I don’t normally check out new restaurants until they have opened for at least a couple of months, primarily because the kitchen inevitably needs to work on some kinks no matter how good the head chef is. When I heard of a new sleek space called Intersect by Lexus, a partnership between restaurateur Danny Meyer’s Union Hospitality Group and the global car company Lexus, opened in the Meat Packing District, I was initially skeptical of what kind of restaurant would exist in it, until I found out that the restaurant will offer a revolving residency of chefs from around the world, and the first chief will be Gregory Marchand from the highly acclaimed Frenchie which was largely credited for being one of the pioneers in reinventing French bistro cuisine. When I visited Paris roughly four years ago, I tried desperately to grab a table at Frenchie to no avail, so an opportunity to experience the menu developed by chef Marchand (to be largely implemented by a separate executive chef and pastry chef) was too tempting to wait so I booked the next available table for a Friday dinner. Did the restaurant really live up to the hype? That’s hard to tell, but my wife Jun and I still enjoyed many of the dishes that we had ordered.
The rather concise menu at Intersect consists of standard appetizer, main dish and dessert formats. The plating of each dish that came to our table was artsy, and looked even more beautiful under the bright light of the trendy dining space. Jun and I were both very impressed with different textural effects that the appetizers displayed, such as the soft burrata that worked wonders with warm pear and crunchy granola of vadouvan (a blend of spices), or the baby leeks that tasted even better thanks to the smoked egg yolk and puffed barley that also gave a pleasantly crunchy touch. It takes a lot of thoughtful from the kitchen to think how the ingredients would taste and feel together in a diner’s mouth and I could tell that the kitchen appropriately did its homework. On the other hand, the main dishes were somewhat mixed. Halibut in grenobloise sauce was nicely cooked and gently balanced in flavor but I’ve had better halibut dishes elsewhere in the city.
As to the duck, for which Jun has a very high standard, the meat was impeccably juicy and moist just to Jun’s liking, but she lamented that there was only one piece of the meat for us to share for a price of $45 (to be sure, Intersect like all Danny Meyer establishments is a no-tipping restaurant and we did get pretty full by the end of our meal). For me, while I agree with Jun’s assessment of the meat’s quality, I thought the surrounding elements of salsify, sunchoke, sesame and bok choy cabbage were a little too distracting, especially with rather aggressive seasoning. I ended up mostly chewing the duck meat without mixing with the other ingredients. As if compensating for the mixed experience with the main dishes, the desserts were both ingeniously plated and quite delicious. Jun couldn’t stop digging at the banoffee dish with banana, dulce de leche and pecan that was delightful with a complexity of different sweet flavors, and I liked the way the kitchen put together pineapple and jasmine ice cream on top of ring-shaped rice pudding for a nice contrast in flavor and texture.
Getting a reservation at Intersect online is not too particularly difficult, although once the hype starts catching on (the space is after all quite appealing for Instagram lovers) I think it would get difficult over time. There is full bar with standard cocktail and wine-by-the-glass options available in addition to French-centric wine list. As noted above, the bright and minimalistic space is one big plus of the dining experience, offset by the rather hefty price tag of the dishes (even after taking into account no tips). Given that I have never been to Frenchie before, I am not in a position to tell whether the menu at Intersect is a faithful interpretation of chef Marchand’s vision, but Jun and I both agree that there are some good to great dishes worth trying if you want to go on a romantic date or informal get-together with friends and family. I would love to see how the space evolves over time and what other leading chefs around the world decide to take a residence. And yes, next time in Paris, I will be sure to visit Frenchie.
KenScale: 8.0/10 (Jun’s Score: 8.25/10)
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.0/10
- Ingredients: 8.5/10
- Flavor: 8.0/10
- Texture: 8.5/10
- Value: 7.5/10
Address: 412 West 14th Street, New York, NY 10014
Telephone: (212) 230-5832