The Best of 2019 – a List
I give you the best of 2019…
Best Restaurant Conversation – Heard at Bar Pisellino
Q: What’s the name mean?
A: It means little dick.
Q: Oh, do you have lattes?
BTW, this is a brilliant Bar for Vermouth and cocktails in the evening and incredible coffee and pastries during the day.
Best Wine Service – Andrew Newlin, Raouls
I was lucky to be served by so many greats this year, but Andrew Newlin (now working for Thomas Keller in Miami @ Surf Club) is about as fast on his feet with table side banter as it gets and in my mind, he made wine service great again. Watching him serve wine multiple tables at Raoul’s looked not only like a blast – but he made it look real easy. Slow clap for Newlin.
Best New Restaurant – The Banty Rooster
This was a tough one. The Banty was a late entry and offers a brilliant and delicious menu of southwestern food (you need anything with Hatch Green chiles, thank me later), a room with a purpose, and the most charismatic, intelligent and lovely proprietor and chef team you could imagine. Go here yesterday.
Infatuation review here.
Best dish – Estela
Not really a shocker, but the red shrimp and mushroom dish from chef Ignacio Mattos and the team at Estela was an epic and sensual wave of umami, texture and balance. The dish is James Brown’s Get On Up meets the Mozart Requiem Lachrymosa; a religious experience of dark and light.
And Smeltz + somm crew know how to have fun and pair wines as well as any wine team in the city.
Best Cocktail – Momofuku Ko (Bar)
The 3/4 cocktail at the Momofuku Ko bar could be served anywhere and would be loved. Simplicity and beauty in one cocktail. I drank it and couldn’t help think – “why didn’t I think of that?”
¾ oz. white rum
¾ oz. bourbon
¾ oz. Braulio
¾ oz. Nonino
Stirred, served over large rock. Lemon twist expressed, but not in the drink.
Best Wine – Capellano Super Barolo 1947
Super Barolo from Capellano 1947 shared by a trusted and generous friend. This wine that whispered “carpe diem” like that scene in dead poets society and I didn’t laugh – I took it friggin’ seriously.
Best Winemaker – Nate Ready of Hiyu/Smockshop Band
I admit, I am biased. I also have the pleasure of working with many epic winemakers. But the winemaker challenging current viewpoints while changing the future of American wine is Nate Ready of Hiyu and Smockshop band. The work he is doing is without category and evades the easy bucket we all want to place wine in. He also shepherds (along with a wonderful team), a place that is equal parts faviken, permaculture farm, and monastic meditational dream where the team creates a bit of art everyday with nature. The wines are not for everyone, but isn’t that the point?
Best Wine Event – Running of the Scales, De Maison Selections
Andre Tamers of De Maison Selections pulled of the most incredible wine event that will ever be put on.
This was like pulling off the fyre festival of wine and spirits that actually worked – ran smoothly and completely as planned.
“ This was like pulling off the fyre festival of wine and spirits that actually worked - ransmoothly and completely as planned.
Best lunch – Alain Passard Farmhouse in Normandie
Lunch at Alain Passard’s garden and farmhouse in Normandy.
Jedi service, incredible company that understood the nuance, execution and soul of the food in an open and generous setting. The farm tour was pretty awesome, even in the rain.
This was a lunch for the history books. Note: you can believe the hype – Alain Passard is not just a charismatic showman, but one helluva cook. Watching him is like watching a Cata. He knows every move, every subtlety.
Best Dinner – Olmsted
After eating at Olmsted this year, it embarrassed me that I hadn’t been there before.
Casual, warm and pulsing – this room and the charming outdoor space is perpetually packed for a reason. All of the food was layered and delicious. And Bonus -the Wine Director, Zwann Gray, could be the most smile inducing and intentional somm you encounter in the city. Go here yesterday. A total must.