Place: La Villette
Neighborhood: West Village, 10 Downing St. (between Bedford St. & Avenue of the Americas)
The scoop: La Villette is the quintessential West Village brunch spot. It’s located on the corner where Bedford St. and Avenue of the Americas meet. The best time of year to dine is definitely during the summer and fall, as there is a decent area for sidewalk seating, lined with a small picket fence and neatly trimmed shrubbery. There is also a retractable awning, so if the weather looks iffy, you don’t need to worry. The atmosphere reminds me of what you picture New Yorkers doing in the summer, lavishly dining and relaxing with summer cocktails in the sun. The inside is very classic. There is a grand bar with vintage bar stools and large black-and-white tiles. There are also palm trees inside. It is a very open restaurant, and you get the feeling that the vibe becomes somewhat Havana nights at night.
We came here with an Urban Daddy deal. The deal was $53 and included one appetizer, two drinks and two entrées. Once we told the server we were using the deal, she was a little rude and seemed annoyed that we had a “coupon” and immediately handed us a different menu (which turned out to be the same as their regular brunch menu). I hadn’t printed it out, which normally is not a big deal, but it seemed to turn into a bit of an issue until I suggested emailing it to the manager.
After this was settled, things were fine; however, the service continued to be very European, as in we never were checked on and spent almost three hours people-watching. While we both loved being able to enjoy the atmosphere and not feel rushed, it became a little overwhelming when we were begging for the check! Since I have been to this restaurant before, I do know that their service tends to be like this, but the quality of the food overshadows this. We also took the “two drinks” as in two drinks per person and ordered another round, which I would have appreciated if our server had made it clear that we were being charged.
Panacea $12 / Vodka, lemongrass, ginger, lemon juice, angostura bitters
The combination of lemongrass and ginger caught my eye. I was a little skeptical that they would skimp on the alcohol due to the usage of the Urban Daddy deal, but I was really wrong! The drink was extremely strong and delicious. The combination of all of the ingredients blended very well together. Although it didn’t have an overwhelmingly ginger flavor, I would recommend it to ginger fans!
Sauvignon Blanc $11 / Petit bourgeois 2011 (Loire)
The pour was sizable and the wine itself was very crisp and hit the spot on a summer afternoon. There were only two options for wine included in the Urban Daddy deal.
Chew on this:
Basket of freshly baked French pastries $11
They were not joking about the freshly baked French pastries. The chef came to let us know himself that the pastries were in fact from Paris and freshly baked to order. Honestly, I don’t think I have had better pastries since I was in Europe. Each pastry is perfectly baked with a little crusted top, and all of them were soft and super chewy on the inside. The basket included an oversized croissant, two chocolate croissants and a large cinnamon raisin twisted pastry. Thankfully, these pastries are available daily at brunch starting at 11 a.m. I dream of how delicious these pastries are. I would go back just for these.
Omelette du Jardin $15 / Egg white, spinach, goat cheese, herbs
This dish is one of the “healthier” options on the brunch menu. It came out looking so French and cooked well. Sprouts were sprinkled on top and crispy potatoes on the side, as well as a dabble of fruit. The herbs and goat cheese were a burst of flavor in my mouth, and the portion was very sizable.
Croque-Madame $17 / Grilled ham, cheese, egg on white
I am not sure this Croque Madame could have been any better. It was truly mouthwatering, and I did not leave one bite left on the plate. I have been looking for the next best Croque after a French place on Thompson Street closed, and La Villette nailed it. The crispy cheese that is familiar to you if you have had French onion soup, crusted over the wonderfully toasted bread is to die for. The ham wedged in between couldn’t have been better, and the fried egg on top was fried to perfection. The yoke drizzled over the sandwich. I literally had no room to fit in the leafy greens which became just decorations on the side.
The final bite: Overall, the Urban Daddy deal didn’t actually save us money, as we still had to pay tax, so we came out almost even. Needless to say, the deal finally got us to the restaurant and we could not have been more satisfied with the quality of the French food. Although the service was pretty bad, the food and drinks made up for it. La Villette is one of the few places that serve actual brunch each and every day starting at 11 a.m., so you can always rely on this joint. It’s a great place to take out-of-town guests and pr to catch up with your girlfriends!
Reviewed by: Erica