To describe the food that emerges from Chef Jose Salazar’s kitchen as simple is not to suggest that it is insubstantial. Far from it. One spoonful of his roasted chicken consommé—a deconstructed version of chicken and dumplings in which a clear, golden broth is poured over a miniature potato dumpling centered in a wide bowl—is a soul ballad that packs the flavor of the entire chicken. Discovering inherently modest, straightforward dishes prepared with this much care and unwavering attention to detail is all too rare. Salazar transforms the best ingredients into focused, clean, and exacting dishes with uniform cuts produced by enviable knife skills and flavor that is at times candid, at times subtle, and often unexpected. It may be black cocoa nibs freckling a white Vidalia onion soubise under a filet of orange dusted halibut; the combination of candied peanuts with bottarga and edamame supporting lightly cured tuna; or figs and glazed parsnips as companions to horseradish crusted salmon.
Where Salazar delivers explosive flavors rooted in tradition, Pastry Chef Summer Genetti’s Never-Never Land desserts owe as much to a sprinkling of pixie dust as to her considerable skills and adventurous spirit. Buoyantly paraded through the serenely stylish dining room by the deft waitstaff, Genetti’s imaginative chocolate s’more (flourless chocolate cake, toasted handmade marshmallows, and graham cracker ice cream), sweet corn crème brûlée (paired with two maple bacon corn madeleines), and chocolate zucchini cake (with peppered chocolate sauce and cream cheese ice cream) are as mischievous as they are sensual.
601 Vine St., downtown
Rank Last Year: 5
Photograph by Ryan Kurtz
Originally published in the March 2011 issue.