Despite some opening night hiccups, The Maverick will soon become one of the best restaurants in the city.
The dishes from chef/partner Chris Carlson deftly balance a comfortable yet refined sensibility, while the atmosphere and service are polished but never stuffy. It’s truly a place that’s great for dressing up for a special occasion, or dressing down for a drink and a bite.
Carlson’s strong performance in the kitchen finds its equal in the management from director of operations Miguel Ardid, and sommelier/hospitality director Joshua Thomas and owner/partner Pete Selig. Together, they have created an impressive restaurant that’s likely to stay filled.
If it’s any indication, on the first night, the first guests stayed, lingered and kept ordering. In a way, that’s a great sign, but it also caused some backups for later reservations.
Everything on the menu is a la carte, so diners can create their own plates. That’s the idea behind the restaurant’s tagline of “make your own rules.” Those dishes were superb. A mixture of roasted cauliflower with turmeric, pickled raisins and almonds succeed the best in a strong lineup, while grilled octopus and calamari were tender, juicy and filled with flavor for calabrian pepper oil, fingerling potatoes and accents of fried kale.
Meanwhile, a flatiron steak and a salmon fillet arrived at the table grilled to a perfect medium rare temperature. You don’t need to order sauces, but there are plenty available. Go old school and try the bordelaise with the steak.
The salmon includes a side of mango chutney, which adds a nice bit of brightness. For the fish, the flavors and textures of the chutney elevate, rather than compensate.
I could go on with the compliments, but I’ll stop with these initial observations.
To be sure, opening night saw a technology glitch that delayed orders getting to the kitchen. This backed up an already busy evening and caused plenty of confusion with orders getting to tables.
But at the same time, the service staff never lost their collective cool in the face of an early challenge. Servers and managers worked very hard to keep diners updates on the progress of their tables. This way, even when guests had to wait for a while, they at least knew that the staff was keeping tabs on them and serving them as well as possible.
The opening glitches will work out soon enough. What’s important is that all the elements are in place for The Maverick to grow into a must-visit restaurant. I can’t wait to go back.