Most legitimate restaurants regularly change their menus with the seasons, to reflect the ever-changing bounty of local farms and greenmarkets. But restaurauter Michael Stillman? He remakes his entire establishment.
That would be the inventive, 22-year-old stalwart, Park Avenue, which he recently moved to a brand new downtown location, just in time for a fall relaunch. And (until just after Thanksgiving, at least), the spot will be known as Park Avenue Autumn, boasting AvroKo designed interiors, featuring a warm, brown and gold color scheme expressed through burnished woods, leather-covered chairs, outsized flower arrangements, and nautical-inspired chandeliers.
Sommelier Justin Rudolph has supplemented his selection of wines from the Northern region of Cru Beaujolais with a sizable cider list, including Naked Flock’s “Pumpkin Cider” from the Hudson Valley, Sarasola Sagardoa’s extra dry “Basque” from Spain, and Aspall Cyder’s “Grand Cru” from England. And head barman Bryan Schneider (a vet of top cocktail destinations, like the Clover Club), has conceived a number of brand new tipples that fully embody fall, from a Pear Sangria to an applejack and cinnamon-based “Plaids & Stripes” to the eye-catching “Mai Chai” – a mix of chai-infused rum, housemade toasted pepita orgeat and pumpkin butter, poured into a hollowed out Delicata Squash, in an autumnal take on Tiki.
As for food, Thanksgiving has come early at the Flatiron restaurant, in the form of Black Friday Toast — turkey and sage sausage on planks of rye, smothered in cranberry chutney and gravy. But that’s only a kickoff point for chefs Zene Flinn and Benkei O’Sullivan (from Nougatine and ABC Kitchen, respectively), who’ve effectively captured the essence of autumn in each of their dishes, smartly layering flavors and textures. The effect is unilaterally cozy, crisp and comforting, a gentle prelude to winter’s canon of rich fare. Think a cornucopia of Squash (Deep-fried Delicata Rings and Kabocha Confit), Cabbage (spiked with mustard seeds and lingonberries, and served under Arctic Char), Cauliflower (paired with ethereal Toasted Almond Gnudi and cumin-spiced apricots), and Figs, which form the base of a jewel-like ‘Carpaccio,’ paved with smoked almonds and piquant crumbles of Vermont goat cheese.
Of course, being firmly locked in step with the fleeting seasons means you only have a few precious weeks left to experience Park Avenue Autumn — and we’re not talking just a dish or two, but the entire, constantly evolving restaurant.