At 24-years-old, Chef David Waltuck opened Chanterelle, the Tribeca eatery that went on to win numerous accolades, including a four-star rating from the New York Times just five years after its inception. The eatery closed in 2009 but now Waltuck is back with a new restaurant, élan, which he co-owns with former Chanterelle GM George Stinson. Also returning, Waltuck's close relationship to art, as evidenced by the massive Chuck Close tapestry adorning the bar area; expect the artwork to change every six months just like the menu art did at his original restaurant.
"I've never been a fan of specific cuisine labels," explains Waltuck, an idea well-reflected in his new menu offerings. When we spoke with the chef in 2008 he told us he was "really good with Chinese food," so here we find dishes like the "General Tso's" Sweetbreads ($28), a play on the Americanized dish with the tender offal cooked with fragrant leeks, orange and chilies. We jump from there to Chicken Pot Pie ($32), the classic English-American comfort dish, made here with morels and bacon. And onward to Colorado Lamb Loin ($32) with marjoram and moussaka.
The smaller dishes are as complex as their larger counterparts, like the Sea Urchin Guacamole ($15) served with grilled bread, adding an unctuous and briny note to the creamy avocado. The deceptively simple moniker of Green Papaya Salad ($17) reveals hidden depths of extravagance with foie gras and lobster; even the chicken wings are gussied up and stuffed with leeks and mushrooms. Speaking of fungi, you'd be a fool not to order a side of Wild Mushrooms (MP), which are, cheekily, responsible for Waltuck's career in the first place.
43 East 20th Street, 646-682-7105; website