The rise of the gourmet fast casual restaurant has meant the elimination of front of house staff, and now that concept flourishes in fine dining, too, notably at chef David Bouley's newest venture, which opens Thursday in the Flatiron. The chef's new restaurant, Bouley At Home, forgoes waitstaff of any kind; instead, chefs are responsible for illuminating diners as to what they're eating, which should be simple enough considering guests are sitting more or less on top of the cooking area.
In partnership with German design company Bulthaup, the chef created three cooking and seating "stations," with seating for 24 total. Diners pluck their own silverware from drawers at each station—the concept imagines we're all guests at a dinner party at someone's home—unlike similar tasting menu experiences, where there is a staff to reset place settings and fill up water glasses. The eight to ten course tasting menus will be priced at $225 for dinner, excluding beverages and gratuity, which presumably would go to the cooks.
The space has "five video monitors to demonstrate cooking techniques and to stream real-time commentary by cheese makers, vintners and others via Skype," according to the Times, which first reported on the restaurant. Reservations can only be made through the restaurant's website, with perhaps room for one or two walk-ins. The 1,600-square-foot space will also be home to "a food lab, a cooking school and a bake shop," opening soon.
31 West 21st Street; davidbouley.com