Made for Walking
Compiled by KRIS ENSMINGER
Even after a brief winter freeze, stepping outside in warmer weather brings a smile and stokes the appetite. It’s a perfect time for a walk down the peaceful, romantic stretch of West Fourth Street from Eighth Avenue to Seventh Avenue South, with its historic brick town houses. This charming street is lined with small restaurants and cafes, including a few that have opened since last summer.
CAFE CLUNY *
(212) 255-6900; 284 West 12th Street (West Fourth Street); $$$; Review: 12/13/06.
Owned in part by Lynn Wagenknecht, the ex-wife of Keith McNally, Cafe Cluny shares roots with Odeon, Cafe Luxembourg, Balthazar and Pastis. It’s more bistro than brasserie, tucked into two low-ceilinged rooms that trade swagger for a gentle prettiness that’s charming on first sight.
Like Cafe Cluny’s scale, its dinner menu is modest: half a dozen appetizers, eight entrees and a smattering of sides and desserts. One of the best entrees is roasted cod, buttery in texture, with a hearty mash of polenta and piperade.
(212) 691-9359; 259 West Fourth Street (Perry Street); $$; $25 and Under: 9/8/04.
The menu at this little gem is Mediterranean, the cooking consistently good, and the young staff warm and efficient. The name is more than a flight of fancy: Every night there is a choice of two extra virgin olive oils for the ritual dunking of the bread.
MARY’S FISH CAMP
(646) 486-2185; 64 Charles Street (West Fourth Street); $$; Diner’s Journal: 2/23/01.
Diners squeeze into this tiny spot and sit elbow to elbow on a banquette or pull up a painted wooden box to sit on. The short menu sticks to the basics, with lobster rolls, and clams and oysters, sold fresh by the half-dozen or lightly fried and served with a sharp tartar sauce.
(212) 604-9254; 259 West Fourth Street (Perry Street); $$$: Diner’s Journal: 1/16/04.
Everything looks good at Sant Ambroeus: the waiters in their pink shirts and black pants, the pastries in the gleaming cases, the terrazzo floor, the mosaic on the wall. The room is a sleek wood, marble and mosaic retreat for excellent espresso, gelati in a dozen flavors and fine pastries.
The current dinner menu offers roasted baby lamb chops with fresh herbs, and pan-seared wild salmon filet with capers and cherry tomatoes.
(212) 243-7073; 283 West 12th Street (West Fourth Street); $$; Article: 10/20/06.
The yellow-fronted Smorgas Chef is a bright new spot on the block. One of a small chain, it is a friendly, sparkling cafe where the best choices are Scandinavian dishes like herrings, aquavit and dill-marinated gravlax with mustard sauce, and Swedish meatballs with whipped potatoes and ruby lingonberries.
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