When you think of Bern’s steakhouse what comes to mind? Not much comes to mine, as I’m forced to live vicariously through the myriad fables and tall tales told to me by friends, who relish in rubbing salted butter in my wounds. You might consider this is sacrilegious, considering I claim to be a food and resto lover. Yet, facts are fact, and the fact is, I have never been to the place that has built an empire serving some of the finest beef and wine combinations available in the Western Hemisphere. I got no excuses. Yes, Bern’s is fine dining on the highest level. That hasn’t stopped me from unloading way more money than I should at other places. I’m ashamed.
As reconciliation, allow me to share a sneak peek of what’s coming next from the people who also brought you Sideburns. If Bern’s is the personification of classic cuisine, Sideburns should be known as Xanadu, the restaurant of the future! And the mesh that binds these two vastly different approaches? Elevage, a concept housed inside the newest venture from the Bern’s constituency, a boutique hotel known as The Epicurean.
It has been some time since I was blessed with an insiders look at what to expect from Elevage, as Sideburns boarded itself up one week in Mid-October, to focus on their soon to be newborn creation.
I refer you to read my friend Jeff Houck’s more in-depth coverage of Elevage, where he describes it as “classic American comfort food with a fine-dining touch.” I wholeheartedly agree with Mr Houck’s description. You want to know where Bern’s and its neighbor to the side meet and give the everyman a chance to partake? It’s at Elevage. From what I saw of the sampling, there will be nothing overly stuffy or excessively avant-garde about the dining experience. Here’s exactly what to expect broken down to its most cellular level. Picture the dish your mom made for dinner growing up, or if you have a little age on you think about every clichéd restaurant food from the 50’s and 60’s. Do you have it yet? Did your mom not cook for you as a child? You didn’t ever go out to eat? Oh, I’m so sorry. I wasn’t aware. How inconsiderate of me. For everyone else, I’m sure you’ve pictured a dish or two that fulfills these criteria. Maybe you live too far away and you don’t get that home cooking from mom anymore, or forgot that duck a l’orange was the ramen burger of the Mid-20th Century.
With dishes like Quail Cordon Bleu, flounder almondine stuffed with rock shrimp and black garlic aioli, and foie gras matzo ball soup, you’d think you’ve stepped into some alternate reality, where Ozzie and Harriet are next door neighbors with John and Sarah Conner, who live across the street from the Jetsons.
I love classics done right. I adore the idea of the figurative elevation of traditional cuisine, done in a setting that doesn’t include a TV tray. Elevage has proved its worth before the doors have even opened for business, before the first reservation has been honored. To forecast more of what the diner has in store, I see nostalgia playing a big part in their success. To be taken back to a place and time with food as the sole teleportation device, a place that can only exist in one’s mind, is a pretty exciting notion.
Like I told Mr. Houck when he queried about my expectations, I said, “I wasn’t pleasantly surprised. I expected it to be amazing, and they exceeded that.” I urge you to check out his story where he delves into some of the more enticing homages Elevage will be offering, including my warped, nay distorted, albeit delicious choice for dessert.
In the meantime take a look at some of the dishes made available to us at the pop-up hosted by Sideburns. Special thanks to Thai Vo, who shared some of the better pictures below, as many of mine were sub-par.