Cool People. 4 Questions. 1 Bottle of Wine. VINO4
When it comes to service with style, Elphin Murren is the poster boy. As the Assistant General Manager & Sommelier at Midtown Manhattan’s Kingside in the Viceroy Hotel, the Trinidad-born and Brooklyn, NY-raised Murren serves up impeccable personal style with a glass of wine of your choice. It’s no wonder that he was a finalist in GQ x Penfolds #BestDressedSomm competition! We caught up with Elphin over dinner for a conversation about the restaurant biz, music, and of course, wine.
Tell me about your start in the restaurant business, and how you eventually came to Kingside.
My family has always worked in restaurants and with food throughout my life. At 19 I needed a job in college to earn extra money, and a friend of mine told me about an opening at a restaurant, that is now the Barclays Center. My first night I was a bar back and made $400 and thought, “this is great.” I worked from 4PM to 4 AM and had to be back at noon that same day, and I didn’t care how tired I was; I was so motivated by the money and the happiness that it brought.
Over the years I worked in TriBeCa and Battery Park City at a couple of other places, and came to Kingside in 2013. I haven’t looked back ever since. It’s a little over ten years now.
Kingside has a very hearty menu that is perfect for the winter months. What is your favorite wine to pair with the current menu?
Our cuisine is New American, lately, which falls into a variety of different categories, but for us it really expresses the travels of our chef Marc Murphy. He grew up in France and Italy, and he’s really brought those flavors here…putting together this awesome menu that we’ve all worked so hard on. For the wine aspect of it, I always like to steer people towards my personal favorite, the Rhone Valley, because it’s approachable. You can get light and acidic, you can get full and tannic, and a bunch of different things that fall into that spectrum. The Vincent Paris Syrah from Cornas that we have has the right amount of funk to it.
What is your go-to wine pick to bring to a dinner or cocktail party with friends?
A classic option of a bottle of wine to bring to a party is a nice bottle of champagne. You don’t necessarily have to break the bank on it because champagne in and of itself is already a premium product. It’s so approachable; it gets the palate going, and if you are taking it to a party as a gift, no one is going to say, “I don’t like champagne.” Everybody likes champagne! Even a nice rosé champagne too, those are my favorites at the moment.
Here’s a music question. If you were able to take charge of the sounds at Kingside, what are five songs that you would play for your customers and yourself during your shift?
This is a tricky question, but here’s what I’ve got:
- “So Fresh, So Clean” – Outkast
- “Recipe”- Kendrick Lamar
- “I like it raw”- ODB
- “Allure”- Jay Z
- “Paper Planes” -MIA (Mainly because she recorded the album on Fulton Street in Brooklyn, and filmed the video there too).
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