I don’t spend much time in Kips Bay, but apparently Nancy and Aziz Lamazou did everything right: their neighborhood cheese and sandwich shop, Lamazou, has fans galore.
So they decided to double down, opening a new restaurant, Bistro Lamazou, taking over a store that used to be a Blockbuster Video. The space is striking, with two bars (one for liquor, the other cheese), a communal table, and an ample dining room, which I fear may be too large for the area.
The chef, Jean-Claude Teulade, who once worked at La Côte Basque, offers a menu centered on North Africa (where Aziz Lamazou is from), though it pays tribute to many other cuisines. The Times describes it as French, a somewhat misleading label.
The menu, with its many categories, meanders more than it should. Appetizers are roughly $8–18, entrées $18–29, though it is sometimes hard to tell which is which. The burger is $18, which strikes me as audacious.
A whole section of the menu is captioned “From the Cheese Bar.” Given the owners’ background we had to try some. The Cheese and Charcuterie Sampler ($24; left) was bizarre, with its centerpiece a fountain of prosciutto and melon balls dangling out of a martini glass, with cornichons and pickled onions on the side. (It also came with a plate of bread, not pictured.)
It was far too much for two people. Four could have shared it happily. The ingredients were fine, but the selection balance was off: it could have used more cheese and less meat, especially coming from a team that specializes in the former.
Entrées were ample too: Couscous with Lamb & Vegetables ($27; above left); the Braised Lamb Shank ($25; above right). If no new culinary ground was broken, they were well prepared and attractively presented.
The wine list is ambitious, for a restaurant like this, with more than fifty bottles, mostly from France, Italy, and Tunisia, with plenty of options below $50. But I was less impressed when I ordered a 2005 Valpolicella Classico Superiore, and was presented with a 2008, which the server did not notice until I pointed it out. The printed price, $42, would have been a bargain for an ’05. Not so much for a bottle three years younger.
Aside from that, service was fine for a restaurant roughly two months old. It was not crowded at 8:00 p.m. on a Wednesday evening. It’s a cute place, and I would certainly visit again if I were in the neighborhood.
Bistro Lamazou (344 Third Avenue between 25th & 26th Streets, Kips Bay)