Dirty French Steakhouse debuts in Miami; Boulud opens Le Gratin in New York
Once New York-based Major Food Group began investing in Miami, the idea of creating Dirty French Steakhouse in the city was still on the table, according to co-founder Jeff Zalaznick.
The original Dirty French, which contains a wine spectator Best of Award of Excellence, opened in 2014 at the Ludlow Hotel on New York’s Lower East Side. There, chefs Mario Carbone and Rich Torrisi brought a haute cuisine twist and international flavors to classic bistro dishes such as tuna tartare, Provençal cod and pork chop, using seasonings such as chilli bird, ras el hanout and tasso spices. Its opulent, steak-centric spinoff, which still features some of the original menu favorites, opened on April 28 in Miami’s up-and-coming Brickell neighborhood.
“It’s the ultimate expression of what a fun, high-energy steakhouse can be, where there’s no sacrifice on food quality or product,” Zalaznick said. “It’s inspired by Miami, classic steakhouses and Dirty French. These three elements come together to create this mecca of partying and meat-eating in the heart of Brickell.” MFG has also partnered with real estate developer Michael Stern and his development group JDS to build an 82-story luxury condo tower on the street of Dirty French.
MFG has won several restaurant awards for its impressive wine lists, including at New York City hotspots like The Grill, Grand Award winner, and The Lobster Club and Carbone, winners of Best of Award of Excellence, as well as at Carbone partner establishments in Las Vegas and Miami. South Beach, where it expanded last year.
The company’s beverage director, John Slover, who joined MFG in January 2017, said the two Dirty French sites differ somewhat in their approach to wine lists. “The wine list in New York is 100% French, but in Miami we include American wines due to the steak aspect of the restaurant and, to a lesser extent, Spanish reds,” he explained. “The price is higher in Miami, so there is a higher percentage of top-notch Bordeaux, Burgundy, Rhone and Champagne in Miami, although those categories also exist in New York.”
Although Slover leads MFG’s beverage lists, Patrick Wert, regional beverage manager for Miami, will oversee day-to-day wine operations at the Dirty French Steakhouse. Bordeaux, Burgundy and Nord du Rhône dominate the list of 700 bottles. Some of the most notable producers and vintages are Château Haut Brion 1989, Château Mouton Rothschild 1982, Château Lafite Rothschild 1986 and a Domaine de la Romanée Conti La Tâche 2007. There is also an impressive vertical of 15 vintages from Jean -Louis Chave Hermitage Rouge from 1990 to 2016, including magnums from the 1998, 2006 and 2014 vintages.
Slover’s go-to pairing is sirloin with any Northern Rhône red on the list. Other cuts on the menu are Aged Filet Mignon and New York Striploin, 40-ounce Porter and 38-ounce Wagyu Tomahawk to share, and prime rib. In addition to a raw sea bass, clam tower and caviar service, entrees include grilled Burgundy oysters, lobster ravioli and Dirty French’s famous mushroom mille-feuille with green curry and with peas. A selection of fish, duck, pork and chicken and pancakes for two round out the menu for diners who don’t want a steak.
For the restaurant’s lavish design, longtime MFG collaborator Ken Fulk created an energetic 1980s atmosphere. using elements from those legendary nightclubs like animal prints, jungle patterns, mashrabiya screens and silk lanterns,” Fulk said in a statement. “The result is a totally intoxicating atmosphere.”—SZ
Daniel Boulud brings a Lyon style restaurant to the Beekman Hotel
Chef Daniel Boulud opened a new restaurant, Le Gratin, at the Beekman Hotel in Lower Manhattan on May 6. Taking over the space previously occupied by restaurateur Keith McNally’s Augustine, the laid-back French eatery draws inspiration from traditional corks from Boulud’s native Lyon. Part of Boulud’s Dinex Group portfolio, it joins sister restaurants like Grand Award winner Daniel (who recently revealed a new bar created with crystal producer Lalique), newcomer Le Pavillon and Restaurant Award winner –outposts of Café Boulud in Toronto and Palm Beach, Florida.
“[Le Gratin] is more traditional in a way,” said Boulud wine spectator. “The name is symbolic for me, with things I grew up with all my life. At home, of course, we made the famous gratin dauphinois all the time, but also the cardoon gratin or the spinach gratin. There are so many interpretations in the kitchen that express the technique and the flavor and the soul of a gratin.
Daniel veteran Guillaume Ginther cooks dishes inspired by Lyon cuisine and Boulud’s childhood dishes, including the restaurant’s eponymous potato dish, of course. Gratin dauphinois, based on a recipe by Boulud’s mother, is served on its own or with roast chicken, and the restaurant will offer a lobster thermidor gratin in August. “The gratin is one of those dishes that bring people together around the table,” said Boulud. “[It] always expresses a certain casualness and gluttony. Beyond the gratin, there are dishes such as roast duck breast, pan-fried sole, steak tartare, cold asparagus and a range of charcuterie. A particularly noted classic from Lyon is in the spotlight: pike quenelle au gratin, or pike mousse topped with a crust, gruyère sauce and mushrooms. You can also enjoy a selection of desserts from pastry chef Kristyn Onasch.
Overseen by Dinex Group Wine Director, Daniel Johnnes, the wine program features over 100 labels. These come largely from French regions, especially those closest to Lyon, including Beaujolais, Mâconnais and the southern Rhône Valley, highlighting well-known areas everywhere. There are also bottles from other regions, including Alsace, the Loire Valley, Bordeaux, Sonoma and Oregon’s Willamette Valley, in addition to a selection of French-influenced cocktails and liqueurs. “We want to make sure the wine is also accessible,” Boulud said. “We want the general experience of what you expect from a great bistro in France, which is often a short list – but a well curated list – of affordable, regional and fine wines.”
This bistro influence extends to the design of Le Gratin, embodied by wooden chairs, marble floors, a coffered ceiling and walls lined with mirrors and colored tiles. The restaurant features floral paintings by Brooklyn-based artist Marc Dennis. Overall, Boulud hopes Le Gratin will provide a lively atmosphere suitable for both casual, but still high-quality dining, and celebrations. “It will definitely be a neighborhood restaurant,” the chef said, “a downtown destination. We want to make the gratin famous throughout the country.-CD
Seasons 52 expands into New Jersey
On April 29, the Seasons 52 wine bar and grill concept arrived in Paramus, NJ Garden State’s sixth location, it joins 43 wine spectator Restaurant Award-winning siblings across the country, all part of the Darden Restaurants group, which also includes award-winning concepts The Capital Grille and Eddie V’s Prime Seafood.
“We are thrilled to be part of the Paramus community and to continue to introduce more New Jersey residents to our fresh, seasonal approach,” said Nikki Tiedgen, Managing Partner. wine spectator by email.
As with other places, Seasons 52 Paramus focuses on oak-fire and brick-oven roasted dishes, all using fresh, seasonal ingredients. Executive chef Matt Caiazza (formerly of Seasons 52 Edison) prepares dishes like chicken pesto with fresh mozzarella, cedar-plank roasted salmon and grilled scallops, plus an array of flatbreads. All dishes are under 595 calories and additional menus offer gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan options. “We make sure the whole menu is balanced so that customers feel free to enjoy multiple dishes,” Tiedgen explained. The menu will change four times a year and can also be enjoyed in private dining rooms or outside on the restaurant terrace.
Tiedgen and Seasons 52’s Director of Beverage Strategy, Erika Godsey, curated a selection of wines from around 80 labels, 52 of which are available by the glass. The main accents are on Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and red blends from California, Italy, France, Argentina, Australia, Oregon and South Africa. There’s also a frequently changing flight selection, including a spotlight on Huneeus Wines labels such as Oregon’s Benton-Lane and Napa Valley’s Faust. A “Drink Them Before They’re Famous” menu is available, in addition to various cocktails like a strawberry-basil martini and a peach-Riesling mule.
The new Seasons 52 is located at Westfield Garden State Plaza in Paramus, where diners will also find New Jersey’s first Eddie V restaurant, which opened earlier this spring.-CD