Tonight, the eating public will be reintroduced to Brian Malarkey through his new Little Italy restaurant Herb & Wood, which might be the high-profile chef's most significant opening since he made his first splash with Searsucker six years ago. While Searsucker was bold and brash, maybe more about persona than preparation, Herb & Wood leans towards the subtle and refined, though it's no shrinking violet at 8,500-square-feet of dining space designed by business partner Chris Puffer.
A re-energized Malarkey, who's calling Herb & Wood his "fresh start", seems happy to share center stage with co-chef Shane McIntyre, executive pastry chef Adrian Mendoza and lead bartender Willem Van Leuven, and letting the food bask in the spotlight this time around. The menu doesn't list dishes with clever names, just a simple rundown of each plate's ingredients, which will be swapped out according to seasonal availability. On the opening lineup is a composed citrus salad, a crudo of local tuna and sea urchin, housemade tagliatelle with corn, clams and lard and a house dry-aged ribeye with shallot confit, green peppercorn and sherry.
For now, Herb & Wood is dinner only, with weekend brunch on the horizon. And Malarkey and Puffer are still finishing up their attached daytime concept, Herb & Eatery, a 3,500-square-foot market and cafe that should launch in less than two months.