Brasserie Ruhlmann (45 Rockefeller Plaza) is the latest venture of Jean Denoyer of La Goulou, Japonais and Orsay fame. Denoyer is an avid collector of Emile-Jacques Ruhlmann’s work, and the restaurant’s decor situated at, pays homage to the Art Deco designer and craftsman. Executive Chef Laurent Tourondel, of BLT fame, serves classic French fare with a twist to a power lunch crowd by day and a bustling fashionable clientele by night. Tourondel tells the Resident about where he likes to dine and the busiest night he’s ever spent in the kitchen.
Any tips for entertaining at home?
Keep it simple. I really like to serve a cheese plate when people arrive. It allows for people to linger, enjoy a glass of wine and it’s a simple way to ease people into a meal without having to prepare lots of fussy hors d’oeuvres.
Where is your favorite place to eat in the city?
I have a lot of favorite places depending on my mood, appetite and time of year. I really enjoy indulgent, lengthy, festive meals at Café Boulud or Daniel. For casual meals, I like to go to BLT Fish Shack, Momofuku Noodle Bar or Nargila Grill.
What do you cook for yourself at home?
Usually pasta or the occasional steak. In the winter I like to make braised dishes and in the summer I like to grill fish or pizza.
Which ingredients should everyone have in the kitchen?
Salt and pepper, mustard and good olive oil.
Any tips for getting a good dinner reservation?
I never plan dinners far enough in advance to call two weeks beforehand, but have found that if you call the restaurant the afternoon of the day of they can typically fit you in if they have cancellations. Also, I like to dine late so I am actually happy with a later reservation time of 9 or 9:30 p.m.
What makes a good meal?
Fresh, seasonal ingredients, even seasoning, balanced flavors and, of course, good company.
What is the best meal you’ve ever had? The worst?
The best meals I have ever had were cooked by my grandmother. She was such an amazing cook. The worst meal was probably on an airplane.
Do you have any memorable stories from the kitchen?
Restaurant people have great energy but also an element of craziness so every night is memorable in the kitchen – there is always some sort of drama.
The most chaotic night I have had to deal with in the last few years was the opening night at BLT Steak. We were only expecting a few people so everyone got nervous and called their friends to come in to eat dinner. All of a sudden people starting pouring into the restaurant and then the computers went down so the tickets were messed up. Needless to say, it was one of the most hectic nights I have spent in the kitchen.
What is the most common misconception about eating out?
Most people think that you have to spend a lot of money to have a great meal. Yes, you can go to a four-star restaurant and have an incredible meal, but there are also great restaurants all over Manhattan where you can dine out without breaking the bank.
Tourondel’s Cod Provencale
Six seven-ounce pieces of cod
Half cup olive oil
Half Spanish onion sliced thinly
Two garlic cloves, minced
Two medium plum tomatoes, diced
One-third cup tomato paste
Pinch of Spanish saffron
Two quarts of fish stock
For the garnish:
One small zucchini, diced medium
Three slices country bread, crusts removed and cut into half-inches
One large Yukon gold potato, cut in half-inch dice
Quarter pound calamari cut into half-inch rings
Four tablespoons of sliced basil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a medium stock heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat and add the onion and garlic. Sauté without color until tender. Add tomato paste and cook over high heat for one minute and then add the pinch of saffron and diced fresh tomatoes. Cook for one more minute until the tomatoes have softened. Add the fish stock and bring to a boil. Simmer until reduced to 6 cups.
Brush the cod generously with three tablespoons olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake the cod at 350 degrees for 10 minutes or until cooked through. While the fish is cooking, toss the bread crumbs with 2 tablespoons olive oil and toast in the oven until golden brown.
Place the potato pieces in a pot of salted water and bring to a boil. Boil them for about 12 minutes or until tender and are easily pierced by a knife. Remove them immediately from the water.
Strain the base. In a separate pan place the mussels, cockles, calamari and zucchini and add the base. Cook covered over medium heat until the clams and mussels open up and the zucchini is tender, approximately 5-6 minutes.
To assemble the dish, place a piece of cod in six individual bowls, divide the shellfish and base among the bowls and garnish with the boiled potato and sliced basil.