Very in-demand celebrity private chef and Top Chef France season three winner Jean Imbert has made his way to NYC, opening a large new French venue in the Meatpacking District tonight.
Encore fills 5,000-square-feet — at 1 Little West 12th St., between Gansevoort Street and Ninth Avenue — with Imbert’s playful French dishes. After his successful turn on Top Chef, Imbert became a chef favorite of such luminaries as Pharrell Williams and Robert De Niro, so much so that Williams owns a hot new Miami restaurant with Imbert.
Now, Imbert has moved to New York City for Encore and will be splitting his time between his restaurants here and in Miami and France, where he has three restaurants. He’s putting a strong focus on getting to know local product and will be using it in dishes like a mixed leaves tempura, squash with eel and sorrel, and brioche-wrapped celery root. Unexpected presentations also abound, like in a deconstructed lobster roll where lobster pieces and lobster salad are served alongside puff pastry during brunch.
The chef also created the drinks menu with general manager and former Le Coq Rico beverage director Adrien Boulouque, with cocktails that also focus on seasonal produce, including one with rye, honey thyme syrup, egg white, and carrot.
As for the 175-seat upstairs dining room, it looks like a modernized French bistro. Blue tones replace red, brick walls are painted white, globe lighting with brass accents glows, and mid-century modern chairs at tables without tablecloths keep things feeling young.
Imbert is not an owner here, though, with that title going to restaurateur Eric Cerato, who also owns Wanderlust uptown. Cerato has ambitious plans to open four more NYC restaurants in 2019.
French bistros have had a bit of a comeback as of late, with chefs opening more modern takes on the genre, like at Frenchette and Bistro Pierre Lapin.
Encore is now open nightly from 5 p.m. to midnight and for brunch on weekends from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Correction: December 5, 2018, 8:04 p.m. This article was corrected to show that Imbert was not Beyonce’s private chef, based on inaccurate information from a spokesperson.