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Cafe Cluny

Cafe Cluny, the new French-American bistro, is so West Village: the quaint corner lot at an intersection no one can find without looking at a map; the low tin ceilings; the tables packed tighter than sardines; the short and uncomplicated menu.

And the attitude. The afternoon of my reservation, Cafe Cluny called to confirm I was still coming. No problem, that. But then they added that my reservation would be forfeited if we were more than fifteen minutes late, and that no one would be seated until the entire party was present. Any more regulations, and they will have to publish a rule book.

It turned out they were mighty friendly when I got there, and despite what I was told over the phone, they did seat me before my friend arrived. Luckily I am not overweight, as anyone larger would have struggled to squeeze into the tiny space without knocking things off of the adjacent table.


We both tried the soup du jour ($9) — I believe a butternut squash — that was creamy and delicious. Duck breast confit ($27; above) was competently prepared, but it came atop a measly puddle of puréed potatoes and what was advertised as brussels sprouts, but didn’t seem to be. The standard table knife (which had to do double duty as a butter knife) wasn’t adequate for cutting into the duck.

Our server tried hard, but she was one of those unhelpful waitresses who thinks every selection you ask her about is “terrific,” no matter what it is.

Two entrees, two soups, one side dish, two coffees, and three drinks between us added up to $136.56 before tax and tip. While nothing we had was objectionable, I think one can find far more pleasant ways to spend that kind of money in this town.

Cafe Cluny (284 West 12th Street at West 4th Street, West Village)

Food: Average
Service: Average
Ambiance: Crowded
Overall: Average

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