Two things immediately come to mind--Danny Meyer and a $68 pre-fixe. With those limitations, I can't imagine the restaurant sincerely aims to be in the same class as the French Laundry / Per Se. If anything, we're looking at an updated and improved Gramercy Tavern-type restaurant. That being said, I was certainly dazzled last night, esp relative to price.
It will be interesting to see where they opt to take this place.
The $68 prix-fixe is their basic dinner offering. The tasting menus are $85 and $90, with a chef's tasting menu at $115. Per Se? No. But I suspect that, with time, they might be aiming a solid step higher than Grammercy Tavern.
Ate lunch here yesterday late and, being the last to leave the premises, found myself engaged in a conversation with the staff. In discussing changes underway, they proudly showed off their new Limoges china to me, mentioned that new silverware is on order and said that the restaurant will be shut down for 2-3 weeks at some point (presumably during the summer) to redo this interior (new overhead lighting fixtures, new banquettes, etc.).
Did they break out the Riedel Extreme Restaurant series stemware for your wine service? Don't know if they are using it yet. I was told that they had Spiegelau stemware but that wasn't going to cut it and they upped then ante to the Riedel Extreme. "One minute, sir. I'd like to show you the series, if you have a minute."
By the way, the lunch prix-fixe is quite enjoyable. Try the current 'Spring' offering - have you had Lamb Belly recently? A tasty, little, rectangle from Jamison Farm is the sidekick that is plated to the right of a larger circular construction including, from the outside inward: a wafer-thin wrapper of cucumber, a thick concentric circle of eggplant, a thin layer of tomato confit that yields to a choice bulls-eye morsel of very tasty medallion of lamb. To the north, finishing the plate, is some fresh, lightly dressed micro-greens.
Main dish was excellent. It was 3-4 very tender, 3/4" wide by 4" long milk-fed "poularde" strips with slivers of black truffles tucked under the skin (I saw the truffles, but they didn't really register with my other senses) that was served on top of cleverly-hidden white asparagus and a green pureed sauce (green asparagus and friends?). This was in the center of the plate. Encircling it were 4 pairs of a small, thin green asparagus spear with its non-pointy end slid into the cap of a moist and tasty morel. Picture these pairs plopped down at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o'oclock. The dark morel cap sits on top of a cream-colored circular sauce stain while the green asparagus lies on an adjoining light brown-colored lamb jus oval dab. Yes, it's only chicken..., but at this price point, to get a piece of artwork delivered to your lunch table that is this tasty, this seasonal and has so many different combinations for you to consider composing on your fork - this is quite an achievement. This is some real creativity at work here.
Desert was good too. A sheep's milk yogurt cheesecake with 4 variations on a pineapple theme included on the plate. Solid, foam, sorbet and dehydrated. No further description; you must order it for yourself to know its fine points. Once again, somebody is awake and thinking in the kitchen.
There are worse ways to spend $32.