We wanted to strip away all the nonsense. Do we really need a sommelier? Do we really need all the other accoutrements that you see at a 3 star or 4 star restaurant. Our goal was not to be a three stars. Our goal was to serve the best food we can. Our goal was to try and make the best food in New York City regardless of anything else, regardless of the environment.
Good to see there are still chefs in NYC who care about the right thing, food, and not decorum. Usually it's the contrary, and NYC is where I've had the worst food in my life (before London!), i.e. a place where people go out in insanely expensive restaurants to show off and be seen rather than to enjoy food, and where the politically correct answer when asked about that shit in your plate is to say "great food" with a smile.
I use to say that New Yorkers (as the British) eat only because it's a necessity (otherwise they would die), while San Franciscans (as the French) eat because it's a pleasure. A cliché yes, but one that I've consistently seen, verified and had approved of by locals on my dozen times on both coasts.
(Note to my friends in NYC: I've also had great food in NYC, but that's because I was well accompanied, and shown a few rare good places. :-)