Normally Daniel Burns leaves New York in the summer for a charity football tournament in Copenhagen, an event he started while he was pastry chef at the highly lauded Noma. This summer would have been his 6th year, but instead he’s sticking close to home base—and understandably so. The chef, who also spent time at The Fat Duck in London and David Chang’s Momofuku, is having a quite a busy year. This spring he opened Tørst—the craft beer bar that’s brought international attention to Greenpoint, Brooklyn—with Evil Twin’s cult brewer Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, and now he’s about to open his first restaurant.
Luksus (“luxury” in Danish) is a 26-seat restaurant within Tørst (“thirst,” pictured left), where Burns and Jarnit-Bjergsø serve 21 exceptional, hard-to-find beers, and anticipation for its opening, pushed back since May, has been building. But as Burns recently told DuJour, “there’s no sense to rush it.” True, Tørst is beyond up and functioning—it’s consistently praised as one of New York’s top beer bars—but every opening has its challenges. “We’ve only been open for three months, but the upkeep, maintenance and people stealing the most random things…it’s kind of like a battle to keep on top of everything,” Burns said. “Not complaining at all, though.”
In fact, it’s been a pretty fun process for Burns and Jarnit-Bjergsø, who met about a year ago during one of the football tournaments in Denmark. The new restaurant will offer a somewhat Scandinavian-inspired five-course menu paired with five beers, and Burns is experimenting with several techniques for the perfect pairing. “Even possibly adding certain things to the glass before the beer, like splash a spirit through the glass and then pour the beer over top of it,” he mentioned—an idea similar to aging beer in wine or liquor barrels as some breweries do. “There’s a lot of fun things you can do.”
But Luksus is Burns’ first kitchen, and the chef is adamant that he’s not cooking for the beer. “I won’t say I really like this beer and try to make a dish; it will just be ‘make the dish, then figure out which beer or two works best.'”
As for what actually works when pairing beer with plates, Burns offers this advice: “Just as the menu has a progression from start to finish, so should the pairings.” For warmer weather, he suggests sours, like lambics, or saisons. “There’s Berliner Weisse, and some of the German ones are also really great in the hot weather. There’s another one that’s called Bikini Beer that Jeppe brews. It’s a light ale so it’s really fresh in the summer.”
Tørst serves its beer in eight-ounce white wine glasses or larger 14-ounce red wine classes, but not so much for its tongue-in-cheek luxe aesthetic as for a better aroma and temperature while drinking. Evan and Oliver Haselgrave of hOmE designed both the bar and the restaurant with a Scandinavian-meets-Brooklyn feel. The brothers live right in Greenpoint, as does Burns himself. “It’s kind of a nice little project up here,” Burns said. “It’s also a good time for Greenpoint I think. It’s definitely growing, and it feels like a good opportunity to be here right now.