These days, joining chef Paul Liebrandt for a meal is a whole lot easier.
In early July, Liebrandt debuted The Elm at the King & Grove Hotel in Williamsburg, and then announced he was severing ties with his Michelin two-star restaurant, Corton.
Now, owing to the fact that the new restaurant is located in a hotel (which lends the slightly uncomfortable feeling of dining in a lobby)--you can breakfast on his housemade granola with sheep's-milk yogurt and huckleberry compote ($12).
Leather softens the hard lines of the dining room.
But the dinner menu (described by the restaurant as the contradictory "classical yet forward-thinking French-European fare") is clearly where Liebrandt's cooking heart lies.
Take what he does with the chicken "Kiev Style" ($52). All the flavors of garlic, lemon, parsley, rolled chicken breast and crisp skin are here--but the plating for two in a Staub pot and a side of puréed potatoes aligot is all ninja precision.
See him do the same with ricotta gnudi and scallops floating in a coconut "Tom Yum" sauce ($17), and a square of tilefish resting among mussels, fennel, orange confit and clam broth that deftly conjures the "Flavors of Bouillabase" ($24).
It's as if Liebrandt said he was going to serve a comfort-food menu to ingratiate himself with Williamsburg--and then pulled a fast one by revealing his version of comfort food includes razor-sharp flavors and dishes that have, in his words, "a strong sense of memory and identity."
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