Ten Minutes With Jean-Georges Vongerichten
Jean-Georges Vongerichten operates eateries that dot the globe, from London to Shanghai to Manhattan. For his latest, he zeroed in on a property close to his home. The Inn at Pound Ridge by Jean-Georges will open its doors in January, offering 21st-century farm-to-table cuisine in a 19th-century residence-turned-dining establishment. He invited Bedford Magazine to take the first peek.
What was your vision for transforming the inn? I wanted to keep the old country feel and its sense of place but make it modern and fresh. I hired architect Thomas Juul-Hansen to handle the design. We saved what we could, like stone walls, wood floors, and fireplaces. We even reused the original front door but had the hinges switched, so the door opens with a view of the restaurant instead of the staircase. Better energy.
Is it true that you approved everything—from the espresso cups to the salt dishes? Yes, I have sat in every chair, too. We realized that people will want to stay longer here than at a restaurant in the city, so we made sure the chairs are comfortable enough for them to spend an evening.
What types of spaces do you have? We have two full bars, a wine cellar for private dining, and two dining rooms. There’s also a chef’s table in the kitchen.
Will this be a farm-to-table restaurant? Yes, ingredients like chicken, pork, vegetables, milk, cheese, and eggs will come from the Hudson Valley and New England, whenever possible. We will serve Pound Ridge maple syrup at brunch.
The Inn as Emily Shaw’s drew locals and out-of-town celebrities. What is your target market? Local neighbors during the week, and then it will be a destination for out of towners on the weekends.
So tell me about the menu. It will change seasonally. We’ll offer dishes that have been popular at our other restaurants, and we will develop new local specialties.
What is the price range for dishes? Seven dollars for soup, $12 to $16 for pizza, burgers, and salads, $16 to $29 for entrees.
Tell me about the staff. Blake Farrar, chef de cuisine, came from The Mark by Jean-Georges. He and his wife, Melody, our pastry chef from ABC Kitchen and ABC Cocina, just moved to Pound Ridge. It’s the first time I’ve had a couple run a kitchen. The rest of the staff is local.
What made you decide to open a restaurant here? A few years ago, my realtor was taking us to look for a weekend house, and as we drove by here she suggested I buy it. I said, “I told you I want to move here to relax, and you’re showing me a restaurant?” [laughs] Two years later, Ken and Kathleen Tropin, the owners of this property, approached me, and the time was right.
The ghost stories about the Inn are legendary. Have you met any? Not personally, but the contractor lifted up the old stone floor downstairs, and they flew away. They’re gone now.