January 9, 2015 | Short Order

Popovers Deflate As Chef Laurent Tourondel Moves Across Town

           Fleeing yet again from his most recent partnership, Chef Lauren Tourondal is focused on the casual Italian restaurant he’s planning for the ground floor and garden space at Kimpton Hotels’ Eventi on Sixth Avenue at 30th Street.

          Remember how Laurent shrugged off his highly successful BLT liaison supposedly when his partner chose someone else to open Casa Nonna? Well, soon the determinedly multicultural French import will have his own wood-oven spot for pizza and pastas near the Garment District. Indeed, Laurent will run the hotel’s catering and in-house feeding too. They’re trying to settle on a name, he told me yesterday.

          Meanwhile, the multiple partners at Arlington Club have modified the menu – “minor changes,” they say, “dropping sushi no one wanted, cutting down salads, adding hot appetizers and adopting smaller popovers” because no one ever finished Laurent’s cheese-dappled globes bigger than a baby’s head.

          Speaking for the group, many of them also partners at Tao, Richard Wolf said the rumor Arlington was for sale was untrue. “We always getting calls, wanting to buy.” And the chef is still there in spirit with his longtime chef de cuisine on guard.

          Tourondel said he fled the Upper East Side duplex a year ago because “They ran it like a club. They left people with reservations waiting an hour in bar.  My friends who follow me didn’t like it.”

          Wolf agrees management “misjudged turnover times early on.” That stranded customers in the crowded bar that had quickly became a hot mating scene for baby boomers and senior citizens. “The locals have never forgiven us for that,” Wolf admits. “We shot ourselves in the foot. Upper East Siders don’t wait.”

          We love Laurent,” Wolf said. “He’s a brilliant chef. His contract required fulltime attendance for only a year. Laurent is still our partner and he will come back anytime we need his help in the kitchen.”

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