LT Bar & Grill
Raising the Steaks
LT Bar & Grill and LT Above
Chef Laurent Tourondel’s first foray into New Jersey is a memorable one on all fronts. First and foremost, there’s the food, a winning combination of steakhouse staples re-envisioned thoughtfully for today’s diner, fresh seafood dishes, lighter fare and an innovative sushi menu. And then there’s the design, which completely deconstructs the typical steak restaurant concept from the outside in. Thanks to the team at Crème Architecture & Design, led by principal and founder Jun Aizaki, LT Bar & Grill and event space LT Above was realized through a seamless collaboration with Chef Laurent Tourondel.
E
ating out is an experience, and as important as the food is, it’s not complete without the right service and atmosphere. But even before you walk through the front door, you have expectations about the meal ahead, certainly derived from previewing a menu but also from seeing the building. In the case of LT Bar & Grill, Aizaki acknowledged the amazing opportunity to do something special with the facade of the restaurant that can be seen from far away, even from a nearby highway. In fact, the building became the signage.

Aizaki and Chef Tourondel settled on copper for the top half of the building. “Copper emits a feeling of warmth,” explains Aizaki. “It reminds us of cookware. It relates to the interior of the restaurant, and we wanted that to transpire on the outside. Plus, we wanted the actual color to shine, which you can’t get from a coat of paint.”

The main dining room is replete in rich, warm wood tones and burnished orange-tan banquets. Terracotta tiles and wood cover the floors. “Everything in here is unexpected for a steakhouse,” Aizaki says. “Typically, they are closed in with a hard, masculine approach. We wanted to break that stereotype, because that is not what Chef Tourondel is about. He wanted light and accessible to match his food offerings. He wanted a space that was easy to navigate, airy and open to the outside. So we opened up the ceiling and made sure the room was not internally focused.” The design team also captured this approachable feel through paintings, art and collages throughout the space, thanks to a collaboration with an art objects consultant.

Aizaki and his team took many cues from Tourondel’s menu: “The presentation of food is so important to Chef Tourondel that sometimes we worked backward to achieve the end goal. For example, by first thinking about the dish and then the plate he wanted to serve it on, and what else was going on the table, that allowed us to come up with the right tabletop material, even if that meant changing it mid-project.”

LT Above is an artful extension of the conversation downstairs. A flexible event space, it features a pre-function area and three separate meeting rooms that can be combined as needed. A wooden sculptural wall lines an imposing staircase that beckons with a fascinating light feature at the very top. “The lights and wall add a dramatic effort. You want to know what’s at the top of the stairs,” says Aizaki.

LT Bar & Grill’s menu offers a variation on the typical steakhouse fare and experience but the consistency of quality you have come to expect from Chef Tourondel. And, yes, it is all done by design.