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Art and Fine Dining Converge at New Pop-Up Restaurant

By DNAinfo Staff on January 30, 2011 9:44am  | Updated on January 31, 2011 12:42pm

Elizabeth Ladzinski

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

SOHO — Where can you find art, performance and fine dining all in one place?

A restaurant-cum-art installation, "What Happens When," opened  on Tuesday featuring "snowy-Manhattan" inspired decor and cuisine based around a theme of "Reflecting."

The Michelin-starred chef of Dovetail, John Fraser, heads the kitchen of the SoHo "pop-up," which will serve diners for 9 months before disappearing.

"We want to redefine what a restaurant can be — not only a place to feed yourself physically, but emotionally as well," said  Fraser.

The concept was born when the designers and chef met to discuss how to create the restaurant they've always dreamed of, on a shoe-string budget, inspired by the universally uniting act of sharing food.

"We want people to trainsition from being a guest to interacting with the space," Fraser added. He and the other designers want diners to feel that they are contributing to the process of creating a new restaurant.

Each month, the restaurant will undergo a complete transformation (called a "movement"), where the designers will change the decor, music and cuisine to correspond with a theme suggested by the public.

The current menu includes starters like arctic char, oysters and roasted califlower, and entrees of cod, monkfish and guinea hen. On Feburary 25th, the entire menu will transform, as well as the decor and the music.

So far, the restaurant has hosted a one-man snare drum player, who performed for 5 minutes with an accompanying strobe light. That's just part of the experience, said Fraser.

Funding for each movement will come from donations to the restaurant on kickstarter.com, a crowd-funding website.

The designers ask that anyone who donates to the project through the website also suggest a theme, inspired by the diner's favorite food memory. An example of a suggestion from the website is, "... your grandmother's kitchen... in Fall, with meatloaf and mashed potatoes. With the sound of leaves crackling outside. And a teapot boiling."

During the spring and summer months, the designers hope to outfit the outdoor garden space with art installations. Fraser said that there was a "good chance" that they would display murals or graffiti in the space.

Located at 25 Cleveland Place, the space was transformed from an abandoned restaurant into an elaborately themed dining experience, with the decor curated by designers Elle Kunnos de Voss and Emilie Baltz and soundscapes created by Micah Silver.