The first part of Major Food Group’s reimagining of the iconic Four Seasons space will open soon, and Grub Street has a big feature checking in on all that Rich Torrisi, Mario Carbone, and Jeff Zalaznick have been going through in working on the biggest and most-watched restaurant opening of the year. The Grill opens first in April, while seafood restaurant the Pool will open in the fall. And the ground-floor space of the former Brasserie will be home to Lobster Club later this year, according to the profile.
Here are five other details that the crew revealed in the profile:
Landlord Aby Rosen talked to tons of top chefs before bonding with Zalaznick.
After the owner of the Seagram building ended the lease of former Four Seasons owners Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder, he talked people like Stephen Starr, Eric Ripert, Danny Meyer, Daniel Humm, and Thomas Keller. Zalaznick ultimately charmed Rosen when it turned out that nine of their 10 favorite restaurants in the world matched, a list that includes Parisian restaurants Le Du and L’Ami Louis.
Martha Stewart told Rosen he was making a mistake.
Regulars Henry Kissinger and architects Robert Stern and Norman Foster also tried to convince Rosen against the revamp. Former Random House publisher Joni Evans tells Grub Street: “My God, it’s like losing your childhood home — and learning that they’ve moved it to the Bronx. I have no interest in going back. I don’t want to see what they’ve done.”
MFG studied midcentury menus and hired critic Mimi Sheraton as a consultant.
For the Grill, which is supposed to be a continental restaurant, they looked at old menus for the Four Seasons, ‘21’ Club, and Delmonico’s, and Sheraton, who helped put together the first Four Seasons menu, was also hired to help.
The resulting menu names items that feel old-school — filet mignon à la mode, “Neptune’s Roast”-style Dover sole, Amish ham steak pineapple chow chow, larded squab, and crab Louie. A salad that Sheraton created for the original Four Seasons also makes an appearance, called the “Mimi Salad,” at the Grill. It has seafood, cold dressing, and shallots.
It will be very expensive.
Zalaznick expects people to spend an average of $150 per person, including wine. That means raking in about $100,000 and about $36 million a year, assuming that they’re turning tables at least twice during service.
That’s partly because they will be putting on a big show at the Grill.
Major Food Group is known for being outrageous and flamboyant at their restaurants, and it sounds like the Grill will be no different. The team bought two Viennese dessert carts from a family in Brooklyn to use as service trolleys that cost $10,000 each. Steak knifes cost $253 each and have Hawaiian acacia-wood handles and a Japanese steel blade. And at one point, they created a dinner plate with a pattern that was a modernized version of the china designed for the Kennedy White House.
Food, too, will involve theatrics. A potato dish features stacked, coin-sized slices that are then covered with hot duck fat and fried. Foie gras is sliced thinly and presented “like coral or a blossoming flower.” A pasta dish, from an 150-year-old recipe book from the original Delmonico’s chef, will involve a roasted duck leg and carcass. A server will bring birds to the table and squeeze them over pasta using a custom-created press.
But they leaned into their reputation as being showy. “Why should chefs just cook?” Carbone says. “Why is that looked down upon?”
Check out the full profile here for further details about what the crew plans for the huge new restaurant.