When it comes to food and eating, I’m as Puerto Rican (and American) as it gets; fork over the rice, potatoes, giant slabs of meat, fatty entrees and, most-likely, unhealthy portions.
I tend to eat with my eyes, especially when I’m hungry, and I am usually more excited about my side than the actual entree. Don’t know the difference between the two? Claudette, located in the West Village of NYC, will surely school you. Known for the quaint, cottage appearance, Claudette’s steez–slang for “style with ease”–simply looks like it’s good for you, and their Mediterranean-accented French dishes back it up. And, I mean “good for you” in all the best ways possible other than the more obvious one: your health.
Their outdoor seating screams BRUNCH WITH US, while the night-time lighting gives the inside an effervescent glow. The staff is even as cool, calm and collective as their clean white-walled and wood-floored aesthetic.
Serving up some of thee most flavorful plates I’ve tasted in the area, their main focus is the entree, barely adding a side on the plate. Presentation seems to be their strong suit, whether their decorating the outer edges of your pan-seared salmon dish with a pea puree, or serving you their Sasso Chicken Tajine in a vintage steam-pot.
There are very few restaurants I’ve been to that I can genuinely tell someone, “no matter what you try you’re going to love it.” Claudette NYC comes in first place on the already short list, so let’s explore the dinner menu.
Hummus lovers: you have to try their truffle hummus ($16) and homemade flatbread. Truffle is a very bold flavor and should be handled delicately in food; Claudette gets it… The hummus was not overpowered by the pungent taste and instead beautifully blended. I almost couldn’t finish my entree because I stuffed myself with the endless flatbread they kept swinging my way; however, this place entices you to eat slower, be patient and enjoy the overall experience.
Seafood and salad lovers: You’re going to want to try either the charred octopus salad (chickpeas, eggplant, sweet peppers, harissa, parsley) or the tuna niçoise (seared ahi tuna, whipped eggs, haricot vert, herb potato salad cherry tomato, basil coulis, black olives). I was not a huge fan of seared tuna, but Claudette turned me out with their vibrant flavors they packed into the fish. The robust hints of garlic and herbs on the fish almost completely masked that “fishy” taste many have difficulty enjoying. The charred octopus is the better bang for your buck. You get a heaping amount of octopus pieces; it’s literally enough for the salad to serve as your main dish. The chickpea is the perfect texture and addition to the inky friend, and the sweet peppers give it a pleasant after taste (versus the strong one octopus usually leaves behind).
Surf and turf lovers: What can I say? If I haven’t expressed how amazing this place is with their flavor and seasoning, here we go again. The pan-seared aurora salmon should be the only thing you try your first time, if it’s not the black angus sirloin. The main thing to note with the entree, as I’ve stated in the beginning, you’re not going to get a side. I know, I know… As Americans, we’re used to a heaping plate of fries or mashed potatoes with our steak. Maybe even an abundance of veggies with the salmon… Not here. I promise, you won’t need one, but, if you do, they have a small selection you can purchase on the side including greens, brussel sprouts and frites.
The salmon entree holds up beautifully on its own, although it is accompanied by a tiny bit of ruttabaga vadouvan mousseline and cauliflower. It is cooked to perfection, leaving the skin nice and crispy with the inside bright and juicy. The sirloin is to…die…for! Already sliced for you, your plate comes with thick slabs of meat (cooked to your desire) and a handful of baby roasted potatoes. I’m a garlic and onion girl, so when I saw whole sauteed green onions (also known as scallions) sitting next to my sirloin I thanked the food gods, naturally. The steak didn’t need any sauce, any side, any salt, nothing! It had a beautiful charred taste on the outside and the inside was oozing with all of the natural herbs that marinated it.
*Note: I did not try enough wine or dessert options to comment, but the home sangria is a must try!
Overall, I highly recommend visiting this place when you’re feeling like spending a little extra cash. While each individual item may night be too pricey, you should definitely try the hummus and at least one appetizer or salad, and that all adds up in the end. If you’re looking for a date night, girl’s brunch, family gathering, or simply want to feel like a true NYC-elite, Claudette’s is where you want to be.
P.S. they are currently joining the restaurant week fun, ending tomorrow August 19th, 2016. Click here for more information.