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Monday, June 7, 2010

Thermidor's a Throwback to Mid-20th Century Fancy. With Harvey Wallbangers

Posted By on Mon, Jun 7, 2010 at 4:20 PM

Bland exterior, 1960s retro-tastic interior.
  • Bland exterior, 1960s retro-tastic interior.
Inside Scoop tipped us off to the fact that Thermidor, Neil Jorgensen and Bruce Binn's new Mint Plaza restaurant, opened Saturday night. The restaurant is now open for drinks and dinner seven days a week, and building momentum slowly: On Saturday, they launched with small plates and two entrees. Tonight marks the debut of filet mignon and lobster Thermidor. By Friday, says Jorgensen, they'll have six entrees, and lunch may begin next week.

The inspiration for the new restaurant, say the Spork owners, is dining out in the 1950s and 1960s. "What was fine dining like before Nouvelle Cuisine?" Binn recounts.

"What was it like to go out back then? What comes to mind? Filet mignon, things baked in shells ―

it was rich, decadent, elegant." To that end, the chef consulted just two cookbooks: an old edition of the Gastronomique and an anthology of Gourmet recipes from the 1960s or 1970s.

Once it's established, the menu will change four times a year. It's heavy on $6 snacks like pommes dauphines and celery Victor, salads and mini lobster, entrees in the $20-plus range. Nevertheless, Binn's not taking the 1960s theme all that strictly: He's lightening up the richest of the dishes.

Brooke Arthur (late of Range, now of Nancy Oakes' upcoming Prospect) designed the cocktail menu to match the food, with mai tais, Old Pals, and good ol' Harvey Wallbangers, complete with Galliano. "Our liquor distributor says it's the first time they've seen someone order more than one bottle at a time ― you know, the two-foot ones," Jorgensen laughs.

(Side note: Yelp, of course, already has four reviews of Thermidor: One from someone who's looking forward to the opening, a second excoriating the first for writing up a review, and two crowing that the other two posters are lame because they've visited the restaurant during the soft opening for cocktails.)

Thermidor 8 Mint Plaza (at Fifth St.), 896-6500; currently open daily at 5 p.m. for drinks, 6 p.m. for food ― closing times TBD.

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Jonathan Kauffman

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