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“Cafe Cluny”

  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out New American West Village Moderate Good

I will return to Café Cluny. I will return because I liked the food. It’s solid bistro fare— simple and approachable, but articulate and refined. I will also return because I liked the vibe—effortlessly, elegantly hip. None of this trying too hard stuff. But most of all I will return to Café Cluny for the lighting. I want to live in this lighting forever. I tell you, it’s miraculous. I fell in love with myself. Actually, it’s not really lighting as much as it’s an amber glow that warms the room, washing faces in this sort of golden twilight. It’s gorgeous, really. Gaze around the room, and you feel like you are looking at an old sepia-toned photograph of a snug, romantic, out-of-the-way little bistro in Paris. It makes you feel pretty but sexy; and like you should have a cigarette, full, pouty lips, a Vespa, and a lover (pronounced, of course, luvahhhh). The front room, cool in cream and taupe tones, contains a collection of slim, leather-lined wooden tables and an L-shaped bar. An exhibition of clay birds fills one wall. A wide framed diorama of stuffed birds that looks like it was snagged from the Museum of Natural history hangs on an opposite wall near the bar. I made a comment to our waiter about the clay pigeons on the wall behind our banquette. “Oh, those are doves, not pigeons,” he said. “Oh, really?” I replied. “They looked like pigeons to me, but I guess one woman’s pigeon is another man’s Dove.” Not sure what that says about me, but anyway, they’re Doves. The bustling Dove-filled front room, in constant motion from hordes of beautiful people entering, leaving, air-kissing and breathlessly uttering darling, opens to a back dining room that the same gorgeous glow, but with a slightly more sedate vibe. Café Cluny is the latest project from Lynn Wagenknecht, the owner of Odeon and Café Luxembourg and partners Judi Wong and Steve Abramowitz (who is the general manager of the Odeon). The nice thing about Café Cluny is that the buzz the restaurant has generated is not just smoke and mirrors. These are professionals. The restaurant is run with warmth and care and a sincere dose of hospitality.

The menu was developed by Odeon chef Vincent Nargi and is executed by Cluny’s chef de cuisine Phil Conlon. Like the Odeon and Café Luxembourg, the hook here is unfussy bistro fare, yet the dishes at Caf&eac ... [more, click below]

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