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On the ground floor, there’s a swanky cocktail bar and dining room.


Rare Form

By Brandon Matzek

Photography by Tim Melideo


Born & Raised, the much-anticipated steakhouse led by Michelin-starred executive chef Jason McLeod, debuts in Little Italy.

WARM BRASS LETTERS that form the words “Born & Raised” are now aglow at the frenetic crossroads of India and Fir, signaling the opening of CH Projects’ (of Ironside and Craft & Commerce fame) $6.5 million steakhouse. Designed by Paul Basile, the two-level restaurant is an opulent mix of midcentury modern and art deco. Channel-tufted banquettes in cognac leather cozy up to green marble tables illuminated by globe pendants and crystal chandeliers. Bloom-shaped columns clad with walnut-veneer provide structure and drama throughout the dining space. It’s all a lavish backdrop for the modern steakhouse fare crafted by executive chef Jason McLeod.

Start off with a chilled flute of crisp Champagne and an ounce or two of Born & Raised private label caviar. The briny black pearls of Pacific White Sturgeon caviar native to California are served with a mound of salty potato chips and all the traditional accoutrements. Warm snails sauced in cream, butter, garlic and basil are plated up with savory bone marrow and triangles of buttery brioche—it’s a rich starter that pairs beautifully with one of Born & Raised’s tableside cocktails served from an elegant bar cart.  

Tableside theatrics aren’t limited to the spirits cart. The steak tartare is one of six dishes that can also be prepared live. Worcestershire sauce, whole grain mustard, quail egg yolk and lemon are first stirred vigorously in a bowl to emulsify. A punchy melange of cornichon, capers and chopped shallots is tossed with diced raw filet and grinds of crunchy salt. The tartare is moved from bowl to plate, then finished with a nest of fines herbs and freshly grated horseradish.   

Silky spaghetti strands topped with uni, chili and lemon are simple luxury on a plate.

Although there are a number of expertly-crafted steaks on the menu at Born & Raised, go off-menu to the 100-day dry-aged ribeye if it’s available. Aged in-house, the 24-ounce steak is grilled in a Josper—a searing hot charcoal-fueled oven—until charred outside and melting within. Top the steak with butter-poached crab legs for a truly lavish experience. If it all sounds like rich classics from a bygone era, that’s no accident. “The menu is inspired by longstanding steakhouses throughout history,” McLeod says. “We wanted to create a modern interpretation of classic dishes using new techniques, in-house dry aging, and the highest quality products.” Case in point: dry-aged duck à l’orange, updated with crispy, blackened crust and a rich orange- and spice-infused sauce. On the side, lengths of charred broccoli are dressed in bagna càuda, a rustic sauce brash with garlic and anchovy. Ethereal whipped “Robuchon” potatoes are rich with butter and cream, a fitting tribute to Joël Robuchon’s famous dish—a tangle of coal-roasted leeks, sliced grapes and chopped hazelnuts top a swipe of herbed goat cheese.

The final act of dinner theater arrives in the form of a two-tiered dessert cart with a seven-layer carrot cake as the main attraction. Topped with coiled ribbons of tender carrot flecked with bits of the root veggie top greens, this classic cake is studded with dried fruit and toasted walnuts. It’s best enjoyed with a chilled glass of Tokaji, a Hungarian dessert wine. Born & Raised’s verrine is a playful dessert with its luscious layers on display. A silky chocolate espresso mousse on the bottom, airy cream in the middle and a landscape of confections on top—dollops of toasted meringue, chocolate twigs and crumbs, crunchy pearls, raspberry coulis and squares of layered marzipan cookies. Perfect with a rich glass of ruby port.

The scrumptious seven-layer carrot cake

1909 India St., 619.202.4577 

Appetizers, $13-$28; entrees, $35 - $87; desserts, $11 

Open daily, 4pm-Midnight