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Restaurant Openings

Week of December 11, 2006: Rosanjin, Varietal, Dennis Foy, Kobe Club, Gus’s Place, Fireside, and Brooklyn Label.

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Rosanjin
141 Duane St., nr. W. Broadway; 212-346-0664
When Jungjin Park opened Rosanjin in Tribeca this summer, the Japanese-food delivery service stood out for its elegant presentation and refined touches, like cedarwood chopsticks and fish-shaped dropper bottles of house-blended soy sauce. This finesse extends to the seven-table restaurant that Park opens this week at the same address, where multicourse Kyoto-style kaiseki meals will be modeled on the traditional tea ceremony and emphasize seasonal ingredients. Menus will change daily and might feature combinations like grilled mackerel wrapped in cedarwood with shiitakes, chestnuts, and citrus (pictured). Park named the place for a renowned Japanese calligrapher, ceramicist, and all-around aesthete who was so unsatisfied with the presentation of the food he found in restaurants that he opened his own. Such attention to detail comes at a (set) price—$105 to $150 at dinner, to be exact. For a more moderately priced Japanese-food fix, Park has launched a prepared-foods line called Manjiro, available now at Balducci’s.


Varietal
138 W. 25th St., nr. Seventh Ave.; 212-633-1800
When Greggory Hockenberry was trying to hire the staff for his new wine-themed restaurant, Varietal, he advertised on Craigslist for “super-creative” chefs and ended up with two of them. Ed Witt, formerly of Il Buco and Nicole’s, combines local and seasonal ingredients in dishes like Szechuan-peppercorn-seared venison loin with sheep’s-milk yogurt, soy-roasted quince, and chestnuts. Pastry chef Jordan Kahn, a veteran of the French Laundry and Per Se, last worked at Chicago’s pioneering Alinea, an experience that’s reflected in desserts that play with texture, temperature, and flavor (sweet and savory). Hockenberry and five sommeliers oversee a wine program that features 75 choices by the glass, tasting notepads, and wine flights (if you correctly identify all four selections in the one called Masters of Wine, it’s on the house). Diners are greeted by a cart stocked with grower champagnes, and the bar itself was inspired by Hockenberry’s visit to an Australian tasting room. Its gleaming white top, an agglomerate of quartz and glass, is harder than granite, shows off wine’s true colors, and—most important—doesn’t stain.


Dennis Foy
313 Church St., nr. Walker St.; 212-625-1007
Dennis Foy has spent his career floating between his restaurants in New Jersey (Foy’s and Bay Point Prime, among others) and Manhattan (most recently EQ, and before that, Mondrian, where he was Tom Colicchio’s boss). This week, he reemerges in Tribeca, where he’s outfitted the former Lo Scalco space with gold-leafed walls, silk-swathed light fixtures, and a number of his own impressionistic seascapes. Foy hopes to attract a regular neighborhood clientele with entrées priced between $21 and $28 (what he considers moderate by local standards), and his seasonal French-American menu dabbles in the new vanguard of food science. “I find it stimulating and applicable to certain dishes,” says Foy, who plans to garnish his torchon of foie gras with “Eis and Snow”—Eiswein gelée and crystallized flakes of foie gras.

AND … Jeffrey Chodorow’s Kobe Club is a Wagyu-obsessed, samurai-themed remake of the old Mix (68 W. 58th St., nr. Sixth Ave.; 212-644-5623) … Gus Theodoro resuscitates his venerable Village haunt Gus’s Place in new quarters (192 Bleecker St., nr. Macdougal St.; 212-777-1660) … Sam DeMarco (late of First and Merge) has been feeding Omni Berkshire Place guests at Fireside; look for a public opening (and possible name change) soon (19 E. 52nd St., nr. Madison Ave.; 212-753-5800) … Brooklyn Label serves elevated diner-style breakfast and lunch; dinner to come, along with gourmet groceries (180 Franklin St., at Java St., Greenpoint, Brooklyn; 718- 389-2806).


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