Settle in at the long bar and Chambers feels like a cozier place than Racines, the wine-focused restaurant that preceded it in the space. The shift is subtle, from comfortable bar stools to the communal table in the front, but the shift in the food is more marked, as executive-chef-and-partner Jonathan Karis aligns his menu with the earth tones of the wine list. On a recent June evening, it was perspectives on umami that gave the night its homespun richness. A bottle of 2011 Touraine, a cabernet franc from Patrick Corbineau, was just one of the affordable options with plenty of bottle age. Time had brought out the umami and, surprisingly, brought the wine directly in line with the anchovy aioli that topped a plate of fresh green asparagus spears.
Ellis Srubas-Giammanco works with Pascaline Lepeltier on the list, covering the Loire in depth, along with an international cohort of low-intervention producers. He happily served as a guide to the older francs, and smiled when we landed on the Corbineau…even if it seemed unwise not to just revel in ancestrale bubbles, which claim their own page on the list with close to 30 selections (one of them is Lepeltier’s own label, chèpika, a Finger Lakes wine she makes from Delaware—the grape, not the state). Chicken is often the best test case at any new restaurant; here it’s the star of the show, from Snowdance Farm, halved, boned, marinated, flattened and weighted down on a hot plancha so that the skin turns crispy while the flesh remains tender and salty-sweet.
Karis is the newcomer. His three other partners were part of Racines before it closed in 2021—Lepeltier, general manager Jared David, and David Lillie, who co-owns Chambers Street Wines one block west. Whether it’s the wine-friendly nature of the food, the gentle pricing of a distinctly ambitious list, or the team’s goal to create a neighborhood vibe, there’s a welcoming feel to Chambers that will draw you back.
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