A couple of days earlier than Ilis formally opened its doorways within the Greenpoint neighborhood of Brooklyn, chef Mads Refslund was wheeling a cart of snacks across the lofty eating room.
The restaurant was in the midst of a family and friends service, a follow run earlier than inviting the general public over for dinner beginning Wednesday. Tucked into the snack cart had been alternatives of oysters and soups and juices in experiential serving codecs. Refslund provided a primer on the zucchini juice, served inside the bulbous finish of a zucchini with the plant’s stem made right into a straw. A relaxing clam drink was served in a clam shell that had been sure right into a makeshift flask.
A few years within the making, Ilis is the long-anticipated solo effort from the cofounder of shuttered Danish Noma, previously considered “the most effective restaurant on the planet” for its experimental strategy to delicacies.
In Brooklyn, Refslund has set his sights on constructing the most effective kitchen. “We’re not making a restaurant,” Refslund says when describing his philosophy for Ilis. “We’re making a kitchen that has a bar and restaurant within it.”
The eating room, set in a brick-walled former warehouse area, is centered round a central open kitchen the place the restaurant’s cooks huddle round numerous steel islands. The entire meals preparation is finished in full view of diners, the loud, chaotic frenzy of many restaurant kitchens swapped for the extra contained spectacle of a high-end culinary operation.
Refslund’s tableside look wasn’t a pre-opening one-off; at Ilis, there isn’t any entrance or again of home separation, and the entire cooks will rotate by way of server obligation.
“We’ve solely employed cooks,” says Ilis companion Will Douillet, an alum of eating places like Subsequent and Alinea.
“Should you go to a restaurant, what’s an important factor apart from having good firm? It’s the meals,” Refslund provides. “So, I believed it will be a good suggestion if we simply rent cooks that know all the pieces concerning the meals, as a result of they’ve cooked it. And if they will serve the meals, and speak concerning the meals, and get ideas on the identical time and get the credit score for this, then it will likely be excellent.”
Refslund and Douillet met a number of years in the past, and early of their friendship Douillet invited the Scandinavian expat to a Thanksgiving celebration within the Berkshires. Whereas driving across the space, they got here throughout a pack of untamed turkeys.
“His first query was, ‘Wow, can we eat these?’ And you understand, it’s Thanksgiving week and being an American, I’ve by no means even considered consuming wild turkey earlier than,” Douillet says. “And right here we’re, seven years later, opening up a restaurant that focuses on sport meats, and particularly sport birds. So all of it got here full circle.”
The menu at Ilis (a portmanteau of the Danish phrases for “fireplace” and “ice”) was constructed across the idea of a market, with diners given the flexibleness to form their very own eating expertise. The menu begins at 5 programs, every chosen by diners, with the choice of extra dishes and alternatives from the snack cart. Diners choose from a listing of main elements — tuna, scallop, mushrooms, eel, wild boar — together with the selection of a chilly or sizzling preparation. The ingredient listing will change primarily based on seasonality and availability in North America; the tuna on the opening menu, out there as a sashimi dumpling with nasturtium and salted plum or grilled with sunflower miso — will quickly be swapped for the same fish.
Ilis can be planning to supply an off-the-cuff family-style meal as a substitute of typical brunch service on Sundays, a nod to the being a day reserved for relaxation and household in Denmark. The idea, which can launch within the coming weeks, will middle across the restaurant’s rotisserie.
The bar program displays an identical strategy to seasonality and temperature (rendered much less actually). Cocktails incorporate surprising elements like pumpkin and pawpaw, and pure wines are the main focus of the wine listing together with alternatives from much less represented areas.
Seating is luxuriously spaced out across the perimeter of the room, together with a 14 seat bar and lounge within the entrance of the restaurant. Workers uniforms and woven leather-based lighting had been designed by Camilla Staerk, and picket seating and banquettes are from Atraform. Farshou gallery, situated subsequent door, is lending rotating art work for the partitions.
“We’re not high-quality eating in that means of tablecloths and each time you get a brand new dish, you get a brand new fork and knife,” Refslund says. “It’s a high-end restaurant as a result of it’s a excessive finish restaurant. However it’s nonetheless a spot the place you possibly can are available in shorts within the summertime. And it’s a spot the place you might be your self,” he provides. “We now have a time period in Danish referred to as ‘hygge’; it’s a form of coziness. Ilis is a spot the place you possibly can come and be cozy with your folks.”