Monday night marked the 25th anniversary of the James Beard Foundation Awards — medals went out to top chefs, restaurants and food writers across the country. Our editors noted some of our favorite eateries — including Forbes Travel Guide Four- and Five-Star restaurants — among the winners. Read on for an inside look at five winning restaurants that have James Beard’s stamp of approval and ours.
No. 9 Park, Boston: Outstanding Wine Program
We’ve long appreciated sommelier Cat Silirie’s talent — as executive wine director of Barbara Lynch Gruppo, she curates unique lists at each of the restaurants in the Boston-based group, including Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star No. 9 Park and Five-Star Menton. Perched at the tip of Boston Common — with views of both the rolling park and gold-domed State House — No. 9 Park is an intimate escape from the city’s nearby financial district. Stop in to split small bites and a bottle of Italian wine at the bar, or make a reservation for the seven-course tasting menu. Each server is trained by Silirie and will recommend wines to suit your meal, such as small-batch whites from Mount Etna or rich Spanish reds.
Gramercy Tavern, New York City: Best Chef, New York City
The rustic comfort of Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Gramercy Tavern matches the classic American fare by winning chef Michael Anthony. The approachable three-course dinner menu features house favorites such as chilled asparagus soup and braised lamb, but we recommend a seven-course journey through Anthony’s seasonal tasting menu, which features refined courses of fresh seafood and meat. The early American antiques and art decorating the walls makes the large dining room feel homey and private, even in New York’s busy Union Square. Stop by the Tavern bar for a lively atmosphere and à la carte comfort food.
Boulevard, San Francisco: Outstanding Restaurant
The eighth time was the charm for chef Nancy Oakes’ eatery — Boulevard was nominated for this award for seven consecutive years before winning this week. The restaurant’s Art Nouveau-inspired décor evokes the Belle Époque, but the kitchen serves upscale global cuisine with a focus on seasonal ingredients. Start with ito-zukuri (ribbon-cut) ahi tuna before sampling the California lamb that shares a plate with rapini ravioli and nettle fonduta. The atmosphere is clubby, lively and unstuffy, which keeps famous faces coming back to the Embarcadero waterfront eatery with views of the Bay Bridge.
Charlie Trotter’s, Chicago: Humanitarian of the Year
The Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Charlie Trotter’s has 10 James Beard Foundation Awards to its name, but this year the chef won for his philanthropic work. Charlie Trotter runs a scholarship fund for culinary students and a program that allows high schoolers to visit the restaurant and to be motivated by his staff. The chef has been influencing the culinary world since the restaurant opened in 1987, offering tasting menus that feature seasonal and organic ingredients. Expect a range of creative dishes, such as Arkansas rabbit or squash blossom beignets and sweet pea sorbet, in his vegetable-driven tasting menu. Make a reservation before it’s too late — the restaurant will close following its 25th anniversary on Aug. 17 as the chef moves on to new things.
Eleven Madison Park, New York City: Outstanding Chef
Just a year after Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Eleven Madison Park received the coveted medal for Outstanding Restaurant, the restaurant’s longtime chef (and new owner) Daniel Humm won Outstanding Chef at this year’s awards. Occupying an airy Art Deco space in New York’s Flatiron District, the restaurant’s soaring windows overlook lush Madison Square Park and the historic Flatiron Building, but you might not be able to take your eyes off your plate. Humm applies traditional French technique and rich sauces to light components, creating balanced, delicate dishes. Guests receive a 16-ingredient menu of mix-and-match seasonal foods such as foie gras, langoustine or veal, allowing you to pick your favorites for your own four-course tasting menu.
Photo courtesy of Eleven Madison Park