Dining out is about more than noshing on a delectable dish and washing it down with a choice cocktail; it’s about the full-sensory experience. Since the culinary revolution—that would later be known as fine dining—first emerged in 18th-century Paris, restaurateurs became committed to serving decadent fare in artful spaces. And once the fine-dining movement came to America in 1837 (by way of New York City’s steakhouse, Delmonico’s), renowned chefs have opened quite a few luxurious restaurants across the country and beyond. With 4,000-bottle wine cellars, private dining rooms, and impressive art collections, a restaurant’s aesthetic has become as essential as its menu.
From Atlanta to London, chefs and restaurateurs are giving us another way to see art, as opportunities to stroll the halls of our favorite museums remain limited. They’re hanging iconic and historical pieces from such artists as Pablo Picasso, Tsuguharu Foujita, and David Hockney (among others) on their walls.
Right smack dab in the middle of New York’s Greenwich Village, Gotham has been a go-to for the city’s stylish set since it opened in 1984. A former multilevel warehouse, the luxe space boasts sweeping floor-to-ceiling windows, loft-like ceilings, and classic (and instantly recognizable) postmodernist design motifs, the unpretentious eatery brought on art consultant Emily Santangelo to curate the restaurant’s brand-new art program.
In addition to the works by British painter Christopher LeBrun, New Jersey–based architect and artist Jim Watt, French photographer Sophie Calle, and American Pop artist Ed Ruscha, Santangelo has partnered with the ART FOR CHANGE to commission five limited-edition prints from well-established international artists. Twenty percent of the proceeds will be donated to GrowNYC.
Red Horse by David Burke
While most upscale chefs and restaurant owners either shuddered or struggled throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, chef David Burke opened four new restaurants in New Jersey. The latest, Red Horse by David Burke, is set to open March 24 in an elegant Victorian structure that was once home to Fromagerie, where Burke kick-started his career. An avid contemporary art collector, Burke found an enigmatic oil painting of a red horse by Vietnamese artist Tuan Tran, and became so taken with it that he bought it on the spot and named his restaurant after it. Plus, his father’s nickname is Big Red, and the restaurant is in New Jersey’s horse country, so the name Red Horse seemed fitting.
A modern American steakhouse with an undeniable Asian influence, Red Horse is bringing sexy back: The sprawling space will feature a full-service lounge with enough seating for 40 people, a main dining room, and a loft on the second level that will host glamorous weekly theme nights. What’s more, he invited Santangelo to curate all of the art, and she did not disappoint. The whole first level features captivating equine photography by Monica Stevenson, sculptural mouth-blown glass installations that were a collective effort between local gallery Hot Sand and Burke himself, and, of course, the painting of the red horse that started it all.
Santangelo adds, “When it comes to a restaurant’s art, I think of flavor—literally. I ask myself, What’s the local flavor and what’s the flavor of the restaurant? It’s about placemaking. I let myself be inspired by the interior design, the menu, and the guests.”
Red Rooster Overtown
Home to the historic Lyric Theatre and Knight Beat Club where such luminaries as Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Ella Fitzgerald, Sam Cooke, and Aretha Franklin have performed, Miami’s Overtown neighborhood is just as happening as ever. Just a short drive from South Beach, chef Marcus Samuelsson’s Red Rooster serves upscale comfort food in a vibrant and colorful space.
Curated by Derek Fleming and Michael Simkins, the impressive art collection is as eclectic as the menu, with works from American artists including Rashid Johnson, Mickalene Thomas, Kara Walker, Pope L., and Hank Willis Thomas. The goal? To inspire conversation and celebrate the abundant African American influence on the visual arts.
Perhaps New York’s most exclusive Italian hot spot, Carbone just opened its fourth outpost—this one in Miami’s super-social South Beach. The Florida restaurant, which took over the former Upland Miami space, is just as—if not more—swanky than its New York counterpart courtesy of maximalist interior designer Ken Fulk, who outfitted the massive space in plush leather, jewel-toned velvet, and Murano glass.
Plus, the art collection, curated by gallerist Vito Schnabel, perfectly complements the rich interiors. Artists including Robert Nava, Julian Schnabel, Gus Van Sant, and Harmony Korine enhance the sensual and elegant feel of the iconic restaurant even more.
Check out the full list of amazing restaurants via Architectural Digest, click here!