North African influences abound at a new restaurant in the heart of Greenwich Village. Zagat editor James Mulcahy filed the following report.
24 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10011
Restaurateur Carlos Suarez has built a mini empire in the West Village with his charming spots Bobo and Rosemary's, and his newest eatery Claudette builds on a model that channels a dinner party-esque vibe.
"The whole guest experience is really inspired by my own passion for entertaining at home. It's a space that feels kind of dreamy, transporting, it's warm and at the same time it's airy, and again it evokes that residential feeling of taking care of people in your home," Suarez explains.
The menu looks to the Mediterranean for inspiration, taking cues from Provence - an area that is rife with light options that are ideal for a New York City summer.
"It's very clean - very light flavors, but bright flavors. Lots of spices and herbs. It really brings out those springtime and summertime flavors," says Claudette's chef, Koren Grieveson.
But what's really interesting about the food is the influence of North Africa. Many of the dishes are spiked with harissa, an exotic chili pepper paste and all-purpose spice.
"It's just spice heavy. Cumin, coriander, lavender, cardamom - all those really interesting spices. It's like a ketchup and a hot sauce basically wrapped up into a spicy package," Grieveson adds.
The menu twists represent a growing trend in the New York City dining scene - where the most popular places have the vibe of a neighborhood gem but cuisine that is worth the trip. Plus, there's rose on tap, and you really can't go wrong with that.
"Rose is super popular right now because it's refreshing, it's easy drinking. It's at an affordable price point, and it evokes the spirit of fun that I think we're all looking to have when we go out to eat," Suarez says.
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