With a few years behind him on the Mount Kisco dining scene, Executive Chef Michael Williams diligently goes about the business of running a successful kitchen and restaurant. Winston, named after Williams’ pitbull terrier, is a beautiful three level restaurant with a rooftop bar and lounge serving innovative modern American fare. Besides the steady stream of diners coming for the food, a growing music scene has enticed new guests to visit and enjoy live music offered on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
A veteran of some of the finest kitchens in Manhattan including Park Avenue Café, DB Bistro, Oceana, and Mirezi, Williams paid his dues working methodically up the kitchen hierarchy. Raised in Korea in a food-focused home by his Korean mother and American father, who worked at the U.S. military base there, Williams learned to appreciate good food at a young age. His mother taught him Korean cooking and his father, a bit of a gourmand, taught him American and international cooking.
Honing his skills and pursuing as much experience as possible, he worked at many New York City restaurants over the course of a decade, always seeking new challenges and cuisines.
“I gravitated more to the French kitchens because they were natural teachers. When you work in a French restaurant, in which I worked quite a few, the chefs would go out of their way to explain the process of what you were doing and why each step was important,” he explains.
Williams’ years of experience and training with some of the best chefs is evident in his food. While they call themselves modern American, the French technique is behind a lot of Williams’ dishes, and there are flairs of Italian, Asian and other cuisines.
“The menu is a reflection of my experiences and comes from my palate which was developed working in various kitchens and my cooking is heavily influenced by French kitchens,” says Williams.
“The menu is also dictated by the palate of our guests. As Michael has been the chef of this kitchen for over four and a half years, his menu has evolved to what our guests like, still using his techniques and ideas but tweaking them in the direction that our audience is really looking for,” says general manager Jimmy Branigan.
Keeping things fresh, there are always seasonal offerings and specials. Williams visits local farmers markets regularly and tries to utilize as many local products that he can.
My favorite dishes on a recent visit there were the Spicy Tuna and Avocado Toast off the bar menu and the whole roasted trout as an entrée. My husband thought that the mushroom spring roll was the best he had ever had. The Asian hanger steak was delicious with just the right amount of Asian-inspired seasoning.
Having trained in the pastry program at the French Culinary Institute, Williams’ expertise shines through in his desserts. All desserts, including ice cream and sorbet, are made fresh on site in a dedicated pastry kitchen. The crème brulee trio was perfection.
The beautiful townhouse setting designed by Grandberg & Associates Architects lends to the comfortable and sophisticated atmosphere. The tri-level restaurant has a casual feel but with tablecloth type service. In warmer weather, they open up the indoor/outdoor rooftop area. In the winter, the space is enclosed and is available for private events. Private parties can also be accommodated throughout the restaurant.
Bringing in guests on traditionally slower nights, live music is performed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 6pm-9pm. Drew Bordeaux, who was born and raised in Mt Kisco, is their resident Tuesday artist. Bordeaux’s solo performances, influenced by blues and popular radio, are made up of percussive acoustic guitar and soulful vocals, entwined with live loops and violin solos. He “has a Sinatra way about him and really plays to the crowd,” according to Branigan.
Winston hosts four other musical acts on a regular basis on rotating Wednesdays. The lineup includes original music, jazz, pop, R & B and Latin sounds from performers such as Mojo, Pete Malinverni, Swirl, and the John Basile Trio. For a complete schedule of upcoming performances, check out their website at www.winstonrestaurant.com
Every other Thursday, Winston brings in a guest sommelier from an importer, distributorship or vineyard and they feature a handful of their wines, inviting guests to taste the wines and suggesting pairings with the menu. This is a fun opportunity for guests to try new wines and cultivate their wine knowledge.
Adding to their diversity of offerings, Winston also has a large format program, where they serve wine aged in large bottles ranging from 1.5 liters to 5 liters. Guests can experience wine bottled in a larger vehicle, which ages slower and results in a smoother and rounder finish. It’s no wonder that the restaurant has received an Award of Excellence from Wine Spectator magazine.
If you haven’t already been, Winston is worth a visit and may soon become your local favorite spot. Reservations are recommended.
130 East Main Street, Mount Kisco, NY