Make the Appetizer from Jessica Biel’s Birthday with Justin Timberlake
Simon Hare. Inset:Kevin Mazur/Getty
We love a celebrity sighting as much as anyone, but what really we wanted to know was, how was the food?
Very good, it turns out. The couple, along with Timberlake’s parents, tasted highlights from chef Christopher Lee’s recently revamped menu, such as a roasted beet stack with citrus dressing, crispy cauliflower and pomegranate lamb spare ribs.
Owner Shareef Malnik did a full renovation a few years ago to make the space lighter and brighter while keeping some of the classic elements. The wine cellar where the Biel-Timberlake party dined is a perfect example: It’s got clubby wood paneling and an artful display of wine bottles in a brick fireplace, but also glam accents like sleek midcentury-style chairs and chandeliers. Wonder if Biel got any design inspiration for her own upcoming restaurant opening?
We asked Lee to give us the recipe for his beet stack, an elegant dish that would be an ideal starter at a small dinner party. For the prettiest presentation, choose beets in at least two different colors. The chef garnishes the dish with fennel pollen, an intensely aromatic (and pricey) spice that’s hand-harvested directly from the plant, but you can substitute fennel seed if it’s easier to find. And if you don’t own a pastry bag, it’s easy to make one from a gallon-size freezer bag with a small hole cut from one corner.
According to sources, Timberlake did serenade his wife with a rendition of “Happy Birthday” before they cut into an Italian wedding cake, which is not on the menu but is her favorite, so Lee made one especially for her. Turns out there are even more perks to being Jessica Biel than we already thought.
3 large red beets
3 large golden beets
Olive oil, to taste
salt and pepper, to taste
8 oz. goat cheese, whipped and placed into a pastry bag
1 avocado, sliced into crescents
1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Place the beets in a single layer in a baking dish. Rub the skins with olive oil so they are fully coated, then season with salt and pepper. Roast for 1 hour, or until they are tender and easily pierced with a fork.
3. Remove beets from oven and peel immediately. Set aside to cool.
4. Slice beets into quarter-inch rounds.
5. Place one beet slice down and pipe goat cheese on top. Place two avocado crescents on top of goat cheese and add another beet slice in an alternating color. Repeat two more times so you have a stack of beets, avocado slices and goat cheese that’s six layers high. Repeat for other servings.
6. Garnish with a drizzle of citrus dressing (recipe below) and a pinch of fennel pollen before serving.
Makes about 2 cups
½ cup orange juice
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. lime juice
2 tsp. sugar
1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 shallot, minced
2 tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
salt and pepper (to taste)
Place ingredients in a metal bowl and whisk vigorously until fully combined.