It was late afternoon and cloudy when I got my first look at the Cleveland Museum of Art’s new atrium. The space, designed by architect Rafael Viñoly,is vast, dramatic, and truly awesome. It is an expression of talent, vision and the vitality of both the institution and this City. When the sun suddenly broke through, the grand glass hall glowed, awash with light and promise.
And it’s open to all, a public gathering place and private event site. Rest there between gallery visits. Book it for a wedding or a fundraiser on a grand scale. It also serves as the ad hoc “lobby” for Provenance Café and Provenance Restaurant, scheduled to open Oct 28. Both will feature menus created by Doug Katz, Chef/owner of fire on Shaker Square, who is also responsible for Provenance Catering.
A beaming Katz, clearly thrilled by the opportunity to partner with Bon Appetit Management, a food service company that shares his commitment to using fresh, local and sustainably produced products, and the Museum, was on hand to lead a small group behind the scenes and into the kitchens and dining areas still under construction. It was an impressive, if largely imagined, operation. The self-service Café will be outfitted with a tandoori oven, high-heat Robata grill, and Mediterranean stone oven. The plan includes food stations for soups, salads, paninis and cold sandwiches, and pizza. Behind this is a 200 seat banquet room with a wall of windows facing Wade Park and a landscaped grounds. Adjacent is what will soon be a 76 fine dining restaurant and lounge, open evenings only when the Museum is, with an excellent view of the atrium. Down the hall is another private dining area. The kitchens, prep and staging areas are a chef’s dream come true.
Katz, who has been serving consistently excellent fare at fire for eleven years, will draw inspiration from the cultures, collections and special exhibitions in the galleries. This will insure that the Cleveland Museum of Art will be an exciting as well as a beautiful place to eat.
When our three sons were young, I took them to the Museum often for classes and picture gazing. I always included a stop in the old café for either lunch or dessert. I thought it could lead to a lasting and positive kind of association. When Katz took the microphone to welcome us, he told a similar story about his own experience going there as child. No doubt, with his help, Museum goers of all ages are soon going to be forming some very positive associations of their own.
photos by Barney Taxel, Taxel Image Group