First Impressions: L’Appart

Back story: The tiny fine-dining restaurant within Le District opened some time after the rest of Brookfield Place’s French-themed marketplace/food hall, and chef Nicolas Abello and company received a Michelin star last fall.

The atmosphere: You could easily miss the entrance, located between the restaurant and market parts of Le District. The notion is that you’re dining in the chef’s apartment, but with the seven tables scattered around the room, the room doesn’t feel especially residential (or quite as pretty as it is in photographs). We were seated side by side at a four-top, which always makes me feel like I’m flying first-class. The greeting was fussy—you’re ladled a glass of rum punch right inside the door, then introduced to the chefs in the the open kitchen—but the service subsequently turned excellent, gracious but friendly. (We watched in amazement as another guest responded to the arrival procedure by introducing his companion and himself to the kitchen, something that never even occurred to us.)

The menu: According to the reservation confirmation, the menu changes every two weeks. It’s a set menu, with an option to have more than one plat principal ($105 for one, $125 for two, $145 for three). Already wary of being overfed, we opted for one plat, but the chef wanted us to try the mackerel, so we were given that, too. And we had the $85 wine pairing, because thorough research is an important part of any restaurant review.

Gold star: We both thought the food was very good, if not groundbreaking. Highlights included the chestnut truffle yogurt dish, which sits under a disk of fried potato threads; a little pot of white beans and cod that we were served instead of foie gras (at our request); and the chocolate/ginger/orange dessert pictured at the bottom. The staff seemed to genuinely care what we thought of everything, and they were generous with the wine, regularly offering to top us off.

Room for improvement: As with so many expensive experiences, it helps to know what you value—in this case, intimacy or grandeur? If you’re looking for excellent food in a cozy room—a romantic evening without having to get in a car—L’Appart is likely to please. Someone craving more theater, however, might be turned off by the small scale and the occasional awkwardness.

Anything else: Adam was miffed at having to pay $105 per person if we were to cancel within 48 hours of the reservation, but I was sympathetic. This isn’t the kind of restaurant that gets (or wants) walk-in business. Also, there’s outdoor seating in summer.

Contact: L’Appart is inside Le District at Brookfield Place, 225 Liberty; 212-981-8577; lappartnyc.com.

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5 Comments

  1. My husband and I celebrated our 5th wedding anniversary here last May and we thought it was wonderful. Highly recommended. You also just reminded me to make my reservation for our 6th anniversary.

  2. It’s worth pointing out that they do one seating, which means you own your table for the night and there’s no rush. You eat and drink at your own pace.

    In warmer weather, they offer seating outside for the rum punch and you re-enter the dining room whenever you like.

    I’ve been there twice for dinner — both times with wine pairings — and thought it was superb.

  3. My husband and I spent an evening here and thought it was excellent. The single seating and small size were huge perks for us – no worries about overstaying and it was charmingly intimate. The food was wonderful – on par with other restaurants at similar price points- and certainly the best downtown (although we’ve yet to try Atera). I so badly want them to succeed so we can visit every so often for special nights out. The worst part by far was that the bathroom was in le bistro (or whatever) which sort of breaks the spell.

  4. Do they offer any vegetarian options for dinner?

    • Thanks for asking…this vegetarian was thinking precisely the same thing. I hate when you show up and the staff is “bending over backwards to accommodate the vegetarian”…but it’s achingly clear you don’t belong there and they don’t have much you can eat.

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