Does Andrew Carmellini's Glittering "Grand Cafe" Lafayette Live Up to the Hype? 

SSPNY Hangs Out at the Glittering "Grand Cafe" at Andrew Carmellini's Lafayette to See if the Food Lives Up to the Hype. And it Does!

SSPNY tries out the new, much hyped Andrew Carmellini's Lafayette restaurant in NoHo for a taste of excellent food, a lively, good-looking crowd, and a marvelous time at this instant success, which is the third restaurant Carmellini's opened, after The Dutch in SoHo, and Locanda Verde in Tribeca.

It's not really a surprise that Andrew Carmellini's Lafayette landed in NoHo last month with an explosion of excitement and hype. After all, Carmellini's previous restaurants, including The Dutch in SoHo, and Locanda Verde in Tribeca, are among the most popular, consistently celeb-studded spots in town. They also happen to be quite excellent, food-wise. But although Lafayette was a guaranteed instant success--and it has been, packed and lively every night with good-looking folks having a marvelous time--I was wondering if the food was good enough, and the scene genuine and convivial enough, to be considered a neighborhood spot for SSPNY Nolita residents.    

 SSPNY had a terrific supper at Lafayette with a huge list of things to try on their appealing menu, starting with a hefty hillock of chewy and bright Spring Lentils, with chunks of tender tongue and infused with the Indian-food-spice vadouvan for only $8.

The answer, in a word: absolutely. Lafayette not only delivers on its promise of a glittering night on the town--really, the room here is so pretty, the service so effortlessly friendly, your fellow diners so beautiful and smiley, that you can't help but feel like.... ah, yes, THIS is why I love New York--but it also functions quite well as a local favorite, where generous portions and reasonable prices make it easy (and desireable) to become a regular. And it's open all day, with a comfortable, fully-laden bakery and coffee area up front, and a lunchtime-only Brisket Burger that's been getting raves. Basically? Lafayette is perfect, the type of place every neighborhood wants, but only a few receive.   
 
SSPNY next opts out of the entrees and tries one of Lafayette's half-dozen handmade pastas, ordering the Black Fettuccine, chopped full of squid, lobster, scallops, clams and more, on top of ground chorizo, which tastes like eating a big bowl of summer.
 
I had a terrific supper at Lafayette the other night, and can't wait to return to try more things on Carmellini's lengthy and appealing menu. First up was a hefty hillock of chewy and bright Spring Lentils, studded with chunks of tender, well-seasoned tongue (which went nicely with the mustard sauce) and infused with the Indian-food-ish spice blend, vadouvan. For only $8. I loved this. And if you really want to fill up before your entrees, get Lafayette's Frisee Salad, prepared as you'd expect--bacon, croutons, runny poached egg, lots of vinegar--which is huge and addictive and delicious.   
 
SSPNY had an absolutely epic meal at Lafayette complete with a pretty room, effortlessly friendly service, and fellow smiley and beautiful diners, as well as generous portions, and reasonable prices. Not to mention it's also open all day, and has a full bakery and coffee area in front to make this the absolute perfect neighborhood spot.
 
Already sated, I skipped the entrees proper and opted to try one of Lafayette's half-dozen handmade pastas, and was rewarded with a tremendous Black Fettuccine, heavily populated with all manner of crustaceans and cephalopods--squid, lobster, scallops, clams--as well as enough ground chorizo to have an impact. Redolent of sea, it's like eating a big bowl of summer. But even if you already have dinner plans for next five months or whatever, don't skip the Lafayette bakery. Everything looks amazing here, and I can tell you from personal experience that the rich Butterscotch-Coffee Eclair and the gooey, nut-and-fruit-studded Florentine Cookie live up to their appearances. 

SSPNY also makes sure that you try Lafayette's Grand Cafe bakery where everything looks delicious,  and the Butterscotch-Coffee Eclair and the gooey, nut-and-fruit-studded Florentine Cookie, as pictured here, are both as good as they look!

 
Andrew Carmellini's Lafayette Grand Cafe and Bakery is located on the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones Streets, and is open for breakfast (at the bakery), lunch and dinner, which starts at 5:30. More info and the complete Lafayette menu, here. 
 
SSPNY declares Andrew Carmellini's Lafayette Grand Cafe and Bakery to be a perfect neighborhood spot for SSPNY Nolita residents, located on the corner of Lafayette and Great Jones Streets, now open for [bakery] breakfast, lunch and dinner.

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