Amid Midtown Manhattan’s sea of skyscrapers and sidewalks, a new restaurant designed by Parisian architect and AD100 member Joseph Dirand offers busy New Yorkers a verdant reprieve from the city’s concrete jungle. Opening this week, Le Jardinier is the latest culinary venture by Alain Verzeroli, a Michelin-star chef who earned his stripes in the kitchen of Joël Robuchon. The restaurant’s design deftly takes its cue from the vegetable-focused menu, with a green-hued material palette and an abundance of plants—calling to mind the interior landscaped gardens of Kevin Roche’s nearby Ford Foundation.
“The surrounding area is very urban, with few trees, lots of cars, and big office buildings, so we wanted to try to create this kind of escape, and bring in that garden feeling,” Dirand tells AD PRO. The restaurant is located on the ground floor of Norman Foster’s slim residential tower on 53rd Street—a corridor that is home to two of the city’s most iconic midcentury edifices: Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s Seagram Building and SOM’s Lever House. The influence of these two masterworks on Foster’s design was evident to Dirand, and even informed his own approach. “The inspiration of [Foster’s building] is a little bit of American Art Deco but retranslated—with this kind of fold which you see a lot in the 1930s,” says Dirand. “So we play with this shape.” The result is a sequence of angled louvers on the restaurant’s periphery that riff off the building’s gently undulating glass curtain wall. “It is even more exaggerated in the façade, but it's still the same language,” he says.
Framed by the vertical louvers and lush alcoves of flora, the 62-seat restaurant has floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing for plenty of light to filter in, amplifying the greenhouse-like environment. A sumptuous mix of materials and furnishings—such as Ayers Green marble walls and floors, velvet upholstered banquettes, Gallotti & Radice chairs, and custom-designed pendants by Philippe Anthonioz—elevate the space beyond the garden-variety midtown eatery. With an impressive portfolio of projects, including LouLou in Paris and the interiors for the Four Season Hotel at The Surf Club in Miami, Dirand is known for his attention to detail, bringing in specialized French artisans to produce many of the architectural elements like the restaurant’s corrugated marble bar. “We pushed the level in terms of craftsmanship to its highest,” says Dirand.
Chef Verzeroli decided on tableware and settings in keeping with the tone of menu, and which had a "logical link with the design of the interior,” he says, with glassware from Ferm Living, plates by Japanese company Nikko, and silverware from Mepra. And he intends for the experience to be a departure from that of more formal fine dining. “I really wanted to have a new approach to the experience—I wanted something simple but still luxurious,” says Verzeroli. “It's not a trend; people need this.” The menu offers diners an opportunity to try nontraditional yet enticing gastronomic dishes, like the baby gem lettuce with black mission figs and citrus or the fingerling gnocchi with watercress and radish.
In June, chef Verzeroli will open his second restaurant, Shun, along with an adjoining bar, in the bi-level space—also designed by Dirand. It looks like the storied area's design pedigree has grown even stronger.
Originally Appeared on Architectural Digest