Ilis, post-Thanksgiving restaurants, The Armoury, suburban date nights, Crytpo Thanksgiving, LA culture mogul, MORE
RESTAURANTS • First Word
Fire and ice
The Skinny: A decade after decamping from Copenhagen to New York, Noma co-founder Mads Refslund has landed in Brooklyn, with the much-hyped Ilis. Opened last month, the Greenpoint space is a temple centered on open-fire cooking with wild North American ingredients.
The Vibe: The space is stunning. Bar seats and dining room tables wrap around the open kitchen — with a raging wood-fueled hearth — in a U-shape. The soaring, unfinished ceiling makes the cavernous restaurant feel enveloping, far larger than it actually is. Despite a sizable footprint, there are only 60 seats in the dining room, and another 35 in the front bar/lounge.
The Food: While Refslund highlights wild game, like bison and venison, a substantial portion of the menu is devoted to his Noma-esque take on seafood and vegetables. Surf clams with tomato, sumac, and clam broth served in a flask made from the actual clam (sure, why not) could kick off a meal, followed by snacks like Penobscot Bay scallops with green strawberries, green gooseberries, and green almonds. Next, choose from a selection of ingredients prepared hot or cold (diner’s choice on the preparation style), leading into a larger share dish designed for two, like a whole brown trout bundled in grape leaves, wrapped in birch bark and slow-cooked over a mix of upstate-sourced woods (chef’s choice on the woods, unfortunately).
The Verdict: The food and its presentation — chefs also serve the dishes — make for a transportive evening. It’s a wow. –Kat Odell
NYC RESTAURANT LINKS: Mexico’s Costeño Group opening first U.S. restaurant at Time-Life Building in Midtown • Inside Metropolis, a dining room ‘worthy of its home’ • Big week for restaurant openings in Greenpoint • So long to the ‘somm’.
GOODS & SERVICES • FOUND Shop
A suit of gold
I first discovered The Armoury, a distinguished menswear shop, in Hong Kong around 2011. Upstairs in the Pedder Building, it was a hidden gem, distinguishing itself with its impeccable sartorial selections and knowledgeable, warm service, setting a standard well above the typical Hong Kong suit vendors.
The visionary founder, Mark Cho, has successfully extended his old-school haberdashery approach to New York, opening locations in Tribeca and the Upper East Side. In an era where men's retail in New York has declined, largely due to the rise of e-commerce and casual work-from-home attire, The Armoury continues the art of classic menswear in the city.
Buying choices are exceptional. Of particular note: exquisitely tailored overcoats from Japanese brand Cohérence, a dynamic selection of artisan-crafted shoes by the likes of Yohei Fukuda, ties from Drakes, and a Fox umbrella you’d be upset to forget at Balthazar.
Cho curates from the finest craftsmen globally, from Naples to Japan, offering an experience that justifies his premium pricing. In addition to the inventory on hand, the traveling trunk shows are highlights, with notable appearances by Liverano, crafting bespoke Florentine silhouettes, and Caid, a Japanese tailor known for Ivy League suits that blend modernity with timelessness.
The Armoury's in-house made-to-measure tailoring is also first rate, ideal for suiting and black-tie events. Craft at this level makes a case for the relevance of retail: to touch, feel, and experience items of superb quality remains one of life’s enduring pleasures. –Colin Nagy
→ Shop: The Armoury, 168 Duane St. (Tribeca) and 13 E. 69th St. (Upper East Side).
GOODS & SERVICES LINKS: A sneak peek at Eataly Soho, opening Saturday • A slew of cannabis dispensaries are coming to Tribeca, probably • Crate and Barrel Soho has closed • Tiffany to drop Pokemon exclusives at NYC flagship • Inside Valentino’s vast new store on New York’s Madison Avenue • These 8 trends will define 2024 interior design.
RESTAURANTS • Suburbs Report
Date nights in New Jersey
If there’s one thing I’ve come to expect from a decade’s worth of date-night dinners in the New Jersey suburbs, it’s mediocrity.
When the kids were babies, the restaurant was besides the point. What was really on the menu was two hours of freedom. Everything else was atmosphere. So we tolerated wan ingredients, lackluster service, and elevated price-to-quality ratios. Occasionally there was a spark, sometimes even ignition, but mostly flameouts.
From time to time, we’d get excited by a new opening, maybe even a glossy project fronted by a chef from the city. Upon inspection we’d usually discover that they were just playing the game, churning out lowest-common-denominator chopped salads, tuna tartares, and filets for people willing, at least for a night, to make do with the veneer of a good restaurant.
Last Saturday night, we lost our memories and showed up open-minded for an 8p reservation at Huntley Taverne (Summit, NJ), one of a fleet of “farm-to-table comfort food” spots run by the Harvest Restaurant Group. The place was hopping. For a moment, as we waited for our table at the bar, we felt alive. All of life’s choices were the right ones.
But then they forgot about us, first at the bar and then at our half-set table. The salad was next, sweet and wet. By the time the matte-finish, overcooked fish arrived, our memories were fully restored.
This weekend, throngs of city dwellers will head back to their suburban hometowns for the holiday weekend. They might want to dine out with friends or family at XX Taverne or YY House in town. By all means, support the local economy, be merry. But here’s my advice: go early, order straight down the middle, and stay away from the seasonal cocktail menu. It’s going to be fine, really. –Josh Albertson
CULTURE & LEISURE • Thursday Routine
A culture mogul’s dolce vita
This post appeared in a recent edition of FOUND LA. Looking for a little more West Coast in your life? Subscribe to FOUND LA, with new issues dropping each Thursday.
JON BUSCEMI, culture mogul, Open Outcry
Neighborhood you live in: San Marino
It’s Thursday morning, what’s on the agenda for today?
Thursday is always busy, because I don’t work on Friday. I have a fitting for my snore-eliminating mouth guard at 7:30 a.m., golf lesson at 8:30, three Zooms between 10-2 p.m. for a couple businesses I invested in, and for Wolves Whiskey and my deli Uncle Paulie’s. The back half of the day is consumed with our new top-secret design project for a luxury golf brand. Stay tuned.
Any restaurant plans today, tonight, this weekend?
We’re going to La Dolce Vita in Beverly Hills tonight for the new menu drop. It’s currently the best red sauce Italian in LA.
How about a little leisure or culture?
I golf twice a week, maybe three times. Ha. I’ve also been bit by the Padel bug. It’s addictive. I wish I could play more, but I’m playing tonight!
Any weekend getaways?
We love going to the desert — La Quinta specifically. Korakia Pensione is a favorite spot for me and the wife. Also, La Quinta Waldorf is a big bougie hit.
What was your last great vacation?
Chicago. Just got back and we always have the best time. Played golf at Shoreacres (hard ticket), got a burger at Au Cheval, and had an amazing meal at Kasama, a Michelin star Filipino restaurant. The MCA museum, of course, and stopped by Anthony Gallery to see Easy.
What’s a recent big-ticket purchase you love?
A watch. The watch. Patek Philippe Aquanaut 5968G Chronograph with Khaki Green Dial & Rubber Strap in 18k white gold. Love.
WORK • Crypto Report
At last year’s Crypto Thanksgiving, the predominant dish was humble pie, served fresh on the heels of the FTX collapse and a year of cratered portfolios.
This season, thanks to a recent surge in prices, it’s likely Bitcoin and Ethereum will get better placement on holiday menus (a side of Solana, please). Currently trading at $37k, BTC is up 130% over last year, ETH is up 79%, and one-time and maybe future Ethereum-killer SOL, 400%.
Up or down, crypto seems to have a way of coming to the fore in late November. In 2021, coins were at all-time highs, as was public consciousness. Same for 2017, another peak year. Then came, 2018, a serious trough, capped by a precipitous Thanksgiving dip.
The highs are definitely more fun, at least as fun as the late football game. But, if you observe Crypto Thanksgiving (and especially if you’re the family resource for buy-and-sell advice), it’s best to remember how you felt last year or in 2018 — be cool, lay low, and keep an eye out for black swans. –Josh Albertson
WORK LINKS: JPMorgan’s new supertall HQ tops out at 270 Park Ave.k • Inside iconic Lever House’s $100 million renovation (bonus: first leases signed) • REBNY report: office building visits back to 66% of pre-pandemic levels • Citi Bike riders are getting bad service, study says • Why Revel shut down its NYC moped service • Electric air taxi companies run demo flights over Manhattan • The problem with America’s weird mortgages.
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RESTAURANTS • The Nines