The worst-kept secret in the restaurant business is finally out today: Drew Nieporent and Paul Liebrandt announced their endlessly rumored joint venture, Corton, to the Times. The major speculation about Corton (in the old Montrachet space, at 239 West Broadway) had been whether Liebrandt, known for his molecular-gastronomy bag of tricks, would succeed in finally selling New York on deconstructed food. But Liebrandt says he just wants to do some good cooking: “My food is not El Bulli–esque,” the chef says, swearing off the world capital of the geek-gourmet movement. The dishes that he’s released to the paper seem to back this up: Brandt beef with fondant potatoes, cobia with sea urchin and black olives, and “a mélange of seasonal vegetables.,” As if to underscore its unthreatening, un-molecular nature, Nieporent tells the Times, “Paul’s food is very refined, but it’s also satisfying.” Having eaten it, we agree. But whether Liebrandt’s wings will be clipped entirely is still a matter of speculation — until Corton opens in August.
Best friends forever: Drew Nieporent and Paul Liebrandt. Photo: Patrick McMullan