While chef Marc Murphy has busily grown his TV persona over the last several years–regularly starring as a judge on Chopped along with making countless appearances on a slew of other food-related shows–he’s been fairly quiet on the restaurant opening front; his last debut was the Upper West Side Ditch Plains location, which came online in early 2011. That’s not to say he hasn’t been cooking, of course–Murphy still has four restaurants to attend to, including another Ditch Plains location in the West Village as well as a pair of Landmarcs, one in Tribeca and the other in the Time Warner Center.
But today, he opens Kingside (124 West 57th Street, 212-707-8000) at the Viceroy New York hotel, a partnership with the Gerber Group, which is responsible for a number of hotel restaurants and bars, including Whiskey Blue in the Midtown W, as well as spots like the Stone Rose Lounge in the Time Warner Center.
“We wanted to open up a restaurant in the fantastic Viceroy and sort of make a downtown-feeling restaurant in Midtown,” Murphy explains of the vision. The idea, he continues, was to make people feel like they weren’t on 57th Street. The design recalls classic American brasseries, with black and white tiled floors, red leather bar stools, mirrored walls, and zinc accents. “It’s a great looking space,” says Murphy.
The chef put together a new American menu to match the interior, drawing influence from a number of culinary traditions for his board: A slew of crudos, a kale salad, roasted snails, a burger, porchetta, pastas, a cowboy ribeye for two, and a line-up of charcuterie all share space on the syllabus. And the list, Murphy says, is designed to encourage people to try esoteric offerings–like veal brains–while giving people plenty of access points, like that burger.
And that burger, he adds, really excites him. “The inspiration is the muffuletta,” he explains, referencing the New Orleans specialty that’s stacked with cured meats, mozzarella, provolone, and olive salad. “I love that sandwich, and it’s a very true, American thing. I’m doing the burger with giardiniera relish, aioli made with green olives, soppressata, and white cheddar on a ciabatta roll.” Other highlights, he says, include the foie gras–served with a savory pear caramel–and the tuna crudo with uni vinaigrette. “I’m really psyched about all of it,” he says.
The food matches a drinks list that features old and new world wines by the quartino, local beers on draft and international standards (like Coors and Stella) in bottle, and cocktails that range from a barrel-aged negroni to the smokey santillana, a blend of reposado tequila, mescal, vanilla, and mole bitters.
Above all, says Murphy, the group is trying to create a hotel restaurant that will also serve the neighborhood. “My goal has always been to run and cook for really good neighborhood restaurants,” he says. “I’m really trying to keep true to myself here. It’s honest food that’s not too complicated, and it’s something that people in the neighborhood can come in and eat several times. People say that this part of Midtown is not really a neighborhood, but look out the window: There are people living here. There’s residential all along Central Park South, and businesses that need space for breakfast and lunch meetings. We very much want to be part of the community.”
Kingside will serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, and it will also run 24-hour room service for guests of the hotel. The restaurant makes its official debut tonight.