Looks like the subterranean restaurant at McCarren Hotel & Pool will soon have yet another tenant: Thaimee, an upscale Thai place from chef Hong Thaimee and business partner Matt Bruck.
The space across from McCarren Park last hosted Oleanders, a fern bar-themed restaurant initially opened by solid Williamsburg restaurateurs Joe Carroll (St. Anselm) and Francesco Panella (Antica Pesa). But Carroll and Panella left the restaurant within months of the opening due to management change at the hotel, and Oleanders never quite picked up buzz the way their other restaurants did. It quietly stopped serving dinner earlier this year. Before that, fine dining star chef Paul Liebrandt had a restaurant called The Elm in the hotel, but it shuttered after a year and a half.
Investment group Empire Capital bought the hotel at 160 North 12th Street last fall for $20 million and decided to do a revamp of the food and beverage, approaching Bruck — an avid diner who runs a consultancy company called Eaters Drinkers — for help.
He and the chef will be opening Thaimee in the basement space in September, with two weekday tasting menus featuring eight courses. A more casual a la carte menu will primarily feature Thai fare from Thaimee’s hometown of Chiang Mai.
Since it’s a hotel, food will be offered all day. Breakfast will be a buffet, and lunch will be less fancy than dinner. Weekend brunch will also be buffet-style, including standard American brunch fare with Thai touches.
The duo will also be in charge of new fare at the popular pool and on the rooftop. Dram alum Tonia Guffey and The NoMad alum Karen Fu will put in a new cocktail menu for the building, and Bruck will start organizing pop-ups for the roof, such as a sushi club.
Thaimee, who’s worked at Jean-Georges’ Perry Street, owns an East Village restaurant called Ngam, as well as a newly opened fast-casual Thai spot called Thaimee Box. She’s also been on TV a bunch, and before cooking, she was apparently a model in Thailand for companies like Pantene.
The McCarren Hotel restaurant is a tough space, and the hotel’s ownership and management turnover likely hasn’t helped. But Bruck says he and Thaimee think enough demand exists for “real, delicious Thai food — plus a bit more comfort and some Bangkok glamour.”