October 18, 2004 | Ask Gael
You got into Café Gray early. And . . . ?

         What a sweet conceit to call it Café Gray. It’s an ebullient fantasy, Lespinasse-at-a-discount (entrées $22 to $34) with Gray Kunz hustling in his Bulgari of a kitchen overlooking Central Park. He’s been saving the silver cassolettes he scavenged from the St. Regis and his complex, layered cooking for just this moment. And he’s anxious. But savvy eaters will be pleased to rediscover the Kunzian signatures and authority. Ethereal kalamansi-soused yellowtail with a punch of a peppery finish. A delicacy of puffed-rice-crusted fluke with mellow creamed spinach. Cream and a float of crab mark the lobster chowder. Chopped chicharrónes crackle atop a juicy chunk of sweet-glazed pork shank atop a savory bean stew. You’ll believe the rumors that it cost $6 million plus when you see the details—silver engraving on the armchairs, leather you must touch on the walls and in the Lavender Bar (small dishes from 5:30 p.m. at first; breakfast soon). And what a kick, as we sip espresso, to spy on the cooks dutifully scouring every inch of the kitchen in submission to Kunz’s obsessive Swiss perfectionism.

10 Columbus Circle. Now Closed.

Patina Restaurant Group

Cafe Fiorello