Joe Grbac ran the kitchens at Press Club and St. Crispin (where Grbac was co-owner with Scott Pickett). Saxe is his first solo venture and there’s something refreshingly old-school about it. The look is pared-back white stone, American oak and blue velvet.
Downstairs, it’s a snacks-and-cocktails arrangement, with scrambled duck egg and spanner crab, Clair de Lune oysters and Louis Roederer at all hours of the day. Upstairs, where the service is more formal, plates are presented one-per-person rather than designed to share. Diners can order a la carte, in a classic three-course format. It even takes bookings. At heart it's French cooking, but without the heavy classic sauces and butters.
A quail breast dish draws from Lebanon and India as readily as France. It pairs Puy lentils with pomegranate vinaigrette and crisp green curry leaves. A pan-fried bass grouper tastes, deceptively, of chorizo, and is accompanied by unexpectedly tender Robe octopus and vinegary Verdale olives. One dessert features potato and cumin.
The wine list is designed by Catalan sommelier Marc Esteve Matteau, who’s worked at The Royal Mail and the Press Club. It’s a list of about 100 wines, most of which come in at under $90 and highlight the best of France, Italy, Australia and Greece.