Being such a huge fan of Locanda Verde, Andrew Carmellini’s latest NYC spot, Lafayette, had been on my brain for a while. T and I started doing one “fancier” date night a month back at the end of 2014 (which turned out to be setting the stage for this one special evening to follow in January), and this was my pick back in December. We started with drinks at the Crosby Street Hotel, which was as fun and classy as I had heard. We lucked into a fabulous table in the bar area, giving us the best of both worlds.
We made our way up to Lafayette. I’ve been intrigued about this spot from before it even opened its doors. The decor is refined and striking. I can’t walk by without stopping to take note. In the morning, the bakery in the front has a regular flow of patrons and at the night, you can always see a full floor of happy diners through the windows lining the restaurant.
When we arrived, it was just as it had been when I had passed by in the months prior. We were seated in the back, after making our way through the restaurant. I was surprised by how far back it really goes and all of the interesting sub-pockets to the space. There was a bar on each side of the width of the space, and another area in the middle. I know it’s a spot I’ve heard is much lauded for brunch, but I dare say the true magic is in the evening when all of this is going on under the dimly lit evening service lighting.
We started with the prime beef tartare “New Orleans”, prepared with a tabasco aioli and quail egg. We also had the escarole salad, with pomegranate, hazelnut, parmesean, and truffle vinaigrette. These two dishes were a fun pairing. The hazelnuts got a bit lost in the salad, but otherwise, the flavors were great here. I loved the pairing of pomegranate and hazelnut when you were able to get bites both in sequence.
I felt we needed to try one of the pastas, based on the other reviews I had previously read. For the pasta course, we tried the black macaroni, with rock shrimp, spicy tomato, and roasted garlic. I was a fan of the black macaroni, and I think you need a spicy marinara based sauce to stand up to the weight of the pasta. For our main, we went with the duck au poivre, served with organic grains, radish, and smoked bacon.
I was tempted to skip dessert, but in the end, we went with the fromage blanc cheesecake, which was served with warm poached cranberries, fresh thyme, and bubbles.
Next time, I’ll be back for brunch.
Lafayette – 380 Lafayette Street (at Great Jones Street) – 212.533.3000