There’s nothing better than a long, relaxed lunch at a restaurant that can take you back to Paris. With its high ceilings, round hanging lamps, and large open windows, Lafayette does just that. But unlike other restaurants inspired by traditional French bistros and brasseries (such as Balthazar and Odeon), Lafayette has a modern edge to it. The clean cream painted walls, use of brushed metal, and color block tiling create a contemporary feel to the French-inspired décor.
I’d say that Lafayette is the perfect mix of New York and Paris, comfy and upscale, rustic and modern, authentic and hip, giving the restaurant its own little charm. Copper pots hang above a lamb on a spit, slowly roasting for that night’s diners. A large old-fashioned clock is mounted into a modern glowing wall behind the metal brushed bar. And cozy leather booths line the edge of the restaurant with smooth, unvarnished wooden tables.
It’s a place where New Yorkers can be transported to Paris but still feel at home. In the front of the restaurant, there sits a little boulangerie with breads, viennoiseries, and pastries like you would find in Paris, from little éclairs to buttery croissants. But one glance out the wide windows onto the bustling streets of New York will bring you back. It claims to be neither, yet what it is feels authentic.
With a menu to match the French-inspired décor, it was the perfect choice by my dad for a Father’s Day brunch. The wait staff was friendly and attentive without being overbearing (they also wore spiffy suspenders). And the bartenders were constantly churning out brunch cocktails from behind the bar, and yet each one looked immaculate as they passed by our table on a bustling waiter’s tray. My dad’s Bloody Marie (as Lafayette has called theirs) featured a skewer of olives, cornichons, salami, and radishes. They must have had fun making them and deciding how to artfully arrange the atypical order the got every now and then, like my mum’s Pimm’s cup.
Anyway, now for the good part – what we ordered:
The boys ordered the brisket burger, juicy and perfectly cooked, topped with caramelized onions, melty raclette cheese, and a huge side of crispy, thin fries.
My mum went with a slightly lighter choice – the Niçoise salad which included raw tuna (a nice twist), anchovies, egg, tomato, haricots verts, fennel, potatoes, olives, and roasted red pepper.
As for me, it wouldn’t be brunch without eggs, so I had the egg white frittata with beautifully caramelized onions and wild mushrooms (and I had to add some cheese of course, so it was topped with melted gruyere).
It was a lovely, relaxed Father’s Day brunch with great food and great people.