Charles Masson has for the past 40 years presided over his family’s old-school French restaurant La Grenouille in New York. Now he is launching Majorelle in The Lowell hotel on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, which will serve what he describes as “French cuisine with definite Mediterranean touches”, reflecting the restaurant’s inspiration. “The name is a homage to Yves Saint Laurent’s iconic gardens in Marrakech,” explains Masson. “They were created by French artist Jacques Majorelle – it’s one of my favourite places.”
Opening its doors, and beautiful garden dining room, on the anniversary of Majorelle’s birth on March 7, the light, flower-filled restaurant has been designed by Michael S Smith (who was chosen by the Obamas to oversee the decor at the White House). The lush garden will house “exotic plants, vines, rosebushes, orchids, fruit trees and fountains to create an oasis in the city”, adds Masson, who is a passionate gardener and a regular early-morning customer at the flower market on 28th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues.
Masson has brought celebrated chef Christian Delouvrier out of retirement for Majorelle. Most memorable for Lespinasse at the St Regis, Delouvrier will work with Mario Fortuna (ex La Grenouille) on a seasonally driven menu including foie gras with warm apple délice; rosemary-roasted chicken with potato mousseline; and, with a nod to Marrakech, vegetable tagine and couscous. Masson’s favourite red snapper with vermouth and thyme will also feature, while pastry chef David Carmichael (formerly of Le Bernardin and Daniel) will bake loaves daily. “And he bakes madeleines that would make Proust weep,” says Masson.
“It took Jacques Majorelle many years of passion and dedication to create his garden in the heart of the Ochre City,” Masson adds. “I look forward to spending just as long at Majorelle, NYC.”