BWW Preview: THE NEW NORM at The Brooklyn Museum is a Restaurant
The latest example of the convergence of art and food is the debut of The Norm at the Brooklyn Museum. The restaurant's chef, Saul Bolton presents food and drink that expressively represents Brooklyn's cultural diversity in an evocative setting by renowned designer Anda Andrei, in concert with Bonetti Kozerski, that embraces The Norm's location in the museum. The restaurant's 80 seats will be augmented during the warmer months by another 55 on the outdoor terrace overlooking the Brooklyn Museum's Steinberg Family Sculpture Garden, which will become a beer garden this summer.
With a collaboration between the cutting-edge Brooklyn Museum and its food program partner, Great Performances, The Norm's menu will encourage a gastronomic exploration of the borough's multi-cultural heritage. Chef Bolton, whose eponymous establishment was one of the first two restaurants in Brooklyn to earn in a prestigious Michelin star, has incorporated Indian, Mexican, Japanese, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, Indo-Chinese and all-American elements.
Featured among the menu's snacks: the carnival of flavors and textures of the Bombay Snack Mix, a riff on Southern Indian mix with spicy fried legumes, coconut, cilantro, red onion and limes; and the light-as- air Chicharones al Pastor, the fried pork skin accompanied by a salsa mirroring the essential taste components of classic al pastor, among the snacks. The Garden section features the likes of: Grilled Japanese Eggplant, kissed with a sweet tart tomato marinade, topped with sesame seeds, mint and pickled red chilies and nestled on a bed of tahini; Roasted Carrot Salad, with bulgur, Medjool dates, sumac and spiced yogurt; and Curried Cauliflower, a play on a popular Indo-Chinese dish for which herb infused batter coated florets are fried (twice), then tossed with curry leaves, cilantro, pickled yellow raisins and pickled mustard seeds, topped by micro-planed Pecorino sardo.
Entrée highlights include: Tonkastu Style Ramen, its rich broth cooked for 48 hours and Sun ramen Noodles garnished with slow poached egg, braised pork belly, mushrooms, scallions, black garlic oil and chili paste; Free Bird Farms Roast Chicken, local cage free chicken braised in traditional chocolate-tinged mole poblano, served with a tamale and watercress salad. Of course, there is a world class hamburger - the Dry Aged Norman Burger, a half pound of Pat LaFrieda rib eye, enveloped by smoked Cheddar spiked with butter and milk and graced by pickles and ketchup, both house-made.
Ms. Andrei, known for shaping Ian Schrager's stylish hotel empire, was inspired by the maze of secret and mysterious storage spaces of the museum, to which only a few curators have access. She, along with Enrico Bonetti and Dominic Kozerski, created a space that is a seamless continuation of the museum that affords guests the opportunity to experience the institution in a completely new way - one that no other museum offers. Patrons will be surrounded by art in the context of one of the Brooklyn Museum's large storage rooms. They will be flanked on one side by a huge pile of the museum's custom made crates bearing the signs and stamps of their global travels and on the other by a massive wall of art in a floor-to-ceiling glass vitrine. There, paintings from the Brooklyn Museum's collection referencing different eras and cultures will be hung in no particular order, as though they are awaiting their turns to be showcased in an exhibition. Consequently, the space will convey a sense of eating and drinking in the heart of the museum, an otherwise impossible experience, while evoking an appreciation how artwork travels and is stored.
That sense of having entrée to the museum's normally off-limits inner sanctum and that of a better understanding of how artwork "lives" will be reinforced by Baron & Baron's compelling graphic elements, including a menu design that integrates information about the rotating display of works awaiting their star turns.