Paris Communal | Art Meets Dinner at the Palais de TokyoFood| By AMY SERAFIN | July 2, 2009, 3:08 pm
Nomiya, a restaurant on the roof of the Palais de Tokyo.
Despite its bourgeois address in the 16th Arrondissement, the Palais de Tokyo is the coolest museum in Paris: risk-taking, roomy and a little rough around the edges. Now its rooftop has become one of the citys hottest locations. First it hosted a green capsule called the Everland Hotel, where overnight guests could sleep face-to-face with the Eiffel Tower. As of July 1, 2009 a new oddity has taken its place.
Named Nomiya after the cozy little bars of Tokyo, its a rectangular glass box about the size of a shipping container. We tried to create an overall impression of airiness, transparency, floating, said the French artist Laurent Grasso, who designed Nomiya along with his architect brother.
Inside the box, a dozen guests can eat lunch or dine at a communal table while taking in a spectacular view. Behind them is a cooking island at which a couple of chefs prepare each meal an experimental, no-choice lineup that changes at every sitting. The chef in chief is Gilles Stassart, who honed his art-meets-cuisine skills at the Transversal restaurant in the Mac/Val contemporary art museum in Val-de-Marne. Reservations, for up to 12 seats, are available one month ahead of the desired date, starting at 10 a.m. Paris time. (Meals are 60 euros for lunch, 80 euros for dinner, wine included.) If you only book, say, two seats, then youll sit with 10 strangers, but unexpected encounters are part of the plan. This is about cooking as a kind of performance art, and eating together as an act of conviviality. I dont care about making a restaurant, said Grasso. Creating this experience, on the roof of the Palais de Tokyo, with interesting architecture and the creativity of a chef thats not a restaurant. Its a work of art.
Nomiya is just one part of a yearlong culinary project at the Palais de Tokyo, called Art Home (pronounced Arme in French). Inside the museum, a slick workshop space hosts unconventional cooking classes for adults and children, while outside, a garden has sprouted on a formerly unused terrace. Art Home is also a marketing strategy for the appliance-maker Electrolux, which approached the Palais de Tokyo with the idea; Electrolux products figure prominently in Nomiya and the atelier.
At the recent party to introduce it all, guests grazed on sweet-pea cotton candy and a cauliflower-rosemary emulsion served on pie-crust spoons. Many were already planning their birthday dinners there, but tickets will likely be as hard to score as seats at Momofuku Ko. Lunch is probably a better bet than dinner, and August might work, when the Parisians are all gone. Big spenders can bid in auctions for special-occasion meals, such as Valentines Day or New Years Eve. Those who dont manage to get a reservation can still visit Nomiya, with free tours every half hour in the afternoons. The 24-ton curiosity will stay here for a year, and then its sayonara.