People swipe stuff from bars all the time. Pint glasses with fancy logos, delicate stemware, Spuds MacKenzie posters, coasters, and self-worth are pocketed every night. Some bars and restaurants screw stuff right onto the walls, but Daniel Burns, chef and partner of Tørst and Luksus (615 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn; 718-389-6034), the Scandanavian restaurant and bar in Greenpoint, didn’t think he had to take extreme measures when it came to a simple plaque noting a prestigious achievement by his restaurant: the awarding of a Michelin star.
“It happened [June 29] and it’s one of those things where I think I left and I didn’t check [to see if it was there],” Burns says. “We do an email at the end of the night about business, and I read this one and I was like, ‘What did that say again? Did that say the Michelin star sign was stolen?’?”
Luksus (Danish for “luxury”) is a sixteen-seat restaurant hidden behind a sliding door from Tørst, the craft-beer-focused bar, lauded for its rotating menu overseen by Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, he of Evil Twin Brewing, the highly praised phantom brewer (a beer-maker that outsources production to for-contract breweries).
Behind that door is the realm of the “new Nordic,” a fine-dining space that’s garnered positive reviews, including this one from the Voice.
“It’s hard to know who the inspectors are when guests are dining,” says Burns about those anonymous inspectors who dine at restaurants in Chicago, San Francisco, and New York, looking for possible additions to the American edition of the Michelin Guide. First published in 1900 by the Michelin tire company in France as a way to spur more drivers to take longer trips, it took just 105 years for the first U.S. guide, focusing on 500 New York restaurants in 2005. Last fall, Luksus received one out of a possible three stars. According to the “inspector’s view” posted on the Michelin website:
Enter through Tørst, wander to the back, and find Luksus — it’s like unearthing a little boudoir behind a beer bar. The small, highly Instagrammable room has a Scandinavia-via-Brooklyn look, with a choice marble dining counter for chef viewing and smattering of tables. Sure, the crowd is heavily tattooed and tight-shirted, but this is no place for poseurs. Luksus has an artsy edge that cements Greenpoint’s status as the hotbed of NY cool. Cue the Girls location scouts. The young staff may be hipsters, but everyone is passionate, friendly, and can recite beer history like it’s their catechism. Absolutely go for the pairing. The cuisine is firmly rooted in Scandinavian techniques and ingredients, with inspiration from afar. An elegant, hybrid dish of mackerel is served sweet, banishing all traces of fishiness with slices of watermelon radish and bacon dashi. Lush and slow-poached in butter, skate is a supple contrast to crisp sunchoke chips and swipe of kohlrabi. A pub-like dish of beef tongue gets twist and flair from firm garbanzo beans and a green sauce, vivid with watercress. Desserts push the envelope with combinations that can be decadent, arresting, and not necessarily for everyone.
“As a chef, certainly it’s important, and in New York a big thing is to stay relevant and stay recognized,” Burns says of the award. “It’s great to be recognized for what you’re trying to do.”
The restaurateur says he just stuck the plaque on the wall with a little glue, and that was it. “I certainly didn’t screw it down. Obviously someone wanted it pretty bad. I guess next time I’ll put it in the kitchen.”
A Michelin rep says it’s the first time she’s heard of a plaque being lifted from a restaurant. Additional plaques usually run $100, but the company says it’ll cover the costs for a replacement in this bizarre circumstance.
Burns says he doesn’t plan to file a police report and that the plaque can be returned no questions asked. “It’s a totally surprising thing.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on July 7, 2015