Sam Sifton Gives John Dory Two Stars, Critiques Boom Boom Room Designers

by Ross Kenneth Urken · January 27, 2011

Back in November we profiled designers Stephen Alesch and Robin Standefer, who provided the interior decorations for the John Dory Oyster Bar. Times food critic Sam Sifton recently opined on the restaurant and design.

though positive overall, his impression came sullied by the logistical annoyances he encountered. He starts with some nervy hypotheticals:

"Maybe there is something democratic about having a no-reservations policy at a restaurant as otherwise terrific as the John Dory Oyster Bar. Perhaps there is some benefit to having patrons come early and wait late."

Sifton is frustrated by the no-reservations policy that leaves diner-hopefuls to wait at the bar, where he claims they are further ignored.

The restaurant is the reinvention of Ken Friedman's and April Bloomfield John Dorey, which had been in Chelsea. Boom Boom Room designers Alesch and Standefer came in to spruce up this Ace Hotel joint--mixing the boldness of three-d texture to the wall fixtures with an understated elegance

Sifton seems a bit mixed on his impression of the place.

"The new iteration is more modest despite the nautically themed flotsam and jetsam all over the walls, including two preposterously beautiful aquarium globes above the bar, one holding fish from the Atlantic Ocean, the other from the Pacific. High copper-topped table and marble bars and bar stools have replaced starched linen tablecloths."

He seems to appreciate but simultaneously eschew the "flotsam" and "jetsam" in excess "all over the walls." That said, the use of space, he argues, is more appropriate for this restaurant.

"But the John Dory Oyster Bar is in all a much better restaurant than its forebear, more fully realized in its open, clattering space behind giant windows, with excellent service and a marvelous wine list. It is larger, more welcoming and decidedly less eccentric than the original, and more mature despite its casual air."

For a better understanding of the creative process put into the space's interior aesthetic, check out our interview with Alesch and Standefer below (we are big fans of theirs for the record)!

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