This time of year is defined by family meals and home-based celebrations, but there are still a number of exciting new restaurants worthy of a trip this winter. In our guide to the Best Restaurants for December, we travel to New York, San Francisco, Miami and London to explore new openings, reimagined menus and a Michelin-star-studded pop-up.
In New York, we take a look at three restaurants likely to make a stir in 2020 including Portale, which sees one of the city’s most experienced chefs return with a fresh concept. In London, there is an innovative new zero-waste restaurant from an exciting chef and in San Francisco, we take a look at a rising star following its quiet opening earlier in the Fall.
Korean cuisine is certainly having its moment in New York, and JUA is set to provide the latest modern take on it this month. Chef Ho Young Kim – formerly of two-Michelin-starred Jungsik – has partnered with the revered Hand Hospitality group to formulate his debut project that focusses on wood-fired cooking techniques.
A trendy space located in the heart of the Flatiron district, JUA will initially offer an ambitious six-course tasting menu at an accessible $95. Expect the menu to change frequently, but the first offering begins with raw mackerel and concludes with a signature duck dish. The restaurant will dry-age ducks for two weeks before smoking them over cherry wood and slow-roasting them for an hour. A small bar will also offer small dishes from an a la carte menu.
Alfred Portale’s departure from Gotham Bar & Grill after 34 years came as something of a shock to New York’s dining scene, but there was a sense that both parties could benefit from a new challenge. Gotham Bar & Grill has since relaunched with a new head chef, Victoria Blamey, and Portale has now re-emerged with an eponymous restaurant in Chelsea. Far from a half-baked idea quickly drummed up following his departure from Gotham, this modern Italian is the realization of a vision he has held for years. Portale has brought several members of his Gotham team with him, but this restaurant is completely different from the old-school, one-Michelin-starred bistro. Expect fresh, seasonal Italian dishes including ‘Cappellacci with sheep’s milk ricotta, wild mushrooms, and pine nuts’ and ‘Burrata with roasted beets, poached fruit, and pistachios’.
Gaijan satisfied many a sushi fan in Astoria, before closing its doors earlier this summer to transform into a modern and up-market version. The result is Kōyō, which opened with limited hours mid-November to much acclaim. It is overseen by new head chef Darry Liu, who cut his teeth at some of the city’s best eateries including Eleven Madison Park. He has curated two set menus. The first ($135) focuses on sushi and provides 12 pieces of Nigiri. The second ($175) has a stronger focus on seasonal ingredients and multi-course plates. All of the fish is sourced from Japan’s major Fukuoka and Toyosu markets. The restaurant itself is small and intimate with just 18 covers and two sittings per night, so expect a long wait for a reservation once the restaurant’s reputation grows as it surely will.