First Impression: Plein Sud


I misjudged Plein Sud, the new restaurant in the Smyth hotel, at West Broadway and Chambers. I had been to the West Village restaurant Frederick’s Downtown—which was also owned by Frederick Lesort—maybe a year and half ago, and I figured Plein Sud would be more of the same (especially since I had a chicken club sandwich—the definition of hotel food—at Frederick’s), if more French. So when Plein Sud opened last weekend, I didn’t rush to visit it. Instead, I kept eating leftovers for lunch.

Spending nothing on lunch for three days certainly made me feel better about the $18 Niçoise salad (sorry, salade Niçoise) and $6 pomme frites I had yesterday at Plein Sud. The restaurant is much more ambitious than I expected: As you can see from the photo below, the salad was an artful layering of ingredients, on a base of tuna carpaccio. I’m getting ahead of myself!

The room is very pretty, very Provençal moderne, with country fabrics, rustic wood, and linen-esque upholstery rubbing up against ornate floral arrangements, stone tiles, and lighting fixtures with filament bulbs, a signature touch from the design firm AvroKO. I spent much of my lunch trying to figure out which New York restaurant it reminded me of; there’s a bit of Mas, or what I recall of it, but I knew there was something more apt. Daylight pours in, making it ideal for lunch. (It would also probably make a great Mother’s Day brunch spot, although the restaurant doesn’t have a liquor license yet, not that your mom has a reputation for being a lush….) If there’s a smidge too much schtique—the dish towels-as-napkins, say—the room still works, although it’d feel a whole lot better on a lovely side street instead of on one of the least pleasant corners in Tribeca. The grilled-meat cart outside is a vivid contrast. (A quibble: I’m not sure what the TV is doing in the dining room; the server said it swings around toward the bar when in use, but Plein Sud doesn’t seem like that kind of place, unless professional pétanque is being shown on ESPN3.)

The bread basket came with two small olive loaves and slices of sourdough bread, along with a jar of tapenade and an elegant long-handled spoon. The menu was much more appealing than I recalled, although that may be because I only saw the brunch and dinner menus and I generally get more excited about lunch. The salad, as I mentioned, was attractive and delicious, with canned tuna as well as the carpaccio, perfectly boiled potatoes, peeled grape tomatoes (fancy! and so much easier to eat!), haricots verts, olives, hard-boiled egg, and tarragon. The frites were double-fried, with that crispy crust you sometimes see, and dusted with parmesan and parsley. As you can see from my photos, there weren’t many other diners, so I couldn’t ogle many other dishes, but a worthwhile-looking burger did pass by.

By the end of the lunch, I remembered which restaurant Plein Sud reminded me of—but it’s not one that ever existed. It reminded me of how I had imagined Provence, on MacDougal, would look after I read it was going to be reinvented. If it had, it might still be Provence now, and not Hundred Acres.


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  1. I just made reservations for Mothers’ Day Brunch there. Thanks for the tip!

  2. Hooray ….great to see that corner spot finally have life !!!

    Will have to wait until next week when back in the city and can go and try.

    Thank you for the descriptive teaser.

  3. And they are the newest addition to Taste of Tribeca

  4. they are on our corner, so we’re hoping for good things. Going there for dinner tonight…

  5. Ate there for brunch today. Operations and service are in total disarray. Burger good and they comped us the meal as it took an hour to get our food at the bar. I think this is the first day they are actually crowded and they didn’t have enough servers. But it has promise. Give it another month. Great decor and menu.

  6. Mother’s Day was also a disaster service-wise at Tamarind, which usually has great, even over-attentive service. Very disappointing–also took an hour to get our food, and they comped us NOTHING!