The Whitney House is that mythical restaurant you wanted Mom to open, only with fancier food (and cocktails).
The Whitney House is as perfectly cast in Olde Worthington as Mark Wahlberg in a Boston mob movie: it's family-friendly and vaguely colonial, but fresh enough to be hip. Restaurant veteran and first-time proprietor Ian Brown, whose tall frame can usually be seen bustling back and forth between the steely gray dining room and the tavern in the back, set out to create a place that celebrates the nostalgia of sitting down for a family dinner at the end of the day. It's a noble tradition we love, especially when chef Max Avon is cooking. He puts a modern twist on American classics like pot pie, stroganoff and pork chops, but it's his daily plates that have us marking our calendar for dinner out. Tuesdays bring hoisin-barbecue pork ribs that have been roasting at 200 degrees for 24 hours, and Sundays draw a regular crowd looking to worship the fried chicken. Cinnamon and allspice in the batter give the chicken a dark, crispy exterior and deeply satisfying warmth. A mini jar of Sriracha honey offers extra kick. The Whitney House is that mythical restaurant you wanted Mom to open, only with fancier food (and cocktails).
Best New Bite
Mark your calendar for Sundays, when fried chicken is the daily special.
Behind the Line: Max Avon, 35, The Whitney House
• His given name is Maxwell, but at the restaurant, he goes by chef Max.
• His kitchen resume includes executive sous chef at Lindey's, sous chef at Bon Vie and time spent under John Caputo in Chicago.
• His favorite tool right now: the Searzall, a torch attachment. "It's a hand-held broiler from a start-up company. The commercial video for it is pretty funny. It's like a creme brulee torch on steroids."
• In creating the Whitney House menu, Avon first decided to focus on American food. After thinking about it more, he realized Americans eat everything, meaning there's no set bounds to what diners will find, with Avon's Jewish heritage showing up alongside Asian and Latin influences.
• He collects salt, and has 30 or 40 varieties from around the world.
• His home fridge contains homemade cookies, Challah bread, Powerade and wine.
• His best lesson learned? After attempting to fix the dish-washing machine at Bon Vie, it exploded in his face. "Now if there's an electrical problem, I don't touch it."
• "I'm much more into classical cooking than some of these technical foams and liquid nitrogen stuff."