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April 5, 2016
by Shayla Concannon

Jean-Robert’s new restaurant has a name

Looking forward to a new, upscale dining experience in Cincinnati?  L is coming soon to downtown!  Sounds Lovely!!

Jean Robert black:white


It’s been more than a year since Richard Brown and Jean-Robert de Cavel announced that they would be opening a fine-dining restaurant in the Great American Tower, Downtown. Not many details, including the name, have been made public since, but work has been going on in designing and furnishing the space. It will open this summer.

And now it has a name, which de Cavel and Brown have shared with The Enquirer. “This was a hard restaurant to name,” said Brown. “We didn’t want to name it after ourselves.” But over drinks one night the partners started talking about what was important to them, their passions, what they cared about most.

So they named the restaurant for their daughters.

It will be called L.

The name is inspired by Lauren Brown, currently working as a chef at Daniel in New York, and Laeticia de Cavel, the chef’s 12-year-old daughter (who is a true Cincinnati girl, says her father). The logo, designed by the creative department of Western & Southern, incorporates a block L with another in cursive, which also suggests the lines of the “tiara” on top of the building.

Their fathers, who worked together at Maisonette when de Cavel was the chef and Brown was the maitre d’, then at de Cavel’s Pigall’s, and now at Bar a Boeuf, are doing something rather daring in this day of casual restaurants, of fancy hot dog and taco concepts. They are creating a new fine dining destination, and pulling out the stops. The space will be full of the touches of elegance that so many restaurants have given up: silver-plated cutlery and French china, a sommelier, a coat check, the level of attention to detail in service and food. “We have to believe in ourselves,” said de Cavel. “This is what I love to do, and I don’t want to have one foot in casual and one in fine dining.”

“We will offer fine dining with warmth and hospitality,” said Brown. “Our aim is to make everyone feel comfortable.”

Though these days, restaurants are known by their chefs, it used to be the maitre d’ who was the celebrity at a restaurant, and Brown is excited to be in a 50/50 partnership with the chef.

The inspiration for the style of L is 1950’s Paris and designer Coco Chanel. “It’s an elegant, timeless look,” said Brown. The architects are Tilsley and Associates. The restaurant occupies 7, 400 square feet on the first floor of the Great American Tower at Fourth and Broadway. Construction is almost finished.

“There’s going to a wow factor,” said Brown. The dining room will have 19 tables. “That’s the right number for this level of detailed service and food,” said de Cavel. It has 23-foot ceilings, with silk drapes from floor to ceiling; embossed wall panels to be painted in blues and grays, and banquettes around the perimeter of the room. The windows offer a view of Great American Ball Park and Fort Washington Way, “It’s an urban setting, like a restaurant in Chicago,” said de Cavel.

A lounge, where diners can have a drink or choose from an a la carte menu, will feature a black leather bar, tall banquettes, livelier colors of red and rust, and two antique French Empire-style chandeliers. University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music students will play jazz in the evenings.

Most of the furniture has been delivered: it’s now in an unused space on another floor of the building, covered in plastic and waiting to be installed. There are banquettes, inspired by the banquettes at Maisonette, with swooping backs, upholstered in shimmering silver velvet, chairs in ivory-colored leather, and glass washers that will leave 50 wine glasses sparkling clean in a couple of minutes.

Both Brown and de Cavel have been involved in turning the empty space into a restaurant that works seamlessly for cooks and servers. The way the doors open on the coat check closet, the placing of service cabinets, the arrangement of the cooking line, the 13-foot tall wine cellar full of Champagne and old world wines, and a sliding door that goes directly from the kitchen to the private dining rooms, There are two of them, so large parties can be separated from the diners in the main dining room. One is for 8-12, the other 15-40. For even larger gatherings, the front door to the lounge can open so that the restaurant can spill out into the lobby, making a space for a cocktail party for 200. There is also a chef’s table for six right in the kitchen.

Western & Southern is not only L’s landlord but an investor. Its employees are part of a large potential customer base for lunch, along with the large law firms in the building and nearby, Procter & Gamble, all the occupants of Atrium One, 250 East Fifth and the General Electric building when it opens on The Banks. At dinner, it’s a bit out of the Downtown bustle, but Brown and de Cavel feel confident it will be a destination restaurant that people will seek out for celebrations, special occasions and evenings of fine food.

The cuisine will be the updated French style that de Cavel has served at restaurants such as Pigall’s and his current restaurant Jean-Robert’s Table. “It will be classic, with seasonal changes and the very best products,” he said. The menu will be a four-course prix-fixe, with choices at each course: also similar to Pigall’s. And the price will be all-inclusive: dinner, tax, tip, parking. The prices haven’t been set yet, but Brown says they “don’t want to be the most expensive restaurant in town.”

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