The Clever Root

Spring / Summer 2016

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s p r i n g / s u m m e r 2 0 1 6 | 3 3 I.O., Santa Ana, CA Chef Jason Quinn Chef Jason Quinn's eccentric and witty personal- ity is reflected in the mystery of his eatery, which is short for Invitation Only. Reminiscent of Fight Club, the number-one rule for securing an invite at I.O. is to never ask for one. But once you're in, sit back and enjoy the theatrical performance by Quinn and his team at this ultra-intimate, 17-seat restaurant adjacent to sister establishment Play- ground in Santa Ana, California. Atelier Crenn, San Francisco, CA Chef Dominique Crenn In Dominique Crenn's fanciful atelier in San Francisco, dishes are served bathed in bubbles and atop pristine logs that make you feel as though you've stepped into a Tolkien novel. She calls it "poetic culinaria," but beneath the otherworldly showmanship is an earnest love for and dedication to the essence of rustic, virgin ingredients. Vagabond, Miami, FL Chef Alex Chang Vagabond Restaurant & Bar's Chef Alex Chang incorporates global flavors while staying true to local, sustainable farming. At this Miami hotspot, you'll find a delightful combination of worldly ingredients in the most artistic presentations. While the ambiance is more in line with an art gallery than a restaurant—especially if you're seated at their iconic sunken bar—the menu delivers in richness and flavor by all accounts. Schwa, Chicago, IL Chef Michael Carlson It's the perfect harmony of ingredients. Old school hip-hop and electro- dance jams blare into the intimate dining space and a delicate, quail egg truffle raviolo begs to be eaten in one swift bite. At Schwa in Chicago, chef Michael Carlson keeps it casual and treats guests like family, no matter how exclusive and artistically outstanding the food and restaurant may seem. Once you've hurdled past the biggest challenge—securing a reservation—an incredible experience awaits. Café ArtScience, Cambridge, MA Chef Patrick Campbell To call Café ArtScience an adventurous "restaurant" wouldn't quite do it justice. Chef Patrick Campbell's establishment is much more than that. Take a classic white-tablecloth Parisian eatery sans bells and whistles and add a bit of Boston's college scene to the mix. The result is a mod restaurant, classroom and art gallery all in one, where you'll not only revel in the perfect creaminess of the foie-gras-and-rabbit terrine, but you can learn about how it was prepared, too. Square Root, New Orleans, LA Chef Phillip Lopez In what can be seen as more of a dining experience than a dinner alone, Chef Phillip Lopez couples molecular gas- tronomy with classic New Orleans fare. You've certainly had scallops before, but were they ever smoked in a cigar box? At Square Root, where the multicourse tasting menu is ever-changing and always kept a secret, every dish has a story and an element of surprise. Travail Kitchen & Amusements, Robbinsdale, MN Chef Mike Brown Just outside of Minneapolis, this wacky and innovative restaurant is taking America by storm. Expect to find seasonal and artis- tic American fare served up in a 10- to 12-course tasting menu, and as the name suggests, plenty of "amusements." Don't be surprised if you find yourself catching a bag of popcorn from a man dressed in a bright- yellow chicken suit. minibar, Washington, D.C. Chef José Andrés You've never seen a Waldorf salad like this before. At minibar in Washington, D.C. Chef José Andrés intentionally deviates from the norm to create masterful dishes with mo- lecular tactics. Whether you're seated in the intimate dining space of minibar or enjoying a crafty cocktail at the adjoining barmini, expect to be thrilled and even pleasantly confused by the avant-garde dishes escap- ing the kitchen. PHOTO: MADELINE ROSE PHOTO: TRAVIS ANDERSON PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF MINIBAR + BARMINI Caramelized squid and jowl are bathed in a gochujang broth with peanut miso at NOLA's Square Root. A deconstructed Waldorf salad served between a meringue bun at Chef José Andrés's minibar in Washington, D.C. Chef Mike Brown's artistic rendering of rib-eye "cap" steak and beef cheek ravioli, served with red wine and black garlic demi-glace, turnips three ways and a frothy cream sauce. ■cr

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