Summertime and livin’ is easy. Farmers markets overflow with a rainbow of just-harvested vegetables, fruits, and herbs, while fishermen haul in seasonal specialties. For chefs, this wealth of freshness is a bonanza that they look forward to all year long. You can practically hear them rubbing their hands with glee when it starts flooding into their kitchens. To highlight the best of the sunny season, we rounded up nine stunning summer restaurant menus.
Bouchon, Beverly Hills, California
Thomas Keller presents French favorites crafted with farm fresh produce. Roasted chicken comes with a ragout of summer pole beans and sweet corn, artichokes pair with a pan-seared swordfish, and a radiant apricot tart leads the new dessert offerings. C’est magnifique!
Charlie Palmer Steak, Washington, D.C.
When he’s not in the kitchen, executive chef Jeffrey Russell spends time tending his garden plot across the Potomac River in Alexandria, Virginia. The vegetables and herbs he cultivates there become a part of his four-course tasting dinners, which change weekly. The initial menu features a baby butter lettuce salad filled out with cukes, carrots, and bronze fennel and teres major steak accompanied by braised Swiss chard and charred Vidalia onions.
Chefs Club by Food & Wine, New York City
If restaurants were movies, this one would be The Avengers. A rotating, all-star cast of contributors presents a seasonally inspired menu, which currently includes a watercress-jalapeno-watermelon salad from chef Michelle Bernstein and lobster cannelloni from chef Lachlan Mackinnon-Patterson of Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado. Sounds like a blockbuster to us.
Lincoln Ristorante, New York, New York
For his latest menu, executive chef Jonathan Benno found inspiration in traditional Sardinian cuisine. Standout dishes include a burrata orb graced with strawberries and pickled ramps, brown butter sautéed morels sit atop ricotta-pea pocketed ravioli, and a mélange of spinach and red dandelion greens are gussied up with briny bottarga, chili, and garlic. Best of all: you don’t have to buy a plane ticket to enjoy this authentic taste of the Mediterranean isle.
Stones Throw, San Francisco, California
The familiar flavors of summer are partnered with unexpected co-stars. Uni cream garnishes sweet corn soup, while yuzukoshō spiced crème fraîche adds a Japanese flair to crispy soft shell crab. A more classic pairing occurs in the coyly title “Five Peas in a Pod” salad, which is dressed with a sprightly almond-mint pesto.
Touché Rooftop Lounge & Restaurant, Miami, Florida
When the mercury starts spiking, chef Carla Pellegrino lightens up her Italian fare. Plump manila clams sit atop tangles of linguini simply dressed with white wine and extra virgin olive oil, while a vibrant arugula-tomato-red-onion salad adds levity to chicken Milanese.
Travelle, Chicago, Illinois
You can almost smell the sea in the air here. Chef Tim Graham highlights the harvest of the oceans on his summer menu. Country-fried soft shell crab arrives with verdant asparagus and sorrel gravy, barbecued octopus is bolstered by pork belly, and sea island red peas, and Hawaiian tuna gets a boost from spring onion vinaigrette.
Tuome, New York, New York
Chef-owner Thomas Chen clearly revels in the harvest of the warm weather months. Soft shell crab is cosseted with heirloom tomatoes and burrata, watermelon salad arrives with housemade ricotta and chrysanthemums, and beef tartare topped with a sunny yolk gets a slight Asian accent with the addition of lemongrass. If only summer could go on forever.
Wassail, New York, New York
The veg-centric eatery revels in the bounty of the summer months. A garden’s worth of goodness is on display in a series of dishes that are stripped down yet sublime. Highlights include horseradish-zested green garlic soup, roasted beets topped with creamy goat cheese and crunchy pistachios, and za’atar spiced roasted carrots.
Nevin Martell is a Washington, DC-based food and travel writer and the author of several books, including Freak Show Without A Tent: Swimming with Piranhas, Getting Stoned in Fiji and Other Family Vacations. Find him on Twitter @nevinmartell.