The Four Seasons Restaurant may be done and dusted, but that doesn’t mean fine dining in Midtown East is over. Two buzzy new restaurants are opening in the neighborhood this summer, serving up high-end Japanese and Chinese dishes in elegant settings.
The first is Shun, a French-Japanese restaurant overseen by Chef Alain Verzeroli, the protegé of the late and great Chef Joël Robuchon, who ran his restaurant in Tokyo for 18 years. Right upstairs from Verzeroli’s first, more casual restaurant Le Jardinier – which opened in May and serves vegetable-focused dishes – Shun is a more upscale eatery, named for the Japanese concept of “seasonality.” According to Eater, this means you can expect to enjoy only ingredients that are fresh at the time of year when you’re eating. “During winter upstairs, I will not allow myself to buy any tomatoes. Let’s focus on the natural ingredients of this time,” Verzeroli told Eater.
Dishes (right now) include lemongrass lobster, scallops crudo, duck à l’orange, and king crab with daikon, herbs, and honey.
The interiors of both Le Jardinier and Shun are bright and polished like a high-end jewelry store placed in an urban garden, and were designed by French architect “to the stars” Joseph Dirand. They are located in a new residential tower at 100 East 53rd Street from developer Aby Rosen, who is largely responsible for ushering in this new era of hip eateries in the neighborhood. He made headlines in 2016 for booting the Four Seasons from its original location in the Seagram Building, replacing it with much cooler and celebrity-friendly restaurants The Grill, The Pool and the Lobster Club.
Rosen may have started the trend of opening Instagrammable restaurants in Midtown, but he’s not the only one to do it; only a few blocks north of 100 East 53rd Street in the Bloomberg building, the former Le Cirque space is also getting a new hotspot eatery called Hutong. Serving “contemporary and occasionally fiery Northern Chinese cuisine, dim sum and cocktails,” the restaurant has stunning Art Deco interiors by designer Robert Angell. “I consider New York to be the Art Deco capital, and I wanted to pay homage to it and also to Art Deco of Shanghai,” David Yeo – the restaurant’s founder – told the New York Times.
While these new-kid-on-the-block restaurants might be serving up new and fresh dishes, their interiors, it seems, do pay respect to older and more traditional establishments. Whether that will be enough to soothe the old-school crowd bereft at the loss of the Four Seasons and Le Cirque, however, is something only time will tell.