Leave everything you know about traditional restaurant service at the door of Kevin Gillespie’s new Glenwood Park funhouse. For starters, you don’t order from a menu. Seating in the open, clamorous space is often communal. Cutting out middlemen waiters, the Top Chef alum and two other cooks—Joseph Ward and Andreas Müller, both former sous chefs during Gillespie’s tenure at Woodfire Grill—peddle the weekly changing dishes they prepare themselves. When one is finished making, say, sliced duck breast with chanterelles or Jamaican curried goat or South Indian cashew chicken, they dash to customers. Carrying a tray or wheeling a cart, they entice with detailed descriptions, and you decide right then if you want the dish or not. In a style similar to dim sum service, a staffer then marks a box on your menu, which is tallied at the end of the night. Another server fills beer and wine orders and checks in on your general contentment.
This experimental setup, which can sometimes feel like the pilot for a reality show/cooking series hybrid, doesn’t encourage intimate table conversation. But it does make for the most enjoyably interactive and wholly original dining experience in the city. One big hint: Thursday and Friday are the ideal days to visit, when the three chefs have finely tuned the week’s dishes and food circulates through the dining room at a pleasing, even rhythm. The outside-the-box format—and the name, actually a sentimental homage to Gillespie’s favorite childhood pastime with his father—has made Gunshow the year’s most provocative restaurant. I love it; I know others who don’t. Check it out and draw your own conclusions.
This story originally appeared in our September 2013 issue.