Chef extraordinaire Andrew Carmellini of Locanda Verde talks to us about his new American restaurant The Dutch, his favorite late-night eats and that little rumor we heard about a secret underground inner sanctum kitchen at his white-hot Soho restaurant.
Tell us about the thinking behind the menu at The Dutch and your approach to offering a different type of cuisine from your other restaurants:
Well, before we opened Locanda Verde I was cooking through a bunch of different types of cuisine at Cafe Boulud. I would do these Le Voyage menus which took you on a tasting to various different places in the world. One night it could be Morocco, another night it would be Mexico and so on. I did the Italian thing for a while and it was good to me and continues to be at Locanda, but I really missed cooking with lemongrass and chilis and ginger and all that other awesome stuff. We decided we wanted to do an American restaurant, but I wanted to give that some new meaning, some new flavor. We cover the classics with amazing steaks and the raw bar, but I also borrowed some generational things like the crab dish with bloody mary and green goddess dressing, or some ethnic things like lamb neck mole. Then, everything of course gets the chef treatment. We use the best local ingredients we can find, lots of technique, everything's from scratch, and we make it nice.
What is your favorite meal to make on The Dutch menu?
The menu changes seasonally so we usually like to cook with whatever is at its highest point in the season. Like right now, it's duck with black mission figs. In the winter time, it will be rabbit pot pie with root vegetables and cider, and so on.
We know you are a musician. Does music inform the food that you make?
It doesn't really. It's what I do to tune out. Just another outlet.
Is it true that there is a secret underground inner sanctum kitchen at The Dutch that is for chefs only?
There is an inner sanctum at The Dutch?! That sounds awesome! Maybe if I'm lucky someone will show me.
What is your personal favorite late-night thing to eat?
Depends on what I am doing. If I'm not cooking at the restaurants, I can sometimes be found at NY Noodle Town eating the Salt-Baked Squid. I'm pretty sure it's coated in pure, grade A MSG.
What is your personal cocktail or beverage of choice?
Single malt scotch. Ice. Bourbon can be substituted, if necessary.
Where do you personally like to go for late-night eats outside of your own places?
When I was cooking at Lespinasse way back, I always loved going to Menchanko-tei late at night.
What is your favorite thing between two buns?
This is going to sound really self-serving but I am going to say it anyway. The porchetta sandwich at Locanda Verde is majorly good to me. It really is my favorite.