In this edition of the Resy Rundown, we take you through what to expect from Ilis in Greenpoint. With a sprawling open kitchen at its center, a menu unlike anything else in town, and a team of renowned industry professionals, the spot is among Brooklyn’s buzziest openings.
1. Chef Mads Refslund will take center stage.
Executive chef and owner Mads Refslund rose to notoriety as one of the founding chefs at noma. He has been working on the concept for Ilis for years alongside his business partner Will Douillet, also tenured at notable, high-end restaurants such as Alinea and Next.
Ilis will be his first solo full-concept restaurant to open in New York City, after plans for a Williamsburg restaurant that Refslund was partner in never actualized. At Ilis, he’ll be joined in the kitchen by an all-star team: chef de cuisine Bryce Shuman, known for his work at Betony and Sweetbriar, and sous chef Kane Sorrells, who has worked alongside Refslund for years.
2. The space is highly designed for a meal focused around the kitchen.
A former warehouse for a rubber factory in Greenpoint, Ilis has a completely open floor plan. But the centerpiece of the restaurant is undoubtedly the open kitchen situated directly in the forefront of the space, taking up a majority of the restaurant’s 6,000 square feet. It’s surrounded by 60 seats, with a 35-seat bar and a small lounge at the restaurant’s entrance.
There is an absolute abundance of detail put into the space; the furniture, Demant grills, leather woven lighting, custom uniforms, and rotating art installations were all chosen and selected especially by Refslund, who relied upon many of his artist friends to complete the space and concept.
3. The menu isn’t your typical tasting menu.
Don’t call it a prix fixe. Ilis has designed its menu to be flexible, based on the choice of the person eating there. It ranges anywhere from five to 12 à la carte dishes, beginning at $150 for a minimum of five courses, allowing diners to extend or shorten the length of their meal at ease.
For example, at the beginning of your evening, carts carrying produce and seafood will be brought to your table, from which you can choose additional “snacks” to supplement your meal.
4. The name informs the menu, too.
The name Ilis is a mashup of Danish words “ild” for fire, and “is” for ice. So, in “fire and ice” fashion, the menu is presented with both hot and cold preparations of each dish.
There are 12 main dishes to choose from which chefs will prepare right in front of the diners at the open center kitchen. Dishes will rotate frequently, but might include Norwich Meadows Farms sunflowers served alongside aged local tuna, venison tartare with black garlic and spicebush, and barbecue eel-on-the-cob brushed in tare using a marigold flower.
5. Sustainability and creativity are the mission.
The sustainability and creativity that diners have come to associate with noma will absolutely be found here, despite the difference in cuisine and practice. There are unripe blueberry capers collected in a berry bog. There’s a chilled zucchini beverage with a straw made from the plant’s own stem. The eel is brought to the restaurant live. There’s a clam, tomato water, and smoked dashi drink course served in a “flask” made from the surf clam itself.
There won’t be much meat from four-legged animals on the menu, but a few exceptions may include bison or venison. Thoughtful ingredient selection and sustainability like this is important to the team – your menu will also include information on how and where your dishes were sourced.
Or you could ask the staff: The team, fully composed of chefs, will rotate in two-week periods between acting as servers on the floor and as cooks in the kitchen, allowing for a more knowledgeable and well-rounded staff.
Ilis will be open Tuesdays to Fridays to start, with an eventual expansion to Saturday for a more casual, walk-in service.