August in New York City means balmy days and quieter streets as many of the city’s residents escape to the coast or mountains. But it also means Restaurant Week – a fantastic time to try out the city’s fanciest restaurants for a steal. Whether catching up with a girlfriend over brunch or trying a new cuisine for date night it’s a wonderful time to adventure out to a new spot. So might we suggest – Tunisian food?
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Occupying one of Greenwich Village’s prettiest corners is Claudette, a Provençal restaurant offering French and North African favorites at its gingham-clad patio just a few blocks north of Washington Square Park. Since opening in 2014, Claudette quickly became an institution in the community, one that many locals consider an extension of their kitchens and homes. One of Sarah’s favorite neighborhood restaurants, she keeps coming back for their cucumber and tomato salad and irresistible croque monsieur, best enjoyed at their sidewalk café on warm summer days.
The name Claudette comes from Claudette Sammut, a Frenchwoman who lived in Tunisia until the 1950s and established a charming restaurant in Loumarin, France. Manhattan Restauranteurs, Carlos Suarez and Mark Barak, were so enchanted by the Sammut family’s hospitality while on vacation in Provence they asked permission of Claudette’s son, Guy, to name their next restaurant after his mother. Fortunately – he said yes.
Today, Head Chef Ari Bokovska is inspired by his own Tunisian grandmother’s soulful cooking which brings together North African, Middle Eastern, and French influences in each dish. Classics are served with a twist: such as French fries with a dash of ras el hanout – a spice that means “head of the shop” and refers to the best spices a store has on offer. Their recently launched breakfast buffet offers a savory take on the Mediterranean mezze platter and establishes Claudette’s as a one-of-a-kind, all-day café.
If you make it during restaurant week (and we highly recommend you do) tuck into simple, fresh dishes like their bibb lettuce salad with shabazi breadcrumbs or the vegetable tangine, paired with rosé on tap. After Labor Day opt for heartier items like lamb kefta or Sarah’s favorite – the croque monsieur. Should it be too hot or too cold to dine alfresco, book a table inside where the restaurant’s French farmhouse-style interiors feature 200-year old barn wood floors and hand-painted tiles.
New York’s Restaurant Week runs until August 16th and Claudette offers a two-course lunch for $26 or a three-course dinner for $42.