Restaurateur Stephen Starr debuted Verōnika Jan. 3 inside Fotografiska, a new photography museum in New York’s Flatiron District with branches in Estonia and Sweden. The second-floor restaurant is inspired by the grand cafés of 19th-century Europe, taking guests on a virtual tour of the continent through wine and food.
Starr’s group owns 13 Wine Spectator Restaurant Award winners across the U.S. including Le Coucou, whose beverage director, Charles Puglia, created Verōnika’s wine list along with wine manager Kim Akhtar, who will oversee the program on a day-to-day basis.
According to Akhtar, the duo drew inspiration from the romantic idea of “a trip on the Orient Express circa 1900,” which traveled through regions such as France, Austria, Germany, Italy, Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Turkey. The entirely Old World program comprises nearly 600 labels with 25 available by the glass and a page of 23 sommelier selections that will change regularly. “The list is going to be alive, it’s not just going to be static,” Akhtar said, adding that they hope to grow the selections with time.
Among the program’s highlights is an extensive Champagne collection focused on grower Champagnes, categorized by region, with solid representation from big houses like Dom Pérignon and Billecart-Salmon as well.
The menu by executive chef Robert Aikens reflects this theme with an array of European classics like Hungarian lamb goulash, Austrian…
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