Entries in Carlos Suarez (4)



Claudette arrived in Greenwich Village several months ago, as welcome as a burst of sunshine after a rain storm. It’s a lovely Provençal bistro, in a city that can never have enough of them.

This is the third act for co-owner Carlos Suarez (Bobo, Rosemary’s). Wade Moises, who runs the kitchen at Rosemary’s, has come along for this venture as executive chef, along with chef de cuisine Koren Grieveson, who spent over a decade at the respected Chicago restaurant Avec.

I liked the food Rosemary’s, but it’s loud and perpetually packed; at the bar, you can barely move. I feared that Claudette would be more of the same, but it turns out to be surprisingly civilized. Suarez has created a warm, inviting room. There aren’t a ton of tables. The ample marble bar attracts a dinner crowd, not a party. It does get a tad loud, but not punishingly so.

This address has not been kind to restaurants, but there is nothing wrong with the location. I vaguely recall a place here called Washington Park, years ago. The reasons for its demise escape me, but it later became Cru (felled by the recession), and then the short-lived Lotus of Siam (a terrible idea, doomed before it began). Claudette ought to last a while.

The menu is fairly brief, but it appears to change frequently. There are choices in four categories, with headings printed in French, but the dishes described entirely in English. There’s a quartet of salads under du Jardin ($8 each; $30 for the set); six Hors d’Oeuvres ($13–18), nine Entrées ($22–34; or grilled ribeye, $46); and four Garnitures, or side dishes ($8).

A few dishes are lazy: that Pat LaFreida ribeye that seems to find its way onto every menu in town; a hanger steak, just because; a cavatelli for diners who want a recognizable pasta option. But mostly, the chefs stick to their chosen Provençal and North African theme.

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Rosemary's Enoteca & Trattoria

There’s nothing groundbreaking about a new Italian restaurant from a Maria Batali protégé; happens all the time. Nor is there anything novel about a restaurant with its own rooftop (or backyard) garden.

Put the two together, and you’ve got something I don’t recall seeing before: Rosemary’s. Carlos Suarez (of nearby Bobo) is the owner; Wade Moises (Babbo, Lupa, Eataly) is at the stoves.

There’s a garden on the roof—you can see it poking above the white bricks at the top of the photo above. They won’t let you forget it, either.” Rooftop Garden” is printed on the menu in a prominent spot. The Times reported, “The day’s harvest gets dropped down to the dining room in a basket on a block and tackle.” It’s a gimmick that probably doesn’t improve the quality of the food in any articulable way, but it certainly sounds good.

Less than two months after it opened, Rosemary’s is a hit. At 6:30pm on a Thursday evening, we snagged one of the last two-tops remaining. (Reservations aren’t taken, and incomplete parties aren’t seated.) By the time we left, every seat was taken and the bar was mobbed, mostly with revelers under 30.

You might expect the food to be secondary at such an establishment, but it’s surprisingly good and prices are quite reasonable. Most salads are $12 or less, most pastas $14 or less, most entrées $22 or less. That won’t last. A Porchettina entrée, listed on the preview menu at $19, is now up to $22. And a new section has been added to the menu, with dishes for two that are a lot more expensive.

But the wine list is a revelation, with almost 40 bottles at $40. Over half of them are available by the glass, at $10. (There’s also a shorter reserve list for big spenders.) These aren’t trophy wines: a 2008 Corte Majoli Valpolicella was merely okay, but it wasn’t plonk. And where else in town will you find so much to choose from at $40?


An heirloom tomato salad ($10; above left), offered as a special, was an obvious starter at this type of restaurant. To go with it, the server recommended the excellent house-made Mozzarella with basil and olive oil. To mop up every drop, we had to ask for bread, which really ought to have come with it.


All the pastas are house-made here and exploit the garden liberally. We loved Cavatelli ($14; above left) with peas, asparagus, and ricotta. Crackling pork skin complemented luscious Porchettina ($22; above right), although the schmear of baby food in the middle of the plate contributed very little.

Between the inexpensive wine list and the inexpensive menu, we ate quite happily at Rosemary’s for $96 before tax and tip. However, there are hidden costs of a meal here. The chairs are a bit uncomfortable, and it does get loud: your ears will take a beating. Servers aren’t quite as attentive as they ought to be.

The good news is that the scenesters now flocking to Rosemary’s will probably move on in a few months, but Wade Moises will probably remain a very good chef. If he sticks around, Rosemary’s could eventually be very good indeed. But I’d wait a while before going again.

Rosemary’s (18 Greenwich Ave. at W. 10th St., West Village)

Food: Rustic Italian meets Haute Barnyard
Wine: Almost 40 bottles at $40, with a smaller reserve list
Service: Competent, but occasionally inattentive
Ambiance: A boistrous, bustling streetcorner spot that gets loud

Rating: ★
Why? We loved the food, but not worth traveling for when you can’t reserve 


The Bobo Burger

Ah, Bobo…poor Bobo…the restaurant that could never catch a break.

When last we saw our poor suffering hero, Bobo was on its second chef, soon to be deposed for a third chef. Alas, that wasn’t good enough to impress New York’s Adam Platt or Frank Bruni of the Times, both of whom awarded one star, finding the food too uneven to earn two.

For our part, we are still betting that Bobo will succeed. The new chef, Patrick Connolly, comes with a successful stint at Boston’s Radius to his credit. We still love the space, the prices are reasonable for the neighborhood, and the service is better than you find at many restaurants in its peer group. There are some conceits that a cynical reviewer would call precious, but we still want to give Bobo a big hug.

Many restaurants are serving gourmet burgers these days, and one day I decided on impulse to give Bobo’s a try. I hadn’t written down the address, and I very nearly couldn’t find the place. The graphic on Bobo’s website, shown above, seems to be making a joke about the restaurant’s secluded and unlabeled location in an old townhouse on W. 10th Street.

In the casual downstairs bar, old albums are the theme. The bar menu is pasted onto the center label of an old 33rpm record, and the wine list is pasted inside a double-album cover. (You can also order the main restaurant menu downstairs.)

Even though I was only having a burger, there was a full bread service with soft butter. The wine I ordered was a very reasonable tempranillo at $10 a glass, and the server offered a taste before I committed to it. These are small points, but plenty of more expensive restuarants get them wrong.

What about that burger? Owner Carlos Suarez described it on Eater.com:

The development/thinking on the Bobo burger is all about simplicity, though. Its five key ingredients: a potato roll, gruyere cheese, crispy fried leeks above the meat, house-pickled leeks underneath, and the meat. There’s a spice to the meat—it just has a slightly different flavor profile. Plus, we’re doing a finer grind on the beef than you usually see. We did 20 dif variations—added pork, pancetta, guanciale, toyed with an egg, different rolls—and this was the one most well received. It’s straightforward, not trying to add unnecessary expenses. All familiar flavors.

I am so sure that a burger served with leeks is “straightforward.” It worked, though if we’re being picky, the bun didn’t quite stand up to the gooey mess inside it. The fries, spiced with salt, pepper, corn starch and chives, were surprisingly good, and I finished them all.

The bar was doing good business at around 6:30 p.m. on a Thursday evening, though it was not full. Bobo remains a fun place, and I suspect we’ll be back.

Bobo (181 W. 10th Street at Seventh Avenue South, West Village)

Food: *½
Service: **
Ambiance: **
Overall: *½




Note: This is a review of Bobo under chef Jered Stafford-Hill, who was replaced by Patrick Connolly in mid-2008, and then by Cedric Tovar in early 2012.


Tenth Street in the West Village is quickly turning into a new Restaurant Row, with p*ong and Bar Blanc, and now Bobo, which opened in September, within steps of each other.

Things didn’t exactly start out well for Bobo. There was a Ducasse-trained chef, Nicolas Cantrel, in the kitchen, but Bobo was panned. The Restaurant Girl said that “Bobo…is a no-no.” Gotham Gal didn’t like it either. Cantrel left in December. It was described as an amicable parting, but something is amiss when the chef leaves after less than two months.

Rick Jakobson and Jared Stafford-Hill were brought in to revamp the kitchen, though as of last Friday the menu still seemed to be basically the same as Cantrel was serving. Despite the early hiccups, we thought we’d give Bobo a try.

bobo_logo.gifIf Bobo can settle down, it could easily become one of the most romantic spots in town. It has the loveliest dining room we have seen in a very long time. The name, derived from bourgeois bohemian is admittedly a bit precious, and so is the concept:

…inspired by European dinner parties, celebrating the shared experience of dining with family and friends in a warm setting. So that, even at 5 o’clock in the morning, your guests haven’t even considered leaving.

But Bobo really grows on you. The food isn’t consistent enough yet, but perhaps it’s getting there.

bobo01a.jpg bobo01b.jpg

I started with a wonderful spaghetti appetizer (above left), and a codfish entrée (above right) was first-rate. My girlfriend found the foie gras terrine satisfactory, but Chicken Grand-Mère—a holdover from the Cantrel era—was slightly overcooked, as indeed other critics had found it.

There are several enjoyable house cocktails: I especially liked Bobo’s Mead (Plymouth gin, Lime, Lavender-infused honey). The staff transferred the bar tab to our table, as all decent restaurants should, but alas, many do not. We were also pleased to see a real choice of decent red wines below $50. Service was just fine, aside from slightly stale bread rolls.

Bobo is a restaurant you want to root for. The early negative press doesn’t seem to have hurt very much, as the space was close to full on a Friday evening. I look forward to visiting again after the new chefs have their own menu in place.

Bobo (181 W. 10th Street at Seventh Avenue South, West Village)

Food: *½
Service: **
Ambiance: **
Overall: *½