New Yorkers may think they can handle the cold, but the people of Chicago are just another species all together. We often complain about the lasting chill of winter in the Windy City as we are forced away from the flourishing flowers of May to make our annual migration to The National Restaurant Association trade show. Now try Chicago in December. Thawing seemed impossible.
I was instantly warmed at my destination. Imagine if Restoration Hardware designed a restaurant that feeds off its rugged opulence in an understated, elegant way. Plush couches one couldn’t possibly afford invite you to snuggle. Natural light bellows overhead reflecting off the twinkling lavish chandeliers and exposed red brick walls awaking your entire body. Gold tabletops, antique pewter and gold service accessories, and oversized glassware that barely fit in your hand. The final showstopper is the matte, patina rumbled silver-plated flatware that recreates the reed-and-shield pattern used in the dining room aboard Titanic. This place is real. It is 3 Arts Club Café inside Restoration Hardware Chicago.
It’s been a long time that I have been this challenged and enamored by a cutlery. In honor of the minimalist grandeur of 3 Arts Club Café, and the warm place it holds in my heart, I am beginning the New Year by toasting some of my favorite flatware patterns.
Brushed, antique, vintage … new cutlery in 2017 appears used.
At Italienne in Flatiron, Chef Jared Sippel masterfully mixes influences from Northern Italy and Southern France to create a hidden paradise on 24th street. It is the most underappreciated restaurant that opened in 2016 and one of my best recommendations to warm your soul this winter. While you are there, hold on tight to their antique Baguette pattern. (And don’t steal one of their olive wood Opinel table knives!)
Vintage flatware from Sambonet was also selected for the new 1 Hotel-Brooklyn Bridge.
The Empellon opening in Midtown is using a fully satin finished pattern from Steelite… all the way up the tines!
If we’re not getting requests for unique, worn finishes, we’re searching for baroque.
I’m completely obsessed with Maria and Fabio Trabocchi. They have perfected the art of pairing. I don’t know of another restaurant that combines dinnerware designed for the rigors of foodservice with antiques better. If you are on social media and not following their accounts you are surely missing out. If you are in the DC area, run over. The eclectic excellence at their latest enterprise, Sfoglina, is elevated with Carmen flatware, from our friends at La Tavola. This intricately embellished cutlery lifts the sheets of iconic handmade pastas the Trabocchi’s are renowned for.
And then there is our new obsession at Little M Tucker, Cooper. Brushed finish, backside rivets, and marked holes at the end generally reserved for hanging utensils in the good ‘old days make Cooper by Oneida entirely distinctive yet uniquely affordable.
In addition to satin flatware, vendors like Walco and WMF are stocking brushed and satin hollowware for every type of beverage service.
As I head off to a myriad of international trade shows, I promise to find even more metal that is unique and memorable. Happy New Year.