The spectacular Setai has dazzled guests and visitors with unprecedented luxury and service since opening in 2005. Now, in an effort to offer guests and local residents a relaxed neighborhood alternative to The Restaurant’s lauded authentic Asian cuisine, executive chef Jonathan Wright has redesigned The Grill at The Setai, transforming it into an intimate but lively space with seating for 50 indoors and out, where diners can create their own multi-course tapas menus from an abundant selection of dishes crafted from the best ingredients available worldwide. Reopening on Wednesday, November 18 for limited reservations, The Grill will officially open to the public on Wednesday, December 9, 2009.
An interactive chef’s counter showcases Mediterranean-influenced offerings such as Iberian pata negra, bowls of fragrant white and black truffles from Italy, and artisanal cheeses. Diners are invited to share a meal at the beautiful mother of pearl topped communal table, take a seat at the chef’s counter or at comfortable tables in the warm, welcoming dining room; enjoy outdoor seating in The Setai’s oasis-like courtyard, or reserve the private wine room. The frequently-changing seasonal menu is comprised of attractively priced small ($8-$35), medium ($10-$22) and large plates ($18-$50).
“For The Grill, I wanted diners to experience that feeling of discovery a great dining experience can give you – to offer people the opportunity to smell a white truffle, taste the perfect cheese, enjoy a dish comprised of simple ingredients, but with technique that brings out the flavors in a new, often groundbreaking way”, offered Wright. “We’re constantly researching and sourcing ingredients from all over the world. From jam to cinnamon, olive oil to freshly caught Florida fish, you can be certain that every product we use is the best available anywhere. I’ve personally sampled everything, and if we can’t find something that’s up to standard, you won’t see it on the menu.”
The menu offers slow cooked comfort dishes, the likes of ballotine of oxtail – deboned and slowly cooked in red wine for 24-hours then served with carrots cooked in carrot juice and a pristine parsnip puree. Piquillo peppers are stuffed with fresh crab meat, crème fraiche and a touch of lime, while spinach and parmesan ravioli are filled with poached egg, white truffle and rosemary jus.
Small plates include charcuterie, a perfect cross section of the best meats of France, Italy and Spain – prosciutto di Parma, a succulent saucisson sec and highly prized Jambon Iberico – aged 36 months and sliced at the chefs’ counter. Escabeche of sardines is served with a refreshing tomato sorbet, black olives and basil oil; crispy oyster beignets topped with caviar are served with cauliflower cream and briny sea urchin and Serrano ham, chicken and sage croquetas are accompanied with onion jam, while foie gras is simply presented with spiced quince and ginger bread.
Offered on medium plates, honey and vinegar soused eggplants are plated with sautéed calamari and toasted pine nuts; seared tuna belly rests atop a sweet shallot puree, and is paired with grilled onions and black currant eucalyptus vinaigrette; while roast chicken raviolis are in lemongrass broth with lime cream. Large plates range from crisp confit duck leg with cherries, caramelized pumpkin and Szechuan pepper to 36-hour braised brisket made with roasted bone marrow and a red onion salad with toasted sourdough. The finest quality Creek Stone dry aged and Painted Hills grass bred beef can be paired with a selection of wonderful sauces and sides including duck fat fries with truffle salt, wild mushroom fricassee and fava beans with bacon, among others.
Similarly subtle, inventive dishes characterize the dessert menu ($8-$12). Citrus combines the tastes and textures of orange, lemon, lime and pink grapefruit; while liquid mango ravioli is served with salted coconut sorbet and a simple chocolate tart includes housemade walnut ice cream. Those opting for a savory conclusion to their meal can make selections from the extensive cheese menu, offered with wine pairings, or from the caviar menu, featuring the best of Petrossian Caviar.
Sommelier Dwayne Savoie and mixologist Paul Sevigny complement the menu with thoughtfully selected wines and cocktails. In addition to crafting award-winning wine lists, Savoie has instituted the popular Bottle Shock menu, which offers 40 percent off 65 wines with ratings of 90 or above and has specifically designed a selection of wines by the glass for the new Grill menu. Sevigny serves classic and contemporary cocktails such as the Hickory Old Fashioned: bacon and sage infused Wild Turkey Bourbon, honey syrup, orange bitter and a flamed orange peel and the Asian Picnic: smoked pork belly infused Jack Daniels, chile syrup, compressed watermelon, citrus and shiso.
Chef Wright developed his classic French culinary technique as executive chef de cuisine at Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons in Oxford, England, which has long been regarded as one of the best restaurants in the world, with accolades that include a two star Michelin rating, 5/5 AA Rosettes and 19/20 Gault Milau. All told, Wright has over 23 years in the kitchen including stints as executive chef at Windsor Court Hotel in New Orleans, Raffles Hotel in Singapore and Sir Terence Conran’s Great Eastern Hotel in London, La Gousse, D’ail in Oxfordshire and the historic Lark Creek Inn near San Francisco. During his seven years, working in the U.S., he has been lauded by local and national publications from ranging The New York Times to GQ, as well as the James Beard Foundation.