About eight months ago it was announced that Corey Lee, Thomas Keller's chef de cuisine at French Laundry, would be moving on to take over Two from David Gingrass. Well now we see in this gallery here, construction is erupting in every direction at the site that will be Benu. Lee tells us the 2000-square-foot outdoor area will be converted into a manicured courtyard, available as an event space for private parties and to bridge the gap between the restaurant and the hum of the street.
Inside, Richard Bloch Architects is carrying out Lee's wish for a subtle, minimal dining environment, hinging on raw materials like wood, metal and even some rubber. This will all serve as a canvas for rotating art work from the adjacent Crown Point Press. "We are not putting a lot in the dining room," says Lee. "So each piece is very important."
As far as the menu goes, Benu will offer an a la carte option and a "three-hour-experience" tasting menu filled out by ten to 14 courses, depending on the night. Lee calls out the cuisines of Paris, Barcelona, Hong Kong and Kyoto as great influences in the dishes he's putting together. He was working on a semolina pasta with braised oxtail and sea cucumber when we called. Also of note, Benu will not carry on Gringrass' license to serve hard alcohol; so only beer, wine and sake will be on offer. Former La Toque sommelier, Yoon Ha will run the wine program along with one other sommelier from Napa who Lee prefers not to reveal yet. Opening date here is still a moving target as there's much construction to be done, although Lee did mention he'd like to be in business by August 22nd.
· Corey Lee Taking Over Two [~ ESF ~]