Rouge Tomate, the gorgeous, vegetable-forward, Michelin-starred eatery that closed in 2014, makes its grand re-debut this evening in a new space in Chelsea. The massive, bi-level Upper East Side stunner has been traded in for a more rustic vibe inside a 19th century carriage house on West 18th Street. I spy lots of seats without backs, the contemporary dining trend that really needs to die.
But we shall solider on, comfort or no, for the healthy but fun focus dreamed up by founder and former Mercedes-Benz salesman Emmanuel Verstraeten, executed here once again by Executive Chef Andy Bennett. Meat's meant to play a supporting role—or stay out of the conversation entirely, as with the restaurant's vegan Miso-Glazed Zucchini dish with quinoa and baby bok choi in an onion broth. But there are animal entrees, too, including a Milbrook Venison, and fish including Amberjack Crudo and Ling Cod with fennel, clams and gnocchi.
If "economic reasons" were part of the original location's downfall, sheer size may have played a factor, but the new spot's got a little over half the amount of seats (down to 155 from 284). What's not been trimmed: the wine list, which boasts over 1,600 different varieties from New York, other parts of the Northeast, and around the globe.
126 West 18th Street, 646-395-3978; rougetomatochelsea.com