Renovations debut tonight at Dovetail, the three-star restaurant (The New York Times) on the Upper West Side, enriching every aspect of Chef/Owner John Fraser’s modern American dining experience. Architectural expansions have created a roomy bar area of 16 seats – with a new bar menu and new cocktail list – and added 20 seats to the main dining room through a seamless extension of the modern-rustic design from celebrated architect Richard Bloch. The wine list has grown by 500 bottles, reflecting a significant expansion of the wine cellar. And to celebrate the realization of Dovetail’s original vision (the restaurant was always intended for these dimensions), cheese cart and Armagnac cart services now complete the refined offerings.
The spacious new dining room was designed by Bloch as an interplay between the building’s 110-year old historic be
auty and a modern, streamlined sensibility. Renovations have extended this design scheme into a more spacious dining atmosphere with additional seating (90 total), creating an even higher level of comfort for Dovetail’s guests. New floor treatments in deep grays and blues tie the space together while softer lighting now exists throughout the restaurant adding gentle definition to new wall photography from artist Vincent Versace. The new design elements compliment and enhance Dovetail’s brick columns and walls, refined maple wood panels, sheer drapery, and striking floor-to-ceiling windows.
Dovetail’s bar area now commands its own distinct environment, replete with expanded seating and an impressive window offering a bird’s eye view of one of the Upper West Side’s secluded tree lined side streets. The new bar space offers guests an alternative area to dine or simply mix and mingle with pre-dinner drinks. Here, Chef Fraser introduces clever bar snacks such as Cured Daikon prepared with Lime Juice, Cashews, and Cilantro; or Pissaladiere, a flatbread topped with Anchovies, Melted Onions, Olives and Oregano. The bar menu takes cues from the brightest points of Chef Fraser’s dinner menu to offer smaller-portion snacks ideal for sharing, including Tempura Duck Skin with Curry Salt; Tete de Cochon Sliders, braised and deep fried into crispy filets, then topped with a Sauce Gribiche; Bone Marrow, poached and gratinéed on Crostini with Beets and Shallot Marmalade; Truffle Macaroni and Cheese; and more.
Dovetail’s newly appointed sommelier, Amanda Reade Sturgeon (formerly of Babbo and The French Laundry), has spearheaded a new cocktail list to herald the bar’s rebirth. Once again playing off contrasts, the list takes an old-school turn with classic titles, then pours them with a modern preference for smaller producers, local distilleries and seasonal juices.
The significant expansion of Dovetail’s wine cellar by 500 bottles has produced a truly transformed wine list. Sturgeon’s vision has brought depth to its regional focus, emphasizing the true core of each area over more visible labels. Often this has meant favoring smaller family winemakers for their cleanly made, small production quality. Sturgeon has also developed an East Coast section featuring the local heroes
of Dovetail’s home region. Most importantly, the list represents a careful meditation on which wines pair best with Chef Fraser’s immaculate dishes.
Chef Fraser’s menus continue to deliver an experience showcasing his passion for local ingredients, fusing progressive and traditional elements showcased in dishes such as his housemade Mozzarella with Pumpkin, Chestnuts and Mulled Wine; Salt Baked Onion with Burgundy Truffles and Hazelnuts; Squab with Red Pepper Polenta, Pancetta and Trevisano and Whole Roasted Veal Chop with Baby Romaine, Potatoes, Roasted Garlic Jam.
As a finishing touch on the Dovetail experience, the dining room’s new cheese cart revisits the theme of contrasts with a regularly changing display alongside a variety of marmalades and breads. Vermont cheeses will represent New World choices and the best of Europe will represent cheeses from the Old World. And the final flourish: a digestif from Dovetail’s new Armagnac cart. Sturgeon has selected a fine range of prices, ages and styles, with many lesser known producers leading the list. And as one of New York’s few restaurants to offer an extensive sherry menu, Dovetail has certainly included some of the finest from its cellar.
Chef Fraser has blazed a career path destined to lead to his three-star achievement. He has trained in the kitchens of Paris (Taillevent, Arpege and Maison Blanche) and absorbed wisdom for two years as Chef de Partie at The French Laundry. As Executive Chef of Compass, he was awarded two stars by The New York Times’ critic Frank Bruni and named one of only four young chefs to watch in America by Esquire magazine in 2006. Other accolades include three stars by New York Magazine, four stars by Time Out New York and three stars from Crain’s New York Business. The Dovetail experience, as orchestrated by Chef Fraser, is a study in contrasts that seamlessly converge (or rather, dovetail). With a deft hand, he has merged his classical European technique with an unfaltering dedication to farm-fresh local products. His function-before-form philosophy puts delicious taste ahead of flashy plating, then unites them beautifully into a menu that surprises as it reassures and comforts as it challenges. With his restaurant’s expansion and redesign, Fraser now sets to reaffirm Dovetail’s place in the upper ranks of New York’s culinary landscape by bringing into harmony every element of the complete dining experience.
Dovetail is located at 103 West 77th Street in New York City, 212-362-3800. The restaurant is open for dinner Monday through Saturday, 5:30 to 11:00, and Sunday, 5:30 to 10:00. Lunch is served Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, 12:00 to 2:30, and weekend brunch is offered 11:30 to 2:30. For more information, please visit: www.dovetailnyc.com.