If you’re traveling first-class with American Airlines this month, pick up a copy of Celebrated Living, the first-class cabin magazine. I had the joy of interviewing Nina Compton for our annual Platinum List, and she told Travelbinger her favorite food cities, which we’re booking STAT.
As you may know, Nina is blowing up on the restaurant front.
Not only was she runner up on Top Chef, she was recently nominated as James Beard Foundation Best Chef: South finalist (a rarity for a Top Chef alum), Food & Wine magazine Best New Chef: 2017 and her restaurant Compere Lapin in New Orleans won The Times-Picayune’s first-ever Restaurant of the Year.
During our interview, I asked her her favorite food destinations (which were cut from the story due to space). Are you surprised with her answers? See below for Nina Compton’s favorite food cities.
1. Paris. “I just came back form Paris last week, and I think Paris is really at a point where it’s not all about the classical driven restaurants anymore. You see fun tasting menus, like Homestead in Brooklyn, these new concepts popping up, which is nice. Paris cuisine is very extravagant but restaurants are changing the way you’re eating. It’s not all about foie gras, but more fresh and fun approach to food.”
2. Charleston. “I wanted to go to Charleston for a long time, and we went last year for the first time. It’s a cute city. It’s an extension of New Orleans. You’re in the south, it’s fun, people are very respectful and inviting and it’s good food. I love Husk. We had three types of breads, and we had dinner at Fig and we went to Madrenes, all that were well done. I loved Xiao Bao Biscuit, an old gas station that a chef took over and is doing Asian food with Southern ingredients there. It’s probably one of the best meals I’ve had in a long time. Good, solid flavors, really well done with a fun, family-style approach. I think that’s where the dining scene is going now. People don’t have the time to do 3-4 hour dinners anymore.”
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3. New York City. “In New York City, you can’t go wrong. There’s great food at any price point at any time of day, as well as type of cuisine. The problem with NYC is that it’s so big. I go to NY at least 3 times a year, and I have my places and I’m exhausted from eating… it’s so much and so big! But it will always hold a place for me. My friend has a little wine bar, The Saint Austere, in Williamsburg. It’s a teeny, tiny wine bar, and I could go there every single day. There’s great pasta dishes and charcuterie. It’s a great neighborhood restaurant where you go and see the same faces and feel very welcome. That sets them apart.”
4. Chicago. “I love Chicago. It’s on par with New York, but again, it’s also not so stuffy. It has really good food and cocktails in an unpretentious scene. I think Blackbird, Paul Cahan’s restaurant, is great. He nails it.”
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