Goodnight Hospitality Brings Prix-Fixe Lounge Experience to Houston

Goodnight Hospitality opened the lounge component of its forthcoming restaurant, March, in the group’s hometown of Houston late last month. While the main dining room is set to debut in early 2021, the Lounge at March is now serving a prix-fixe wine-and-food experience that gives guests a taste of what’s to come. “I’m so excited to serve in a fine-dining concept again,” said Goodnight Hospitality partner June Rodil, who helped build the wine list at March and at the group’s Wine Spectator Award of Excellence–winning Rosie Cannonball.

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Chef-partner Felipe Riccio’s menu features a rotating focus on various Mediterranean regions, starting with the Levant. Ticketed lounge reservations cost $48 and include a half-glass of Champagne, a cocktail and small bites like a mille-feuille with labneh, apricot and harissa on a bed of fried chickpeas with black lime, and Turkish fermented bulgur with cinnamon, candied nuts and anise-soaked figs. Guests can bolster that with add-ons like menu supplements, caviar service and of course, more wine from the 11,000-bottle cellar. A full tasting menu will be available in the restaurant once it opens.

Overseen by Rodil and general manager and beverage director Mark Sayre, the 70-page wine list comprises mostly European picks. But the approach is more profound than just a geographic theme. “It’s meant to be a study, not just a reiteration,” Rodil told Wine Spectator. The program illustrates the broad range of wines from specific producers, and how their influence has rippled through the wine world. To achieve this, the collection often extends outside of Europe to showcase wines the sommelier team is especially passionate about.

“We came to find that the histories of many producers that we know and love are interwoven,” Rodil said. For example, the program includes nearly every vintage of Cathy Corison’s Kronos, as well as bottlings from fellow Napa producer Chappellet, where Corison was a winemaker. That ties in with vintner Tony Soter, who also used to work at Chappellet, and whose Oregon label is featured on the list. Soter also worked at Spottswoode, another favorite for the sommelier team, so the lounge offers those wines too.

“In a sense, the entire experience of March is an ode to things we love and want to share with our community: food, wine, culture, people and the constant passion to continue to learn about them,” Rodil said.

For pandemic safety, capacity is limited to 16 guests at a time in the 700-square-foot lounge, which is intricately designed with warm tones and midcentury-modern accents. As Rodil puts it, the space “encloses you like a Tuscan sunset, and there’s just something about it that makes you breathe deeply and escape for an evening.”—Julie Harans

City Winery’s Rockefeller Center Pop-Up Returns

A heated dome and open-air seating at City Winery’s Rockefeller Center pop-up

Book a private dome for safe and cozy wine-and-dining at City Winery’s temporary outdoor venue. (Courtesy of City Winery)

For the second year in a row, Restaurant Award–winning chain City Winery is popping up in New York City’s Rockefeller Center for the winter. Opened Nov. 21 and running through Jan. 17, the pop-up serves a brief selection of local wines alongside small bites like Bavarian pretzels, cinnamon rolls and tomato-basil soup.

“We are honored to be expanding our partnership with Rockefeller Center at such an important moment in New York City’s history,” City Winery CEO Michael Dorf said in a statement shared with Wine Spectator. The team hopes to provide a safe holiday outing for New Yorkers and visitors through the pop-up’s two outdoor spaces: The new rink-side café and the plaza-level wine garden. The café contains socially distanced tables and outdoor heaters, and the garden houses four private, heated domes with views of the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.

While only six wines are on the list, with both by-the-bottle and on-tap options, a much more extensive selection of 1,300 labels is available at City Winery’s recently opened Manhattan flagship.—Taylor McBride

Chef Brad Kilgore Closes Two Miami Restaurants

Open-flame grill at Ember

Open-flame grilling was a hallmark of Kilgore’s now-closed Ember. (Ruben Cabrera)

Ember and Kaido, two of the four Miami restaurants in chef Brad Kilgore’s Kilgore Culinary Group, will not reopen. Both located in Miami’s Design District, the restaurants initially closed earlier this year on a presumably temporary basis due to COVID-19, but that’s since become permanent. “The financial stress from all the happenings of this year made the outlook of reopening those young businesses extremely difficult,” Kilgore told the Miami Herald. “It’s definitely very emotional, as years of work in the concepts, menu and design were put into both spaces.” The group’s flagship and Award of Excellence winner, Alter, is still in business, featuring a 130-selection wine list with strengths in France and California.

Opened in 2019, Ember was Kilgore’s newest restaurant. The American bistro was largely dedicated to food cooked over wood-fired grills, including such dishes as swordfish and duck breast, as well as creative plates like fire-roasted lasagna. Ember’s menu was complemented by wine director Gustavo Rech’s wine list, which focused on bottles from France and California.

Located above Ember, Kaido was Kilgore’s Japanese-influenced cocktail lounge, where the beverage selection was packed with sake and Japanese whisky options, plus myriad cocktails from bartender Nico de Soto. The wine list offered top Champagnes from wineries like Ruinart and Krug, as well as diverse whites and reds from New Zealand, Spain, Washington and beyond. Kaido’s menu listed small plates like spicy beef tartare, Ibérico pork dumplings and arancini, as well as sushi.—Collin Dreizen

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