Just like a chef who must make sure that every ingredient is perfect when preparing a meal, Joshua Zinder left no detail to chance when designing the interior for Restaurant Charlie, chef Charlie Trotter’s new venture in The Palazzo.
Zinder, principal of New Jersey-based Joshua Zinder Architecture + Design, partnered with Trotter to create the unique dining experience that balances unforgettable cuisine with striking architecture and interiors.
“With Restaurant Charlie, we sought to create an atmosphere that paralleled Chef Trotter’s world-class cuisine and The Palazzo’s luxury setting,” Zinder said. “The result is a complete dining experience that spans from the award-winning food to the one-of-a-kind design. Restaurant Charlie blends traditional architectural and interior elements with elegant new innovations to maintain a modern and inviting experience.”
He likened creating the design to Trotter’s comparison of food to jazz music.
“I wanted to bring the spontaneity and richness of jazz, the richness of sound here.”
Zinder said he accomplished this by using rich and interesting materials, such as anegre and sapele pomele woods, as well as traditional materials such as Venetian plaster, and brought them together in new and unusual ways.
In the main dining room, for example, Zinder used the dark sapele wood that is known for its intricate grain patterns and fiery looks and combined it with the Venetian plaster in a geometric pattern that overlaps itself. The room’s custom-designed carpet also features a geometric pattern, but one with smooth, curved lines and in brighter colors to bring balance to the composition.
“We’re thrilled with the design that Joshua has provided for us,” Charlie Trotter said.
“He’s captured and executed the exact vision we had in mind — one that takes the tastes and flavors of the restaurant and brings it alive through architectural and interior perfection.”
One of the highlights of the restaurant is the unique kitchen table loft, which sits above the kitchen and provides diners with a bird’s-eye view of the action below. The first of its type in Las Vegas, the loft is a variation of Trotter’s signature chef’s table concept, a trademark of his Chicago restaurant, Charlie Trotter’s.
The table, which seats eight, is situated on a stainless steel and glass-railed circular platform. Direct views include the cook line, garde mange and pastry station.
Zinder said the lighting was designed to direct attention to the action below, much like a theater spotlight, and that photos from Trotter’s cookbooks were used to create murals on the upper portions of the walls throughout the kitchen.
Additionally, he designed a window with a bronze mesh that provides a link to the main dining room so that diners at the chef’s table don’t feel isolated, as well as offering those dining in the lower level a glimpse of the action above.
The same bronze glass was used to create a wine room that surrounds guests with more than 3,000 bottles of wine and separates the main dining room from the bar.
Offering another experience in the restaurant is Bar Charlie, which features sushi and kaiseki-style dining.
“In Bar Charlie, the materials we used are very simple,” Zinder said. “We tried to make it more about the food, so that diners could sit in a space where they feel warm and are surrounded by the richness of materials and at the same time focus on the chefs in front of you who are preparing the meals. That’s what it’s all about.”
The area is wrapped with folded lacewood panels, chiseled bluestone and green marble.
Zinder, who worked on the project for about one-and-a-half years, said his challenge in this area was to make it feel part of the restaurant, while giving it a unique identity. He used similar color palates in the two areas, as well as created a circular entryway that is situated between them.
“It acts as a hinge between the two dining experiences,” Zinder said.
Other unifying elements include the horizontal bands of wood and Venetian plaster, which mimic the alternating bands of etched glass that separate the restaurant from the remainder of the casino and provide a sense of privacy.
The restaurant, located on the casino level of the resort, is open daily for dinner starting at 5 p.m.