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.