Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 5:30 p.m.-11 p.m.
A, B, C, D, E, F, M at W. 4th St.-Washington Sq.; N, R at 8th St.-NYU
American Express, Discover, MasterCard, Visa
Carlos Suarez's cheery new Provençal-themed restaurant, Claudette, occupies a notorious space on Fifth Avenue and 9th Street that over the years has seen a long line of worthy but doomed tenants (Washington Park, Cru, Lotus of Siam). Instead of fighting the room's powerfully bad feng shui, however, Suarez, who also runs the two successful Village restaurants Rosemary's and Bobo, has wisely opted to change it. The space used to be separated into two tiers, but now everything is on one level, and the awkwardly located bar has been moved from the front of the room to the back. The dining area has been set with bleached-wood tables and wicker-backed chairs, like in a Provençal café, and the façade has been smoothed over with polished concrete and fitted with tall French windows, which on warm days are thrown open to the street.
The results of this radical makeover have been so successful that even in the depths of summer, on a lazy weekday evening, it can be difficult, in Claudette's compact little dining room, to hear yourself think. This party atmosphere is enhanced by the user-friendly, Mediterranean-themed menu, which features bowls of hummus touched with truffles, Morrocan tagines served in tall porcelain cones, and a variety of vegetable dishes. Some of the cooking can veer toward heaviness (the bouillabaisse en croûte and chicken tagine are both big enough for two), so focus on the lighter dishes (warm lamb salad, tomatoes with toasted bulgur and mint, the excellent whole roasted dorade) and save room for the toppling little pistachio cake, which is scattered with candied orange peel and layered with a smooth deposit of whipped cream.Note
If you enjoy summery aperitifs, try the Simone, made with Suze and pisco.Recommended Dishes
Truffle hummus with warm fennel flatbread, $18; shaved carrots with pistachios, $8; bouillabaisse en croute, $27