Vintner Grill

When Vintner opened five years ago, people complained that they couldn’t find the place, hidden as it is in a generic office mall. These days, customers jockey for parking spaces, as the restaurant has become a de facto social club for upscale west-siders.

Chef Matthew Silverman, a rock since Day 1, has added a few wrinkles to increase the appeal. First, he’s actually making his own cheese—goat, Camembert, Stilton, creamy goat-milk feta—all of which he serves gratis during the restaurant’s happy hour, 5-6 p.m. weekdays. Second, he’s added elegant creations to what is already one of the city’s most diverse and appealing menus. Most of us were already addicted to his innovative Moroccan spiced lamb ribs and wood-fired flatbreads. Now he’s doing a full-on French-style bouillabaisse and Cornish game hen on mesquite on a busy grill in the back.

There is a giant by-the-glass wine list, a joint effort of able sommelier Troy Kumalaa, and the restaurant’s personable general manager, Peter Varela. And décor is sleek and comforting, with lots of sofas and chairs that you can sink down into. On balmy nights, request a cabana outside—yes, it’s in an office parking lot, but it’s still one of the nicest eating spots in the city.

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Cocktail Culture

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By Xania V. Woodman

Combining ingredients that are both popular and typical of Middle Eastern and Moroccan cuisine, Paymon’s general manager Jeff Ecker created a drink that pairs well with the tradition of smoking hookah. With delicate flavors such as mango, coconut, orange and cherry, Ecker notes that it appeals to the female set as well. The cocktail was also featured in 2002 on Rachael Ray’s show, $40 a Day. It has remained on the menu ever since, a testament to the enduring success of this match made in the Mediterranean.