New ventures from star-winning chefs
Majordomo Los Angeles
David Chang’s first West Coast venture has turned out to be America’s most exciting restaurant opening of early 2018, said Bill Addison in Eater.com. The hugely influential chef behind New York’s Momofuku Noodle Bar is too ubiquitous to need a comeback. Still, after a few minor misfires, Majordomo qualifies as “his first triumphant opening in years.” In a tall, “upscale-ish” space with craggy concrete walls and polished-wood accents, he’s devised a menu that “taps into the West Coast dreamscape.” Santa Monica rock crab is served three ways, and Chang’s love of L.A.’s Koreatown comes through in pan-fried stuffed peppers and chuck short rib braised with Asian pear and daikon. Large plates such as skate fried rice “electrify the senses,” but my mind keeps going back to “a subtler chicken masterpiece”—a brined bird steamed with Shaoxing wine, ginger, and shallots. Forever crowded, Majordomo is “still evolving at a steady clip.” But “to understand where the thrilling melting pot of modern American cuisine has brought us, this is the place to be.” 1725 Naud St., (323) 545-4880
“Sorry, Ducasse, you’ve been bested,” said Nancy Nichols in Dallas’ D magazine. Bruno Davaillon, who earned a Michelin star cooking for Alain Ducasse’s Mix restaurant in Las Vegas, finally has the restaurant in Dallas that his talents were made for. From the outside, Bullion looks like a gold spaceship docked in the shade of a skyscraper, but the contemporary dining room is gorgeous, and “elegant without pretension.” Highlights of Davaillon’s tasting menu include a marvelous pâté of foie gras and duck leg confit, the finest steak tartare in the city, and a delicate salad made from greens grown in the kitchen’s vertical hydroponic garden. “Remember duck à l’orange? Davaillon gives us new motivation to crave this classic dish”—cooking the bird long and low and bathing the sliced breast meat in duck stock scented with orange, anise, cardamom, and peppercorns. I’m betting on Bullion; it could be “the restaurant to put our city, finally, at the top of the international culinary map.” 400 S. Record St., Suite 150, (972) 698-4250
Charter Oak St. Helena, Calif.
It’s taken some time, but Charter Oak is at last “a destination worth experiencing,” said Michael Bauer in the San Francisco Chronicle. Apparently even Nathaniel Dorn and Christopher Kostow, whose Restaurant at Meadowood wears three Michelin stars, can stumble out of the gate. After years spent restoring and stripping a villa-style mansion back to bare brick interior walls, the Charter Oak team was hobbled upon opening by a distinct disconnect between an overpriced tasting menu and the kitchen’s focus on “elemental” open-fire cooking. A year in, the tasting menu is gone, allowing diners to focus on daily specials and such signature dishes as beef rib grilled over cabernet barrels or chicken brined in buttermilk, then grilled with grapes and grape leaves. “What really demonstrates the talent in the kitchen,” though, is the treatment of the vegetables, especially the asparagus or kohlrabi cooked in embers. Charter Oak still has weak dessert offerings and an overpriced wine list. But warmer weather brings into play “one of the best outdoor dining rooms in Napa Valley,” and all the other pieces are beginning to come together. 1050 Charter Oak Ave., (707) 302-6996