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Of course I spelled out my email when Jon Krinn asked for my address.
No, the chef and owner of Vienna’s Clarity said. He wanted my physical address. A little more than a week later I received a handwritten note on 12-by-8-inch pebbled card stock, plus two blown-up pictures: one of the new textured granite countertop where guests can eat at the open kitchen and one of a blue print.
As a journalist, I’m emailed multiple press releases a day—wine pairing dinner, yoga at a brewery, a restaurant’s award from OpenTable or TripAdvisor—but it’s rare to open an actual letter. Was this what it was like to be a reporter a couple decades ago?
“I have pretty decent handwriting,” was Krinn’s reply for why he didn’t just type out his upcoming projects. “I like drawing, that’s how I got into cooking,” he says, citing the creativity involved in both.
Because Krinn only wants to own one restaurant—bucking the allure of empire building—he can afford to spend time creating the menu, jumping on the line to cook and investing money for an expansion.
By the end of the year, Krinn will take over the space next door, building two private rooms and a sous vide studio to support the extra seats. The fireless kitchen, only about 10-by-9-feet, will feature five circulators (sous vide machines) and another five countertop induction ranges. These ranges, hot enough to sear a steak, remain cool to the touch. Krinn has long played with these machines. Though employing sous-vide methods have become more common in restaurants these days, Krinn was playing with the technique in Monte Carlo, France, for the famed chef Alain Ducasse back in the late ‘90s. About half of the proteins on any given menu (menus change daily) at Clarity are cooked through the water bath sous-vide method, and so it was natural to bring in more machines. Plus, it’s basically fool-proof cooking. [Related: Sterling’s Cuisine Solutions, the home of sous vide.]
In conjunction with the addition, Krinn is adding more themed tastings. He dubs one a culinary speakeasy. Usually filled with regulars, the dinner, about $130 for close to 10 courses (“until they scream uncle,” he jokes) is served alongside hard-to-find and coveted bottles of scotch (Caol Ila 15 year), bourbon (Blood Oath Pact Number 3), whiskey (Masterson’s Rye 10 year) and cognac (Pierre Ferrand Sélection des Anges) he’s scouted from area ABC stores. There are also raid the cellar dinners, where customers bring in prized wine bottles, with no corkage fee, and Krinn cooks more than a half-dozen courses.
As far as an expansion of another kind, Krinn says, “I wouldn’t go ahead and open another restaurant, I feel like we’re just starting.”