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Restaurants & Bars

Cafe Claude on not quite Christmas Eve

Windy | Dec 26, 200509:08 PM

I was wandering around Union Square late Friday as the city emptied of residents and decided to drop in at Cafe Claude. It had been years since I'd eaten there--at least 10--and a new chef had recently arrived from Chez Papa. Elegant cannisters of infused vodkas now hover over the zinc bar. The DJ spun a mix of jazz and techno...

We shared a beet and feta salad, the charcuterie plate, roast boneless lamb, and sides of fries and sauteed spinach. We drank a few glasses of cabernet franc and a cote du Rhone. A couple at the next table ordered the tableside-prepared steak tartare, making me instantly jealous, but we had more than enough to eat.

We enjoyed the food, especially the salad and medium rare lamb, but it was the service that really made the evening. Plates and utensils were changed at every course. Two (three?) servers stopped by at regular intervals to enquire about our happiness without interrupting our intimate conversation. Water was refilled without asking.

I thought the fries were a complete failure, and the rustic levain, while tasty, was a mismatch for the otherwise delicious pate. Sliced sauccison was served on a bed of greens with tiny pickles and cocktail onions and olives; a plate you might have enjoyed at a bistro 20 or 40 years ago.

Despite the late hour, we were never rushed, and our main waiter guided us deftly away from the steak and later toward a delectable moelleux de chocolate.

Total came to $110 for two with a very generous tip. By the time we left, we felt like we'd been to visit old friends. It won't take me 10 years to return.

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