Note: First Looks give previews of new dishes, drinks, and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.
First it was Locanda Verde, then the Dutch, and now chef Andrew Carmellini and his restaurateur partners have opened their third restaurant, Lafayette, a classy French bistro and bakery. Open morning, noon, and night, it's a very French-feeling place on the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones, with an emphasis on old-school Gallic traditions. Charcuterie, bouillabaisse, and rotisserie chicken are all on the menu beside Mediterranean-inspired ravioli au pistou and Basque-style grilled octopus with smoky eggplant.
Carmellini, whose Francophilic culinary roots run deep—he cooked at Lespinasse back in 1993 and, after that, helmed the kitchen of Café Boulud—is joined here by chef Damon Wise of Tom Colicchio's Craft empire. For dessert, pastry chef Jen Yee is composing rich chocolate tortes, apple tartes with Battenkill Valley crème fraîche, and more classically inspired desserts. All of the breads come from the in-house bakery where Per Se alum James Belisle is churning out rustic baguettes and pain de campagne baked with local, organic flours. Stop by the marble-countered bakery for a loaf or the viennoiseries pastries, as well as savory tartines.
The bar is another destination at Lafayette, with its classic cocktails (French 75, Sazerac, Absinthe Frappe) and house creations ("Astérix Elixir" with gin, herbs de Provence, Chartreuse, and an egg white) as well as aperitifs, craft beers, and a wine list spanning all over France and the Mediterranean coastlines nearby.
380 Lafayette St at Great Jones (map) 212-533-3000