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Timothy Hollingsworth on John Fraser

Dovetail New York Evan Sung

Photo by Evan Sung

Dovetail's warm ambiance—serious, but not stuffy.

The Chef: John Fraser

The Locale: 103 West 77th Street, Manhattan

What’s in a Name?: Dovetail means to come together harmoniously. Expect a perfect melding and confluence of unexpected ingredients and techniques.

French Connection: Fraser spent time in some of the most acclaimed restaurants on the planet, including French Laundry and Taillevent in Paris, before opening his first restaurant, Dovetail, in 2008. The restaurant was soon awarded three stars by The New York Times. “I started cooking with John early in my time in Yountville, and he was a big part of my upbringing there,” Hollingsworth says. “He’s a natural teacher and chose to take the time to teach me countless techniques. It’s exciting to see him move on to great accomplishments. He’s an example of a chef who passes through the French Laundry, then goes out to do this own thing without riding on Keller’s coattails.”

No Flash in the Pan: Fraser’s passion for local ingredients and classic dishes is grounded in European training. “He’s always looking to do new and different things, and he’s never stagnant,” Hollingsworth says. “He’s brilliant at taking a classic dish and doing a spin on it.” To wit: duck confit perfectly enhanced with the unlikely trio of beets, fava beans and curry, or “deconstructed muffaletta,” comprised of breaded and fried lamb’s tongue, olives, pimentos, caper mayonnaise and spirals of salami and cheese.

Serious, but not Stuffy: The menu at Dovetail offers surprises such as a sherry menu (a sherry cellar overlooking the kitchen on the lower level also serves as a private dining room for up to 20 guests), an affordable “Sunday Suppa” (three comfort-with-panache courses showcasing farm-fresh ingredients for $42) and a Monday night vegetarian tasting menu with offerings that are either vegan—from warm pea soup with truffles, romaine and mint to braising greens lasagna with pine nuts, feta cheese and chanterelle mushrooms—or “vegetable-focused,” with options such as a carrot-cake crepe with smoked split peas, cream cheese, walnuts and braised lamb. “It’s something that not a lot of high-end New York restaurants are doing,” Hollingsworth says. “He’s trying to think outside the box and create a different option for people.”

While You’re in the Hood: If you need to walk off lunch, consider the American Museum of Natural History or Central Park. They’re right around the corner.

This article has been adapted from the original, which appeared in the October 2010 issue of Sky.

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