BY JESSICA VOELKER, JULIET IZON, AND ADAM ERACE
Major U.S. cities may still be divided on what to eat—New York chases the taste of the miso-marinated cod at Nobu, while Miami can’t get enough ceviche—but lately sous vide has become the great culinary uniter. From Washington, D.C., to Washington State, chefs have integrated sous vide into their gastronomic toolboxes to create truly innovative dishes, so start planning your tasting itinerary now. First up: Our guide to the best sous vide hotspots in New York City, Philadelphia, Washington D.C., and Miami.
New York City
In what many consider the gastronomic capital of the United States, it should come as no surprise that many celebrated restaurants are utilizing sous vide techniques for much more than the simple egg. On hip Hudson Street in downtown Manhattan, buzzy Adoro Lei (287 Hudson St.) uses sous vide for one of its most popular appetizers: a beet salad. “It’s a simple way to create a great dish,” says executive head chef Mario Gentile of using the technique. In Gentile’s preparation, the warm root vegetable is served with candied walnuts, blackberries, and goat cheese, then drizzled with a rich walnut dressing.
And at Michelin two-starred Scandinavian restaurant Aquavit (65 E. 55th St.), chef Emma Bengtsson uses the technique on fruits and vegetables to achieve hyper-saturated flavors without sacrificing texture. As a side to her Dover sole entrée, Bengtsson mixes apples with rhubarb vinegar and then uses sous vide to preserve the satisfying crunch of the uncooked fruit.
Once known mostly as a federal hamlet serving only stodgy cuisine, the nation’s capital has reinvented itself as one of the country’s most exciting food destinations. At the perennially popular Equinox (818 Connecticut Ave. NW), chef Todd Gray uses the sous vide technique on everything from Guinea hen to duck breast to lobster mushrooms. “You’re able to integrate the flavors of herbs and spices into the dish in a way that you can’t do in conventional sautéing and roasting,” says Gray.
At nearby Kinship (1015 Seventh St. NW), chef Eric Ziebold’s modern American restaurant, the philosophy is similar: “It’s a great technique that will sometimes give you results that you can’t get with more traditional cooking methods,” he says. Ziebold uses sous vide to create lightly sweetened preserved lemons that retain the brightness of the raw fruit.
And a short ride north to Frederick, MD, brings you to Volt (228 N. Market St.), where chef and former Top Chef finalist Bryan Voltaggio is similarly enamored of the sous vide technique. Two of his most popular entrées—the lamb loin, served with mushroom oatmeal and maitake caramel, and the hanger steak with chimichurri and cippolini onion—are both made using the method, resulting in juicy, flavor-packed proteins. And even smaller dishes get a spin with sous vide: Charred cabbage is doused in hickory-smoked butter before cooking.
Philly’s culinary rep has long been supported by a network of free-thinking chefs, vibrant neighborhoods, and worldly residents. Many of the city’s best kitchens are equipped with immersion circulators, among them East Passyunk’s elegant Laurel (1617 E. Passyunk Ave.).
“We like sous vide for its consistency,” says owner and Top Chef victor Nicholas Elmi, who especially likes the method for cooking poultry, pork, shellfish and vegetables; the surf clam and squab dishes on his most recent menu were cooked sous vide.
In Rittenhouse Square, George Sabatino of Aldine (1901 Chestnut St., Second Floor) fills his Instagram feed with photos of ingredients in vacuum bags, awaiting his immersion circulator. Pig ears, after cooking for 16 hours, get julienned, deep-fried and scattered over head cheese croquettes, while slabs of cauliflower are cooked sous vide then seared and butter-basted like steak.
At Heritage (914 N. Second St.) in Northern Liberties, chef Sean Magee’s rabbit entrée includes legs cooked sous vide in local honey and house-fermented hot sauce. And Magee does old-school roast beef with the new-school technique, cooking eye round 30 hours at 132 degrees—and for his house-butchered hogs, any of the tougher cuts get tender during a long sous vide with maple syrup and fish sauce.
The protein in Sakaya Kitchen‘s (3401 N. Miami Ave. ) cracklin’ duck sandwich (featured on Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives) is also cooked in a controlled temperature environment before meeting scallions, cilantro, pickles, and a potato bun. “From pickling, cooking a product confit, or compression of an ingredient for even cooking, [sous vide’s] uses are unlimited,” says chef Brian Nasajon.
At his restaurant, the warm, woodsy Beaker & Gray (2637 N. Miami Ave.), grilled chicken thighs start under vacuum in a jerk marinade. The iconic Cuban dish lechon gets a tender twist with sous vide before the spice-rubbed pork tenderloins hits the grill. Says Nasajon: “It’s an unmatched technique which soon, I hope, will be found in every kitchen.”
In our hunt to discover new takes on classic dishes and document the next wave of culinary innovation, we’re criss-crossing the U.S. and sharing the most inspiring foodie finds. Next in this series: sous vide dining in the South and Midwest.
We’re traversing the U.S. and sharing the most inspiring sous vide updates. Final stop: the West Coast.
Dedicated to the Art & Science of Sous Vide
The first publication devoted to the art and science of sous vide cooking, featuring innovative recipes, visual inspiration, expert techniques for cooking sous vide at home, and exclusive interviews with world-class chefs.