Coming this May, “Meet the Regulars: People of Brooklyn and the Places They Love” is Joshua D. Fischer’s debut book, and the first to come from Bedford + Bowery. Here’s a new installment of the series.
Jean-Pierre, the 41 year-old “early mid-career” artist who goes by JP, moved here in 2001 from Santa Monica, California to attend graduate school at the New York Academy of Art. (He has since graduated and teaches a class or two there each semester.) If the musicians Daft Punk and the movie Blade Runner made a baby and that baby grew up to be a painter, he’d probably create sublime futuristic and damaged landscapes like those of Jean-Pierre Roy.
While Le Found’s chef-owner, Jake Eberle, isn’t cooking up delicacies with a dystopian edge (as he might in the style of JP), he puts as much attention, detail, and thought into his food as JP does with his painting. Jake’s griddled Pat LaFrieda burger with dill pickle sauce and Walton Umber cheese, for example, is a delicious work of art. So much so, that JP had Le Fond (which the Village Voice called the Best French Restaurant in NYC for 2015) host a recent dinner for all the collectors associated with the Denmark gallery that represents him.
Over a burger and beer, I learn that this acclaimed artist (Leonardo DiCaprio is among those who have purchased one of his works) boasts a strong understanding of visual, culinary, and worldly aesthetics. Not to mention, intimate insights into creative Brooklyn versus “Brooklyn” the brand.This space is elegant without being pretentious. It’s clean without being cold and minimalist. And the food is mature without being fussy. It’s delicious and refined without being overly rich.
I saw they had cassoulet in the wintertime. And as a guy of French descent, cassoulet has always conjured a romantic connection to a history that on some level I have: I have a French name and last name; I have a French grandfather. But I never grew up there. There’s something about that dish of cassoulet that activated something in me on a genetic level. Like a cultural memory level.
By 2012, Brooklyn really congealed into a brand. There’s Brooklyn as a creative place, and then there’s Brooklyn as the advertising lock-up. So much of the new stuff comes out of the advertising lock-up and not the creative and experimental Brooklyn. Like, “reclaimed this” and “kale” and “pork belly.” There was a point where that was all new and exciting and then it just became another convention.Jake’s space didn’t feel like it was trying to defy any of the conventions, as it just was what it was. He was a mature enough guy with a mature enough sense of what he was doing that he didn’t feel like he had to be a part of “Brooklyn: The Musical” the way so many other people felt – people who were trying to recreate something that happened five years before they got here.
This is a place I know I can come and get a great meal and interact with people. For a long time, I was not single; I was alone. By construction. So this was a place where I could go and it could feel like my living room, as if I had a family or roommates or just somebody that I could count on being there, and pick up the conversation again.
I’m not in my 20s anymore. I don’t want to go drink ‘til 2 am. At a place like this, it feels like I’m doing something significant, like I’m doing something that is far enough away from my studio practice and far enough away from my home life that it’s a mentally clarifying place. It’s not like going to a bar. It’s not like going to a hipsterly restaurant.
I don’t feel like I have to be anything other than myself here. I don’t feel like the crowd is a little young or a little old or a little single. It slows down time and takes me out of my life, but it doesn’t put me in a place where I feel like I have to act different than me. I don’t have to put on a different character. I don’t have to wear a suit and tie. I don’t have to pretend that I like some kind of music that all the young people like. It’s this weird little sweet spot where it doesn’t feel like an extension of everything else I have to do with the rest of my day. But it also doesn’t feel like I’m out of my element. That’s what makes me a regular here.