Markus Glocker, head chef at Bâtard in Manhattan, doesn’t feel the need to earn three Michelin stars (though the restaurant already has one). “It’s really about [evolving] step by step,” he says. “We grow with our clientele, and that’s the most important thing. I don’t want to just switch over to a tasting menu and try to get three Michelin stars and [then] all of our guests are unhappy.”
Opened in May 2014 by Drew Nieporent of the Myriad Restaurant Group, Bâtard feels incredibly cool—the décor, the food, the bar—but never contrived. Walking right past this New York City restaurant is easy to do if you’re not on the lookout: Bâtard’s unassuming brick façade blends seamlessly into the Tribeca scenery, and the elegant dining room isn’t visible from the large window facing West Broadway. But behind the glass, chef Glocker is bringing German, French, and American cuisine to life in a manner that he calls “simplicity refined”. French and German palates come through on dishes such as foie gras terrine and brandt beef short rib served with black pepper streusel, and the streamline plating and simple ingredients deliver an American influence. “We purposely play it down on the plate to make it look, you know, easy and effortless,” Glocker states.
About one-third of the menu items are permanent, with the rest changing progressively throughout each season—never in a single overhaul. “I’m not a big fan of changing the whole menu in one shot just for the season,” Glocker says. “For me, the season starts when the produce comes in. That’s dish-by-dish for me, and that’s how I work. We check our new dishes, the new ingredients, and we put it on as a special, and if we are happy with this, we tweak it a little and we put it on the actual menu. And that’s a rolling process.”
Permanent dishes including roasted beets linzer, octopus pastrami, and duck egg crème brûlée have solidified Bâtard’s prominence within the congested Manhattan food scene. The linzer combines distinctive textures from delicately charred romaine hearts, crunchy roasted hazelnuts, and meaty beets. The octopus pastrami takes two days of preparation, and Glocker estimates that Bâtard is the biggest buyer of octopus in New York City thanks to this one item. “I wanted to do a dish which reflects something of New York and something from my heritage as well, and sort of my background of cooking—some French technique in there and an American description of flavor profiles,” Glocker explains of the starter plate. “The technique is definitely French, and you get a similar dish back in Munich.” The rings of pressed octopus nestle together like a circular mosaic and are paired with a dash of pommery mustard, anchoring its deli roots. If any fine dining moment is worthy of whipping out a camera phone, this is it.
Bâtard’s décor is reflective of its fanciful yet refined menu. The dining room is lined with metallic walls, and the subdued lighting makes this hideaway an ideal date night venue. The restaurant is constantly changing, but Glocker is careful to protect the crucial elements. “The menu changes and the bar program changes, but it is definitely a work in progress, and not in a way of like we can’t handle more,” he explains. And while Bâtard is dense with elements of luxury, Glocker would never want the restaurant to stray from its current niche of approachable fine dining. “We want to have a diverse crowd,” he says. “We want to have young, middle ages, older—that’s the fun about Bâtard, we don’t turn any body down because [they’re] not in a suit. People are relaxed in their sneakers with fine food. For me it’s all about the food and wine and having fun.” So go as you are, and as soon as you can.
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