Natasha Yee


Natasha Yee
There are some restaurants that nod to Arizona with a few ingredients or preparations, and then there's Valentine, co-owned by Blaise Faber and Chad Price. This open, breezy, immaculately Midcentury Modern restaurant is in a gloriously weird league of its own. Arizona is absolutely everywhere, from the wall art to the Melrose sign on Seventh Avenue to the lattes, which contain corn, squash, cajeta, and chiltepin. Blaise Faber, previously beverage director at Tratto, shows off stunning range in his 2.0 role as liquid virtuoso. Somehow, he works heirloom ingredients like Native squash and candied pink corn into a murder's row of mind-blowing hot and cold coffee beverages. The cocktail selection is just as erudite and original, twanging with simple-yet-sophisticated bangers like a salted radler and an old fashioned that braids cacao bitters and piloncillo. Chef Donald Hawk, most recently of The Gladly, has fine-tuned a menu of wood-fired fare that hums with the harsh spirit of the Sonoran Desert yet is creative and highly polished. Valentine's food, like its drinks, could certainly be called New Arizonan. Humongous hush puppies are built from fragrant red fife. Avocado toast on bread made from dough that incorporates squash takes the tired brunch dish into eye-opening charred, smoky directions. The steak and eggs come with intensely flavorful beans and flour tortillas pasted with huitlacoche. The potential of this young restaurant already feels limitless just a few months in, and that's before we even get to Antonia Kane's excellent pastries.

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