Luksus is one of those restaurants that we have been meaning to write about since our second visit in August 2013. The food may appear casual and approachable, but don’t be fooled — it is jam packed with complexity of flavor, texture and technical mastery. Daniel Burns knows what’s up and that’s why this place is on fire!
My first visit to the hotly anticipated restaurant in the back of Torst, was far from memorable. I had high expectations given what I had heard about Daniel and sadly they were not met. (That being said, I was the idiot because everyone knows that one should never expect too much from a newly opened restaurant. ) Jose and I went back a few months later and we were blown away. A lot had changed in just those few months, Daniel had without a doubt found his groove and was confidently busting out some of the tastiest food around. Since that glorious meal we have found ourselves going as often as we can/afford.
Going to Luksus in Greenpoint is an adventure. Getting oneself there is not that complicated. Lucky for us it is just a 10 min walk from our apt in Williamsburg but for all you folks in Manhattan it is a quick ride on the L train (always an entertaining experience) followed by a walk through the perpetually lively Mccarren Park. Regardless of where you live, if you come to NYC area and are looking for a special and unique experience, you must come here!
As you may have heard Lukus has a fairly nondescript entrance, and it wouldn’t be at all surprising if you walked right past the unmarked door. (The unmarked door is a phenomenon that even the most closeted New Yorker has become accustomed too) Once you find the entrance and step inside, you are only half way there — next you need to find the restaurant. Directional focus may be hard to conjure up when surrounded by such a well designed interior as Torst. It is just gorgeous and by no means your typical beer bar! Torst is without a doubt one of the best, most interesting beer spots period. If you haven’t been you really must go! (more on the beers later) So at the very back of the Impeccably designed bar by Evan and Oliver Haselgrave of hOmE is a sliding door. Behind that door you will find the small 26 seat, gloriously air conditioned sanctuary that is Luksus.
Every seat in this warm homey space is good but the place to be is at the counter. It is there that you can see Daniel and his talented staff in action. When you make your reservation don’t forget to ask. (pro tip, if you are a party of 4 or more sitting at the counter can make things conversationally challenging so your best bet might be sticking to the tables)
Luksus is juggling the experiential puzzle pieces pretty flawlessly. The interior rocks, the food is unique and challenging to find anywhere else and the folks that gracefully hand deliver Daniel’s creations are some of the most wonderful people I know. They are all passionate, obscenely knowledgeable and bring such a great vibe to the dining room/Torst.
THE MENU: $95 for seven courses
The food that comes out of this small kitchen follows a rigid and concise structure from which Daniel iterates and plays with depending on the season and whats available. Every time you go to Luksus you will find variations on the same course sequence: 1 A myriad of snacks 2 Crudo 3 Broth 4 Main Dish 5 Palate Cleanser 6 Dessert 7 Petite Fours
As I have mentioned in previous posts, I love it when chefs set a strong set of guidelines from which they test into. It tells a story and communicates a greater vision to the diner and in many ways the consistency sets the diners at ease on return visits.
Enough chatter, lets get to the good stuff the images.
(FYI This post is a mish mash of our many visits. That being said I have labeled our more recent meal with a date. Enjoy all the pics and the possible long load times. sooo much food porn comes at a cost haha! agh!)
A look up in the vestibule as you enter off the street. There’s the sign!
.The back wall of the restaurant is decorated by Eske Kath, a talented Danish artist.
As I mentioned before Daniel is one talented dude. He is a unicorn in the culinary world: smart, talented,driven and intensely physically active. We first came across Daniel at the New Nordic Cookout in NYC back in 2011. We had heard great things about this Canadian mathematician turned chef and followed his career to Luksus.
Daniel may be tethered to his kitchen but he does get out and enjoys his neighborhood like the rest of us. His neighborhood picks: Food- bunker. Drinks – alameda and brouwerij lane (due to its proximity to his apt) As mentioned in the timeline below, it seems like a great deal of his personal enjoyment comes from his time on the soccer field. This year he is bringing foodball, the soccer league he started in Copenhagen, here to NYC. Jose being the crazy Spaniard that he is, is obsessed with soccer so we can’t wait to find out more about this and possibly see Daniel’s skills on the soccer field. Hoping to see a foodball poster like this hanging up in BK soon.
This success of this strong collaboration between Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø (Evil Twin Brewing) and Daniel can be seen in the beer pairings. Jose and I were blown away with how complex and wine-like the beers were, they also paired like a dream with Daniel’s menu.
Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø from what we have heard is a mad cool beermaker. This danish gypsy brewer, worked on the beer program at Noma. Funny enough Daniel and Jeppe did not meet at Noma instead they met through mutual friends in BK, magic was made and the rest is history.
Worth Noting – Jeppe is currently working on an exclusive beer for the restaurant made by ‘evil twin’ (eviltwin.dk) called Luksus. It is flavored with beetroot and licorice. Expect to see it in about 2 weeks. We will be sure to get back for a sip of that!
As I mentioned earlier, stepping into Torst and Luksus is like stepping out of BK and into their own carefully constructed mini world, one with a kick ass soundtrack! Every time I have been the music is slightly different and perfectly curated. The man behind the eclectic mixes is Fernelly Saria. (Spotify’s sharing kinda sucks but here is a link to one of the mixes, from which you can find the rest)
Daniel’s Snacks create the perfect introduction and builds a level of excitement to the menu ahead. You start the meal with an immediate hit of flavor with the chicken oyster, then typically move onto a raw fish and dressed cracker or chip. After which you will find some kind of a crispy fried component it could be anything, lamb sweetbreads, small sardines or a Danish Æbleskiver, you never know.
Side Note: In the future Daniel is hoping to expand the snack portion of the menu up to eight small quick bites. (we are very much looking forward to this)
The sourdough bread and butter is a carb lovers heaven on earth. If you are like me and want to maximize your calorie intake, make sure to ask for an extra pouch…you won’t regret it, at least while you are sitting there. (it is all worth it just to keep that adorable pouch on the table)
Daniel pays a great deal of attention to the details and perhaps that’s why he has one of the coolest, most eclectic collections of dinnerware we have seen yet. He combines custom plates crafted by Kasper Wurtz, a Danish father/son ceramic duo that created the dinnerware for Noma, mixed with antique porcelain from Copenhagen. He has indeed inspired us, next time we are in Denmark we will be sure to go antiquing! (anyone have any recommendations?)
Daniel’s Broths are pure magic. They are incredibly complex and thoughtful. The broth is delicately soothing, the aromas unearthly and the flavors pack a serious punch! This is one of the many reasons why we love this menu so much. Daniel, and a few other chefs we know, aren’t afraid of serving straight up broth. The result is something unheard of, a tasting menu that is surprisingly light. After dinner instead of going into a food coma you may find yourself energized and ready to spend some quality time with your dinner guest – ha.
The main dishes at Luksus are nice break from the rigidness of the menu. It is always a surprise, giving you reasons to go back for more.
Btw- if you are a pescatarian have no fear just let the restaurant know in advance.
When you hear palate cleansers one typically dismisses it as being a minor part of the meal. This way of thinking won’t happen here! Some of the most special and surprising bites of the menu come from the Quennlle. The flavors while always different tend to share something in common, the are always are big, bright and refreshing!
Daniel is the Quenelle king! In goes the spoon and a few flicks of the wrist later lays a perfectly sculpted football shaped treasure. Yet another reason why you need the kitchen counter seats! His desserts are thoughtful and conceptual and tend to push the boundaries of ones comfort zone. Perhaps it is not for everyone but for the diner that wants to expand beyond the boring flavor realms of chocolate soufflés this is where it is at.