Newsflash: I found the pretty people. You know, that enviable group of men and women that look effortlessly put-together no matter what, that posh club of humans capable of pulling off just about any look without thought. They breakfast, brunch, and lunch at Cafe Gitane’s new outpost in The Jane Hotel, and boy, do they look fine.
This well-pedigreed French Moroccan cafe attracts the well-heeled and well-dressed like a siren song, and they flock in crowds for avocado toast, couscous, luscious pastries, and strong coffee. You’d think that such a place would rest on its laurels, yet, remarkably, the food is as beautiful as the scene. The ballroom-like dining room is stunning with mint plaster walls, soaring ceilings, cream moldings, and airy windows staring off onto the Hudson. Everything from the lazily-spinning ceiling fans to the pastry display cases to the slightly off-kilter tables, quirky chandeliers, and antique mirrors recalls the South of France. The shabby chic look echoes the too cool relaxed vibe of those who just don’t need to work.
The food is French/Moroccan with a casual bistro flare; it is flavorful, unusual, flecked with North African spices, and unapologetically hearty. The menu features beloved favorites like the avocado toast (divine and creamy with lemon juice, olive oil and chili flakes on seven grain) and the teeter-tottering tower of Moroccan couscous, complete with peppers, raisons, hummus, pine nuts, eggplant, and either merguez sausage or chicken. Both are musts if you’re a first-timer. Other wonders, at brunch, lunch and dinner, are the petit plats (think: brie with apples, marinated beets with cinnamon, and herb goat cheese with pomegranate syrup), the baked eggs in a porcelain dish with basil, tomato and cream, and the Hachi Parmienter (a shephard’s pie concoction). A classic European breakfast is also offered for just $8.25, including coffee, orange juice, and a tartine or croissant with butter and jam.
The new Cafe Gitane is effortlessly cool; it has an inimitable vibe that recalls simultaneously the glamour of Cannes, the heat of Morocco, and the electricity of New York City. It doesn’t over-charge for its simple and unique fare, and it succeeds in making all feel welcome, despite the enviably posh clientele. Perfect for a leisurely breakfast, indulging a Francophile’s nagging nostalgia, a spirited group dinner with close friends, or entertaining foreign guests, this Meatpacking/West Village newcomer successfully carves a niche for itself with an addictive je ne sais quoi atmosphere.