When Paul Liebrandt unexpectedly pledged his allegiance to Brooklyn two and a half years ago, abandoning the lush, old money Tribeca digs to which he had long since become accustomed, for McCarren Hotel’s soaring, steel and glass structure in Williamsburg, he referred to The Elm as a “gateway,” insisting he wanted to “do a restaurant that would reach a clientele that would never, ever have come to Corton.” But unfortunately, it appears they never, ever wanted to visit The Elm either, because the posh establishment will shutter for good after service this Sunday (although a rep originally told Eater they were merely closing for extensive renovations, that’s not the case).
And is it awful that we feel kind of smug about it? After all, we’re sure McCarren will easily find another chef to construct foie gras-based small bites for rooftop, poolside service, and, evidently, Liebrandt merely viewed the restaurant as a personal jumping off point for… something. But on our end, each and every dining experience at The Elm left us at a cold, odd remove, like standing behind a velvet rope at a modern museum (look, but don’t touch!), attempting to interpret some tortured artist’s canvas of furtive swirls and stripes. And the chill was invariably echoed in the service; such as when we arrived half an hour early for a reservation, and (despite the room remaining practically empty for the duration), were made to wait it out at the bar, where we sipped on a single, dearly priced cocktail as slowly as we could.
So if you’re a bottom/submissive type, you can choose to bid The Elm adieu on Valentine’s Day, with three tortured little courses of endive with bergamot crumble, squeaky curls of lobster with bone marrow, and Liebrandt’s signature Gold Bar; a diminutive, sparkly rectangle of chocolate ganache, huckleberry and red fruit sorbet.
Just be sure not to show up too early for your reservation.