Introducing Maxim's at The Norm

To complement Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion, Great Performances Hospitality Group (GP)—the Brooklyn Museum’s exclusive culinary partner—worked with museum leadership to bring an additional multi-sensory element of the iconic designer’s world to the exhibition: Maxim’s de Paris, the legendary restaurant owned by Cardin. The Norm, the museum’s full-service restaurant, has been transformed into Maxim’s at The Norm, with a new look and menu which will be in place throughout the Pierre Cardin: Future Fashion exhibition. This initiative to give The Norm a Gallic makeover comes on the heels of the tremendous success the museum and the restaurant had by giving The Norm a Mexican persona for the duration of the blockbuster Frida Kahlo: Appearances Can Be Deceiving exhibition.

The Norm’s ceiling has been painted Maxim de Paris’s signature deep burgundy, while the bar now boasts the gold that is such a distinctive part of Maxim’s logo, one of the most recognized globally. One wall provides glimpses of the art nouveau masterpiece that is the interior of the restaurant which opened in 1893, while another has been refashioned as Maxim’s famed exterior on Paris’s Rue Royale, complete with awning.

The original Maxim’s, on Paris’s Rue Royale, opened by Maxime Gaillard in 1893, purchased by Pierre Cardin in 1981.

(Left to right): Buttery Chili Prawns; Gougères.

(Left to right): Buttery Chili Prawns; Gougères.

Saul Bolton, The Norm’s executive chef and Andy Mejias, the restaurant’s chef de cuisine, have designed a menu for Maxim’s at The Norm as an ode to French cuisine in general and a homage to Maxim’s in particular. Offering à la carte and prix fixe options, the menu features French classics such as Gougères, Steak Frites and Marquise de Chocolat. The $45 three-course prix fixe highlights contemporary versions of dishes from the Maxim’s de Paris cookbook, Chez Maxim, including Salade Lyonnaise - seasonal greens, bacon lardons, croutons, poached egg; Poulet Rôti aux Pêches - roast chicken, grilled peaches, baby arugula, chimichurri sauce; Coquilles Saint-Jacques - pan seared scallops, oyster mushrooms, artichokes, escarole, white wine sauce; and Profiteroles - vanilla ice cream, praline, warm chocolate sauce. Because classic French cuisine is so rooted in farm-fresh local ingredients purchased almost daily at regional markets, Chef Bolton is taking Great Performances’ hallmark brand promise of sourcing locally one step further: he’s charged Chef Mejias and other members of his culinary team to purchase ingredients locally to coincide with the Maxim’s at The Norm’s Wednesday through Sunday hours. On Wednesdays and Fridays, they’ll be shopping at the Union Square Greenmarket in Manhattan. On Saturday, they will be at Brooklyn’s Grand Army Plaza market.


The menu features cocktails inspired by the art of Pierre Cardin. (Pictured): Le Costumier - champagne, lemon, elderflower, gin, hibiscus.


Cocktails inspired by the life of Pierre Cardin (who at 97 is still active with his fashion, licensing and restaurant empire) were created by Loriana Sanabria for Maxim’s at The Norm. They include the Le Costumier, or The Costume Maker (champagne, St. Germain, gin, lemon juice, hibiscus lime syrup), which is a reference to Cardin’s penchant for designing costumes and masks for the theater. Additional cocktails include The Cylindre (cognac, absinthe, pomegranate jelly, lime juice, hibiscus lime syrup), named after Cardin’s men’s collection, and The Tailor’s White Sangria (white grape juice, pomegranate vodka, Triple Sec, simple syrup, honey, pinot grigio), among others. The sangria is a nod to the 1950 hiring of Cardin by Christian Dior as a tailor for the House of Dior.

Maxim’s de Paris, the restaurant that would become the world’s most famous restaurant during the second half of the 20th century, dates to the 1893 opening of a little bistro on Paris’s Rue Royale by a waiter named Maxime Gaillard. Within days, Maxim’s was discovered by Irma de Montigny, a popular socialite (or courtesan or comedienne, according to various accounts) who made it her mission to assure the restaurant’s success by introducing it to her fashionable friends and admirers. Despite her efforts that filled the little bistro nightly, Gaillard’s Maxim’s had financial difficulties and he handed it over to a successful French businessman Eugène Cornuché. It was Cornuché who transformed the modest bistro into an Art Nouveau masterpiece in 1900. With its stunning new décor fashioned by the finest artisans, Maxim’s was once again embraced by Paris’s elite and its run as one of the world’s best-known dining destinations began. In the early 1900s, Eugène Cornuché sold Maxim’s, but it continued to flourish as the haunt of the city’s glitterati and began to appear in artwork and literature. In 1932, Maxim’s was bought by Octave Vaudable, who maintained its status as the place to see and be seen for the international jet-set through the 1950s, by which time the fanciful belle epoque décor was in need of a major renovation. An astonishing treasure of jewelry and coins that had been trapped between cushions and in chair, table and banquette bases over the years was discovered while the work was in progress. After the renovation and under the direction of Vaudable’s son Louis, Maxim’s became the world’s most expensive restaurant in addition to the most famous. The new moniker did not deter its global celebrity clientele, which included Pierre Cardin, a regular since the 60s. One evening in 1981, when Cardin was dining there, the Vaudable family suggested he might want to purchase Maxim’s, since they were intent on selling. They had gotten an offer from a wealthy international investor, but were distressed by the notion of the changes that might be made to the restaurant in foreign hands. Cardin was equally affected by the thought of the Art Nouveau interior he so admired being compromised and agreed to buy Maxim’s. He proceeded to build on its fame, giving it a new luster by encouraging its use for high profile events, installing an authentic 1900s cabaret venue and creating Maxim’s Musée Art Nouveau on the upper floors of the building that houses the restaurant. Having applied to Maxim’s the branding acumen that made his fashion lines so successful, Cardin opened additional locations outside of Paris, which promoted a name change to Maxim’s de Paris to differentiate it from its siblings. Today Maxim’s de Paris remains a household name worldwide, a treasured restaurant that transports diners to another time and place, both visually and gastronomically