Best New Local Dining Trend (2006)

Big chefs opening small venues

A tip of the toque to Pascal Oudin, who five years ago left the safe and prestigious confines of the Grand Bay Café's grand dining room and set off to open a little French bistro of his own. It was a roll of the dice, a decision to work harder for less security and surety of financial reward. He did it because he wanted to cook his food his way in his restaurant. And it has paid off for him and, more selfishly, for us: There is nothing better than eating in a small, personal dining establishment run by a talented chef/owner. Tim Andriola followed suit by leaving Mark's South Beach for his own Timo; Dewey LoSasso sailed from China Grill Management to open North One 10; and Frank Randazzo and Andrea Curto-Randazzo bid adieu to the Gaucho Room and Wish to form a tasty tandem at Talula -- and we have three more great restaurants because of it. This year Frank Jeannetti jumped from Pearl to his own Ernie's Restaurant, Michelle Bernstein took the big leap from Azul to Michy's, and Norman Van Aken has plans to establish a more intimate eatery of his own in Key West. This all bodes well for those who crave authentic, chef-crafted cuisine served by staff who care -- in other words, a great dining experience. It also provides an optimistic countering force against the worst new local dining trend: upscale-casual restaurants.


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