Laura Feinstein gives us a look at the new ‘Hole Foods’…

No matter what your best foodie friend tells you, restaurants are not edgy. Beautifully designed, well thought out, at their best a dining experience should be just that — a culinary experience. While there’ve been a whole spattering of articles lately about how “Food is the new rock,”  with artisanal vendors spawning massive outdoor festivals and charging upwards of $400 a ticket (I’m looking at you Great Googa Mooga), no matter how tasty it sounds, it doesn’t change the fact that eating at a restaurant is not generally a “cool” or groundbreaking thing to do. However, if anyone is going to make lobster ravioli bad-ass, it’s going to be The Hole Gallery.

Photography: Kristy Leibowitz

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by Laura Feinstein

Run by former Deitch Projects alumnus Kathy Grayson, The Hole quickly filled the void left by Jeffrey Deitch’s departure to the west coast as the penultimate purveyors of (good) avante-guard art.

Hot on the tails of their electrifying exhibit GIVERNY by E.V. Day and Kembra Pfahler (of The Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black fame), The Hole recently launched a three month pop-up restaurant featuring special projects and performances, including a Voluptuous Horror of Karen Black night with hostesses and servers in head to toe Karen Black make up. As for conceptualization, Grayson was recently quoted by The Times as saying she hoped to turn Hole Foods into a mini makeshift Warhol Factory: “I love the history New York has of restaurants that are taken over by the downtown art scene, where artists can congregate late at night and eat food and drink free and hatch plans together,” she said. “I envision Hole Foods being just that kind of artist den this summer.”

While this might bring out music and performance art fans, if the food wasn’t so good (which it is) the place would merely be another interesting attraction in a city filled with flashy sights. Luckily for everyone involved, Hole Foods is in fact quite delicious.

Partially run by Bowery Beef owners Ray LeMoine and Mike Herman, and featuring the longstanding expertise of chef Robert Rubba, Hole Foods is located within the former home of the Meatball Shop on 14th and 6thand features a menu boasting a mix of high and low-brow, with both your standard fried fish and gourmet bites like oyster sandwiches and fresh lobster. Inside Joe Grillo of the collective Dearraindrop has revamped the sub-hub’s interior with neon drip murals, custom table settings, acid-flashback inducing furniture and video installations, black light bathrooms, and interactive sound sculptures—the idea being to turn the place into a psychedelic fish and chips spot. However think more early 90’s psycho-punk and less Grateful Dead.

While during the day the place gives off the feel of a breezy Berlin afternoon, with its day glow colors and relaxed atmosphere, at night it can easily double as the perfect place to bring an artistically inclined date. Despite being a pop-up, one of the most tired clichés in the retail and art worlds, this pairing somehow still feels fresh. Instead of being a brand diffusion of The Hole, with obvious moneymaking machinations going on behind the scenes, Hole Foods would be a pretty interesting stand-alone even if it weren’t associated with the famously hip gallery. In other words, it’s actually a great place to eat, and not just for the kitsch value. Also, restaurateurs take notice: there should be way more psychedelic fish shops in this city.

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