Second Helpings

Vesta Dipping Grill

All this talk about New American food got me thinking about Matt Selby and his crew at Vesta Dipping Grill. Since it opened almost nine years ago -- if you can believe that -- Vesta's concept has been simple: Take something and dip it in something else. But the restaurant has refined this simple act into an art form, a DIY fusion experience made up of fire-grilled meats and dipping sauces -- which is a long way from fondue, and hell-and-gone from chips and dip. You want duck breast roasted in brown sugar dipped in cinnamon-orange marmalade? Vesta does that. Want to switch it up and go for a Carolina BBQ or a tamarind-chipotle sauce? That's cool, too. With every meat (running the gamut from the aforementioned duck to ginger-chile tuna, chicken with harissa, and venison soaked in coconut milk, then grilled and served with steak fries, dry cherry butter and oyster mushrooms sautéed in ginger ale), Vesta offers three of its killer sauces, and though I'm not too fond of the yuzu-soy, that's just about the only one I've found that I don't like -- which leaves more than thirty good choices. The space itself remains sexy as hell -- all candles and wrought iron and grand, swooping booths with drippy lights over them, like lava lamps without the lamp -- and is a guaranteed winner for any first date. Plus, since the menu is set up for sharing, it's easy to get the whole Vesta experience without dropping a ton of green or gaining a ton of weight. Don't get me wrong: The place ain't cheap. It's just worth it. Let the Big City swells have their popcorn lasers and crème brûlée balls. I'm happier with a place like this, where meat and fire and sauce were all it took to make something totally and wonderfully new.
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Jason Sheehan
Contact: Jason Sheehan