One week ago, Eater published a list of nine notable restaurants from alumni of the legendary Yountville, California restaurant The French Laundry. The response to the piece was so overwhelming that today it's time to publish a second installment and highlight nine additional establishments from noted chefs who have passed through chef Thomas Keller's kitchen. There's a picturesque Orcas Island bistro from Lisa Nakamura (Allium), a legendary San Francisco restaurant with Gregory Short at the helm (Masa's), a place for modern Vietnamese (Jordan Kahn's Red Medicine), and several more.
Frasca Food & WineLocation: Boulder, CO
Chef: Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson
Since leaving the French Laundry to open the Boulder, Colorado restaurant Frasca Food & Wine, the duo of Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson (chef) and Bobby Stuckey (master sommelier) has earned a heap of accolades, including unanimous four-star reviews from all the local papers, Food & Wine best new chef and James Beard awards for Lachlan, and raves from seasoned diners and travelers. All of this makes it perfectly reasonable to call it the best restaurant in the state.
The food is Italian, with a particular focus on the Friuli Venezia Giulia region of Italy, and it's prepared with a deft, finessed touch that probably owes more than a few things to Keller.
Red MedicineLocation: Los Angeles, CA
Chef: Jordan Kahn
In his early teenage years, chef Jordan Kahn carried the French Laundry Cookbook everywhere with him. After cooking his way through the entire thing and getting in trouble for reading and re-reading it while in high school, he got the chance to work at the actual restaurant. He was 17. In the ensuing months, he worked like a beast, gaining Keller's respect and developing a serious interest in pastry that eventually took him to Alinea while Alex Stupak was still there and still working the sweet side of the menu.
Now he has Red Medicine, a modern Vietnamese restaurant in L.A. that critic Jonathan Gold calls "probably the most modern in Los Angeles at the moment... The way he is approaching what he calls a Vietnamese canteen, is new, less an interpretation of the cuisine than an artist finding new paints to work with, new brushes to use."
Parallel 37Location: San Francisco, CA
Chef: Ron Siegel
Ron Siegel was the opening sous chef at the Laundry, and in the years since he left that post, he's run the kitchens of some of the great restaurants of NoCal, like Charles Nob Hill, Masa's, and the Dining Room at the Ritz-Carlton. Oh yeah, he was also the first American to win Iron Chef.
He's still at the Ritz-Carlton, but the food he's doing these days at Parallel 37, which replaced the Dining Room, is considerably pared down — and in some ways, more mature and confident. He'll do a slow cooked pork with braised greens or some squash tortellini with apples and onions, letting the well-sourced ingredients speak for themselves. But rest assured that his refined technique and interest in Japan still shine through in this more casual, more gently priced food.
Masa'sLocation: San Francisco, CA
Chef: Gregory Short
The venerable Masa's has been around for nearly 30 years, and for the last eight of them, Gregory Short has been its executive chef. There he cooks California French, with dishes like hot foie gras with grapefruit gelée and a plate of sweet potato agnolotti.
Drawing the line from the food he does here to what he learned in the seven years he spent at the Laundry (where he became sous chef and worked alongside Grant Achatz) seems almost too obvious.
SolbarLocation: Calistoga, CA
Chef: Brandon Sharp
Brandon Sharp has chops: he's been executive chef at San Francisco's Gary Danko, chef de cuisine at New Orleans' August, and yes, chef de partie at the French Laundry. He now runs the kitchen at Solbar, the Michelin-starred restaurant at the swanky Calistoga resort Solage.
He describes his cooking there as "California soul food," which can mean either actual soul food recipes with local ingredients or simply hearty dishes like a crispy slow-cooked pork belly with broccoli salad and apple-miso soubise. There's also a strong selection of lighter dishes, befitting the spa setting.
Binkley'sLocation: Cave Creek, AZ
Chef: Kevin Binkley
Before going into business with his wife to open a restaurant in a nondescript shopping mall in Cave Creek, Arizona, Kevin Binkley had two major cooking experiences: time at the Inn at Little Washington and time at the French Laundry, where he joined the team in 1999.
The food he does now is far from non-descript. When Binkley's first opened, Bon Appétit put it on their list of the 50 hottest in the country and posed the question, "In a town full of mega-resorts and chain restaurants, is there room for an independent? In the case of Binkley’s, located outside Scottsdale in Cave Creek, let’s hope so." It seems to have panned out for Binkley and his wife Amy, even if their modern American food can occasionally get risky and tends toward the expensive side (no entrée is less than $40).
AlliumLocation: Orcas Island, WA
Chef: Lisa Nakamura
Former Laundry sous chef Lisa Nakamura has had a colorful career, growing up in Hawaii, working as a flight attendant, running a restaurant group in Asia, and cooking with David Kinch and in New Orleans during Katrina.
Two years ago, she landed where smart money says she'll be for a while: Orcas Island, in the pacific northwest, where she has taken over Christina Orchid's acclaimed eponymous restaurant and turned it into Allium. When it opened, the New York Times declared it one of the places to go in 2011.
FarmshopLocation: Los Angeles, CA
Chef: Jeff Cerciello
Jeff Cerciello didn't just have a stint at the French Laundry or cook there for a bit. He was a crucial operative in the land of Keller, working at the mothership but also heading up all of the casual restaurants his boss opened throughout Yountville and in New York and L.A.. In 2010, he left the restaurant group to open a modest breakfast, lunch, and dinner spot in the Brentwood Country Mart.
He says of the business, "Everything we serve and, in fact, everything you see at Farmshop starts with a name, a face and a long-standing relationship that we believe in." He's doing fried chicken nights and family style dinners of wholesome, well-executed American fare that recall much of the work done over at Ad Hoc.
Clover Food LabLocation: Boston, MA
Chef: Rolando Robledo
Rolando Robledo was a chef-instructor at Johnson & Wales for the better part of a decade and also worked under Achatz and Keller at the Laundry and with Charlie Trotter.
In 2010, Clover Food Lab hired him to be head chef of their entire operation, which now includes several food trucks and brick and mortar locations throughout Boston, Massachusetts. The focus throughout the small empire is on healthful, vegetable-focused, and well-executed food you might not usually associate with food trucks.
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