Developing a menu that satisfies more than most is difficult for any well-trained chef. However, when a chef changes a ten- to twelve-course tasting menu each day — all based on the micro-seasonality of ingredients — it takes a certain kind of leader to oversee the kitchen. Günter Seeger has proven himself up to the challenge at his newly opened restaurant on the border of the Meatpacking District and West Village, Günter Seeger New York (641 Hudson Street; 646-657-0045).
Nestled on the first floor of a townhome that dates back over 100 years, the staff makes guests feel at home immediately. There’s a clear view into an open kitchen from every chair in the house, and Seeger’s private art collection adorns the white-washed brick walls. And if the aesthetic doesn’t set the tone, Seeger can also be seen strolling through the main dining room chatting with guests about their dining experiences.
“This fall, it will be nine years here in New York,” notes Seeger, who moved to New York after closing his acclaimed Atlanta restaurant. “The reason to come to New York was really to open a restaurant here because mainly, you know, what New York is. It’s a thriving culture. It’s the best food city in the United States. I wanted to bring what I do to New York.”
For the chef, that meant appealing to a bigger, international clientele on top of an already passionate local crowd. And for a city that attracts nearly 60 million tourists, that means each day is a chance to create something new to impress everyone who walks through the door. Seeger explains that New York’s global appeal for diners with a variety of tastes is what keeps restaurants afloat in the city: “The high-end restaurant just needs that kind of audience.”
Seeger focuses on inspiring his team through quality ingredients and micro-seasonality, which means constantly monitoring the greenmarket for goods that disappear in the blink of an eye. It’s those challenges of embracing ingredients that have a brief lifecycle define Seeger’s style of cooking. “The flowering onions are there, but they may only last a week,” Seeger laments.
Some of the most recently featured ingredients on his tasting menu include snap pea gazpacho, bay leaf-wrapped scallops with Chanterelle mushrooms, and a brûléed plum tart with fresh cinnamon leaf pastry cream and thyme.
It’s a painstaking process to create and compose an ever-changing menu, but he explains that “it’s really the only way to get a vegetable that’s the best product — a great product is really the main focus.”
The restaurant currently offers dinner service with a five-, ten-, or twelve-course tasting menu with additional wine pairings. Larger parties and guests who don’t mind sitting with strangers can also opt for a chef’s table tasting inside the kitchen.
“As long as we are authentic in what we do, as long as we have personality, we will do the best we can,” Seeger says.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on June 30, 2016