Luksus, the Nordic tasting-menu-only restaurant hidden behind a door in Greenpoint’s Tørst beer bar, has been on my list for a long time as a Brooklynite who’d love to never have to leave the borough for her fine dining. I was scheduled to go see my family in Ohio over the July 4th weekend, but when my flight got canceled despite clear blue skies, I consoled myself by booking a table for two there in the hope of getting to sit at the bar and watch the chefs work. The OpenTable reviewers had given Luksus a 4.5, and Eleven Madison Park, which I would call one of the standard-bearers in the city, had a 4.8, so I congratulated myself on my good choice. But when I started talking to my friends, the consensus was that Luksus was good but probably not somewhere they’d return to. I thought about changing my reservation, but then I remembered the optional beer pairings and just had to try it for myself.
My boyfriend and I awkwardly stood around the back of Tørst, near enough to the secret doorway that someone would ask us if we were there for Luksus, for five minutes or so until the hostess relieved us of our anxiety and slid the door open. The restaurant hidden inside was teeny, and the bar was reserved that night for friends of chef Daniel Burns (of the Fat Duck and the Momofuku test kitchen), but they seated us right by a window that looked out onto their backyard garden and gave my pictures some lovely lighting.
beer + garden
radish, lobster roe
Radish with a lobster roe creme fraiche and garlic bread crumble. Our server encouraged us to eat everything on the plate, so we picked those suckers up with our hands and tried to cram a full foot of radish greens into our mouths.
dandelion chip, paprika
If I could make these for myself at home, my low-carb diet would be much more successful.
Danish flatbread with pickled kohlrabi and mackerel soaked in licorice.
I’m not the world’s hugest fan of mussels, but these were so briny and acidic. And also came with ~that bread~.
chicken skin, farmer’s cheese
Better than pork rinds!
fried oyster, cabbage, celery gribiche
I never tell a restaurant that I don’t care for oysters, but I’d decided that night that I would finally speak up and try to get something I really like instead, but our server asked me to try these. She called them “an oyster taco” and said they were a nod to the neighborhood, so I gave them a shot. The oyster looked like a miniature whole chicken and didn’t really taste anything like an oyster to me, because all I was tasting was sauce gribiche, that sort of tartar-sauce-like French mayonnaise-y concoction that I love so much, only this one was made with celery to give it even more flavor.
The sourdough bread service was amazing, partly because the yogurt butter was in that state where it would’ve been a puddle had it been one degree warmer in the place. That’s a restaurant that cares about its bread.
snow crab, fava bean, sorrel
This was like eating springtime with all of the green, including some cool, sweet cucumber and a lovage sauce. The tough, fibrous garlic ramps were too much for me on their own but added nice texture when eaten with the rest of the elements.
charred onion broth, English pea, Korean watercress
At this point, we were like, “Oh . . . another salad.” The powerful onions made this interesting, along with the mint puree. It probably just needed something rich alongside it for my taste. A little piece of fatty meat.
Abbaye De Saint Bon-Chien, my favorite of the beer pairings with its strong cherry and sour notes.
rib eye, new potato, garlic scape
We’ve been making a lot of ribeye at home lately, so I was excited to see what a real chef could do with the piece of meat. And he definitely did something I would never do at home, which was to roast it instead of getting a thick crust on the edges. So it was fully raw in the middle and just kind of floppy on the edges like it had been microwaved for a minute, which I’m sure is a really unintelligent description of what went into this dish, but that’s how it seemed to someone who wasn’t in the kitchen to watch. Like, whyyyyy would you do this to a piece of great meat? The only redeeming factors were the way the fat was nice and tender and the big chunks of salt on top.
I was just kind of tired of leaves at this point and at least wanted them to be herbs, but I did love that all of the vegetables were pickled. And no one’s complaining about potatoes in ramp butter.
This whey sorbet with ginger cordial was a combo of super zingy ginger and funky milk flavor in one spoon-sized little scoop.
rhubarb, spruce, bay leaf
Who doesn’t love a fine dining Fruit Roll-Up? My boyfriend and I had just been marathoning “The Great British Bake-Off”, where rhubarb features prominently in nearly every episode, so this dessert seemed so timely to us. Pine needle sauce and a bay leaf crumble that I could’ve eaten pounds of completed the off-kilter concoction.
This little two-bite treat is called a flødebolle and is a cookie topped with marshmallow meringue and covered in chocolate. I would buy these by the truckload if the restaurant was selling them.
I think the sensibility of Luksus can best be described as, “Here, I brought the entire garden for you.” I loved the freshness of all of the ingredients and felt like they were coming from a kitchen that really respects them, but it just didn’t seem like quite enough effort to me for $125 each. I’m fine with a concentration on vegetables, but I want something to be done to them. Make a sauce, make a jam, put them in a consommé. The whole radishes were actually novel when we got them, but then the whole meal that followed felt like it was just brought it from the garden when I want my Michelin-starred food to be a little more fussy. There were moments of greatness, though, particularly in the snacks at the beginning. In the end, I’m glad I visited and would recommend Luksus to someone who really loves greens and has a lot of money to spend on them. Once was probably enough for me, although I’d be sad if I never had beer pairings again.
615 Manhattan Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11222 (map)