In this week's Food & Drink, Mike Sula reviews Nellcote, the Randolph Row restaurant named after the Côte d'Azur villa where the Rolling Stones recorded Exile on Main Street. Here, amid the wrought iron, marble, crystal chandeliers, and thronging see-and-be-scenesters, chef Jared Van Camp (Old Town Social) is offering an ambitious grain-to-table program, milling the flour for breads, pastas, and pizzas in-house. The results include a bargain-priced $3 bread trio, pasta dishes ranging from the simple and scarfable to champagne-and-oyster luxuriant, and earthy, elemental pies atop the "grass-fed beef of pizza crusts." Among the standouts are smoky grilled lamb loin with gnocchi, escargots bobbing in a crock of mushrooms and polenta, fat sweetbreads with spring vegetables, and what's becoming a signature dessert: baba al rhum with "bachelor's jam."
In our biweekly Cocktail Challenge, GT Fish & Oyster barman Johnny Costello Jr., challenged by Perennial Virant's Erin Hayes with stinging nettles, used the foraged plant in three forms (dried, blanched, and juiced) in a frothy barista-style cocktail featuring pisco, Bolivian coca liqueur, and Chartreuse. Next up is Mike Page of Vie, challenged with okra—an appropriate enough for a restaurant known for its pickling program, now the subject of The Preservation Kitchen, chef Paul Virant's new cookbook.