Jump to content
  • Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create a free account.

Café Gray - Closed Now, But 2009...


SobaAddict70
 Share

Recommended Posts

Admin: The thread with pre-opening discussion and pictures of Café Gray may be found here.

The size of Café Gray, a European-style grand cafe designed by David Rockwell that cost more than $6 million, is a step down from Lespinasse. There are 225 seats, at capacity, and 25 cooks. At Lespinasse, Mr. Kunz led a team of 40 cooks and the dining room had just 88 seats.
The menu will be revised seasonally, and, typical for Mr. Kunz, will include Asian influences. A blanquette de veau planned for the fall menu will be simmered in coconut milk, not cream. Shrimp will be dressed with a kaffir lime rémoulade. The restaurants in Vienna and in Eastern Europe he visited last year will also have an impact. Diners will find pumpkin oil, elderflower essence and house-cured sauerkraut on the menu, and the house white wine will be a grüner veltliner.

The Triumphant Return of Gray Kunz (Florence Fabricant) (from the DIGEST update for 1 September 2004. Scroll down for the appropriate link.)

Chef Gray Kunz, who needs no introduction to regulars of the New York restaurant scene, will soon make his triumphant return after the opening of his newest venture, Café Gray.

Soba

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Just called up for reservation, the very nice lady that answers the phone said that they are not sure when they will be open, but it's targeted for middle of september and they are taking names so when they have a firm date they'll call you back. Geez, I've never seen anything so highly anticipated.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 4 weeks later...
Geez, I've never seen anything so highly anticipated.

might i direct you over to the 22 pages we currently have on Per Se?? The pre-opening hoopla there was out of hand..

that said, i called grey several months ago and asked to be placed on their waiting list for when they start taking reservations.. i've yet to receive a call..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

As of yesterday, they're saying they might be open next week (w/o 10/4), but won't confirm or take reservations for that week.

Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I have reservations for tonight.

I remembered reading an article about the anticipated opening of Cafe Gray months ago, and decided to call, on a whim, to see if I could get a same day reservation. I could and I did.

I didn't realize until after I made the reservation that it had only opened within the last few days.

I am a very lucky boy.

And oh yes - I have never eaten at a Kunz restaurant. Are there any specialties or anything that he might carry over that should definitely be tried?

Edited by RossyW (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I would suggest that you try the shortribs. The are rolled, tied, crusted with spices, seared and braised in a tomato, molasses, ginger and mango pickle mixture until they are tender. They are being served over grits and a sort of matignon. The sauce is horseradish. They are very much like the shortribs at the old Lespinasse, but without the frills (ie: superfine horseradish "hair", cripy shallots, ect.)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are three particularly noteworthy Kunz signatures that, last I checked (and this was in very early pre-previews), were going to be featured at Cafe Gray: the herbed risotto with wild mushroom fricassee, the braised short ribs, and the red-rice crusted fish.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thank you fellas.

I did not read these posts before I left, but I did some research elsewhere, and just followed my nose, and ended up ordering the mushroom risotto and the short ribs, which seems now like the right thing to have done.

I'm a young man and I've only eaten at a small handful of 2-4 star restaurants, so I don't want to pass everlasting judgement on the finer points of what I ate there. I can't tell a 2 star risotto from a 4 star risotto.

With that said, the meal as a whole was quite good.

The risotto was very good. The wine was good. The little goodies (a tiny tiny samosa at the beginning and a little tray of crunchy sweets at the end) were decent. My dessert, a apple croustade with cinnamon ice cream, was decent. The cocktail I had to start it all off, a Kaffir Lime Mojito, was fascinating in its own way, but I wouldn't recommend it.

But the short ribs were OUTRAGEOUSLY good. It has found its way onto the very short list of the finest things I've ever eaten. I wouldn't even begin to describe the flavor, only to say that it had accents that I would describe as Indian, which caught me by surprise, but more importantly it hit every salty sweet sour bitter savory note that it possibly could. This is the type of dish that almost ruins a restaurant because you know that every time you go you'd order it - if you didn't, in the name of variety, you'd only end up feeling sorry for yourself.

It was all, in my opinion, a truly fine deal for the money.

Edited by RossyW (log)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

cafe gray isn't open for lunch...yet

dinner is from 5:30 to 11pm monday through saturday. i'm not sure if they're open later on the weekends.

you can eat a full meal in the bar if you like. there is a bar "snack" menu, but i'm pretty sure you can get the full menu without a problem.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fashionably late is a tricky thing to pull off: there’s the danger that, if delayed too long, an entrance can outlive its interest, no matter how dazzling the entrant or how hot the hype surrounding same. I can’t help wondering if this might not be the case with Café Gray, which, when I visited it with three friends last Wednesday on its second day open, was about half full the entire night. Its possible that Kunz is keeping reservations low so as not to overwhelm his staff early on in the game, although the bartender said that they’ve been doing Friends and Family runs for several weeks now. Its also possible that, given the incessant delays in opening since the originally anticipated date in February, many potential customers have simply lost interest in what was beginning to look like a hopeless cause. No doubt with the announcement in the Times that day, reservations have taken off.

The purists amongst my gullet colleagues will rejoice in my intention to not waste time and space discussing the décor, which was not to my taste, so I don’t want to unduly prejudice potential visitors. The bar up front is awfully dark, more so than preferred even by those of us tenebrous-benefitting souls. And was it cold! Neither conditions conducive to people watching, which is after all one of the reasons for going to such a place. There are, one companion estimated, at least three servers for every customer, and certainly all those weeks of drilling show in choreography that is overall smooth and impeccable, supervised by a battalion of eagle-eyed captains posted about the dining room. Everyone is faultlessly polite and pleasant and eager – almost anxious, I felt, though this is maybe not surprising given Chef Kunz’ notorious fastidiousness. The concept is very high-end: lots of changes of flatware and little dishes and display. The glassware is gorgeous, feather light.

This was my first experience with Chef Kunz (I couldn’t afford Lespinasse till after Delouvrier’s arrival, and Spice Market doesn’t really count), so I came open-minded and without preconceptions.

The cocktails are subdued, not too silly. I had a Tamarind Tango -- Tanqueray and tamarind juice and cointreau – which was fine, subtle, didn't pack much of a punch. Someone else had a Kaffir Lime Mojito which I didn't get to taste but she liked it. The bar serves fresh crisp flatbread strips topped with all kindsa stuff, caraway seeds, chile, cumin, garlic, pepper, a few other things, I think I might have liked them a little more if they weren't quite so busy. House-made bread at the table suffers from the same thing, and had a faintly fishy taste in it.

Starters: wild mushroom truffle risotto, luscious and pefect, most excellent. Seafood bisque, lovely and briny and just right. Grilled lemongrass shrimp on a bed of corn was fine, though the corn at this season was a bit tough and chewy. Same corn problem in the lobster ravioli, the whisper thin wrappers very impressive but also not much flavor.

Entrees: Lobster and watermelon salad, nice and zesty but could have used a little kick to it, a little chile heat or lime juice or something. Langoustine, I don't remember the details, it came in a bowl on a bed of lentils with an acidic dressing which I liked despite a faint redolence of ammonia, my friend who had ordered it hated it and sulked. Fluke crusted with puffed rice, this was terrific and very flavorful. The topper was my short ribs on grits with a few shreds of collard greens, most extremely excellent. Portions are smallish but very rich. The sommelier, faced with a challenging range of dishes, recommended a $54 bottle of Bordeaux, Aux Duresses something or other, which worked as well as anything was going to.

Dessert: a huge assortment of sorbets and ice creams: cherry, carrot, sour cream, can't remember them all, a killer chocolate sorbet and a grapefruit granite I would have been happy to take cartons of home. My hazelnut souffle was classic and lovely. A phyllo and caramelized apple croustade was beautiful. The chocolate marquise with lime and banana was not happy, but I'm not a chocolate and fruit fan.

$108 a person including tip.

Overall it was very good, everything was correct, but not mind-blowing, though why I should have expected it to be I can’t tell you – again, too much hype about stuff Kunz undoubtedly never intended. Those interested in sampling all of New York’s high end properties should make this a definite must.

Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gray Kuntz is a genius and so highly regarded (deservedly) that it is hurtful to say anything negative.............but............imho, Cafe Gray is a mess.

The food is the high point. My pork shank was wonderful, tender, flavorful and the bean stew it was served with, the perfect counterpoint. The tomato coulis starter was delicous. Mushroom risotto less thrilling (thin and deconstructed) and the duck was disapointing (muscular and tough). Oysters were badly overdressed and the hazelnut souffle was bland (the drama of the presentation was the high point of the night however). These complaints must be put in perspective. Kuntz's food is some of the best in town at its worst let alone at its best. If only everything else at CG measured up.

The wine list is short and boring, especially the French (stick to the Italian and Austrian). Wines by the glass and dessert wines are limited and pedestrian at best.

The room is weird (very 70's hotel, which suits the building I admit). I saw several guests opting to face away from the kitchen (which is between the dining room and the windows). My own chair faced the cold station which closed halfway through my meal and made me feel awkward--nothing like watching the staff clean, turn off the lights etc. to realize your enjoyment is not their priority (it was only 10:15 and the room 3/4 full). The colors are all drab browns and beige. It would take a lot of pink gels and gauze over the lens to make you look good in this space.

Service---it felt/looked like there were three servers/managers per guest and yet it took 20 minutes after being seated (on time) to get a menu and I had to request the wine list. The bartender (we arrived early for drinks) seemed professional, informative and pleasant but we were presented every dish ordered at the bar except our own (the already mentioned oysters) by the support staff. At the table, I had to ask someone in the kitchen to find our waiter when we got tired of waiting for them to return to take our order (I don't know how many more signals short of a Kermie scream I could have sent, it was 10 minutes after we laid the menus aside before I gave up and asked for help despite a plethora of managers/staff in the area--ordering dessert was looking to be the same experience so I waved down a busboy who took the order).

In contrast, the sommelier was upon us offering help almost the minute I opened the list, but refused to make eye contact on any of his visits and refused to open the bottle we chose at the table (my guest thinks the foil had been removed prior to being presented). Our primary server was very nice but underinformed and there are clearly communication problems....we were served the same amuse three times for example. As usual, the busboy was the only person with any sense of what was going on and was the most helpful. It is also telling that the minute the check was signed, all floor personel disapeared leaving no one to even offer a "good night" on our exit.

I would overlook most of these--things happen and none of them are devastating on their own, but it became a landslide of inepitude as they accumulated.

We didn't over order but it cost just under $200 each including 20% grats with the dining experience taking over three hours and no lingering on our part. I assign the problems we experienced to poor management, not poor servers so didn't punish them.

I know they just opened but at this price point, the wildly extended training period, the hype and in consideration of the reputed reputation of the management, it should be much more organized.

The biggest insult, however, is when you are leaving. As you descend the esculator into the mall, past the night janitors, dark shops and into the lobby (complete with SUV demo) you come face to face with a bronze statue of a huge ass--human variety. No wonder Keller is demanding a seperate elevator for his patrons.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK, since Comrade RCuisine has launched the first volley (gullet purists, skip this pointless post about something other than the actual food), I will spill: the decor's pretty tacky, at least to my taste, an amalgam of Trump and Euroglitz. Way too much mirrors and chrome, and those sparkly tile floors like some cheap casino in Eastern Europe. And the whole idea of blocking the windows with the kitchen is a serious miscalculation in my opinion: Chef Kunz and staff may be top rate at what they do, but watching them do it all night is not necessarily as engaging as they may imagine, nor does it compensate for the loss of one of the few view opportunities in Manhatten restaurants.

Food, glorious food!

“Eat! Eat! May you be destroyed if you don’t eat! What sin have I committed that God should punish me with you! Eat! What will become of you if you don’t eat! Imp of darkness, may you sink 10 fathoms into the earth if you don’t eat! Eat!” (A. Kazin)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gray Kuntz is a genius and so highly regarded (deservedly) that it is hurtful to say anything negative.............but............imho, Cafe Gray is a mess.

Cafe Gray was firing on all cylinders last night. Maybe Gray Kunz wasn't in the house for your meal? He was there working the line, coming out and greeting customers, and even personally delivering the occasional course. I really enjoyed watching him work in the open kitchen, and getting a chance to interact with him.

IMHO, Cafe Gray is already one of the best restaurants in New York, and will doubtlessly get even better with a little tweaking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...