A Jazz Lounge That’s More Than Kind of Blue

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In Manhattan, a New Bar and Jazz Club Which Is a World of Azure and Chrome

Only Love Strangers, a new bi-level bar, restaurant and jazz club in the East Village, features a blue and chrome palette that evokes 1960s and ’70s surrealism.Credit…Ori Harpaz

By Devorah Lev-Tov

One evening in 2022, the five-person team behind the Chinese restaurant franchise MáLà Project, which has four locations in New York, were indulging in post-shift oysters and martinis when they began discussing their ideal bar. “We knew we wanted something approachable yet sophisticated,” says co-founder Christian Castillo, “and we’re all a bit romantic, so we thought incorporating live jazz would add that dreamy touch.” This month, the group plans to open Only Love Strangers, a bar, jazz lounge and restaurant in a bi-level space in Manhattan’s East Village, a few blocks away from the original MáLà Project. The interiors are retro-futuristic, with a blue and chrome palette that recalls 1960s and ’70s surrealism. In the ground-floor main dining room, a Mediterranean menu features mezzes and seafood towers served under a custom mobile by the Brooklyn artist Max Simon. Next to the dining room is a barroom that envelops guests in floor-to-ceiling cobalt tile with a ceiling painted a matching blue and banquettes upholstered in Verner Panton’s 1969 Optik textile. At a round-edged, aluminum-clad bar, you can order cocktails named for categories of jazz music like the Acid, made with lemon vodka, anise liqueur, basil and citrus. The 55-seat jazz lounge on the lower level, also enrobed in blue, hosts nightly performers. Only Love Strangers opens April 13, onlylovestrangers.com.


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A Painter’s Show of Faceless Portraits in Venice

From left: Ewa Juszkiewicz’s “Red Dress” (2024); Juszkiewicz’s “Portrait in Venetian Red (after Élisabeth-Louise Vigée Le Brun)” (2024).Credit…© Ewa Juszkiewicz/courtesy of the artist and Almine Rech

By Kin Woo

For over a decade now, the Polish painter Ewa Juszkiewicz has been recreating portraits of women by painters from the Renaissance era to the 19th century, with one significant intervention: She variously obscures the sitters’ faces with fabric, hairstyles and extravagant arrangements of flowers and foliage. The artist’s subversive approach arose from a desire to disrupt an “idealization of the female image,” she says. Juszkiewicz’s work draws from wide-ranging sources, including the fashions of the Middle Ages and those by contemporary designers like Simone Rocha and Rei Kawakubo. The painter then gathers an assortment of wigs, textiles and old jewelry, builds installations and employs models to serve as references. She paints in a classical European style, using layers of oil paints. The 15 pieces in her new show, “Locks with Leaves and Swelling Buds,” opening at the Palazzo Cavanis in Venice, reimagine works by 18th-century painters like Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and François Gérard. “I want to challenge existing canons and build my own story based on them,” she says. “Ewa Juszkiewicz: Locks with Leaves and Swelling Buds” is on view at Palazzo Cavanis, Venice, from April 20 through Sept. 1, fabarte.org.


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A New Bakery Brings Fresh Baguettes and Blocks of Butter to the Brooklyn Waterfront

On Columbia Street in Cobble Hill, Laurel Bakery, opening this week, will sell bread and pastries in a tranquil wood-lined space designed by Steve Wong of Redwood Hospitality.Credit…Chris Coe

By Ella Riley-Adams

In a forest green-painted corner storefront a few blocks from Brooklyn Bridge Park, just before Cobble Hill gives way to the East River, the team behind the Brooklyn restaurants Oxalis and Place des Fêtes is opening a bakery called Laurel. Starting Friday, visitors will find baguettes and sweet potato Pullman loaves showcased on shelves behind the register, while pastries — flaky escargots stuffed with ramps and Cantal cheese, shiny canelés — await on silver trays. Chef Nico Russell, who oversees the menus at all three places, hired Craig Escalante, whose 12 years of experience includes time at New York’s Bien Cuit, as head baker. At lunchtime, Laurel will offer sandwiches featuring focaccia that Escalante makes using amazake — a liquid made from koji-fermented rice — for added flavor. Danishes are made with mascarpone and blueberries foraged in Maine and Canada by Tama Matsuoka Wong. “She has a gigantic network here on the East Coast, so she’s got access to so much great stuff each season, especially wild blueberries,” Russell says. Other made-in-house specialties include salty half-pound blocks of butter for sale and alternative milks (almond and sunflower) to mix with coffee from the Brooklyn-based roaster Sey. Laurel is geared toward takeaway orders, though there are three tables outside. Those who want to enjoy the bakery’s bread in a sit-down setting can find its sourdough at Place des Fêtes, in Clinton Hill, and toasted sandwiches at the old Oxalis space in Crown Heights, which is scheduled to reopen as an (as yet unnamed) all-day cafe in mid-May. Laurel opens April 12, laurelbakery.com.


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