A Speck of Zen

Restaurants serve food. And talented chefs can blend flavors and textures in exciting and delicious ways.

But simply knowing how to prepare good, delicious or even phenomenal cuisine does not a great establishment make.

In order for a place to succeed, the ambiance has to please, and the food must arrive on schedule.

Shola Olunloyo has designed Speck — his forthcoming New American in the Piazza at Schmidts — to achieve just that.

The kitchen is a focal point. The chefs are on display, visible from almost every seat in the house, behind the open counter that hosts a nightly tasting menu.

A carefully thought-out arrangement of interlocking counters, stoves, refrigerators and storage allows up to seven cooks to work the small space at once.  High-tech automatic ovens and circulator baths are tucked behind thick metal planchas and smooth induction burners.

Even the ventilation hood that keeps smoke away from patrons is a design element, gleaming in the center of the main work peninsula.

Clean lines are a theme here, one that carries out into the dining area.

Impeccable craftsmanship by Pappajohn Woodworking is the star of this minimalist show, from the wide-plank white oak flooring to the deeply-stained rift-cut white oak cabinetry and dark mahogany facade.

Rows of black walnut chairs and tables are flanked by a chocolate brown banquette, from which a soft glow emanates, highlighting hidden patterns in the understated silvery wallpaper.

A line of trim drop fixtures along the smooth wood-top bar lead the eye back towards the kitchen, where glimpses of neatly arrayed ceramic await plating.

The refined scenery and organized kitchen are waiting, too, excited to become a backdrop for the vibrant food and flavor designs that will complete the restaurant picture.

That said, it seems appropriate to finish up with some additional photos. We’re looking forward to the opening.

One thought on “A Speck of Zen”

  1. Can’t wait for the opening. So excited for shola , This has been a long time coming. Shola deserves all of the great things that await him. Good luck shola I’m one of your biggest fans. Mighty Love !!! AngieBrown