Tue-Fri, 6:30pm-10pm; Sat-Mon, closed
G at Nassau Ave.
$75 tasting menu
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
All the maddening little tropes of the haute-Brooklyn dining experience are on display at Luksus, which opened earlier this summer on Manhattan Avenue in Greenpoint amid the jumble of rapidly gentrifying beauty parlors and bodegas. There’s the obscure Nordic name (“Luxury” in Danish) and the online reservation system, which is generally more annoying than it is efficient. There’s the hidden, shoe-box dining space, which you get to, in this case, through a sliding pocket door in the back of a neo-Danish beer hall called Tørst. There’s the spare, Scandi-style tasting menu filled with the usual artisanal buzz phrases (“wood sorrel,” “burnt hay”). And, of course, there are the patrons themselves, crouched at tiny hand-hewn wooden tables, communing with their carefully foraged dinners while sipping craft beer from dainty wineglasses.
“This is a very interesting vegetal construction,” commented one of my skeptical guests as we pondered one of our first courses: an arrangement of garden carrots and baby beets, presented with utmost care on a wooden butcher block. The boutique beets were pale yellow and vividly purple, and we dipped them in puddles of a shiny substance called “carrot egg cream,” which looked vaguely unnerving but tasted like some elegant form of hollandaise. We ate the carrots next, and then a little slip of Broadbent’s country ham, dehydrated to a melting potato-chip crisp and dusted with vinegar powder. After the course was cleared away, we sipped glasses of fruity Jolly Pumpkin’s Weizen Bam ale and listened to the sitar section of “Norwegian Wood,” which seemed to be looping endlessly on the house stereo. “This is surprisingly pleasant,” my now less skeptical friend said.
The chef at Luksus is an intense bewhiskered gentleman named Daniel Burns. Like lots of the intense, bewhiskered young chefs of his generation, he has worked in various kitchens in the Momofuku empire, and he’s also served as the head pastry chef at René Redzepi’s famous forager mecca, Noma, in Copenhagen. Unlike many of his compatriots, however, Burns seems to have a knack for leaching the staginess and pretentiousness out of the whole tasting experience and imbuing it with a kind of natural elegance. After the carrots and beets, we took delivery of three fresh, faintly briny razor clams, garnished with curls of radish, in a light, richly flavored seafood purée. The inevitable egg dish appeared after that, composed of a single bright-orange yolk, a pod of buttery chanterelles, and green fans of roasted sucrine lettuce, all of which were covered with a faintly smoky corn-flavored broth.
There are only five courses on the $75 tasting menu at Luksus, but almost all of them carry a subtle, sophisticated punch. Instead of razor clams one evening, my tasters and I enjoyed a delicate helping of chicken oysters, followed by flat pink sheets of steak tartare dressed with sliced tomato and a diaphanous, deliciously crackly substance that our waitress merrily described as an “onion chip.” My favorite main course was the lamb breast, which the kitchen marinates in buttermilk, burnt hay, and yogurt, then sears in crunchy-skinned slices and plates with a spoonful of a cool, faintly gamy lamb’s-tongue salad on the side. It was followed by a palate-cleansing sorbet—tasting pleasantly of pine needles—and dessert, which on one night was simple blueberries and on another was a delicate mousse flavored with rhubarb and dressed with a sweet purple meringue, which was touched, in high-Brooklyn style, with pickled garden beets.
There are no cocktails or wine, but an excellent craft-beer tasting is available for $45.Ideal Meal
Carrot-and-beet snack, chicken oysters and cabbage, garden lettuce with chanterelle and egg, lamb breast, rhubarb mousse.