1826 Restaurant & Lounge has been open for only a month, but the restaurant has already generated buzz. Scarpetta's Nina Compton tweeted pictures of her date night at the restaurant, and at a recent awards ceremony, several chefs discussed the restaurant.
It could be the restaurant's multilevel dining experience, which incorporates a restaurant, lounge, and private club with bottle service in one location (a robotic garage that pampers your car while you dine will soon open on premises). Or it could be the man behind the concept. Danny Grant earned two Michelin stars at his former Chicago restaurant, Ria, and in 2012 was named one of Food & Wine's best new chefs.
New Times sampled some of Chef Grant's dishes. A short walk on a red carpet brings you to the hostess station on the first floor. The dining room is on the second floor, the lounge takes you up the third floor, and the fourth floor is a private space for parties and bottle service.
The décor is masculine mod -- if Don Draper were tasked to furnish a restaurant, he'd come damn near close to 1826. The lounge's chairs are fashioned from repurposed airplane skins and rich brown leather upholstery, while the dining room features pod chairs and silver gun lamps.
The food, like the ambiance, is stunning. But unlike some places where taste takes a back seat to fashion, the fare here is refined yet surprising. Each item I tried from the menu -- segmented into "Harvest," "Catch," and "Hunt" sections -- was flavorful. The restaurant invites patrons to sit and dine for a while, savoring each morsel. However, the music on the night I dined contradicted the food and grew louder every 15 minutes until, around 10 p.m., the decibel level was more welcome at a club than a restaurant. Around dessert, I couldn't hear my dining companion, and the server's attempt to describe a deconstructed carrot cake was futile. Diners at every table had to speak louder, screaming their hellos and comments to be heard over the beat.
1826's food is worth experiencing, from the freshly baked rolls, served hot and accompanied by sea-salted butter and lime butter, to the elaborate desserts featuring multiple components. But food such as this deserves to be savored and talked about and shouldn't compete with ear-shattering dance music. Make plans to dine early, when you can still hear your server and dinner guests -- and leave the club setting for an after-dinner nightcap.
Florida avocado salad with grapefruit, palm hearts, and citrus emulsion ($14).
Yellowfin tuna, served charred and tartare with heirloom tomato, black olive, and basil ($19).
Grilled short rib with Jerusalem artichoke ($25).
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Deconstructed carrot cake with cardamom and brown butter ice cream ($10).