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Restaurants Now: The Standard Grill, Sepia, Rech

06.26.09
This week, a scene is born under Manhattan’s High Line, a Tetsuya’s veteran goes solo in Sydney, and Jacques Maximin returns to Paris in a big way.
standard grill

New York City: The Standard Grill

From the outside, the Standard Grill looks a bit like a movie set. Inside, it’s a scene: L.A. on the Hudson. The beautiful people are three deep at the bar, long-legged around the fire pits on the terrace, and white-toothed over their Malpeques and Dom Perignon. Under the High Line, the restaurant is made up of the two very different rooms—in front, wood, whitewash, and tile like a New England clam bar, and then red leather booths and a high-arched ceiling in the interior dining room. The atmosphere is latter-day “21” Club and already a magnet for the glitter- and literati (last night, Anna Wintour; last week, Salman Rushdie), with owner André Balazs playing comely majordomo. Still serving a “preview” dinner, the kitchen, under chef Dan Silverman (ex-Lever House and Union Square Café before that), knows what it’s doing. On the menu there are crowd-pleasers like iceberg lettuce with Kentucky bacon and blue cheese dressing and an organic pork chop. There’s also a very tasty, accurately cooked (and amusingly named) “Demi-Vache” rib-eye, a nicely grilled halibut, roasted local beets, duck fat smashed potatoes, and a sense of humor: Under “sides,” you’ll find A Good Pickle for $1. 848 Washington St., New York City (212-645-4100; thestandardgrill.com) —Christian L. Wright

Sydney: Sepia

With Tetsuya’s former chef running the show, interest in Sepia ran high even before the ink on the contract was dry. Martin Benn is one of the brightest chefs Sydney has seen, and the news that he was striking out on his own for the first time after years with Tetsuya Wakuda (and Marco Pierre White at London’s Criterion before that) had restaurant groupies going crazy. But this is no Tetsuya’s lite. Dishes like spanner crab and buckwheat risotto with tarragon-mustard butter and a cloud of foamed shellfish essence suggest a chef flexing his muscles anew. Desserts show similar inspiration, and the quietly luxe setting and punchy wine list indicate that Sepia has legs. Darling Park, 201 Sussex St., Sydney (02-9283-1990, sepiarestaurant.com.au) —Pat Nourse

Paris: Rech

The good news from France is that the big Max is back. After the abrupt closing of his restaurant in Venice last January, Jacques Maximin, one of the most talented chefs of his generation, has been hired as consulting chef at Rech, Alain Ducasse’s snobby seafood brasserie in the 17th Arrondissement. I didn’t like what Ducasse had previously done at Rech—his version of this 1920s vintage place seemed more like a luxury clinic than an iodine-rich shore party—but with the arrival of Maximin, this place could easily become the best fish house in Paris. From the mini Maximin menu, my starter of mesclun, hard-cooked quail’s egg, and gujonettes of steamed sole came with the best aïoli I’ve ever eaten, and the slow-cooked salmon with a sauce vierge (olive oil, chopped tomato, and frizzled basil) was sublime. Maximin’s funky take on a brandade de morue (salt cod with whipped potatoes and garlic) was a shrewd and delicious sort of provençale shepherd’s pie topped with perfectly poached sea snails. I hear that Rech’s famous chocolate or coffee éclair is terrific, too, and maybe next time I’ll get to try one. Every time I’ve been so far, they have just sold the last order. 62 Avenue des Ternes, 17th Arrondissement, Paris (01-45-72-41-60, rech.fr) —Alexander Lobrano



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