The encouraging timeframe of "late April" has been targeted as the opening date for Knife, the "modern steakhouse" taking over the old Central 214 space at the Hotel Palomar from colorful celebrity chef and Top Chef contestant John Tesar.
Knife will follow Tesar's other cutlery-obsessed restaurant Spoon Bar & Kitchen, his acclaimed seafood spot that has earned "best new restaurant" nods from Condé Nast Traveler, Bon Appétit and Esquire. A collaboration between Tesar and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, it boasts a modern American theme, but dishes will be prepared using classic European techniques.
"I have traveled across Texas and America, eating in just about every known steakhouse to see how to improve upon the experience, first from a quality and creative standpoint and then economically," says Tesar. "I want to give people a little of what they expect from a traditional steakhouse but also surprise them with specialty cuts you rarely find cooked in unique ways."
The menu will meld classic and modern steakhouse dishes, including beef, pork and lamb in dry-aged prime cuts, prepared in cast irons as well as the usual steakhouse broiler method. Specialty cuts will include chuck flap, outside skirt, tri tip, culet, beef cheeks, beef tongue, oxtail and Akaushi beef. Tesar will use local or Texan meat suppliers such as Heartbrand Beef and 44 Farms.
The menu will get on board with current trends such as charcuterie; grass-fed bison and lamb; and specialty breeds of pork, chicken and seasonal game birds. It will also include a full line of house-made sausages, hot dogs and brats.
Fans of The Commissary will be happy to learn that Tesar will prepare his signature C-Vap cooked burgers, praised for their perfectly medium-cooked insides, forgoing the heavily charred edges that regular pan preparation causes.
Knife will bring socializing back to dining, offering larger portions or "Slabs" to share for groups, as well as interactive dishes such as pork belly brisket, house-cured pastrami and pig's head served with international bread and sauces. Dining up until now has been such a non-social affair.
In addition to steak, Knife will make all pasta in-house and will offer seafood and vegetarian main dishes, family-style seasonal salads, and raw bar selections.
Desserts are also described as "modernist," such as the "Cheesecake 2.0" with cheesecake mousse and ice cream, liquid graham crackers and berry foam; a caramel pretzel with caramel coulant and Valrhona dulcey panna cotta; and chocolate cake with caramel foam, caramelia milk chocolate ice cream and chocolate panna cotta.
Chef de cuisine is Jeffrey Kent, who has opened numerous restaurants, including Arizona 206 and Bistro 26, both earning accolades from the New York Times. Long before the term "farm to table" was commonplace, Kent was connecting a large network of fish suppliers directly with producers.
Pastry chef is David Collier. Mixologist Michael Martensen and sommelier Scott Barber have designed the opening bar and wine program to complement the menu with a strong emphasis on creativity and individuality. Sabrina Snodderly, the original sommelier from Spoon, will manage the wine program onsite.
Design firm Breckinridge/Taylor has created a space and platform to display Tesar's culinary artistry with an equally artistic and appealing design. Keeping the hotel's aesthetic in mind but still showcasing Knife's personal identity, the decor injects a modern sophistication into traditional steakhouse elements with rich fabrics and leather upholstered chairs, rustic chandeliers and wood paneling.
But will there be knives on the wall?