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Haute Dining: 10 Questions for Chef Chris Rendell of Mary Queen of Scots

Chef Christopher Rendell of Mary Queen of Scots
Who would think there be a gem of a restaurant at a bus stop on one of the busiest intersections of the city? Step into Mary Queen of Scots and you’ll be transported away from the grunge and hustle and bustle of Delancey Street. The owner has a thing for Mary Queen of Scots and it’s apparent in the whimsical design. Laid out like a typical NYC railroad apartment, with one room after another (and each one an ode to a different time in Queen Mary’s life), the restaurant gives you that feeling you’re in a train car headed somewhere far away.

Head to the bar in the back and sip on a cocktail, perhaps The Lady of the Lake, Respect Your Elders or the Cognac Sazerac. Or grab a booth and taste Chef Chris Rendell’s haute gastropub cuisine.

Haute Living: What’s new at Mary Queen of Scots?
Chef Chris Rendell: Fall is a great time of year for chefs and at Mary Queen of Scots, it is a time when we are able to get game birds, such as Grouse, flown in from Scotland. Grouse is not something the cooks get to see every day and it is a great ingredient to work with and use to educate others at the same time.

HL: What are some of your favorite dishes at Mary Queen of Scots?

CR: The Roasted Squid and Baby Heirloom Tomato Salad is something that I love. It is a light, refreshing dish and it really captures the long summer we had this year. It will definitely make a return next year! I also love The Venison Wellington. Not only is it hearty, but it’s a classic with a twist. I love using venison, as it offers such a tender and flavorful alternative meat to beef. Mushy Peas are another favorite! Cream, butter, shallots and mint. That’s all you need!

HL: Where do you like to dine when you’re not working?
CR: I mostly dine in Brooklyn as it close to home and there are so many great options. I have become a huge fan of The Brooklyn Star’s fried chicken dinner. You really can’t find a better meal to share with friends after a long week.

HL: What’s your ideal meal?
CR: Simple, easy and one that be done in one pot. Especially when I am cooking at home, it allows more time to spend with my wife than in the kitchen.

HL: Where do you like to dine for a special occasion?
CR: Restaurant Daniel New York is my ideal place to celebrate. The service is always impeccable, the food is amazing and you are treated like you are the only person in the dining room. The freshly baked madeleines will always be the memory I take away from Daniel. Amazing!

HL: What’s your favorite NYC neighborhood?

CR: After moving from London in 2003 my first job in NYC was in Nolita. Watching the side streets of this neighborhood grow from being SoHo’s poor cousin to being the jewel of New York’s downtown, holds a special place for me. From it cool and tasty cafes, to the amazing boutiques. Every time you stroll (no rushing in Nolita) up and down its streets, you always come across something new.

HL: What do you like to do in the city on your days off?
CR: I love walking the Highline. It has really opened up and developed an area of Manhattan once overlooked.

HL: What’s your favorite vacation destination?
CR: South of France. I am lucky enough that my wife is from Nice. Having the local knowledge of beaches, food and sites really makes for a fantastic and different experience every time we visit.

HL: What’s your most memorable meal?
CR: La Bastide de Moustiers-Alain Ducasse. The meal and experience was Provence on a plate. It was a true representation of simple French cooking at the highest level using a product from its terroir

HL: What are your five favorite ingredients?
CR: Forum Cabernet Sauvignon Wine Vinegar, JOSEPH cold pressed extra virgin olive oil, Maldon sea salt, fall squash, basil seeds

Mary Queen of Scots is located at 115 Allen Street at Delancey; 212-460-0915.

Visit food + travel writer + Haute Dining columnist Tracey Ceurvels‘ blog, The Busy Hedonist, for more ideas for dinner.

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New York February / March 2014
New York February / March 2014