Chef Roxanne Spruance has spent time in some of the country’s finest kitchens including Chicago’s Blackbird (as pastry chef apprentice), WD-50 (as chef de partie), Blue Hill at Stone Barns (as sous chef), and as executive chef at Alison Eighteen, where she gained recognition for her use of local ingredients and whole animal butchery. She also won an episode of Food Network’s Chopped, which added to her level of local renown. Spruance recently opened her own restaurant in New York’s East Village, Kingsley, and we spoke with her about the concept, her favorite dishes on the menu, and the design.
The Daily Meal: In a nutshell, what is the concept behind Kingsley?
Chef Roxanne Spruance: Seasonal, modern American cuisine.
What inspired the concept?
I knew I wanted to open my own restaurant and wanted to call it Kingsley; it is my middle name and a family name. Opening up this restaurant was always in the plans; to have people come in and entrust me with their dining experience is an immense responsibility that’s also incredibly rewarding. This is just the beginning and I look forward to the next part of our journey, which will come as more patrons check out Kingsley and enjoy the experience.
Are there purveyors or specialty produce that you’re serving that you'd like to highlight your relationship with?
Cherry Lane Farm, Paffenroth Gardens, Norwich Meadows, and Two Guys from Woodbridge are some of my awesome purveyors.
If you were forced to name one dish that people need to come check out at the restaurant, what would that be?
The menu is seasonal, but currently the bone marrow and celeriac agnolotti are the must-try dishes at the restaurant.
Why are they important and how are they made?
They are good examples of what I do with showcasing ingredients in different ways. For the bone marrow, it is just roasted bone marrow with braised beef tongue, dehydrated shallot cake, and tarragon. It comes with a shot of date infused mezcal that we encourage our diners to “shoot” down the bone!
Why are you passionate about this food?
It is a mix of everything that I have learned over the years. I have been very fortunate to work with some amazing chefs. Food is ever-evolving and fluid; there is always something new to learn and incorporate onto the menu.
Is there a bar program, and if so, what is it all about?
Yes, it’s developed by Bar Theory, helmed by 3 gentlemen that I have worked closely with in the past, and it truly focuses on seasonal ingredients to craft dynamic cocktails. It is an ingredient-driven program working closely with the kitchen. We are working together on several new infusions as well as some interesting garnish techniques.
What experience are you looking to create for your patrons?
We are looking for people to have a great and accessible dining experience with delicious, flavorful food in a comfortable setting.
What sets you apart from your neighbors or competitors in this location and cuisine?
We have a good local following that is growing. So far, we have guests of all ages who seem to be into what we do. We are presenting creative food with an awesome cocktail and wine program. Kingsley’s goal is to hit every tier a restaurant should hit in order to better create a welcoming dining experience for whoever wants to try it.
Do you have an idea in your head of what kind of star-rated restaurant this will be?
I would like to be a 2- or 3- star restaurant in The New York Times and I know with continued hard work and the dishes we are putting forth, that we can get there.
Who designed your decor?
I designed the space; Kingsley has been a concept in my head for so many years, it is fantastic to see it all come together.
What were you going for with the space and were there any particular trying obstacles in the process?
It was an existing restaurant space, so we worked within the structure of what was there. We redid the kitchen and completely revamped the dining spaces: New custom concrete bar top, hand scraped pine tables, custom chairs, gutted bathrooms. I am constantly inspired wherever I go, so remembering cool touches and details from spaces (not just restaurants) I have seen over the years and figuring out what works with our aesthetic. The design is interesting while being relatively neutral. Natural materials of stone and wood mixed with metallic accents; I didn’t want it to be too busy – I just want the food, drink, and experience to shine for itself.