Raj Dixit, new executive chef at Stonehill Tavern, brings both a minimalist and farm-to-table style to the Michael Mina restaurant, which reflects his Culinary Institute of America training as well as wide-ranging cooking experience in Europe and the U.S. There may also be a little Orange County evident—Dixit grew up in Mission Viejo, a few miles from the St. Regis Monarch Beach resort.
Dixit turned a recent visit from chef Mina into an opportunity to introduce his new menu. The evening began in celebratory fashion on an ocean-view terrace, where Sophie Gayot of the Gayot guides expertly sabered a bottle of Mina’s private-label sparkling wine. (Click here to watch the video.) Then it was on to the private dining room and an elegant survey of what diners can expect.
Dixit’s style was most evident in a showy Nebraska côte de boeuf, a beautiful standing rib roast, roasted on a bed of organic alfalfa hay. It spent hours in the oven at just 200 degrees, and when it was wheeled out to be carved tableside—wafting in its steamy aromas—it was a perfect rare inside. The dish was inspired by one of Dixit’s mentors, David Bouley, who cooked French chicken in hay. Dixit gets alfalfa from local organic farmers, and over the long cooking it imparts a nutty, herbal flavor to the meat’s crust. Smoked potato purée enriched with Cowgirl Creamery’s Red Hawk cheese, and sweet-and-sour onion marmalade were worthy accompaniments, but the beef—and its preparation—was the star of the show. The beef will be a “chef daily select cut” on the Stonehill menu (market price). He’ll offer lamb cooked in mint branches as well.
(Loyalists will be happy to know that all of Mina’s signature dishes, such as ahi tuna tartare and lobster pot pie, will remain on the menu.)