What chef isn't inspired at least in some part by the first loving tastes of childhood?
Chef Gavin Kaysen is no different, despite his status as the most illustrious name in food around this city right now.
As part homage to his grandma Dorothy's cooking, and part desire for a family-style experience, Dorothy's Dinners are what the chef considers a third opportunity for restaurant-goers.
"If I was a diner who came here three times a week, I could order a la carte one night, bar food the second, and Dorothy's Dinners the third, and those are all extremely different experiences," says Kaysen.
Despite the top-chef pedigree of the crew behind the restaurant -- New York City's Cafe Boloud being one of the country's finest restaurants, and Kaysen's former stomping grounds -- the team insist they've created a restaurant that will meet the needs of the casual diner. (If that casual diner has impeccable taste, no doubt.)
While the family-style dinners are meant to be evocative of that category of eating, Kaysen adds: "But of course, I didn't grow up eating house-made smoked Kielbasa with Puy lentils, fried sweet potato, and kale salad with ricotta." Us either, but that's why we've come to the restaurant.
The dessert to this feast is lemon meringue pie. "My grandma baked with me a lot, and I think pies are beautiful. That's part of why [pastry chef] Diane [Yang] has been focusing on them."
Kaysen says he's got all of his grandma's recipes in the office, and uses them for inspiration. Her meatloaf appears on the bar menu slider. "Now of course we've made it into a duck meatloaf and added foie gras and tamarind to do that," he adds with a bit of a laugh.
Dorothy's Dinners can feed six ($35-$40 per person), but Kaysen emphasizes there needn't be that many to make it a good choice. "A couple ordered it last night and they were over the moon. And, it's a nice way to break up what a diner thinks they need to order to experience the type of cuisine we offer."
It's also a natural fit for the kind of family gatherings Kaysen is anticipating as the holidays ramp up.
Other things to keep an eye out for: his take on his grandma's chicken and dumplings, which she was famous for.
"She was always so proud. I think she's smiling down on us now."
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