Gabriel Kreuther loves wine. In a recent conversation, the chef of his namesake Manhattan restaurant confided that as a teen in Alsace, France, he wasn’t very interested in wine until his uncle suggested he try a glass. It was a grand cru red Burgundy from the excellent 1959 vintage, and that taste convinced him that wine was special, complex, improved with age and, most importantly, something to enjoy with food and friends. He has been buying and sharing wine with friends and customers ever since.
That passion informs the wine program at Gabriel Kreuther. Drawing on a cellar of more than 2,200 selections and an inventory of 9,000-plus bottles, chef Kreuther, wine director Aukai Bell and the team are constantly thinking of creative ways to surprise and inspire guests.
“Whenever I taste a dish, I start salivating and think, ‘What would I drink with that,’ ” says Kreuther with his infectious smile. “We like to find pairings that surprise, especially for serious wine lovers that maybe aren’t expecting a certain wine with the food. We like to surprise them and hope they enjoy it.”
After 10 years as executive chef at the Modern, Kreuther opened Gabriel Kreuther in 2015 with partner Eben Dorros. At the time, the list comprised about 500 selections, primarily Alsace, Jura and Beaujolais. The cellar has grown consistently since then, focusing on Burgundy, including a page devoted to the wines of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. DRC’s Montrachet 2018 is currently the most expensive offering from the list, at $11,550. There is depth in Puligny-Montrachet from Domaine Leflaive and Chassagne-Montrachet by Domaine Michel Niellon.
The values among white Burgundies are found in Côte de Beaune appellations Savigny-lès-Beaune, Auxey-Duresses, Monthélie and St.-Romain, such as the Jean-Philippe Fichet Auxey-Duresses at $99. There are also more than a dozen well-priced whites from Côte Chalonnaise and Mâconnais. Red Burgundies are generally upward of $200; however, there are a few more affordable gems, for example the Domaine Glantenay Volnay 2017 ($130) and Michel Gay & Fils’ Beaune Coucherias Vieilles Vignes 2015 ($145).
Alsace also figures prominently on the list, due to chef Kreuther’s origins, and serves as the inspiration for several dishes on the menu. According to Bell, the somms sell more Alsace whites than any other category. Most fall within the $150 to $200 range. The rich, dry, vibrant Rieslings in particular tend to pair well with the multitude of choices on the three- or four-course prix-fixe menus.
Chef Kreuther’s dishes are complex and intensely flavored, such as the mainstay sturgeon and sauerkraut tart, whose sharp acidic tang is offset by sabayon and royal kaluga caviar and an infusion of apple wood smoke. The Greenwalk Hatchery trout is cooked on a cedar plank and topped with a zesty red pepper–olive relish, its sweet-sour crunch balanced by a creamy potato-coconut velouté. The smoke theme continues with a tender, hay-smoked, two-week-aged duck breast bathed in tamarind steak sauce.
Rather than changing the menu completely, the kitchen team comes up with new ideas constantly, some of which end up on customers’ plates. “We work as a team, the sous-chefs and cooks,” explains Kreuther. “We take ideas and work with them until we find a dish we like.”
The creativity at the stoves is complemented by an array of beautiful china and ceramic plates and bowls and slender flatware, making each course a delight for the eyes as well as the palate. The dining room is framed with timber beams symbolic of Kreuther’s native Alsace and the tables are well-spaced, lending a sense of airiness while at the same time allowing intimacy for diners.
During the pandemic, the restaurant closed for seven months, until mid-October 2020. When it came back, it was one of the few Midtown fine-dining options and business was strong. The wine list continued to grow, adding an additional 700 selections, an imposing feat under the supply chain circumstances. The average price of wines sold is $200 to $300 a bottle.
Seven years after it opened its doors, Gabriel Kreuther is poised for the next chapter. Already a Midtown mainstay, it has quietly become one of New York’s top dining destinations. Wine has always been a focus; now, however, the wine program offers an even more impressive selection of wines to match the ambitions of chef Kreuther’s cuisine.
41 W. 42nd St., New York
Telephone: (212) 257-5826