Over the two-decade run of Charlie Palmer’s Best of Award of Excellence winner Dry Creek Kitchen, the Sonoma County restaurant has seen a few touch-ups to its dining room in downtown Healdsburg, Calif., but nothing like the facelift that debuted this fall.
Among the noteworthy transformations is the relocation of the wine cellar, now a glass-encased showpiece adjacent to the kitchen. The biggest change to the dining room itself is the addition of a grand, round, eight-top table dubbed “The Terroir Table,” which sits beneath an elegant glass-steel chandelier within view of the sidewalk, for passersby to see. The restaurant’s bar also got a new look, including a mirrored back bartop to help open up the space. And a series of paintings from local artist Bob Nugent now hang throughout the restaurant, depicting native flora such as herbs, trees and grasses.
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Also new is executive chef Shane McAnelly, who joins Dry Creek Kitchen after a short stint cooking at The Horseshoe Farm in North Carolina. “Sonoma County was calling, and I have a new appreciation for the area and what it has to offer,” said McAnelly, who spent the previous seven years cooking at Healdsburg restaurants, including Chalkboard and the Brass Rabbit. He also led the culinary program at Russian River Valley winery Bricoleur Vineyards when it opened in 2020.
McAnelly points to the bounty of local produce as a key reason for returning. “Rejoining the community has been fun. I visit farmers down the road and at the [farmers’] market every week. Those relationships are important,” the chef said, noting a current dish that features locally grown mushrooms. McAnelly brings his own strengths to the menu as well, including fresh pasta. “Pasta is one of my passions,” he explained, spotlighting an agnolotti dish that evokes Mexican eloté with Calabrian hot peppers, shishito peppers, cotija cheese and lime.
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What hasn’t changed is the impressive list of exclusively Sonoma wines. It’s a 700-bottle deep dive into the best of the county, including treasures that can’t be found in any other restaurant, anywhere, such as old or rare bottlings from Rochioli, Williams Selyem and more.—A.R.
Tucked away in the mountainous Montana wilderness of the Bitterroot Range, luxury resort Triple Creek Ranch still lures wine lovers to the town of Darby, south of Missoula, to taste some of the best wines in the U.S. and meet their winemakers.
The Relais & Chateaux property is known for its wine program, which has earned a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence since 2012, and for the series of Vintner Weekend events it has hosted since 2004. Winemakers and other representatives from well-known wineries, with whom the Triple Creek Ranch sommelier team has forged close relationships over the years, each head three days of seminars and tastings.
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The 2023–2024 series begins this week with winemaker Ryan Hill of California’s Hill Family Estate, who is showcasing his Napa Valley wines Nov. 2–5. Washington’s John Bookwalter will bring his highly rated Columbia Valley wines during Thanksgiving week, Nov. 22–25.
Moving into 2024, Triple Creek Ranch will feature Judy Barrett of Chateau Montelena starting Jan. 25, followed by tastings with Schramsberg and Davies Vineyards beginning on the Thursday following Valentine’s Day.
Each Vintner Weekend begins with a welcoming reception on Thursday, followed by wine seminars on Friday and a multi-course dinner on Saturday paired with the featured winemaker’s bottlings and, frequently, rarer treasures from their cellar.
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Between the wine-oriented activities, guests can book related experiences. For example, Chateau Montelena’s Vintner Weekend features a screening of Bottle Shock with vineyard manager Dave Vella talking guests through the accuracy in the movie. And Schramsberg is offering fun indoor activities for Valentine’s week, with a wine-based game akin to Family Feud and a cooking competition.
A pre-arrival concierge will reach out to guests in advance of events to build itineraries and accommodate dietary restrictions and other preferences for a stay at the resort. As Triple Creek Ranch is all-inclusive, there is availability for all guests to attend any Vintner Events activities.—C.C.
Who’s behind it: Chef Michael White and his BBianco Hospitality group are opening the new restaurant. White has had a long and successful history with New York restaurants, with ventures including the now-closed former Best of Award of Excellence winner Fiamma Osteria, as well as Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners Ai Fiori and Marea. (White no longer has a relationship with those two restaurants.)
More recently, White has opened Lido at the Four Seasons’ Surf Club in Seaside, Fla., a Best of Award of Excellence winner, as well as a new restaurant, Paranza, within the Atlantis Paradise Island resort in the Bahamas.
Opening date: Santi is currently scheduled to open in August 2024.
Why you should know about it: As a celebrated chef, White moving back into Midtown represents another step toward recovery for an area of Manhattan that was hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on the hospitality industry. The past year has seen an uptick in area developments as more restaurants open, New Yorkers return to the office and tourism levels grow stronger than they were pre-pandemic.
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The neighborhood: Located at 520 Madison Avenue (owned by Tishman Speyer, the real-estate group behind many recent Midtown revitalization projects), Santi will be in the heart of East Midtown, just south of Central Park and near Radio City Music Hall, Rockefeller Center, the Museum of Modern Art and the Diamond District, among other landmarks.
The culinary approach: The cuisine will draw from Michael White’s career and travels up and down the boot of Italy, bringing in culinary styles from several regions. But the menu will not be as seafood-focused as at past White endeavors. While an executive chef will oversee the kitchen day to day, White plans to be present at the restaurant frequently, particularly given the significance of Santi as his return to New York dining.
What’s on the wine list: Though we don’t have all the details on the wine list yet, it is set to focus primarily on Italian wines, including varieties and styles from beyond the best-known regions of Italy. Certainly, there is reason to be excited, given White’s long track record for strong wine lists.—E.G.
On Oct. 24, chef-restaurateur David Chang’s Momofuku group announced the closure of Momofuku Ko, the Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner in New York City’s East Village. The restaurant offers guests a tasting menu inspired by Japanese kaiseki-style dining. This news followed the closing of sibling restaurant and former Restaurant Award winner Momofuku Ssäm Bar just last month. Momofuku Ko’s last day of service will be Nov. 4.
These closures come at a tipping point for the group as it re-evaluates its restaurant concepts and moves forward with its line of packaged goods (noodles, sauces and seasonings, for example) available for consumers at major retailers across the country. “The culinary world is much different than it was 20 years ago [when Ko first opened]. It’s incredibly different than it was even five years ago,” read a statement from Momofuku. “What’s remained constant at Momofuku is our desire to open minds and spread deliciousness far and wide.”
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The statement explains that Momofuku restaurants will continue to be “the beating heart” of the company and are “still the most complete way to experience what we do.” Ko, itself, was a flagship for the group, fostering hospitality talents such as Arthur Hon (now beverage director of Grand Award winner the Modern). Its wine list was known for robust selections of California, Burgundy and Rhône Valley bottles. Momofuku does not have plans for the restaurant’s 15,000-bottle inventory at this time.
Momofuku will still own the space at 8 Extra Place and intends to announce the next phase for it in early 2024. “We can’t wait to show you the places we have in development. In many ways, we’re heading back to where it all began with [Momofuku] Noodle Bar, doubling down on heart and energy and eye-opening flavors,” the statement read. “Twenty years in, we’re only getting started.”—J.L.
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