Drawing on the success of Battery Park’s Pier A, restaurateur Peter Poulakakos and his business partner Paul Lamos are back with a new venture, Le District(Le District at Brookfield Place, 225 Liberty Street, 212-981-8589), housed off the Winter Garden of Brookfield Place (under Hudson Eats).
It’s a sleek, 30,000-square-foot take on a Parisian food court, with an extensive outdoor patio overlooking the river. The whole design (by ICRAVE) makes you want to pick up a coffee and wander around the distinct little areas that give the place its name: a café district, a restaurant district (helmed by Jordi Valles, who earned his stripes at the famed El Bulli and most recently acted as executive chef at the St. Regis), a garden district, etc. There’s a certain incongruous romance about it, prompting visions of happy executives popping in to grab a red snapper and a bunch of violets before running back to their desks to check on the Nasdaq.
Friday lunchtime, and the pancake counter is a mob. “Excuse me,” says a child, holding up his crepe to the counter, “but this has mustard, and I don’t like mustard.”
“That’s just how it usually comes,” sighs the woman, but she begins to remake it anyway, to the dismay of the impatient line, now snaking into the Atrium.
Batter is ladled with a hiss onto the circular hotplate, where it’s spread and coaxed into the perfect disk until — disaster strikes! The pancakes tears! It’s over. Batter is poured out again.
The general consensus in the line is, this could take awhile. Le District is in its early days. Give it a week or two. Meanwhile, orders like “I’ll take a strawberry crepe with not as much cream as you would normally put on there, but some cream, just a bit, just a bit more, a bit more — actually, less than that …” are not helping on the line.
Suddenly (and quite out of sequence, but I’m not saying a word about it), my crepe is ready. I find a handy bench. After the anticipation? Worth it. Cheesy and hammy and spiked with integral mustard. A solid choice if you’ve got a little time to spare on your lunch break.