Chef John Fraser, whose 701West holds Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence, opened Iris April 21 in Midtown Manhattan. The restaurant offers Aegean-style dining, influenced by Turkish cuisine and Fraser’s Greek background, with an emphasis on plant-based dishes.
“This restaurant is such a direct expression of my heritage and passion, as seen through the lenses of cuisine and travel,” Fraser told Wine Spectator.
Leading the wine program is the group’s beverage director, Amy Racine, who also oversees 701West’s 650-selection list. Iris features about 180 labels highlighting regions along the Aegean Sea, with Greek and Turkish bottles making up about half the selections. There is a diverse selection of sparkling wines as well, plus picks from Napa, Piedmont, Burgundy, the Rhône Valley and beyond. “It was a privilege—and very fun—to explore these new varietals, to introduce our guests to something new,” Racine said. “We really wanted a ‘If you like Sancerre, you'll love this from Turkey’ conversation.”
Executive chef Rob Lawson serves up traditional mezze like tzatziki and whipped feta, as well as seafood options like swordfish tartare and Long Island oysters. The menu also includes Turkish flatbreads and shareable plates, along with heartier mains like braised snapper and marinated lamb with scallion cakes. Pastry chef Adriana Adorno Davila’s selection of traditional desserts are offered on a tableside cart. “I hope Iris and our focus on Aegean cuisine provides some regional specificity to what people consider Mediterranean cuisine,” Fraser said.
Planning for Iris began two years ago, and the restaurant’s opening date was delayed by about six months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is the second time Fraser has opened a restaurant during the pandemic, following his revival of North Fork Table & Inn on Long Island. “We're proud to be part of that push to bring Midtown back to life and get New York rolling again,” Fraser said. “I also love being able to put my team back to work.”—Collin Dreizen