A Restaurant Review of a Kind


Last night was the longest night of the year. I celebrated with a feast at Momofuku Ssam Bar in the East Village. There are one or two other places you can read about the food, so I’ll just tell you a bit about the architecture.

I didn’t take any pictures myself last night—it was too dim inside for my little camera to see clearly and too cold outside to practice fine motor skills—but as usual, there are plenty of other people who have posted things to the web. [Edit: this just in—here are Paul's pix from last night...]

The outside is particularly funky at the moment; the skeleton of some partially-deconstructed scaffolding sketches a kind of ghost courtyard on the sidewalk out front. Inside, things are sleeker and simpler. Walls are covered with thin bars of dark stained wood arranged to flow from front to back. Tables are large slabs of similarly deep-reddish-brownish wood with wooden stools as well. Long narrow windows follow the flow as well (one is told to store one’s wrap in the nook, which is convenient though coats come out chilled at the end of the night). Oddly, the (stone I think?) tiles on the floor are square, breaking the rhythm a bit.

I especially liked the drop ceiling panels that were the same color and texture, but with gaps between for fire sprinklers to hide that added a darker accent to the wood joints.

We were a convivial group of 11 crowded around one of the big wooden tables, which was cozy and conductive to passing of plates and pork. The seating was fine on the bench side of things (though a bit spare), but I felt a bit bad for those on stools with no backs.

Overall the restaurant aims squarely at the sweet spot of luxurious minimalism, decadent austerity. And I gotta say, rich simplicity is a weakness of mine. Basic shapes with straightforward materials, but chosen and crafted to make the textures and colors glow is a very wonderful kind of design, and Momofuku Ssam Bar managed it pretty well with a warm, enveloping wood interior that’s clean enough not to clutter a narrow space, but cozy enough to let us forget the dark cold night outside while feasting with friends.



This entry was posted on Monday, December 22nd, 2008 and is filed under architecture. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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