In one of my typical Sundays in the city, I woke up with a mission before Paul had even mustered a “good morning.” After an obligatory pre-brunch latte to motivate my taste buds, I was ready to seize the day with well-executed plans and preconceived destinations.
Alas, my plans were thrown as quickly as my brisk Manhattan-tempo stroll down 5th Avenue when we spotted Claudette. Charmed by the French doors, subtle cursive nomenclature, and the colorful menu, we decided to test the wait.
This deviation from plans would have given me some serious anxiety two years ago, but after dating someone hell bent on evolutionizing me to spontaneity, I’ve learned to embrace adventures as much as plans.
I took one step inside and felt immediately relocated to a time in my memory spent in European cafes. Sunlight drenched through the restaurant, highlighting details like delicate ceiling molding and beautiful wicker accents.
We were seated right near the door immediately. In other circumstances this might have been unfortunate but at Claudette, this seat was a steal. Unlike the rest of the wooded restaurant, this section was decorated with Mediterranean tiled floors and three small tiled tables. I sat on a bench adorned with patterned pillows and felt right at home.
We started with two lattes as we pondered the menu. They were thick with foam and exceeded par.
We also ordered a spiced melon with mint dish from the du jardin. Unfortunately for you, this is no longer on the menu due to seasonality, but order it as soon as it returns. This unexpected bite had sweet, spice, and salt all in one bite. It was imaginative and memorable, which is rare in a sea of good brunches.
For the main event, I ordered Harissa baked eggs in a chickpea ragout. I was hesitant about the chickpea, imagining the introduction of a drier consistency. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by the burst of spicy flavors. I will admit that when it first arrived, I felt like I was having deja vu from a similar baked egg dish at the Dutch. However, despite the comparable look, the flavor was completely original and delicious.
Paul ordered the lamb burger with Boerewors, guanciale pickled onion, and coriander mayo. It was served on an English muffin with a hefty side of french fries, which I kept “borrowing” and dipping in the herbed mayo. The burger was salted, juicy, and flavorful, and I thought it was one of the better lamb burgers I’ve had in the city. Paul scarfed it completely before I could steal a second bite.
We also ordered the side of housemade pork sausage, which didn’t do it for me. They were large enough to resemble hamburgers themselves, which Paul enjoyed, but I thought they were pretty dry. The lamb burger was enough of a meat fix without the big side of pork.
The Bitches say: B+. Go here to transpose yourself to a beautifully designed (fancy) cafe in Europe, and enjoy thoughtful French Mediterranean dishes that are almost as memorable as their surroundings.
24 5th Avenue
Claudette serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.