Vitae

It’s been way too long since I’ve eaten at Vitae. Oh, how I have missed those warm parker house rolls and veal ricotta sliders! Very happy to be introducing two friends to this amazing restaurant tonight. We shared a bunch of dishes: the veal sliders (of course), a beef tartare special (so glad we ordered it), Italian wedding soup (I cannot even begin to describe my excitement when I saw this on the menu — it’s one of my favorite soups ever), the whole brook trout with smoked fennel, yukon gold potato (super light and fresh), and the risotto with butternut squash, kale, chorizo, and duck confit (sounds like a lot of ingredients but they all worked in perfect harmony to create the most amazing flavors). We celebrated my friends’ recent birthdays with two yummy desserts, an apple tart with bourbon glazed apples and affogato with chocolate cinnamon gelatoI loved the Italian wedding soup so much that I just had to get an order to go, along with another order of those veal sliders. (Can you tell that I’m obsessed with them?) It was absolutely wonderful seeing Chef Edwin Bellanco again — he’s an incredibly talented chef and an amazing person. Thanks so much, Chef Edwin and the Vitae team, for yet another magnificent meal! Can’t wait to see you guys again soon — I’m coming back for more of that delicious Italian wedding soup!

Vitae: 4 East 46th Street (between Fifth Avenue and Madison)

Warm Parker House Rolls brushed with duck fat and sprinkled with sea salt

Amuse Bouches: homemade potato chip, fried oyster, pulled pork taco

Veal Ricotta Sliders

Italian Wedding Soup with chicken ricotta meatballs, lacinato kale, parmesan

Beef Tartare with quail egg and parmesan crisps

Risotto with butternut squash, kale, chorizo, duck confit

Whole Brook Trout with smoked fennel, yukon gold potato, malt vinegar aioli

Apple Tart with bourbon glazed apples, streusel, caramel and vanilla gelato

Affogato with chocolate cinnamon gelato, espresso, amaro cio ciaro

Vitae

Savoring Sicily and Apulia: Chef Jordon Frosolone and his Mentors at the James Beard House

At tonight’s dinner at the James Beard House, Momofuku Group’s Jordan Frosolone assembled a team of renowned chefs who mentored him throughout his career for an Italian-inspired dinner. I signed up for this dinner the second that I heard that one of my favorite chefs, Edwin Bellanco of Vitae, was going to be cooking alongside Chef Marco Canora of Hearth and Chef Mark Ladner of Del Posto. I am such a huge fan of Chef Edwin — he’s incredibly talented in addition to being such a warm and genuine person. I’m also a big fan of Chef Marco Canora, who restaurant, Hearth, has quickly shot to the top of my list. I really enjoyed the journey through Apulia and Sicily by way of the delicious dishes that each chef prepared. The seafood salad and rolled swordfish stood out the most to me and were absolutely delicious. It was such a pleasure to meet Jordan Salcito, beverage director for the Momofuku restaurant group. She came by our table to tell us about the pistachio liqueur that was paired with the dessert: brioche with pistachio gelato. I am obsessed with anything pistachio — the liqueur and gelato were fantastic! I’m so happy I had the opportunity to attend this dinner and am looking forward to returning to the Beard House in week for the another great meal!

James Beard House: 167 West 12th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenue)

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Pizza di Patate Pugliese (Apulian Potato Pizza) by Chef Edwin Bellanco

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Panella Siciliana (Fried Sicilian Chickpea Cakes) by Chef Jordan Frosolone 

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Pollo e Uova Tramezzini (Chicken & Egg sandwiches) by Chef Mark Ladner

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Cocktail Hour in the James Beard Garden

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Tonno con Salicornia, Sesame, Gelsomino (Seasonal Fish Crudo with Sea Beans, Sesame, and Jasmine) by Chef Jordon Frosolone of Momofuku 

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Frutti di Mare con Polpo, Gamberetto, Calamari, Patate (Seafood Salad with Octopus, Prawns, Calamari, and Potatoes) by Chef Marco Canora of Hearth

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Timballo di Gattopardo (Classic Sicilian Baked Pasta) by Chef Mark Ladner of Del Posto 

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Involtini di Pesce Spada Prezzemolo, Capperi (Rolled Swordfish with Parsley and Capers) by Chef Edwin Bellanco of Vitae

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Carre d’Agnello con Carciofi e Salsa di Fave di Cocao (Lamb Loin with Artichokes and Cocoa Bean Sauce) by Chef Jordon Frosolone of Momofuku 

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Brioche with Pistachio Gelato by Chef Jordon Frosolone of Momofuku 

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Jordan Salcito, Beverage Director for The Momofuku Group

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Three amazing chefs (Chef Jordan Frosolone, Chef Edwin Bellanco, and Chef Marco Canora) 

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Savoring Sicily and Apulia: Chef Jordon Frosolone and his Mentors at the James Beard House

Vitae [lunch]

It’s my birthday (yay!) and I’m excited to start the celebrations off with lunch at Vitae. Accompanied by my foodie bestie and partner in crime, SaraDISH, we kicked off our meal with a couple glasses of birthday bubbly. Day drinking is so much fun! :)  We were both starving so we chowed down on those amazing parker house rolls glazed in duck fat & sea salt and delightful amuse bouches, along with the veal ricotta sliders (my fave), pizzetta with caramelized onions, arugula, bacon, roasted tomatoes & gruyere, and skate with blood orange, baby fennel & citrus vinaigrette. Everything was delicious! For dessert, Chef Edwin Bellanco surprised me with two beautiful desserts: mascarpone cheesecake with candied kumquats, vanilla bean & sage and dark chocolate mousse with blood orange & hazelnuts. The mascarpone in the cheesecake made it so light and airy — I’m not a cheesecake fan, but this one was pretty amazing. A huge thank you to Chef Bellanco and the team at Vitae for a wonderful birthday lunch and yummy desserts! Now it’s time to head home, take a long nap, and get ready for tonight’s dinner at Osteria Morini. 😉

Vitae: 4 East 46th Street (between Fifth Avenue and Madison)

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Birthday bubbly!

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Warm Parker House Rolls glazed with duck fat and sea salt 

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Amuse bouches: Pulled Pork Taco, Tempura Prawn, Burrata Crostini

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Veal Ricotta Sliders 

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Super tender and juicy!

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Skate with blood orange, baby fennel, and citrus vinaigrette 

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Pizzetta with caramelized onions, arugula, bacon, roasted tomatoes, and gruyere

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Mascarpone cheesecake with candied kumquats, vanilla bean, and sage

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Dark chocolate mousse with blood orange and hazelnut

Vitae [lunch]

Vitae

I always love dining at Vitae.  Over the past year, it’s become a staple go-to restaurant, thanks to the amazing food and friendly service. This time around, my foodie friend and I indulged in some of our Vitae faves: those heavenly parker house rolls, the crispy pork belly, and pork schnitzel. Oh so good! We also sampled a few new items, including the tuna & hamachi crudo with hijiki seaweed and seared diver scallops in Thai curry sauce — one of Chef Edwin Bellanco’s signature dishes. A few creative sorbets and a decadent dark chocolate mousse with blood orange rounded out our meal. As always, many thanks to Chef Edwin and his team for another beautiful meal!

Vitae: 4 East 46th Street (between Fifth Avenue and Madison)

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Crystal Green Persuasion (Junipero gin, honey, cucumber, basil, mint, lemon juice)

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Warm Parker House Rolls glazed with duck fat and sea salt

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Amuse Bouches: Pulled Pork Taco, Tempura Shrimp, Burrata Crostini, Butternut Squash Soup

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Tuna & Hamachi crudo, hijiki seaweed, holland chile, lotus root and sriracha vinaigrette

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Crispy pork belly, cabbage, Parisienne apple, apple cider vinaigrette

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Pork Schnitzel

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Tasty sides: cranberry jam, cucumber, warm potato salad

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Seared diver scallops, cauliflower, golden raisins, cashews, Thai curry sauce

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Strawberry mint soda

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Lemon & pink peppercorn sorbet, chocolate sorbet, and hazelnut gelato

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Dark Chocolate Mousse with blood orange and hazelnut

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The dining room

Vitae

Vitae

Tonight I had the most amazing meal at Vitae. Joined by two close friends and my awesome boyfriend, we enjoyed dish after dish of incredible food by Chef Edwin Bellanco. The night started out with a few glasses of bubbly and was quickly followed by parker house rolls glazed with duck fat and sea salt (yes, they are as awesome as they sound!) and a lovely assortment of amuse bouches: pulled pork tacos, burrata crostini, fig & peach with feta, and honey dew foam & prosciutto with mint oil. What a great way to kick off the meal! The next course consisted of tempura prawns, crispy pork belly, veal ricotta sliders, and lobster pappardelle. The crispy pork belly had a few new components this time around: cabbage, parisienne apple, and apple cider vinaigrette — simply divine! It was one of my favorites. I’m also a huge fan of the moist & savory veal ricotta sliders, which I hope never come off of the menu. I snagged a few bites of the pappardelle and prawns — both were great. On to the next round! We feasted on pork schnitzel, shrimp risotto, whole bass, and lamb. I am obsessed with the pork schnitzel (super crispy and juicy), which was paired with these incredible sides (cucumber salad, warm potato salad, and cranberry jam). I could have eaten the sides as a meal — they were so good! I sampled bites of all of the other dishes and enjoyed each one. By this time, we were happy and stuffed to the brim. But how could we resist dessert? Especially when those desserts are pear tart tatin, earl grey tea cake, and chocolate panna cotta. All were fantastic, but it was the pear tart tatin that stole my heart. A million thanks to Chef Edwin for a phenomenal meal and for coming out to chat with us after dinner! In addition to being an immensely talented chef, he is such a warm, kind-hearted person for whom I have the utmost respect. We also loved our server, Jason, who was friendly, knowledgeable, and helped make our experience a fabulous one!

Vitae: 4 East 46th Street (between Fifth Avenue and Madison)

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Starting off the night with some bubbly

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Parker House Rolls glazed with duck fat and sea salt

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(from left to right) Pulled Pork Tacos, Burrata Crostini, Fig & Peach with Feta, and Honey Dew Foam & Prosciutto with Mint Oil

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Tempura Prawns, Pineapple, Kale, Soy-Ginger Vinaigrette

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Crispy Pork Belly, Cabbage, Parisienne Apple, Apple Cider Vinaigrette

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Veal Ricotta Sliders (Veal Ricotta Meatballs, Tomato Sauce, Parker House Roll)

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Lobster Pappardelle 

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Crystal Green Persuasion cocktail (Junipero gin, cucumber, honey, basil, mint, lemon juice) 

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Risotto, Laughing Bird Shrimp, Peas, Lemon, Sauce Americaine

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Whole Bass with Soba Noodles

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Pork Schnitzel (Warm Potato Salad, Cucumber, Cranberry Jam)

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Pear Tart Tatin with Caramel, Vanilla, Cardamom, Pisco

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Earl Grey Tea Cake, Huckleberry, Pumpkin Seed, Lemon, Buttermilk

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Chocolate Panna Cotta with Grape, Rosemary, Sage, Red Wine 

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View from the upstairs dining room

Vitae

Vitae [lunch]

I was in the mood for a hearty lunch, so I stopped by Vitae to grab a burger to go. It held up so well as I trekked back to my office through the crowded midtown streets and several subway stops.  Back at my desk, I feasted on a super juicy medium rare burger that couldn’t have been more delicious! Thanks, Chef Bellanco! :)

Vitae: 4 East 46th Street (between Fifth Avenue and Madison)

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The big, beautiful Vitae burger with smoked gouda and applewood smoked bacon

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Nice and rare, just the way I like it

Vitae [lunch]

Table Talk with Chef Edwin Bellanco

Current Gig
Executive Chef and Owner, Vitae

About the Chef
Chef Edwin’s first cooking job in Manhattan was at Gramercy Tavern, where he worked under Chef Tom Colicchio. During the summers, he would head out to Martha’s Vineyard to run La Cucina, a restaurant that he opened with Chef Marco Canora. Several years later, Chef Edwin went back to Cleveland to work at Moxie, before returning to Manhattan and working under Chef David Bouley at Danube and later Bouley. He also spent three months at The French Laundry in Yountville, CA with Chef Thomas Keller. After that, Chef Edwin opened Cru with Chef Shea Gallante in Manhattan, which was awarded a Michelin Star. About a year and a half ago, Chef Edwin opened Vitae, known for its creative, refined, and approachable cuisine.

Vitae: 4 East 46th Street (between Fifth Avenue and Madison)

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Chef Edwin Bellanco at Vitae

Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Cleveland, Ohio in an Italian and Irish family. My grandmother cooked all the time and made huge feasts for Thanksgiving and Christmas. I used to love going into the kitchen – the smells, the sounds – it was great. I remember sitting in restaurants as a kid, peering into the kitchen and watching the cooks work, thinking to myself, “Wow, that’s so cool, I want to do that!” (Laughing) When I was old enough to get a job, I started working as a dishwasher in a restaurant. Then I was promoted to be a cook and I loved everything about it. I cooked pretty much my whole way through high school.

What did you enjoy eating most as a kid?
My grandmother made this killer Italian wedding soup that I loved. I’ve never had anything like it. It was the best! Sadly, she passed away. I think my sister held on to some of her recipes, but I’m not sure if that recipe is around.  I wish I knew exactly how she made it!

At the moment, what is your favorite ingredient and what do you like to make with it?
I don’t necessarily gravitate toward one particular ingredient. I do have favorite seasons – I love the fall and spring. I’m kind of on an Asian and Indian kick right now. I try to bring Asian elements into my food, keeping it uniquely my style, while working those amazing flavors into it. Butternut squash, sweet potatoes, and yams are coming into season now, so we’ll make a sweet potato gnocchi here at the restaurant. We’ll most likely braise a lamb leg to pair with it since those flavors go together really well.

What kitchen items are important for a home cook to own?
I think you should always have a good knife that you maintain and keep sharp. It will make your food look better than other people’s food. (Laughing)  You also want to have a nice spoon – it comes in handy with plating and tasting. I love the spoons that I got from Cleveland when I worked there – they are beautiful, deep spoons that we use to plate everything. The Gray Kunz spoons are really good, too.  I’d also say that you should have a peppermill so that you can season properly, as well as a nice spatula. This is a very Thomas Keller thing. The pastry spatula – a long, flat spatula with a wooden handle – is really great for flipping meat and fish. It probably wasn’t intended to be used in that way, but it’s perfect for handling delicate food.

If your food were music, what music style(s) would it be and why?
Immediately I think of a really progressive punk band. (Laughing) I feel like my thought process isn’t that smooth, it’s kind of all over the place. There are all of these things that go on in my head that I try to grab hold of and put on a plate. Once I have everything figured out, the food itself is more like classical music – very light, appealing, and classic.

Where are your favorite places to travel for the cuisine?
I haven’t traveled since I opened Vitae. We’ve been open for a year and half now, and I’ve stuck around to make sure everything goes smoothly. I did travel a lot before that, and I always loved going to Italy. It’s one of my favorite places. I feel like people always say that they love Tuscany, but that’s because cuisine is so great. I’ve been to France and I love the food – it’s my comfort zone. I have never taken a trip to Asia and it’s something that I would love to do. I dream about it! (Laughing) Now that I have two kids, it’s tough to go away for an entire month. I feel like it would be so eye-opening and mind blowing to go to India, Thailand, Malaysia, Japan, Korea…  There are so many key ingredients in each country’s cuisine that make it interesting and appealing to me.

If you had not gone the culinary route, what would you have done instead?
I don’t know, I hate to even think about it! (Laughing) I’ve cooked my whole life and it’s just always what I did. My mom was a working mom so I would often make my own meals at home – I didn’t think twice about it. Now, I don’t think twice about what else I would do… maybe because I don’t even know if I COULD do anything else! (Laughing)  I’ve been cooking for so long that it comes so naturally. After graduating from high school, I remember thinking that I really had no idea about what I wanted to do for a career, but I just kept cooking all throughout college. I decided to go to New York and be around the best chefs in one of the best places I could think of. And I haven’t looked back since. (Smiling)

Which chef do you admire most right now?
Going back to when I moved to New York, I really tried to treat my career like an apprenticeship. I wanted to surround myself with the best people in the business. Chef Tom Colicchio was my first boss here in Manhattan – he only had Gramercy Tavern at the time. Now I’m really showing my age! (Laughing)  It was such an eye-opening experience for me. I was in way over my head, I could move fast and work hard, but I realized that I didn’t know anything about anything. (Laughing)  It was amazing to be in a place where everyone was 100% dedicated and put out such a great product.  It was the first time that I had ever seen anything like that, and it blew me away. I found it incredible that one chef could get that much talent under one roof. Tom Colicchio is amazing and what he does is amazing. I remember reading an article in the New York Times about Bouley restaurant, and I asked myself, “Who is this Bouley guy?” I ended up working for Chef David Bouley the longest out of anyone in my career. It was fascinating to me to experience those two very different styles. Chef Tom’s style is to let the ingredients shine, and he was more apt to take something off of the plate than put something on. Chef David was the polar opposite – he has so much going on in each dish, so much complexity, and it all worked.  I remember thinking it doesn’t have to be one way or the other, great food is just great food.

When you get a chance to dine out, where do you like to go?
I’m a creature of habit and I don’t like to venture out too far. (Smiling) I like to go to Koreatown and Chinatown. If I have a day off, I love to get inexpensive Asian food. I’m always amazed at how delicious and affordable it is!

If you had to give up one of the five food groups (Bread & Potatoes; Milk & Dairy; Meat & Fish; Fat & Sugar; Fruits & Vegetables) and could not eat anything from that group for the rest of your life, which one would it be and why?
Well, it can’t be bread. I love bread! (Laughing) You know, I guess I could give up meat.  It might be a little harder to give up fish, though. I like meat, but I find that when I go out, I rarely order it. I do love a good steak from time to time, but it’s pretty heavy, so I could do without it. Yeah, I could definitely give it up!

Table Talk with Chef Edwin Bellanco

Vitae

While searching for a good restaurant in the midtown area, a friend of mine came across Vitae on Yelp. Since it had positive reviews and the menu looked great, we decided to check it out. So glad that we did! I had just come from my first dinner of night (Sushi of Gari) and was planning on eating light. That went right out the window after the bread came out: Parker House Rolls glazed with duck fat and sprinkled with sea salt. They were fluffy and warm — simply to die for! I tried to order conservatively by choosing two appetizers instead of my normal four or five dishes.  The appetizers, Veal Ricotta Sliders and Crispy Pork Belly, ended up being practically the size of entrees! The veal sliders were insanely moist and flavorful (I’m a sucker for veal). The pork belly was complemented beautifully by the watermelon and had a nice ratio of meat to fat (I like my pork belly on the fatty side). I also sampled some of the entrees that my dining companions ordered, including the arctic char in coconut & lemongrass broth (loved it) and the buffalo with Honshimeji mushrooms.  The buffalo blew my mind — it was incredibly tender and had such an intense meaty/earthy flavor. I’m definitely ordering it next time I’m here! For dessert, we enjoyed a blackberry milk cake with pistachio and tarragon (unique and creative) as well as an assortment of tasty sorbets and ice cream. At the end of our meal, we were thrilled when Chef Edwin Bellanco came over to our table! He’s such a nice guy and an incredibly talented chef. I am very much looking forward to returning to Vitae to try the rest of the menu!

Vitae: 4 East 46th Street (between Fifth Avenue and Madison)

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Parker House Rolls with duck fat and sea salt

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Amuse Bouche: Prosciutto with honey dew foam and mint oil

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Veal Ricotta Sliders (Veal Ricotta Meatballs, Tomato Sauce, Parker House Roll)

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Crispy Pork Belly, Pickled Watermelon, Sunflower Seeds, Pork Ginger Glaze

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Bourbon Brownie ice cream, Watermelon Mezcal sorbet, Lavender Blueberry sorbet

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Blackberry Milk Cake, Pistachio, Tarragon, Rose, Ruby Port

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Bar and front dining room

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The main dining room

Vitae