NYC's City Grit— a "culinary salon" in an old Nolita schoolhouse—hosts a new series of dinners every week. Often they're Southern-inspired menus from chef and City Grit mastermind Sarah Simmons; but increasingly, they've been bringing in guest chefs from all over the country.
We loved chef John Currence's Gulf seafood dinner last month. This time? It's Paul Qui—James Beard Best Chef Southeast winner, executive chef at Uchiko, founder of the East Side King trucks, and Top Chef Texas victor. We stopped by last night for a taste of the dinner menu that he'll be running all week. (If you haven't grabbed tickets to this one, which are close to sold out, check out the upcoming lineup). "We asked him to do three dinners," said City Grit mastermind Sarah Simmons. "He said, why not six?"
Simmons characterized Qui's menu as "his food truck in a plated dinner"; Qui just calls it "my take on summer down in Texas." What that meant last night: a 7-course dinner with lots of clean broths and summer vegetables, precisely cooked proteins with clear, focused flavors.
What's next for Qui? A brick-and-mortar shop of his own. "I just signed a lease on South Lamar," he says. That restaurant will have two separate spaces that share a single kitchen: a 50-seat dining room and then a 12-seat bar where he'll serve a tasting menu ("Sort of like a kaiseki? But not really like that. The plates will be a little bigger than sushi bites. It'll be my style of food: Asian-esque"). Qui says he had a lot more of the concept down, until he recently traveled to Copenhagen and was so affected that he changed a number of his ideas altogether. (He's also traveled recently to Hiroshima, Tokyo, and Matsuyama, as well as London and Paris. Next up? Spain.) It's a work in progress, Qui says, his thoughts on its exact composition still evolving.
"This is me trying to figure out my own style of food." From what we tasted, he's off to a damn good start.
—Carey Jones and J. Kenji Lopez-Alt
38 Prince Street, New York NY 10012 (map)
Around 10-15 dinners/month; check site for availability and tickets