Last week, the Lower East Side club, Hotel Chantelle, announced it hired Seth Levine as executive chef, just a couple of months after he left Sons of Essex amidst a dramatic management shakeup. The other day we caught up with Levine, who’s juggling a bunch of other projects, including the Munchies Joint on Stanton Street.
The former reality show contestant (“Hell’s Kitchen”) says he’s moved on from the Sons of Essex experience, continues to have good relations with some of the investors and wishes them “the best of luck.” Levine said “it would be a shame to lose some of the menu items” he created there, especially dishes like the truffle grilled cheese. He’s now integrating some of those popular items into the menus at Hotel Chantelle and other restaurants in his portfolio.
Levine said he set out to freshen up a menu that was a bit too serious given that the multi-level venue is “filled every night with people in their 20’s and 30’s” who’ve come out for a fun experience. The French-Mediterranean cuisine is now a “little more whimsical,” with sharable items and small plates. New dishes include offerings such as croque monsieur spring rolls, french dip dumplings and waffle crusted fried chicken.
Levine said he’s carving out a niche for himself creating interesting menus for restaurants that have strong entertainment programming. In recent years, places like Beauty & Essex, Sons of Essex, The General and Stanton Social have lured crowds with a “one-shop-stop” approach, providing food, drinks and nightlife all under one roof. He’s been helping to shape this trend.
What does Levine make of the LES scene? “It’s been up-and-coming for years it seems like,” he observed. “It seems to get busier all the time. It’s like New Year’s Eve every night.” Levine said he thinks the Lower East Side is a lot like the Meatpacking District was five years ago (ouch!). “All the big boys (meaning nightlife operators such as the EMM Group) are here now. It’s the place to be.”
You can see Hotel Chantelle’s new dinner menu here.