Exclusive: Anne Coll on Her New Gig at Meritage (Plus the New Menu!)

Chef Anne Coll’s refined flavors helped make Susanna Foo one of the area’s most notable restaurants. She left her post there almost a year ago — long before the place announced its closing — in search of a smaller, more intimate venue for her French-Asian fare. After shelving plans for her own BYOB, she’s now taking over the kitchen at Meritage and giving the place a culinary makeover. We asked her about her plans during her first day on the job.

What drew you to Meritage?
After being in such large-scale restaurants, I wanted something smaller. In a smaller restaurant you have more control over the food and few people to manage. I was getting pretty tired of doing 200 covers a night.

What will happen when you take over the kitchen today? Will regulars see an all-new menu? How much will you change the concept?
Yes, the menu used to be a classic American-French menu, sort of dated, and all the gastropubs already do this so well you can’t really compete. This is a whole new concept. [Ed. See the bottom of the post for the menu.]

Will diners see some of the French and Asian culinary influences you are known for?
Yes. I like to use French techniques with Asian flavor profiles. The menu will change seasonally, and I’d like to include more local, sustainable meat and fish.

What do you expect the price range to be?
Most people don’t want to spend a lot of money to eat out right now; we plan to keep prices reasonable. There are plenty of options under $20 and most wines by the glass are only $8.

You’ve worked at Le Bec-Fin and Susana Foo — the pillars of “Restaurant Row” — but with Susanna Foo closing and Le Bec trying radical new things to attract diners, it’s clear the restaurant scene is changing. How do you see it changing?
People do not eat the same way anymore, including me. I plan to put some shareable dishes on the menu in the future because that’s what people like. I know I’d rather taste a little of a few things than having a whole lot of one taste.

Can you tell us a little bit about the renovation planned for later this summer?
Well, we’ll be closed for two weeks in August to expand the bar — now it’s only 10 seats — repaint, open up the windows, install butcher block tables, and just generally make it a more friendly, less fine dining place.

Anne Coll’s New Dinner Menu at Meritage

Roasted Curried Almonds and Cashews 2.
Chicken Satay With a Thai peanut dipping sauce 5.
Spiced wonton chips with a Chinese eggplant caviar 4.
Jersey Corn and Crab Flan with herb oil 5.
Steamed Shrimp dumplings 6.
Grilled Grape leaves stuffed with beef Vietnamese vinaigrette 4.

White Corn Soup chive oil 6.
Frisee Salad with poached egg and a citrus vinaigrette crispy braised pork belly 9.
Seared Diver Scallops with curried cauliflower puree and a Thai basil emulsion 13.
Mussels with white wine, herbs, tomato, and Chinese sausage 11.
Tuna Tartare lemongrass foam, micro greens, Wonton chips 13.
Mixed Green Salad orange supremes, haricot vert, sesame vinaigrette 7.
Crab salad with mango, red onion, and Thai basil, passion fruit vinaigrette 12.
Grilled Lamb Lollipops spicy minted tomato salsa 13.

Hanger Steak with grilled scallion and crispy fingerlings 19.
Pan Seared Hawaiian Butterfish with curried French lentils, lemongrass emulsion and baby bok choy 22.
BBQ Pork Sandwich with a toasted rustique bun and Asian slaw 12.
Brined and Roasted Giannone Chicken with star anise chicken jus, brussel sprout and Chinese sausage hash 18.
House Made Pappardelle with curry broth, grilled shrimp, herbs, and lime 16.
Ginger Glazed BBQ Salmon, fricassee of jersey corn, heirloom tomatoes, zucchini and herbs 19.