A beautiful restaurant with significant promise opened a few years ago in the 1939 Art Deco hotel, The Greystone, at 1920 Collins Avenue. It opened right before the pandemic, then Covid delays hampered them, a story we keep hearing more about. This swanky restaurant bills itself as a French and Japanese establishment, or a French rotisserie meets Japanese Izakaya.
The space is sophisticated and chic, with a supper club vibe. They use an au courant soft colour palette of dusty rose chairs and light teal banquets, porcelain tile floors, hanging basket lamps, lots of greenery, and a hand-painted mural with an open kitchen in the back. On the second floor is a piano lounge, with live music on the weekends and a comedy show once a week. The tables are well spaced with nice, soft background music track playing.
The executive chef is Pawan Pinisetti, a former Chopped Champion, who used to run things over at the Stratosphere Casino Top of The World restaurant in Las Vegas. He also oversaw the food and beverage for MGM Resorts International convention and banquet facilities. He told me he had a hand in every detail of this restaurant from conception, including the menu and décor, right down to the silverware and glassware. It was a 5-year project, renovating the hotel, and the chef even had a hand in painting it.
The menu is divided into fresh, les Racine (roots), crisp, rotisserie, and Izakaya. The chef employs students in his kitchen for this eclectic menu, and you are encouraged to share family style.
Many theatrics are used, but not all are hits. The beef tartare, a filet beef cut from Creekstone farms, is prepared tableside and served with some awful-tasting baked Lay’s potato chips. I’ve enjoyed much better tartare elsewhere, and I personally believe the dish would benefit from some homemade chips. The crispy cauliflower bulgogi with sesame, gochujang marinade, and scallions tasted very uninteresting. A notable highlight was the foie gras hot pocket, using Hudson Valley foie gras, Hershey’s chocolate, and a marshmallow melt was delicious and could also have passed for a dessert. The lobster Alfredo was beautifully presented but was another disappointment. The lobster was overcooked, the caviar was inferior tasting, and the taste was like something you would get at the MGM convention center. Unfortunately, we did not get a chance to try anything from the rotisserie. Instead, we opted for the duck a la orange, a duck confit in a sickeningly globby orange crush type of sauce.
The restaurant fares better with its mixology and top-flight wine program and if I was to return, it would be for a drink and to listen to some live music.
Dessert was dramatic and playful with another table side presentation of foie gras crème brûlée, with crème anglaise, fresh berries, and aged balsamic topped off with candy floss and lit at the table. It tasted a lot better than it sounded and was a wow presentation.
We were the only patrons in the restaurant on a Monday evening, and I worry about the future of Sérêvène. The ideas and presentations used are creative but I was disillusioned and uninspired by the food.