Caviar Is Cool Again at These New Caviar Bars Around the U.S.
There’s no wrong way to eat it — and it doesn’t need to cost your entire paycheck (though we’re all for the occasional splurge). T+L digs in to the roe resurgence
During a recent dinner at the Bar & Lounge at Caviar Russe, I ate almost everything with my hands: tiny, pebble-shaped, twice-baked potatoes; cones of nori filled with scoops of fatty tuna; a hollow disk of crispy cracker filled with smooth uni custard. All were blanketed, naturally, with heaping quantities of salty, sexy, oozy, unctuous caviar.
Caviar Russe, which was founded in New York and imports from sustainable sturgeon farms in Germany, has had this storefront in midtown Manhattan for 25 years — the last nine of which have seen the upstairs fine-dining restaurant awarded a Michelin star for its meticulously presented tasting menus. So the lick-your-fingers approach at the new ground-floor venue felt like a novel direction. You can recline on banquettes or post up at the 14-seat bar for optimal Madison Avenue people-watching. Champagne will flow, but it’s far from the only accepted pairing; the bartenders will gladly mix you a martini, a Manhattan, or (as I requested during my visit) an icy-cold flute of smooth, extremely expensive vodka.
“We saw an increase in online caviar sales early in the pandemic,” says executive chef Edgar Panchernikov. “Now the interest is continuing in bars and restaurants.” With the new lounge, he explains, “we wanted to offer the same elevated experience but in a more relaxed setting.”
Traditional caviar service is available, if you want it: osetra or beluga or sevruga with crème fraîche, chives, blini, batons of buttery toast, and coins of boiled potato. But Panchernikov hopes that the bar menu’s more approachable, slightly more affordable small plates will tempt caviar novices to poke their heads in. “The response has been great so far,” he says. “Regulars are thrilled to have a spot to stop by for a quick drink, but the bar is also a good introduction for people who are just discovering us.”
It’s a sign of Manhattan’s ongoing caviar explosion: RH Guesthouse, which opened in the Meatpacking District this fall, includes the subterranean Champagne & Caviar Bar; around the same time, Upper East Side hotel The Mark will welcome an outpost of Caviar Kaspia, the 95-year-old Paris institution. Marky’s Caviar, also on the UES, has its own café, Huso, named for the beluga sturgeon (scientific name: Huso huso). The restaurant is now in the spotlight after its mastermind, Buddha Lo, dominated the last season of "Top Chef."
In the height of the pandemic, Greenwich Village favorite Air’s Champagne Parlor stayed afloat selling take-home caviar-and-bubbly kits. Now, if you’re lucky enough to find a seat, grab a bottle and a $20 caviar sandwich, the decadent dish that created near-immediate buzz when Air’s opened back in 2017.
New Yorkers aren’t the only ones having a little fun with this once-fusty food. Around the country, it’s easier than ever to get your roe fix without the pomp and circumstance of a whole white-tablecloth dinner. Last year, Australian chef Shaun Hergatt opened Caviar Bar at Resorts World Las Vegas. The caviar service at wine-and-cocktail bar Apéro, in Washington, D.C., comes with crunchy Belgian-waffle batons and sparkling finds from sommelier-owner Elli Benchimol. At the Caviar Bar at Zero Restaurant, a new restaurant at the stylish Charleston hotel Zero George, grab a spot at the mahogany bar for oysters, Wagyu-katsu sandwiches, and plenty of roe from Caviar Russe alum Vinson Petrillo.
Zero serves Regiis Ova, the sustainable California caviar brand founded in 2017 by Napa Valley godfather Thomas Keller and industry veteran Shaoching Bishop; this summer, after a successful pop-up stint, Regiis Ova Caviar & Champagne Lounge became a permanent fixture in downtown Yountville. It’s just a short walk from the French Laundry — but you’ll find that the unexpected snacks, like caviar-topped French-onion dip and fried leek pierogi with crème fraîche and osetra, are decidedly less buttoned-up.
A version of this story first appeared in the November 2022 issue of Travel + Leisure under the headline "Caviar Is Cool Again."
Source- Travel + Leisure