Space of the Week: French on Fifth

A few weeks ago, an awkward glass enclosure that blighted this lovely lower Fifth Avenue façade for years finally came down. Restaurateur Carlos Suarez (of Bobo and Rosemary’s) and his partner, Mark Barak, have opened Claudette (24 Fifth Ave., nr. 9th St.; 212-868-2424), and with its cozy, Provençal-inspired décor by Dolores Suarez and Caroline Grant of Dekar Design, it looks like a winner. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The bar beyond the entry solarium seats 14 and serves dinner as well as an array of aperitifs, cocktails, and wines, with an extensive collection of Provençal rosés, including one on tap. The executive chef, Wade Moises (Rosemary’s), is working with chef de cuisine Koren Grieveson (Avec) to create a menu of French-Mediterranean dishes with influences from North Africa. The bar-floor tile is a different terra-cotta from the entry-floor tile; there’s also different seating and lighting. Photo: Wendy Goodman

“I use chicken wire in almost every one of my projects,” Dolores laughs, “to Caroline’s dismay!” But Caroline chimes in: “It makes sense here with the farmhouse feel.” The chicken wire covers the upholstered linen fabric, which helps with the restaurant’s acoustics. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The farm table tucked in the corner of the bar area could be in a country dining room. The wall tiles were custom designed by Dekar: “The design was influenced by a mixture of an old African raffia panel and a Turkish woven textile,” says Dolores. A collection of Moroccan tagine dishes and spices lines the shelves above. Photo: Wendy Goodman

The main dining area feels intimate and residential with a wood floor salvaged from an 18th-century farmhouse. The custom-designed bookshelf, supported by two pilasters, uses dowels instead of closed wood ends to give it an airy, lighter feel. The original plaster ceiling felt a little “prom-night repro,” Dolores says, so they applied plaster and a distressed wash and then replastered again to give it a more timeworn appearance. Photo: Wendy Goodman

A vintage wooden dish rack adorns one of the linen wall panels in the dining room. As with the linen-covered base of the bar, this helps to soften the noise level. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Hanging above the corner banquet table is a light sconce made from old wine barrels. “We just whitewashed them and put plaster on the tin to lighten them up,” Caroline says. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Here, you can see how the dowels give the bookshelf in the dining room a lighter effect. Photo: Wendy Goodman

Caroline (left) and Dolores (right) can finally take a breather now that the restaurant is open. “The other restaurants we’ve done were rawer spaces,” Caroline says. “This one already had a lot of elements like the plaster ceiling, the classic enclosure ” so it was taking those bones and making the space work for the concept of an open, airy, Provençal vibe.” Dolores adds, “I think the challenge was not to make it too charming, not to make it hokey.” Photo: Wendy Goodman

Space of the Week: French on Fifth