ILIS, a wood-fired kitchen and restaurant, is now open in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, at 150 Green Street. Chef Mads Refslund (former Noma co-founder and chef) has been working on ILIS for years with business partner Will Douillet (Alinea, Next).
Located in a former rubber factory, ILIS boasts a large open kitchen with 60 seats wrapped around it, along with a 35-seat bar and lounge area. Tim Harrison (who designed the kitchens of the French Laundry, Saison, Single Thread, Benu) designed the expansive ILIS kitchen while Grant Blakeslee designed the restaurant to complement the kitchen, and the raw warehouse space.
Refslund is Executive Chef, Bryce Shuman (Betony) is Chef de Cuisine, and Kane Sorrells is Sous Chef and Director of R &D. All menu discussions with guests and service is done by the chefs who present the Imenu, cook the food, and serve the food on a rotating basis. All hot food is cooked with live fire (grilled, smoked, charred) or served cold (raw, chilled, cured, fermented).
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Refslund is relying on a new menu format where guests select anywhere from 5-12 dishes a la carte. Unlike a tasting menu, guests at ILIS choose all of the ingredients and dishes, length of experience and sometimes the manner of preparation. An a la carte menu features up to 12 courses, with the choice of three shared plates. All ingredients are prepared raw, or over the open fire hearth.
Ingredients are presented in custom designed carts, one featuring beautiful produce and one featuring seafood, will be presented tableside, and guests can select items per piece. ILIS will not serve any four-legged animals except wild and sustainable North American bison or venison, or those animals who have lived a long healthy life for another purpose, such as a mature dairy cow.
An extensive pantry of oils, vinegars, ferments, misos are all house made. The chefs have been building this library pantry for over a year. Same goes for their meat and fish aging and charcuterie program.
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Dishes include Sunflowers from Norwich Farms served with local aged tuna, with sunflower seed miso and oil made from sunflower petals. Scallops are served raw wrapped in anise hyssop leaves and then formed into dumplings and grilled. The dis is served with foraged, unripe blueberry capers (that the team collected themselves in kayaks, in a berry bog. Fun and practical team building!). Wild duck from Lancaster PA is grilled. It is served with plum juice and a seaweed BBQ sauce.
Guests are given total flexibility on choice of course and length of the experience. The idea is not to make anyone feel trapped. Sometimes you will want to leave after an hour and a half. Sometimes you may want to stay for 3 hours. It's whatever you wish. Casual Saturday service will be simpler, usually some kind of Chicken grill/ BBQ, family friendly, and more affordable.
Mads Refslund's ILIS proves to be a real eye opener.