You know Andrew Carmellini; you love him. This is the man behind incredible NYC restaurants like Locanda Verde, Bar Primi, and The Dutch. Since 2013, he’s also been the man behind Lafayette, which is equally as grand as his other establishments, though it leans French where most of his other restaurants are Italian. I never made it when it opened and was extraordinarily popular and then kinda forgot about it because, well, there are just so many amazing restaurants in this city. But when Neil and Anne suggested it for a recent dinner it was an immediate “yes! of course! how could I have forgotten about that place!” from me.
“Bistro” normally evokes images of quaint little spots with two-top tables teetering on an edge. Not the case here. I shamefully didn’t take photos of the restaurant itself, but it’s large and breezy. Eight years in and it still sorta feels like a place to be seen.
They made sure to mention that it was a full bar, implying they could go off menu when it came to cocktails and I took advantage. I was looking for something refreshing and summery but not too sweet and they brought me a delightful raspberry lime sipper. I don’t even know what was in it, but it was delicious.
I didn’t get a photo of Neil’s grilled arctic char, but the skin was beautifully crisped, it was served over a gorgeous bright green vegetable purée, and he ate it in record speed. Anne and I both ordered the scallops à la plancha, served with sugar snap peas, spring onion, and ramp pistou. Ramps have such a short season and they’re so yummy that you kinda have to take advantage of them when you see them on a menu. The dish was delicious and the scallops were perfectly cooked…but the portion was very small. Like need-to-stop-for-a-hot-dog-on-the-way-home kind of small. I expect smaller portions at fancy restaurants, but for the price of that meal I shouldn’t have left hungry. By contrast, my beau’s rotisserie chicken provençale with fingerling potatoes was solidly sized. There was easily half a chicken on his plate and he said it was quite tasty.
I have to acknowledge that this is a pricy restaurant. Bread for the table will cost you $6 (it was good, but…$6 good? meh), the cheapest appetizer is a $20 endive salad, and entrées are $30+ (my tiny scallop meal was $42). The food was wonderful and service great…but this ain’t an inexpensive date. At this point, Andrew Carmellini seems to run NoHo, with reaches even further downtown. You’re going to have a great experience at any of his restaurants, especially if you’re sitting in the patio area on a cool summer evening like we were.