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Restaurant Openings

Week of November 19, 2007: Solex, Dessert Studio at Chocolat Michel Cluizel, and Ilili.


103 First Ave., nr. 6th St.; 212-777-6677
With Solex, his new French wine bar, Frederick Twomey of the Italian Bar Veloce and the Spanish Bar Carrera has, as he puts it, “completed the triad.” As at all his establishments, the look is sleek and streamlined, with a semi-vaulted ceiling, counter-height tables, and a striking wine-storage system that serves as décor. To lend the proceedings a touch of Gallic authenticity, Twomey has reunited with two fellow alums of the Jean-Georges Vongerichten empire—front-of-the-house veteran Christophe Chatron-Michaud and pastry chef Eric Hubert, who veers here into savory territory. His small-plate menu features cromesquis de foie gras, beef Wellington éclair, and salmon mille-feuilles, in addition to a variety of tarts, quiches, cheese, and charcuterie, all priced between $5 and $16. The wines are culled from all over France, including lesser-known districts like Savoie and Jura.

Dessert Studio at Chocolat Michel Cluizel
888 Broadway, at 19th St.; 212-477-7335
Before envelope-pushing pastry chef Will Goldfarb teamed up with Manhattan entrepreneur Richard Perl, you’d never expect phrases like Michel Cluizel chocolate and sodium alginate to appear in the same sentence. But this weekend, the twain might actually meet when Goldfarb debuts Dessert Studio at Perl’s Cluizel boutique at ABC Carpet & Home. As at the now-shuttered Room4Dessert, where Goldfarb served whimsies named Virtuality and You Sunk My Battleship, the chef will concoct inventive desserts at the seven-stool bar, open till midnight Thursday through Saturday. Cluizel chocolate is the unifying theme in dishes like Indonesian-vanilla ice cream with 85 percent–cacao chocolate bits and American sturgeon caviar (pictured), and warm chocolate bubbles with espresso Jell-O and fresh milk foam. Goldfarb has stocked the shelves with new products, too, like Terzi coffees from Bologna, his WillPowder line of chemicals for the home cook (from glycerin flakes to methylcellulose), and baked goods from Seth Greenberg, son of William Jr., and heir to the Manhattan fudge-brownie throne.

236 Fifth Ave., nr. 27th St.; 212-683-2929
With the rare exception, the venerable Al Bustan among them, Lebanese restaurants in New York tend to come in the guise of the falafel joint—quick and cheap rather than elegant and upscale. The cavernous new Ilili aspires to greater things, Wagyu-beef carpaccio among them. Chef-owner Philippe Massoud, late of Neyla in Georgetown, has concocted a menu that melds traditional Lebanese and modern Mediterranean flavors, covering territory both predictable (hummus, baba ghannouj, tabbouleh) and newfangled (duck shawarma with pomegranate molasses, figs, and green onion). The bi-level space itself is divided into multiple lounges and dining areas, and is meant to be high on atmosphere, with a D.J. spinning weekend nights.

Ten years after Marc Solomon, of A and Ivo & Lulu fame, sold his Jamaican bar, Red Stripe, he and wife Blue have revived it in the old Koca Lounge space (76 Orchard St., nr. Grand St.; 212-477-9977).


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