Portals to faraway lands come in many shapes—rainbows, wardrobes, DeLoreans. Last night saw the opening of another threshold in the form of Restaurant 1683: a four-night pop-up experience that equates to traveling between 17th-century Germany and the sleek present day.
Restaurant 1683 was conceived by the appliance manufacturer Gaggenau to celebrate its founding 333 years ago in the Murg Valley town of the same name. In a 12,000-square-foot venue in West Chelsea, architect Hendrik Mueller transports invitees to a day in the life of company founder Margrave Ludwig Wilhelm von Baden. A super-scale cuckoo clock marks the threshold to a cocktail space where roughly hewn wood stacks into the shape of a bar and designer-fabricator Joshua Holtsford pounds hot iron into nails. The milieu nods to Gaggenau’s historic workshop, where production varied from the making of small tools to bicycles until about 1931, when it began applying a superior enamel recipe solely to stoves, and it winks at the fairy-tale villages and other bromides of the Black Forest.
Mueller densifies the mix of literalism and abstraction inside Restaurant 1683’s main dining room. Prop trees soar against a background of Black Forest photo murals and Gaggenau refrigerators encased in lumber whose visible cross-bracing evokes handcraft. Within this fantastical landscape, renowned chef Daniel Humm and restaurateur Will Guidara conduct culinary sorcery to indulge the remaining senses.
Humm and Guidara are perhaps best known as the forces behind Eleven Madison Park, which counts three Michelin stars among its many honors. For Restaurant 1683, Humm is interpreting historic German fare through his acclaimed lens of seasonal, locally sourced ingredients. The six-course meal transmogifries rustic dishes like eggs benedict and roast chicken into delicate broths and filets. Prepared at a half-dozen Gaggenau workstations in plain sight of delighted guests, the scene suggests that today’s locavorism and communal dining experiences are not so removed from Renaissance-era eating, after all.
Restaurant 1683 closes this history book on Thursday night, and Bryce Shuman and Eamon Rockey—chef and general manager of Betony—are working alongside Humm and Guidara for tonight’s meal. Gaggenau is planning pop-up restaurants for additional U.S. cities over the next three years, and a microsite will chronicle the multidisciplinary events as they come to life.