There's A Noma Co-Founder Behind NYC's New Avant-Garde Eatery Ilis

Greenpoint in Brooklyn has long been a restaurant hot spot, yet it continues to expand its innovative dining options. Among them you'll find Ilis, an avant-garde dining experience brought to New York by one of the most sought-after chefs in the world, Mads Refslund.

The renowned chef is best known as the co-founder of Noma, the Copenhagen restaurant that was ranked the "Best Restaurant in the World" several times in its 20-year history. The Danish chef has been in Brooklyn for quite some time now and recently decided to bring his Scandinavian influence to North America's fine dining capital (though the area has apparently been on his radar for years).

Ilis will open to the public on Wednesday, October 11, 2023, at which time reservations will become available. Already indefinable, Ilis will serve Refslund's unique style of cuisine, which takes from his Scandinavian upbringing and international culinary influences from countries as far-flung as Japan and Mexico.

What's on the menu at Ilis?

While a full menu is not yet publicly available, there are some hints as to the kind of food served at the 58-seater restaurant. Ilis comes from the Danish words for fire and ice, a reference to the restaurant's variation on the tasting menu, which offers diners the choice between enjoying most dishes either hot or cold. Wednesday through Saturday, diners can opt for a five-course menu, choosing from 12 options for $150, plus additional courses for an upcharge. Meanwhile, on Sundays, Ilis offers a "casual family-style menu" with no reservations accepted. There is also a separate bar menu with items available for purchase à la carte and some bar seating.

Per Ilis' website, the menu is constructed largely of ingredients native to North America and features foraged and hunted foods, like bison, eel, and wild duck, alongside seafood and local produce. The preview menu includes items like venison tartare with beets, beer vinegar, hazelnut oil, and Bloody Mary-inspired clams. The meat is extensively sourced from Refslund's collection of foragers and farmers throughout the country.

What's the vibe at Ilis?

The high ceilings, exposed brick walls, and wooden beams of the former rubber factory warehouse give the space a modern yet homey quality. The dining area surrounds a working wood-fired kitchen, a design that Refslund chose intentionally to center the kitchen as the heart of the experience. The chef was not interested in creating a typical restaurant with divisions between guests, servers, and kitchen staff.

Instead of having a strict delineation between areas, Ilis has created what it refers to as "One House." Chefs and servers switch off positions every two weeks, offering an interplay between the different zones of the restaurant. It's a fascinating proposition, creating the kind of memorable moments you get in the lucky circumstance where a chef might personally present a dish to your table. But at Ilis, this kind of unique and personalized service is the bread and butter.