This week, Pete Wells takes on the “branded experience” of Intersect by Lexus, the new cafe and restaurant operated by Danny Meyer’s Union Square Hospitality Group that features an actual Lexus on its first floor and a menu from renowned French chef Gregory Marchand.
At the end of March, Marchand’s menu will be replaced with one by a new chef yet-to-be-chosen by USHG and Lexus, so Wells forgoes the typical star rating just like Eater critic Ryan Sutton, who also reviewed the restaurant this week. As with Sutton, Wells does find some things to like about the corporate experience, writing: “I’d go well out of my way to eat upstairs at Intersect again.” He calls the food “engaging” and praises the chef’s take on skate grenobloise. Of another dish, he writes:
Grilled baby leek greens angled out around a pile of barley topped with what looked like a deviled egg. It was, in fact, a smoked and lemon-spiked yolk plopped in the center of some “whites” made of Parmesan sabayon. Spice and crunch came from puffed barley dusted with piment d’Espelette. It was just tricky enough, this dish. And I loved the way a caraway brioche, pickled mustard seeds and cucumbers completed the deli allusions begun by a foie gras terrine with layers of soft, smoky pastrami.
Wells acknowledges that the restaurant functions as a modern style of advertising and also that its chefs-in-residence conceit is not unique and also just serves as an easy way for the restaurant to get new press on the reg. “It’s a big, beautiful marketing ecosystem in which everybody from predators to bottom feeders gets to believe they’re at the top of the food chain,” he writes.