Turning Tables: Chef Lincoln Carson Debuts Mes Amis in Hollywood

Plus, Eataly brings its Italian restaurants, market and wine shop to Silicon Valley and former Eleven Madison Park wine director Cedric Nicaise helps open the Noortwyck

Turning Tables: Chef Lincoln Carson Debuts Mes Amis in Hollywood
French café–style chairs and marble tables mingle with contemporary photography in the decor at Paris-meets-L.A. restaurant Mes Amis. (Michael Mundy)
Jun 16, 2022

Like many new restaurants, Bon Temps, chef Lincoln Carson’s Los Angeles Arts District restaurant that earned a Wine Spectator Award of Excellence, couldn’t withstand the blows of COVID-related restrictions. Less than a year after opening, Bon Temps closed in 2020, which Carson says felt like a personal defeat, regardless of the pandemic’s influence.

But it took Carson little time to bounce back. His new restaurant, Mes Amis, opened May 27 in the heart of Hollywood, picking up where he left off. “The idea is coming out of what I envisioned Bon Temps might have grown into,” he said, noting that Mes Amis will pull back from the fine-dining feeling. “We don’t need fussy restaurants right now, and this evolved out of a consideration of missing being with people.”

The 160-seat restaurant is a partnership with Ten Five Hospitality, a hospitality investment and management company with headquarters in Miami and Los Angeles. “Ten Five Hospitality has an incredible vision to take a risk on a neighborhood that has been a lot of different things over the last decade,” said Carson. The district is also home to Hollywood institution and Award of Excellence winner Musso & Frank Grill, as well as newer restaurants that are changing the dining landscape, like Curtis Stone’s Gwen Butcher Shop & Restaurant, another Award of Excellence winner.

Carson hopes that when Mes Amis is packed full of patrons, it will evoke a grand Parisian brasserie—lively and boisterous. “It feels like a restaurant that could be in Hollywood 30 to 40 years ago,” he said. “I like to think about it as a casual-chic Hollywood spot; it’s adult without feeling too serious, and a place to have a great solo experience sitting at the bar or bring six friends and blow it out.”

 A selection of dishes served as Mes Amis including a shellfish tower, a platter of whole-roasted chicken with seasonal vegetable, sides and more
French brasserie classics like a shellfish tower and roast chicken get a southern California treatment in Lincoln Carson's kitchen. (Wonho Frank Lee)

The contemporary space melds Parisian touches—like café-style chairs, antiqued brass cornicing, globe pendant lighting and marble tables—with modern California twists, including an industrial ceiling and faded-green plaster walls adorned with black-and-white photography. Glass doors connect a private dining room to an open-air patio for outdoor events and gatherings.

Matthew Turner, former wine director at Grand Award–winning Wally's Beverly Hills, heads up the wine list, which includes around 300 offerings, with selections at every price point. Carson said he and Turner hope to expand the list, incorporating rare wines from private collections. The food menu has French underpinnings but applies a Los Angeles lens to the dishes. “California cuisine is over-used, but when you live here and have access to the best product in the world, that speaks to how you design a menu. We’ll be cooking with French technique, but not necessarily French food,” said Carson.

Dishes like steak au poivre with potato millefeuille and larger, shareable plates like whole roasted pasture chicken with fricassee of seasonal vegetables, henjus sauce and vin jaune are well suited to both the Old World and West Coast selections, which lean heavily on Burgundy and Burgundian varieties. An extensive raw bar with littleneck clams, New Caledonian prawns, Maine dayboat scallops and East and West Coast oysters plays well with the large selection of Champagne on the list, with six by the glass.

Finally, Carson’s pastry background makes dessert not to be missed. Look for playful renditions of classic French desserts such as chocolate soufflé with Chartreuse verte and gâteaux St. Honoré with pecan mousseline and caramel.—A.R.

 The patio-like dining area of Terra, at Eataly Silicon Valley, with floor-to-ceiling windows and hanging baskets of flowers
At the new Eataly in the Valley Fair mall, fine-dining restaurant Terra opens to a rooftop terrace and offers a selection of 200 wines. (Courtesy of Italy)

Eataly Opens in Silicon Valley

A go-to destination for gourmet groceries and Italian dining experiences arrives in California’s Silicon Valley today, as Italian brand Eataly debuts its eighth U.S. location, at the Westfield Valley Fair shopping mall.

“It’s a location that doesn’t need explanation, and that’s important,” said vice president of store development Adele Parodi, referencing the long-standing reputation of the largest shopping mall in Northern California. Parodi noted that the world-renowned Italian food marketplace also chose Silicon Valley because the region has a sophisticated consumer base for fine food and beverages. While not the dining destination that San Francisco is to the north, the valley is a major metropolitan area, home to some of the world’s largest technology companies.

If you’ve been to other Eataly locations, you’ll feel right at home in the three-floor, 45,000-square-foot food and wine mecca. Convenient takeaway counters will occupy the first floor, offering espresso, pizza by the slice, gelato and more. Perhaps most exciting for lovers of Italian wine will be the second floor, which will be entirely devoted to a selection of more than 1,200 Italian wines, beers, spirits and ready-to-drink cocktails.

“We dabbled in California wine when we opened the Los Angeles location, but what we’ve learned is that guests want to take a deep dive into Italian vernacular,” said beverage director Dan Amatuzzi. The second floor will also include La Scuola di Eataly for food and beverage classes and the Sip & Learn wine bar, with a rotating selection of wine flights, tastings and events. “The second floor is going to be active every hour of the day, and our staff will be really good at grabbing customers by hand and leading them through the journey,” added Parodi.

 The wine shop at Eataly Silicon Valley with walls of bottles and a separate reserve-wine room
The second-floor wine store will allow shoppers to explore the breadth and depth of Italy's wine regions and grape varieties. (Courtesy of Eataly)

As is the case in some other Eatalys, guests can sip while they shop, and with the third-floor mercato, chock full of 10,000 imported Italian products, they may need a second glass. Parodi noted that this location also offers access to an array of produce and products from local farms and artisans, including Journeyman Meat Co., Laura Chenel, ABS Seafood and more. “We dedicate each of our stores to the particularities of the market we’re in,” she said, adding, “Over 2,000 of our products, especially fresh items, are going to be local.”

Two restaurants, La Pizza & La Pasta and Terra, will give guests a taste of Italy. La Pizza & La Pasta will serve Neapolitan pies and specialty house-made and dried pastas. Meanwhile, the 180-seat Terra is a stunning venue, awash in natural light thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows that open to a rooftop terrace. Earthy green and white tones and hanging plants evoke an inviting patio-like setting. The menu leans on seasonal wood-grilled dishes, blending Italian flair with Northern California produce—such as spigarello, squash blossoms and tomatoes from Green Bee Farm in nearby Sunol. Terra will offer 30 wines by the glass and 200 by the bottle, as well as a selection of craft cocktails.

“I’ve been fortunate to be with the company since 2010, and when people come in for the first time, their eyes open, and it’s thought-provoking and exciting to be able to do that through food and beverage,” said Amatuzzi. There’s plenty of overlap between the second-floor wine shop and restaurant wine-list offerings, but if you decide to grab something from the retail shelf and open it for lunch or dinner, corkage is only $15. “That on-the-fly and informal and unpretentious wine experience is what Italians do so well,” said Amatuzzi.—A.R.

 The wooden, m mirror-backed bar and dining tables at the Noortwyck
With the Noortwyck's 300-wine list, Cedric Nicaise is aiming for a great selection with less formality to the experience. (Courtesy of the Noortwyck)

Eleven Madison Park Alums Open the Noortwyck in New York

In 2014, Andrew Quinn and Cedric Nicaise met while working at Daniel Humm’s celebrated, Grand Award–winning Eleven Madison Park in New York, where Quinn would become the executive sous chef and Nicaise the wine director and then director of operations. Now off their own, on June 7, the two opened their first restaurant, The Noortwyck, in Greenwich Village, with partner and brand director Bridgette Zou, also formerly of Humm’s Make It Nice restaurant group.

“Andy and I have known each other for quite a few years. Our values have always aligned, and there has been mutual respect from the start,” Nicaise told Wine Spectator via email. “When it became time to figure out next steps in [our] careers, a partnership seemed like an obvious next step.”

Quinn’s seasonal, American menu uses ingredients from local producers such as Fat Apple Farms, Peeko Oysters, Cherrylane Farms and Battenkill Creamery, among many others. Dishes include scallop crudo, tuna tartare with sorrel, white asparagus cacio e pepe, barbecue duck breast and smoked hanger steak. The restaurant dry-ages its own beef and makes its own bread.

Nicaise pairs Quinn’s menu with a frequently changing list of about 300 wines. “The wine list is meant to be fun and accessible,” Nicaise explained. “It will allow guests to discover something new or to splurge on a special bottle if the occasion is right.” The list spotlights regions around the world, including France’s Burgundy, Italy’s Langhe, Spain’s Rueda, Austria’s Wachau and others, and there’s plenty of value throughout. “I want the wine experience to be detail-oriented, but without pretension,” said Nicaise. “You can drink great wine without pomp and circumstance.” Diners can also enjoy seasonal cocktail selections.

 Two plates with chef Andrew Quinn's whole roast chicken for two with triple-cooked potato
Among the dishes on chef Andrew Quinn's menu is a whole roast chicken for two, served with triple-cooked potato. (Courtesy of the Noortwyck)

The 70-seat Noortwyck has been designed with an earthy palette of greens and off-whites, with French doors opening to Bleeker Street, granting natural light during summer evenings. In addition to the dining room’s Italian leather banquettes and spots at the 12-seat bar, outdoor dining is available. Meaning “north of the city," the restaurant’s name references that given to Greenwich Village by Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam in the 17th century.

“We hope The Noortwyck will be a place where people can gather for a great meal, cooked with intention and attention to detail, but without fuss, and receive warm hospitality whether it's your first time or your hundredth,” said Nicaise.—C.D.

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