Sam Sifton reported today that Cabrito will close at the end of the month. The chef, Zak Pelaccio, says he is replacing it with a new concept:
Now try to ignore, for the moment, the question whether this new restaurant will be any good, which is impossible to say when the concept is as vague as that.
It’ll be a place where the plates are a little more studied and the food is not so deliberately leaning toward the Southeast Asian end of the spectrum,” he said. “I think there will be full, robust flavors. It won’t be precious. It’s a way for me to enjoy cooking a little more.”
Kate Telfeyan, the director of public relations for the Fatty Crew, said: “It’s going to be a slightly more serious Fatty restaurant. “Something with a slightly more grown-up menu and service style.” Ms. Telfeyan paused and laughed. “Or grown-up-ish,” she added. . . .
Mr. Pelaccio said that Cabrito’s interior will be pulled out, and the kitchen remodeled. The seating will be comfortable and cozy, he said, and the room “will be quieter.”
Of the menu, Mr. Pelaccio said, “I’m still fleshing some things out, and I don’t want to end up with a foot in my mouth, but there is going to be a more mature aspect to the menu, for sure, and greater depth on the wine list. I think there will be full, robust flavors. It won’t be precious.”
Nevertheless, how often in the last two years have you heard any chef say that they were aiming for a "more grown-up menu and service style," "more mature," seating "comfortable and cozy," a "quieter room," and "greater depth on the wine list"? It is exactly the opposite of what almost everyone has been doing the last couple of years.
Now, I don't expect Pelaccio to open Jean Georges, which Pelaccio has neither the ambition nor the skill for. But this is not the direction anyone (that I can recall) has gone since the fall of Lehman Brothers, aside from the high-end Italian places like Lincoln, Ai Fiori, Manzo, and so forth, all of which had big-money backers behind them.
I have no idea how well Cabrito was doing, but I can't recall many chefs lately that have closed a restaurant so that they could open something "more mature" and "quieter" (code words, surely, for more expensive) in the same space.