The old VIP area of Billy Dec era Le Passage has been transformed into a culinary emporium catering to eccentric Gold Coast millionaires and serious foodies. Stone tile mixes with crystal chandeliers and comfy green metallic micro-suede chairs to create a luxuriant parlor vibe.
Fortunately, you don't need to be a big-time moneybags to eat here (although it doesn't hurt). The small plates menu designed originally by Shawn McClain (Custom House, Green Zebra and Spring) and executed and evolved by protege Nick Lacasse is pretty affordable. And now that itís legal again, the foie gras with pickled fennel and sweet tangy kumquat gastrique served over toasted brioche (Lacasse beat Top Chef Stephanie Izard in a head-to-head cooking battle with this dish) is one of the better duck liver options around. If youíre not in to organs, the Jamaican jerk quail with sweet potato and mango salsa featuring a lip-burning all-spice and pepper rub is a laid-back accessible taste of the islands.
The drink program headed up by Charles Joly, which features market fresh cocktails like a Japanese Julep made with smoky Japanese scotch, muddled mint, and yuzu juice, is even better than the food. Drinks are made tableside and slung with a story or two from the barkeeps.
Average cost: $10-$20
Centerstage Reviewer: Michael Nagrant