New York's landmarked buildings offer a peek into the city's rich past, but it can be a challenge to reinvent them as exciting, new destinations without disturbing historic details. Such was the dilemma posed by the transformation of three landmarked rooms of the New York Palace Hotel into Villard Michel Richard, a new restaurant by acclaimed French chef Michel Richard. Jeffrey Beers International was called in to revamp the stately spaces, originally part of financier Henry Villard's 1882 mansion, into a modern, fine dining experience. Step into our gallery for a photo tour of JBI's creative workarounds as well as the project's centerpiece - a 10-foot x 10-foot glass wine cube by Jaroff Design - Mison Concepts.
The challenge faced by Jeffrey Beers was to update the three rooms in the New York Palace Hotel in a way that would be compelling to modern diners without removing or altering the 19th century neo-Italian Renaissance details. “We couldn’t even change the sconces on the walls,” Nora Liu Kanter, Jeffrey Beers Studio Leader, explained to us. But how do you make over a space without painting, drilling holes or swapping out fixtures? The solution came in the form of freestanding sculptures and the use of light and video to add splashes of imagery that are as dynamic as they are harmless to the existing interior architecture.
Some examples of the ephemeral decor include an illuminated wall of gold Champagne bottles at the restaurant’s entrance and a dramatic lightshow of flowers projected onto the main hall’s 30-foot-high barrel vaulted ceilings. The bar area was outfitted with a nod to Michel Richard‘s sense of humor – a wall of holographs that alternate between photos of the chef and of Henry Villard, depending on where the viewer stands.
The bar area flows directly into The Gallery, a room designated for intimate, fine dining. The space is lit up by over-sized photographs of classic Hollywood actresses that lean against the historic wood-paneled walls – a logical alternative to the damage that would be caused by hanging them. Each tabletop also casts a soft glow from within, acting as a perfect canvas for chef’s specialties like Mosaic surf and turf, Lobster begula, Dover sole with hazel butter, “lemon eggceptional” and Napoleon creme brulee.
A few steps down the grand marble hall, The Bistro offers a more casual setting to experience Richard’s cuisine. The highlight of the space is a jewel-like wine room custom-made by Jaroff Design – Mison Concepts. The cube houses 920 bottles of red wine and is illuminated by one of the mansion’s original chandeliers.
The Bistro at Villard Michel Richard is open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The Gallery is open for dinner from Tuesday-Saturday and offers a Prix Fixe menu and Promenade Gourmand tasting menu.
Photos ©Yuka Yoneda