Every week, I document another dish that impressed and satiated me during my food adventures around New York City
There is such a thing as a cursed space in New York. There are certain storefronts that just can’t seem to contain a restaurant – maybe the rents are too hire or the location is undesirable or it’s just a restaurant curse. Every once in a while a restaurant beats the curse: I think Mighty Quinn’s in the East Village is here to stay. And I think Claudette is well on its way to being a permanent (or at least long-term) resident at 24 Fifth Avenue.
Although this building (which is just blocks from Washington Square Park) was the home to the popular wine-restaurant Cru for close to 6 years, no other tenant in recent memory has been able to stick it out. The over-hyped Lotus of Siam came and went and previous to Cru, no restaurant managed to stay in business for very long.
Lately when I walk by the newest resident, Claudette (a French-Morroccan hotspot from the owners of Rosemary’s) it’s jam packed with fashionable diners who have no interest in letting the curse live on.
It was even lively on a Sunday night when we visited. I’ve always found Rosemary’s rustic Italian food to feature very fresh ingredients and prepared with proper technique and care. The same was true here. I did find some of the prices to be a little off-putting ($8 for a small plate of vegetables?), but the flavors shone.
We were especially taken with the red snapper (which our waiter said was the most popular dish). Parchment paper (the usual French steaming method) was traded out for thinly sliced eggplant which clung to the flesh of the fish and provided both a crisp exterior and a moist center. It made for a perfectly cooked piece of fish. The flavors around the protein ranged from crisp fennel to a tangy, herbaceous chermoula (a green Morrocan sauce) and delicately smoky eggplant chips.
I wish Claudette the best of luck. If the restaurant curse wins again, we’ll be out a charming little neighborhood restaurant with lively, delicious food. And that would actually make me curse.
|24 Fifth Avenue (at 8th Street),