Dec. 31, 2012 at 1:43 PM ET
We looked into our culinary crystal ball for 2013 and found more than two dozen new and upcoming restaurants, including an incredible rotisserie-chicken joint in Atlanta, a pasta mecca in St. Louis and the top-to-bottom revamp of Beverly Hills’s famed Spago.
The bird is the word
Chefs may have finally hit their burger saturation point. Now, several are focusing on chicken as their new favorite, infinitely versatile protein. Shaun Doty’s Bantam + Biddy in Atlanta serves crisp-skinned rotisserie chicken with a choice of sauces, like the Dominican-style wasakaka. In Chicago, Jared Van Camp’s Leghorn will specialize in fried-chicken sandwiches with flavors like pickle-brined . More poultry projects for 2013: Stephanie Izard’s still unnamed, bird-centric Chicago spot and Rotisserie Georgette in New York City, from Daniel Boulud alum Georgette Farkas.
Restaurants’ inner lives
Chefs are turning their restaurants into a culinary version of nesting dolls, with one living inside another. At night, L.A.’s healthy Italian spot Tiara Cafe becomes Starry Kitchen, offering an entirely separate menu—delicious pan-Asian from Nguyen and Thi Tran. To try the local-seafood tasting menus at Trent Pierce’s Roe in Portland, Ore., you have to find it in the back of a Japanese izakaya called Wafu. Opening by this summer in Chicago: Radler, a German beer hall from chef Paul Virant; hidden inside will be DAS, a single-table spot where Nathan Sears will serve high-end tasting menus.
Some of the country’s top chefs and food entrepreneurs are becoming Italian experts. Stumptown Coffee founder Duane Sorenson has a new Portland, Ore., restaurant called Ava Gene’s. The Roman-focused menu includes a clever melted-cheese-topped bitter-greens salad. (In the spring, Sorenson plans to open a second spot, Roman Candle, serving sauceless pizza biancas.) St. Louis’s Gerard Craft, an F&W Best New Chef 2008 for his creative food at Niche, is obsessed with making fresh pasta at his new spot, Pastaria. And in Houston, chef Ryan Pera of the provisions shop Revival Market is opening Coltivare, a rustic Italian restaurant with a 3,000-square-foot garden.
Restaurants that double as artisanal food markets: That’s not new. But now, they’re becoming ad hoc community centers or mini-malls. In late spring, Erik Bruner-Yang is turning a vacant Washington, D.C., building into Maketto (1351 H St. NE; no phone yet), an Asian market with stalls selling sneakers, espresso, bowls of noodles and more. In Oakland, California, Oliveto alum Paul Canales is opening Duende, a 5,500-square-foot space with a Spanish restaurant, a wine store-art gallery and a music venue. In Philadelphia, Aimee Olexy sees her upcoming Talula’s Daily (210 W. Washington Sq.) as a “commitment to the community,” housing a coffee shop, cheese store, market and café where she’ll offer dishes like crumbly lemon scones and host wine-and-cheese happy hours.
It’s not enough to know East Coast fish from West Coast varieties; chefs are creating restaurants that focus on seafood dishes from specific regions. L.A. chef Michael Cimarusti, known for his luxurious seafood at Providence, is opening Connie & Ted’s, an ode to the Rhode Island seafood shacks he visited as a child. Among the dishes at Connie & Ted’s is Ed’s Portuguese Fish Stew, named for his uncle. At Stars in Charleston, S.C., chef Nathan Thurston features brioche-wrapped Charleston flounder and whole Appalachian trout, while Mike Lata’s newest spot, The Ordinary, will offer his take on low-country seafood and oysters.
Upcycling: Leftovers are the best new ingredients
Consider it the cycle of life in the restaurant world. One kitchen’s leftovers are often key to the menu at another place—especially when both are owned by the same person. At Empellón Cocina in Manhattan, Alex Stupak serves large masa crisps as a snack; if they break into bits, the masa crumbs become the streusel for a salad at his Empellón Taqueria. Quinn and Karen Hatfield use leftover pastrami-style short ribs from their Los Angeles flagship, Hatfield’s for special sandwiches at their new place The Sycamore Kitchen. And in Pittsburgh’s Union Pig & Chicken, Kevin Sousa makes sweet-and-tangy baked beans loaded with franks from Sousa’s Station Street Hot Dogs.
Even the best classic dishes, like the veal Wiener schnitzel at Beverly Hills’s Spago, can’t last forever. After a $4 million rehab, the schnitzel is gone from Wolfgang Puck’s flagship, along with the chandeliers; now there’s a two-sided fireplace and a more modern menu from chef Lee Hefter. Philadelphia’s 43-year old Le Bec Fin has a new chef, Walter Abrams, whose menu includes unconventional dishes like buckwheat capellini with smoked root vegetables. Even modern classics, like New York City’s Eleven Madison Park, are changing. Chef Daniel Humm last reinvented it in 2010 with a 16-word menu. Its latest incarnation evokes old-school New York with elite versions of egg creams and smoked sturgeon, served with caviar.
The gastropub 2.0
A few years ago, chefs were turning everything into small plates. Now, they’re transforming pub food in much the same way. Ming Tsai describes his upcoming Boston spot, Blue Dragon, as an Asian gastropub. He’ll sell sloppy joe sliders infused with hoisin and ginger for $1. Trenchermen, from the Chicago chef-brother team Mike and Pat Sheerin, serves experimental pub food, like bacon-cured sweetbreads. In Manhattan, another avant-garde chef is opening a gastropub-style place: Wylie Dufresne, chef of WD-50 (and an F&W Best New Chef 2001), is launching Alder, a modern American public house, in early spring 2013, serving cocktail-friendly dishes.