Davies and Brook, chef Daniel Humm’s restaurant in London’s Claridge’s hotel, will close at the end of December. Opened in late 2019, it was the first international venture for Humm’s New York–based Make It Nice group, which includes Wine Spectator Grand Award winner Eleven Madison Park.
Since Humm’s transition to a completely vegan menu at Eleven Madison Park in June, Davies and Brook has been the only place where guests can still order meat-based dishes from the chef, like his iconic dry-aged duck glazed with honey and lavender. Humm planned to change that and make the vegan pivot in London as well, but with pushback from Claridge’s, the teams decided to part ways.
“We completely respect and understand the culinary direction of a fully plant-based menu that Daniel has decided to embrace and champion and now wants to introduce in London,” read a statement from the hotel that was shared with Wine Spectator. “However, this is not the path we wish to follow here at Claridge’s at the moment, and therefore, regretfully, we have mutually agreed to go our separate ways.” Claridge’s hinted at a replacement restaurant but did not provide any details.
A more casual-leaning concept with options for à-la-carte dining, Davies and Brook still built up an expansive wine collection, one that has held a Best of Award of Excellence since the restaurant’s first year in business. Wine director Gabriel Di Bella has been managing the 1,800 selections with highlights in Burgundy, the Rhône, Italy, Bordeaux and California.—Julie Harans
The team behind Atlanta Award of Excellence winner Lazy Betty opened a new Vietnamese concept, Juniper Cafe, on Dec. 15. Located in the West Midtown neighborhood, the café-bakery offers Vietnamese classics, homemade pastries and a small but robust wine list.
“Because of the French influence on Vietnamese culture, I decided to focus on French and American wines,” Juniper Cafe and Lazy Betty beverage director Carl Van Tyle Gilbert told Wine Spectator via email. “We are highly focused on sourcing from smaller producers with strong business ethics centered around making natural, biodynamic and organic wines.”
Overall, Gilbert has built a program of 20 food-friendly wines, 17 of which are available by the glass. The 200-bottle inventory includes a diverse range of sparklers and whites, as well as reds from Argentina, California, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Oregon and Washington. There’s also a Verdejo–Sauvignon Blanc orange wine. These join a larger selection of natural sodas, beers, sakes, sojus, makgeollis (Korean sparkling rice wine) and Vietnamese-inspired cocktails. “Our focus is on flavor and assuring that each wine is a great representation of either the varietal or the region,” Gilbert said. “The wine experience is very casual, but stands out based on flavors and quality.”
As corporate chef and culinary director, respectively, owners Aaron Phillips and Ron Hsu have put together a modern Vietnamese menu. Day-to-day, executive chef Timothy Rufino (formerly of Lazy Betty) prepares dishes like summer rolls with Chinese pork jerky, a lemongrass pork chop, banh xeo (a savory coconut crepe) and Vietnamese hot fried chicken. There are also several bahn mi and pho options, plus many pastries to choose from. For now, Juniper Cafe is only serving breakfast and dinner, but will be adding lunch service in the near future.
Gilbert says that while both restaurants are built on a “come as you are” mentality, Juniper Cafe is more casual than Lazy Betty. This relaxed feel is evident in the ambiance of the brightly colored space, featuring modern takes on traditional Vietnamese design elements.
With Juniper Cafe open, Hsu, Phillips and Gilbert are working toward opening their American-cuisine restaurant, Humble Pie, in spring 2022.—Collin Dreizen
Celebrity chef and restaurateur Gordon Ramsay is set to debut Ramsay’s Kitchen at Boston’s Mandarin Oriental hotel in January. The Back Bay restaurant is Ramsay’s first venture in Boston, and joins a group that includes Award of Excellence–winning Gordon Ramsay Steak locations in Baltimore and Atlantic City, N.J.
“I absolutely love the energy of Boston and consider it a premier dining destination in the country,” Ramsay said in a statement, adding that he “couldn’t be more excited” for the opening.
Overseeing the 300-label, international wine list will be Crystl Horton, director of wine and spirits for Gordon Ramsay North America. “[The wine program] will build on and enhance the relationships and wine programs that we have existing in other Gordon Ramsay restaurants while maintaining a distinct personality of its own, influenced by Gordon’s own travels and experiences,” she said.
The 2,500-bottle inventory includes wines from California, Bordeaux, Burgundy and Italy, spotlighting rarer bottlings akin to those found in Ramsay’s personal cellar. Horton expects the list to evolve and expand as the restaurant team learns more about guests’ preferences, and Ramsay will take part in the program’s ongoing development. “We want this to be a warm and welcoming experience where you feel that the sommelier has only your best interest in mind.”
Diners can pair these wines with executive chef John Holloman’s menu, which will incorporate seasonal ingredients and, like the wine list, draw from Ramsay’s career and travels. The kitchen will serve Ramsay signatures like his beef Wellington alongside dishes with a local twist, like lobster and clam bouillabaisse. According to Christina Wilson, vice president of culinary for Gordon Ramsay North America, local produce will be emphasized as well. “It’s a chef’s dream to have these high quality ingredients right in the backyard,” she said.
The 7,000-square-foot space features a raw bar, a bar and lounge, a patio and private dining areas, in addition to its upscale-yet-comfortable dining room. The design is largely inspired by Boston itself, with blue marble details that evoke Boston Harbor, brick elements to match the city’s architecture and a back bar modeled after the Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Memorial Bridge.—C.D.
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