Former Pop Burger Chef Goes Med: Veranda Restaurant Opens Friday
Chef Kevin O'Connell was on the leading edge of the burger craze when he opened Union Square's Pop Restaurant in 2000, which led to the two Pop Burger slider joints. He followed that up with Wall Street Burger Shoppe, which earned decent marks from Robert Sietsema, but has the dubious distinction of serving a $175 burger.
But now O'Connell, who trained in France and Italy and has worked under Daniel Boulud and David Burke, is almost as weary of hearing about burgers as the rest of us. "Although I'm certainly happy that I was in on the beginning of the burger resurgence, it is getting a little long in the tooth," he said. "It doesn't seem to be loosing steam in marketplace, but as a chef, I'm happy to be getting back into more ingredient-driven cooking."
So O'Connell is moving on to head up Veranda Restaurant, opening this Friday in the West Village.
The chef says that his cooking at the new place will be "Eastern Mediterranean, market-driven, and rustic. A lot of really deep olive oil, tomatoes, fresh herbs, bitter greens like dandelion greens, spices like cumin and allspice, and a lot of fire-roasting and grilling."
The menu lists dishes like grilled stuffed baby calamari; grilled swordfish in tomato and olive vinaigrette, and lamb three ways, which involves chops, merguez, and shoulder, along with eggplant ragu and roasted potatoes.
130 Seventh Avenue at West 10th Street