Lafitte, C'est Chic

lafitte interior.jpg

Interior of Lafitte. Photo from Lafitte.

I had the pleasure of checking out the gorg new ~LAFITTE~ at Pier 5 at a test dinner over the weekend, and, wow, what a cool addition to the dining scene. Chef-owner Russell Jackson, who some know through his SubCulture Dining private dinners, finally has his own pier to dock his pirate ship. (And yes, the name refers to the Louisiana pirate, Jean Baptiste Lafitte from the early 1800s.) The restaurant opens for dinner tonight.

The spacious Beaux-Arts building dates back to 1918, and has soaring ceilings and tall windows, punctuated with a visual counterpoint of heavy wood pillars and supports, and quite the view of the water. The room feels like artsy-industrial, with a stunning wood communal table, sealed concrete floors, and a row of stylish barstools that look upon the open kitchen. Michael Guthrie, Riley Johndonnell, and Russell Jackson all collaborated on the minimalist but rustic design, which all feels very considered, from the stemware to the menu design to the flag on the back of the servers’ sweaters. There’s also a secondary indoor-outdoor seating area that is surrounded with windows and topped with a tented ceiling—perfect for a private party.

There’s no menu that I can really describe in great detail: it’s going to be whatever is fresh that day, and Jackson’s culinary influences span from French to Italian to regional Mexican to Japanese. He is committed to using the best ingredients he can find, and prices will range from $7-$26 at lunch, and $8-$32 at dinner. (His sous chef is Patricia Barclay: The Public, Town Hall.) The test dinner included crostini with emergo bean purée and crisp guanciale; a fried artichoke with “boquerones bagna cauda;” and a cod and pork sausage stew (a slight misnomer, I thought—it was quite light) with carrot viché and green garlic broth. I was told tonight’s launch menu may include: asparagus and foie gras; sweet onion and anchovy tart; and pork sausage and pork belly with flageolets.

The wine list by Shannon Tucker (Bar Tartine, Eccolo) will change often, and will consist primarily of uncommon, esoteric wines, largely of limited production, along with several wines exclusive to Lafitte. There’s also a full bar geared toward inventive, ingredient-driven cocktails (I had a couple tastes on Saturday, both were fresh and delicious), and there will be an extensive non-alcoholic beverage menu as well. Hours are Sun-Wed 5:30pm ‘til late, Thu-Sat 5:30pm ‘til later (how’s that for “time will tell?”); lunch will be Mon-Fri 11am-2pm, and brunch will also launch later on.