*Please note: The entire post’s photos were taken with my iPhone 5.*
The past weekend, my friend and I decided to have brunch at Lafayette, owned by Andrew Carmellini, the same chef who started the rustic Italian restaurant Locanda Verde and the all-American fare The Dutch.
I’ve read many reviews over the past few months and I’ve read many who tout how Executive Chef Damon Wise and Pastry Chef Jennifer Yee (who takes care of the pastry and café/bakery programs) fare – and most people compare it to Balthazar. On the first glance, I can sort of see that since they both have the bustling French bistro feel except at Lafayette it is brighter and much more handsome.
While I was waiting for my friend to arrive, I perused the beautiful pastry counter where glistening, colorful personal-sized cakes and tarts were begging to be bought and eaten in all its glory. My tiff was really how clueless the staff was there. When I inquired one of the staff members what’s in that gorgeous large tart du jour (the one photographed above)? They can’t elaborate anything else beyond saying, “It’s a fruit tart” and deterred off from buying a tart for friends. When I mentioned this on Instagram, Chef Damon Wise eventually answered my question, which is quite disconcerting.
Eventually my friend arrived and we were starving and ordered quite a bit. We started with a cheese boardTourus, a nutty, Gruyere-like, Tarentaise, and a velvety, earthy Fourme d’Ambert blue cheese. All were generally good but we prefer robust, pungent cheeses.
We also had their fresh pressed juices of Jardin Vert ($10) a forest green juice of green apple, kale, ginger, and cucumber that I would consider a great palate cleanser as it’s so peppery and spicy. The French Rose ($9) made of carrot, beet, and naval orange had a lovely earthy sweetness from the beets.
Our mains of Fleur de Soleil with snap peas, fresh peas, pancetta, and mint ($18) was ok. My friend, who is a pasta snob, criticized that it’s poorly executed. While the pasta was cooked perfectly fine and the snap peas were sweet and slightly crisp, the fresh peas were too starchy or undercooked that the texture clashed with everything else and the mint’s flavor was muted. If the starchy peas were out of the equation, this bowl of pasta would have been pretty good.
Their brisket burger with caramelized onion and raclette cheese ($17) was a good burger but not the best fancy pants restaurant burger I’ve eaten in recent months. It’s not too rich, the flavors were balanced and reminiscent of the French onion soup but the burger itself (the patty) was not as fatty and luscious as I was hoping for.
The super skinny fries served on the side were pretty damn good. Crispy, not too starchy and well seasoned.
While the food is generally solid, the execution is inconsistent probably because of the restaurant’s popularity. Service at the dining was decently knowledgeable of the menu and attentive even though they were slammed by the many diners eating. Based on this meal experience, I might consider going to eat here for dinner when the buzz dies down so the kitchen could take better care of the food.
To view more photos of this meal, please view the slideshow below (or CLICK HERE for my photo set):