Magazine article The New Yorker

Lafayette

Magazine article The New Yorker

Lafayette

Article excerpt

Andrew Carmellini, the chef at Lafayette, is famous for creating restaurants that are scene-y, but which also serve food you will find yourself telling your friends about. First there was A Voce, near Madison Square Park, at which New Yorkers seemed to discover ricotta for the first time, and then a similar thing happened at the Dutch, in SoHo, with pie. At Locanda Verde, in Tribeca, which opened four years ago, it's still impossible to get a reservation that isn't for 5:30 or 10 P.M. And now that there are more trendy French restaurants than Italian ones opening downtown for the first time since the mid-nineties, Lafayette has emerged as the grandest and most convincing of the bunch.

The room, all soaring ceilings and oversized windows, has a lot to do with it: this was once Chinatown Brasserie, the site of so many elaborate office parties in pre-recession boom times. As with Carmellini's earlier ventures, there's an immediate sense of excitement and occasion about the place. Notably, there's no such thing as a bad seat. Waiting for a table at the cheery side bar, backlit in glowing amber, you should ask for the spectacular Asterix Elixir, made with herbes de Provence, gin, yellow chartreuse, and egg whites. The egg whites are shaken into a foamy head, which makes the gin-and-chartreuse combination as refreshing as a cold beer. (Sensible drinkers will pair it with the Egg Lafayette, a kind of haute devilled egg made with smoked sablefish and trout caviar.) Once you're at a table, there's a diverting parade of affluence to observe, as pyramids of fruits de mer and macarons with birthday sparklers on top pass by with startling frequency. …

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