Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two: Vaucluse

Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two: Vaucluse

Article excerpt

TABLES FOR TWO

VAUCLUSE

Open weekdays for lunch and dinner, weekends for dinner, and Sundays also for brunch. Entrees $24-$64.

100 E. 63rd St. (646-869-2300)

When artists argue with critics, wise men and women seek shelter. Pete Wells, the Times ' estimable restaurant reviewer, not long ago went after Vaucluse, the new brasserie from the Altamarea group (Marea, Ai Fiori), whose C.E.O. then responded angrily, and in public. We look to criticism not for truth but as a sort of gladiatorial contest, even a bullfight, with the reviewer in his suit of lights goading the poor creative animal. When the bull writes a letter of protest to the local paper, we don't know which way to look.

What, then, does a late arriver to the combat make, fair-mindedly, of Vaucluse? Certainly, with its double-sized rooms and satisfied murmur, it perfectly invokes the Upper East Side: not your parents' Le Cirque-style U.E.S. of boastful big money but the new, ripened U.E.S., where everyone has been locked in place now for a long time and all know, wistfully, that the really cool places are far, far away, across the East River.

The lighting, perhaps for that reason, is the kindest, not to say the loveliest, of any restaurant in New York. In one room, hanging linen drums cast an illumination soft and diffuse but not dim--perfect for having a conversation about, say, a Sotheby's auction or the kids' tuition. With lighting this beautiful, one might almost be ready to eat badly. …

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