the restaurant proving comfort can be elegant
Published Dec 17, 2015 5:00 AM
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text by SHANI SILVER photography by PAUL WAGTOUICZ
The newest must-try restaurant for New York foodies who find themselves in Midtown is, without question, Gabriel Kreuther. Located on Bryant Park, the restaurant has received accolades aplenty (including a Michelin star!) since its opening over the summer. An industry related event recently found team domino inside this resto’s gilded walls, and we knew instantly that we had to share this space with you. We chatted with Gabriel Kreuther, Executive Chef, to discover how this visually delightful (and culinarily delectable!) space came together.
WHAT INSPIRED THE DECOR IN THIS SPACE? The region in France where I grew up, Alsace. It’s where I had my start, it’s where I started my dream of being a chef & it has been a big influence in the menus I have created over the years at the various restaurants. The cuisine is rooted in farm to table and when you have fresh ingredients as your foundation, you can take a dish anywhere. Alsace is a place of beauty from the Black Forest to the rolling farmland and beautiful flowers – everywhere. There is a great pride in presentation and beauty in my region yet it is a wonderful place of warmth. I also wanted the restaurant to be beautiful, but deeper than that, to have a soul and to feel welcoming the minute you walk in the door. I hope my guests feel that they are truly welcomed and we are happy to serve them as soon as they arrive.
WHAT DESIGN AND/OR FUNCTIONAL GOALS DID YOU HAVE FOR THIS RESTAURANT? Functionally, comfort was always at the forefront. Fine dining can and has turned people away because they might think it’s not comfortable or warm and I wanted people to feel relaxed with room between the tables and a setting that even though the room is buzzing, you might feel like you are the only ones there because you are able to be comfortable in your own space, within our space. In New York, and to me personally, elegance and refinement are always admired and appreciated and an important part of a dining experience. I wanted my guests to feel enveloped in a refined yet comfortable elegance.
HOW DOES THIS SPACE DIFFER FROM PAST PROJECTS? This is a project that is closely connected with my heritage; this is driven from who I am. You might not know from walking in that this is so much about the things that have inspired me, from the copper pots hanging over the chef’s table, belonging to my uncle who taught me how to cook when I was a tot – to the copper bar inspired by a beautiful and unique ceramic glazing technique, and a set of dishes my grandfather had and which we ate on for special occasions. The pewter on the bar is known as the metal of the people and I wanted something that represents comfort and being chic yet down to earth. The heart cut-outs in the bar stools are a symbol for hospitality. The wall covering of florals is inspired by a fabric from Colmar, the town where I first had my apprenticeship It took great work to put together details; months and years to pull something together that is rooted and an offering of so many of the things inspiring to me, beautiful and rooted in a most beautiful area which happens to be where I was born and grew up. Now, as a New Yorker, I know that chic, modern, timeless, and classic are important parts of this beautiful city and part of what I love to be surrounded by. It was fun to marry the two together. I’ve been thinking about this for many years.
WHAT IS THE BEST CUSTOMER REACTION YOU’VE HAD TO THE DESIGN SO FAR? People in general love the way the place feels and have a lot of comments on how it is elegant, comfortable and inviting and still down to earth. They feel good in the space and that makes me happy.
WHAT WAS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGE DURING THIS PROJECT? The coordination with all trades, architect, and the city agencies to make sure we were on track with our timeline. That is always a challenge, but we had a great team and building management.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE MEMORY/EVENING/DISH YOU’VE HAD HERE SO FAR? The day before the opening when we cooked for everyone that was a part of the project and had been working on this for over two years, it was an exciting moment to finally share the result of the hard work we all put into it and for us all to come together with pure joy. Joy, that is a big part of who I am, and in this space, I feel the joy.