The picturesque Midtown block that holds the Plaza Hotel and Paris Theater just became home to Beautique (8 West 58th Street, 212-753-1200), a sleek restaurant that overtook the former Frederick’s address. The Beautique team stripped the space down to its studs, and they’ve installed decor that channels Coco Chanel’s Parisian house, with its high-gloss bar, tufted leather, gilded ceiling, and rose petal wallpaper. “The space looks really pretty,” says chef Craig Hopson. “It’s extremely unique.”
Hopson is an Australian who cooked in his home country, Switzerland, and at a three-star Michelin restaurant in France before he landed his first job in the States — at a Ritz Carlton in New Orleans — and began making his way to New York City. “New York is the biggest, brightest star out there,” he says, and he was singularly focused on finding a position in a good kitchen. His break came when he received an offer at Artisanal, and three or four months later, he followed the chef to Picholine, where he worked his way up to chef de cuisine. A few years later, he pounced on an opening at Le Cirque — and got the job.
After he was forced to scrap plans to open his own restaurant, he seized the opportunity at Beautique, which started rolling in January. Here, he’s installed a modern American menu that dabbles in other parts of the globe, too. “The inspiration for the restaurant and decor was American with French and Italian influences, and that follows over into the menu, which is my thing as well,” he explains. “My training has always been French, but at Le Cirque, I had a lot of Italian influence, too. So my concept is modern American with Italian and French influences.”
Look for dishes like a roasted carrot salad with beluga lentils, kale, and sheep’s milk yogurt; a take on a Waldorf salad enlivened with smoked trout; a spring pea soup with comte cheese dumplings; sea scallops with foie gras sabayon; and a lamb mixed grill. “I want the stuff that tastes really flavorful without being heavy or too much,” he says. “And I wanted it to be accessible.”
To that last point, he’s divided the menu into classic appetizers, entrees, and desserts rather than dabble in small plates or what he calls “fancy titles.”
The food matches to a 200-bottle-wine list heavy on selections from France and a cocktail menu from Charlotte Voisey, a James Beard-nominated bartender. Her list includes thre Central Park Beauty, a blend of champagne, port and rhubarb tea; the La Mexicaine made with a 1927 Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, tequila, and lemon juice; and the Deauville Julep, which mixes bourbon, basil, and blueberries.
Beautique is open for dinner nightly, and it will open for lunch on Monday, April 14. Check out more photos and the menu on the next page.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on April 10, 2014