Brooklyn Museum’s latest installation: A fancy restaurant

Brooklyn Museum’s latest installation: A fancy restaurant
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Come for the culture, stay for the food!

The renowned Smith Street eatery Saul will open inside Brooklyn Museum Friday night after closing its 14-year-old Boerum Hill location in July – and the owner is calling his new digs a work of art.

“We’re now like an installation in the museum,” said top-rated chef Saul Bolton at his new namesake eatery on Wednesday night. “It’s a great marriage – I’m excited about it.”

During the restaurant’s open-bar premiere, party throngs of Saul fans packed into the low-lit, 87-seat, establishment that sits on the first floor adjacent to the museum’s recently renovated cafe, which Bolton has also created the menu for.

Wait staff donning black attire passed out glasses of sweet red and white wines and small bites inspired from the restaurant’s dinner menu including a Parmesan cheese puff, baby beets and strawberries, an oxtail croquet, and scallop tartare with tomato jam on toast (which this reporter found particularly tasty).

“The food is absolutely amazing,” said Saul-lover Barbara Campbell of Crown Heights, who added that she couldn’t be happier that the high-end eatery, which was merited a coveted Michelin star for seven consecutive years, has made its new home in such a central location.

“I hope all people will get an opportunity to explore the wonderful food that is now here in the museum,” she said.

Bolton opened his popular restaurant with his wife, Lisa, in 1999, inside a small space on Smith Street when the thoroughfare was on its way to becoming one of Brooklyn’s famed restaurant rows, and the Prospect Heights chef admits that it was emotional for him to leave Brownstone Brooklyn.

“It is bittersweet – we’ve been there for 14 years and it was very personal,” he said. “So coming to the Brooklyn Museum was very exciting, but it’s also a leap of faith and couldn’t be more different.”

Art and fine dining: Chef Saul Bolton (in white) said that he was “psyched” to open his relocated namesake eatery inside the Brooklyn Museum.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Bolton said that he definitely brought the “Saul spirit” to the new — and much larger — eatery by bringing over most of his waitstaff and beloved maitre d’ that he said has been with him since the beginning.

The new restaurant, which has floor-to-ceiling glass windows that allows diners to peer out into the museum’s Great Hall and view permanent art installations as they wine and dine, is complete with a full bar, large steel wine racks that anchors the eatery’s entrance, and a large communal table that sits beneath hand-blown glass light fixtures at the center of the dining room.

Interior designers of the restaurant said that they had to work around two large-scale abstract murals that adorn the walls inside the eatery while designing the space.

“The warmth of the center table works with the tones of the paintings,” said Jason Horvath, co-founder Red Hook-based design company Uhuru.

Bolton, who also owns the Vanderbilt in Prospect Heights and Red Gravy in Brooklyn Heights, revamped the Saul menu for the new eatery, but still kept a number of old favorites including the Dry Aged Squab with roasted carrots, almonds, and spiced yogurt, and his famous Baked Alaska dessert.

The Smith Street restaurant only served dinner, but the new Saul will also serve lunch and brunch, and offer patio seating on the museum’s outdoor terrace in the warmer months.

Saul at the Brooklyn Museum [200 Eastern Parkway near Washington Avenue in Crown Heights, (718) 935–9842, www.saulrestaurant.com]. Lunch served on Wednesday through Friday from 12 pm–3 pm; brunch/lunch served on Saturday and Sunday from 11:30 am-4 pm; dinner Wednesday through Thursday from 5:30 pm–10 pm, Friday and Saturday 5:30 pm–11pm, and Sunday 5 pm–9 pm.

Reach reporter Natalie Musumeci at [email protected] or by calling (718) 260-4505. Follow her at twitter.com/souleddout.
Digging in: “Professor Pi” and Johanna Schmitt enjoyed the delectable bites passed out at the party.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini