waste. Carrot tops and fennel fronds are in constant rotation in our kitchen. We use them in addition to/instead of arugula!

This recipe is a take on panzanella. We’ve reimagined the classic Tuscan bread salad as a tartine piled with vibrant, summery flavors, meant to be served al fresco, with a steak knife and ample rosé. Basil oil-marinated beans make it hearty enough to serve as a main course (and are one of our favorite things to keep on hand to throw in summer salads). As for the garlic-rubbed, olive oil-drizzled toast that serves as a base: We think this is how crusty bread should always be treated! We use Bub & Grandma’s intensely delicious 30% rye levain bread, and we serve it at the restaurant morning through night.

2 firm but flavorful peaches (or nectarines), quartered Olive oil Sea salt & freshly ground black pepper 3 ripe apricots, sliced 2 cups tiny tomatoes (sungolds, sweet 100s or the like), halved 2 cups basil oil-marinated beans (recipe below), with plenty of basil oil Delicious olive oil 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar 1/4 cup thinly sliced scallion greens 1/2 cup thinly sliced opal basil leaves 1/2 cup torn Italian basil leaves 4 thick slices of the most delicious levain bread you can find 2 big garlic cloves, halved Hunks of manouri or fresh mozzarella cheese (optional)

Brush the cut side of the peaches with olive oil and grill (or sear in a hot cast-iron pan), cut side down, for 30 seconds or so on each side, until caramelized. Slice each quarter in half, and season with a sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper. In a bowl, combine the seared peaches, sliced apricots, tomatoes, marinated beans and basil oil, and a splash of some delicious olive oil (though the bean-marinating oil is the main event here). Add the sherry vinegar, and season with salt and pepper. Stir gently, and taste for seasoning. Reserve some of the scallion greens and basil leaves for garnish, and stir the rest into the peach-tomato-bean mixture.

Brush the the bread with olive oil and grill (or broil) on both sides until nicely toasted. Starting with the crust (because it roughs up the garlic and gets the juices flowing), rub the cut side of a garlic clove all over every inch of the bread. (Be sure to do this while the bread is still warm!) Really get the garlic in there if the scent of garlic isn’t wafting, you’re not pressing hard enough!

Once thoroughly garlicked, arrange the toast on a serving platter. Drizzle with delicious olive oil and give it a good sprinkle of sea salt. Spoon the tomato-peach-bean salad over the bread and stud with hunks of cheese, if using. Garnish with a shower of the remaining scallion greens and basil, plus another sprinkle of sea salt and black pepper. Serve with steak knives!

Basil Oil-Marinated BeansMakes about 2 cups marinated beans

Gigante Beans 2/3 cup dried gigante beans 2 bay leaves 4 garlic cloves, lightly crushed and peeled 1 tablespoon toasted coriander seeds 1/2 tablespoon toasted cumin seeds Lots of sea salt

Basil Oil 1 1/2 cups tightly packed basil leaves 2 cups delicious olive oil A good pinch of sea salt

Marinated Beans 2 cups cooked gigante beans 2 cups basil oil 3 tablespoons toasted coriander seeds, lightly crushed 1 1/2 tablespoon toasted cumin seeds, lightly crushed 4 cloves garlic, lightly crushed and peeled 3 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced or shaved (1/8-inch thick) 1/3 cup lemon juice, plus more to taste Sea salt

To cook the beans: Place beans in a large pot, cover with water, and leave to soak overnight. The next day, drain the beans, refresh the water, and add the rest of the ingredients, along with a small handful of salt. Stir well and taste—you want the water to be salty! Bring the pot to a simmer and leave the beans to cook, gently stirring every 20 minutes or so (to ensure even cooking), until they’re cooked through but not falling apart. Strain the beans (but save that delicious bean-cooking liquid! So savory and delicious). Remove the bay leaves, leaving the rest of the aromatics intact.

To make the basil oil: Bring a pot of heavily salted water to a boil. Toss in the basil leaves, and stir to submerge for 10 seconds then immediately remove, drain, and shock the leaves in ice water for 10 seconds (the blanching ensures the leaves stay bright green). Squeeze the water entirely from the leaves, put the basil in a blender, add the oil and sea salt, and puree until smooth. Taste and add salt as needed (the salt helps the flavor really pop).

To make the marinated beans: Add everything to a large bowl, add a healthy sprinkle of sea salt, and stir well. Give it a taste and tweak as needed the beans should be brightly flavored, with a nice hint of salt and lemon.

This has all the bright, crunchy freshness of a traditional fattoush, plus a little something more (thanks to the kiss of smoke on half the vegetables, along with a smear of salty, tangy labne). It’s an elegant centerpiece for a summer night, ideally served with a chilled gamay by its side. The za’atar vinaigrette is a staple of ours it really is delicious on everything. Note: All za’atar is not created equal! We swear by the za’atar from La Boîte it’s beautifully vibrant. Ditto for sumac!

Labne 1 3/4 cups sheep’s milk yogurt Sea salt 2 medium cloves garlic, grated or minced 2 teaspoons lemon juice Drizzle of olive oil

Za’atar Vinaigrette 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar 2 tablespoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon runny honey 2 tablespoons za’atar 2 teaspoons sumac 1 teaspoon salt 1/2 cup olive oil

Fattoush 2 Persian cucumbers, 1 whole and 1 cut into uneven jewels 12 asparagus spears, woody ends trimmed off 1 red onion, quartered length-wise with some of the root left on each piece 1 to 2 summer squash, quartered lengthwise 24 snap peas, 16 whole and 8 sliced on the bias Olive oil Sea salt 1 thick slice delicious bread (we use a cornmeal focaccia), enough for 2 cups of croutons 2 tablespoons sumac 1/2 head fennel, shaved thinly on mandolin 2 scallions, sliced thinly on the bias 2 firm but flavorful peaches or nectarines, cut in eighths 1 cup dill leaves (torn or chopped so 1/2-inch sprigs remain) 1 cup mint leaves 1 cup parsley leaves A big handful of pea tendrils A big handful of purslane Borage flowers

To make the labne: Line a strainer with cheesecloth, and place it over a bowl. Stir a good pinch of salt into the yogurt, stir well, transfer it to the strainer, cover with a lid or plastic wrap, and strain for at least 6 hours (or overnight). Once strained, the labne will measure about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 cups and be thick and creamy. (Reserve the leftover whey, or strained liquid, for smoothies, soups, and vinaigrettes!) Combine the labne with the garlic, lemon juice, a nice drizzle of olive oil, and another pinch of sea salt, and stir well. Adjust seasoning as needed. (Every yogurt is different, so tweak the lemon and salt until the labne tastes delicious!)

To make the vinaigrette: Add everything except the olive oil to a bowl and stir well, then whisk in the olive oil to emulsify. The dressing should taste bright and zippy with a gentle sweetness, without being too tangy from vinegar. Add more olive oil to balance if need be, and more za’atar if the flavor isn’t jumping out.

To make the salad: Halve the whole Persian cucumber. Toss it and the asparagus, red onion quarters, summer squash, and whole snap peas in olive oil and lots of salt. Grill (cut side down for the cucumber and the summer squash) until there’s some char on the vegetables, but they still have a nice bite to them. Trim the root end of the onion and separate the petals halve the asparagus on the bias, cut the cucumber and summer squash into 1 1/2-inch pieces, and leave the snap peas whole.

Brush the bread with olive oil and grill until it’s toasty, then cut it into medium (1 to 2-inch) crouton-y hunks. Warm a hearty splash of olive oil in a pan, add the bread pieces, and toast for another minute or two, until nice and olive oil-y golden. Shower the bread with sumac and sea salt, and toss well to thoroughly coat. Transfer to a bowl and reserve.

To compose the salad, combine the grilled vegetables, raw cucumber and snap peas, shaved fennel, scallions, peaches, herbs, tendrils, and purslane in a bowl, and gently toss with the dressing (start with 1/2 cup of dressing and add more from there, if needed). Taste and season with another squeeze of lemon, a sprinkle of salt, or a sprinkle of za’atar, as desired. Add the sumac croutons and toss again.

Spread the labne across one side of a serving plate and, using your hands, gently pile the salad over it (a partial yogurt moat, sticking out on one side, is what you’re going for here). Give everything a final sprinkle of za’atar and sea salt and garnish with borage (tastes like cucumber!).


Watch the video: Millesime - Hirafu, Niseko (February 2023).