Brightly mirrored and tiled, Lafayette brings French bistro fare to New York City.
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Birth Announcements: June

Juliet Glass / June 2013

Chef Andrew Carmellini, Luke Ostrom, and Josh Pickard, who are part-owners of Locanda Verde and The Dutch, among others, try their hands at French with the April debut of Lafayette (380 Lafayette Street). Housed in an iconic landmark building, the 150 seater serves French bistro fare reimagined with seasonal ingredients and a lighter touch. Rambling dark oak floors, arched windows, and 16-foot-high ceilings create a dramatic, cinematic mood. The kitchen is led by chef de cuisine Damon Wise (recently of Craft), pastry chef Jen Yee (formerly of Aureole and Gilt), and baker James Belisle (who decamped from Per Se). Beverage director Josh Nadel (also of The Dutch) handles wines and other libations. Apps ($9 to $19): Maine crab tartine with aïoli and lemon confit; prime beef tartare with watercress and bone marrow. Mains ($18 to $29): mushroom risotto with asparagus; duck au poivre with organic grains, radishes, and smoked bacon. Desserts ($10): beignets maison with milk chocolate mousse; mango coupe with coconut ice and lime.

In April, Michael Friedman (a Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises alum), chef Mike O’Malley, and beverage whiz Sebastian Zutant (the latter two who both decamped from Proof) opened their first restaurant, The Red Hen (1822 1st Street NW), a stylish spot that showcases Italian-inflected American fare. The 60 seat space is youthful and sophisticated, thanks to abundant natural light, tables fashioned from reclaimed Nicaraguan wood, and an imposing orange embossed leather bar. Apps ($5 to $12): smoked ricotta crostini with balsamic vinegar/brown butter and truffle honey; grilled beef tongue with dill, cauliflower, pine nuts, and bagna càuda. Mains ($14 to $23): gnocchi with hazelnut pesto; pan-seared swordfish with braised mussels, smoky romesco sauce, and ramp salsa verde. Desserts ($6 to $8): almond/semolina cake with lemon pudding and vanilla gelato; chocolate budino with espresso crumble and grapefruit cream.

Celebrated vegan chef Tal Ronnen opened Crossroads, his first restaurant, at 8284 Melrose Avenue in March. The former Phillipe Chow space was completely transformed into an elegant 120 seat stage for Ronnen’s plant-based, small plates menu. Find a rich palette of oxblood reds, gold and grey tones, crown wood trimming throughout, tables draped in white linens, six handcrafted chandeliers, and a floor-to-ceiling wine wall. Scot Jones, formerly of VegiTerranean in Akron, Ohio, is executive chef, and Serafina Magnussen, recently of Palate Food + Wine, is pastry chef. Cold plates ($6 to $14): herbed chickpea flour pancakes with charred cherry tomatoes, baby arugula, and smoked shallot vinaigrette; caramelized leek/cauliflower bisque. Hot plates ($8 to $12): red quinoa with pan-roasted fresh artichoke hearts, fava beans, and light tomato broth; risotto-stuffed banana peppers with basil/lime buerre blanc. Desserts ($4): carrot cake ice cream; citrus panna cotta.

Progressive Mediterranean is on offer at Figue, which opened in March at 47-474 Washington Street. Owner is Lee Morcus (who is partner, with his family, in the Palm Springs–based Kaiser Restaurant Group). The executive chef is François de Mélogue (who decamped from Chicago’s Le Margaux. The 310 seater updates the mid-century modern stylings surrounding Palm Springs to create a design that is contemporary, yet cozy, with dining areas both indoors and out. Apps ($6 to $20): charred ahi tuna with micro greens and charmoula vinaigrette; calamari and radicchio salad with basil and charred lemons. Mains ($18 to $38): slow-cooked beef cheeks with orange/olive ragù and saffron risotto; whole-roasted dorade with artichoke/fennel barigoule and olive tapenade. Desserts ($9): pistachio/olive oil/fig cake with pomegranate sorbet; Turkish chocolate/coffee pavé with crunchy milk chocolate “candy bar.”