As a child in Austria, chef Markus Glocker spent summer holidays pitching in at his aunt’s mountainside hotel and restaurant. Now, after stints at Gordon Ramsay restaurants, Steirereck, a revered, family-run spot known for its epic food trolleys in Vienna, and MICHELIN-starred Bâtard in New York City, Glocker returns to his roots. At Koloman, a transportive restaurant that opened in NYC’s Nomad in September, he’s revisiting the core values that also drove his aunt: imaginative food, top-notch wine, and anticipatory service against an exquisite backdrop.
“We wanted to bring people together again to have fun after the pandemic, and it was not about building a completely chef’s driven restaurant,” says Glocker. At Koloman, he places a light French touch on Austrian cooking. The desired effect is a menu that’s inventive without being overbearing or intimidating. “We wanted to have a unique experience, but not too unique that you’re afraid to come in for a quick bite,” he adds.
When it comes to service, Glocker trained Koloman’s staff to greet diners and read whether they want to be left alone to enjoy their meal or be guided through a culinary experience. “There’s very few restaurants that have this caliber of service; in high-end dining you see it still, but in the casual aspect, this finesse is not there, and it’s something we want to bring to the table,” Glocker says.
At first glance, Koloman’s menu reveals classics; look closer, and there are fresh twists that combine Glocker’s French training with Austrian ingredients. “I’m a big fan of Austrian cuisine, but if I can say this out loud—my peers will kill me for this—it’s just not sexy enough in some ways,” he says. “Sometimes it’s a bit heavy and old school. There are so many beautiful dishes we have in Austria, but you need to package [them] differently.”
Koloman’s creative packaging surfaces in a duck liver parfait that eschews traditional Sauternes for a gelée of Kracher, a sweet Austrian wine; whole-roasted chicken for two with Champagne cabbage and spätzle; and oysters with an atomizer of asparagus vinegar for spritzing. The menu progresses from small to large dishes. With no prix-fixe option, diners are free to choose their own adventures.
Dessert, the hallmark of any good European cafe, is Glocker’s favorite part of any meal. Emiko Chisholm, a Balthazar and Augustine alum, creates Koloman’s confections. She whips up cherries and Champagne ice cream with vanilla custard and balsamic oats; Austrian-style crepes (palatschinken); and a peach and raspberry charlotte (trifle) with pecans.
Beverage director Katja Scharnagl comes from a winemaking family in Austria’s Wachau Valley. Scharnagl blazed her own path as chef sommelier at Le Bernardin. In keeping with the larger menu’s theme, she focuses on French and Austrian wines, with Champagnes and American selections also well represented. Koloman’s list of original cocktails starts sparkling and fruity and ends up bitter, featuring spirits such as absinthe and Armagnac.
Glocker’s latest breathes new life into a space formerly occupied by The Breslin in the Nomad’s Ace Hotel, channeling a warm, Viennese cafe culture-inspired vibe. The interiors take inspiration from artist Koloman Moser, a contemporary of Gustav Klimt and co-founder of the Wiener Werkstätte school, a turn-of-the-century movement that sought to bring artistic design to all areas of life.
For its first American project, London-based Russell Sage Studio pays tribute to Koloman Moser in a bright, bilevel space that feels contemporary and richly imagined. Expect original Koloman glass and brass light fixtures, wallpaper and banquette fabric with his motifs, curvy, Thonet-style chairs, and chef’s tables by the open kitchen. The bar, with an amber-colored backlit clock, is a showstopper.
Koloman is open Tuesday through Sunday from 4 pm to 11 pm this fall, with expanded breakfast and lunch hours to follow.