New Kid on the Block: L’Abeille

I wasn’t prepared to love L’Abeille — mostly I was feeling a bit tired of the proliferation of high-priced chef’s menus and the investment they require just for a night out — not only in funds but in expectations and the corresponding need to be blown away by the experience. Not every night is a wedding anniversary — 97 percent of the time you are just looking for good vibes, good food and a chance to enjoy your people.

But I went with my usually hack for ultra-fine dining (in my 20s, that was one beer at the bar, now it’s one entrée or appetizer and two drinks at the bar) and it was such a fun and lovely evening. In fact, one of my favorites of the summer. The staff was exceptional and had just the right tone, and these days, you know that takes work. And the food, well, it’s an adventure but also truly satisfying. (The tasting menu is $185, with $115 for the wine pairing. Wines by the glass are mostly between $17 and $26 with a couple outliers on the upside of the scale.)

So how do they do it? Maybe it’s the open kitchen. Maybe it was the diverse and young crowd. Or maybe it was the reception at the very start, which was polite yet friendly. The stuffiness that velvet banquettes might imply is not present at all at L’Abeille. A neighbor who lives nearby says the restaurant is packed every night, and this was no exception. That certainly adds to the buzz — really, no pun intended.

The restaurant was conceived of by Tribecan Rahul Saito, who spent the lockdown having weekly dinners prepared by one of his favorite chefs from the Michelin-starred Midtown restaurant Shun, Mitsunobu Nagae, as a way to support him while restaurants were closed. Those meals are what they now try to replicate at L’Abeille (and the name is a riff on the chef’s nickname, Mitsu, which means honey in Japanese, hence “l’abeille” — the bee). Nagae and Yoshie Oda are now also owners.

To the food: I will go back for the buttery scallops with seaweed emulsion (but then again, I like seaweed in all forms). It sounds precious; in fact it was small and hearty. What we should have ordered was our neighbor’s Wagyu beef with the dollop of whipped potatoes — he was in from Japan and knew the chef and graciously allowed me to take a picture of his dinner. (It reminded me of my favorite meal in the city — the filet mignon with balsamic onions that is no longer on the menu at Gramercy Tavern. This was the more delicate version of that, and he said it was wonderful.) My date is a vegetarian and worried that the menu would be limited, but the risotto with hen-of-the-wood did the trick.

The crispy shiso leaf with caviar was sent over by the chef and was so special — delicately battered and fried so carefully that it looked more crystalized than cooked.

My photo of the chocolate dessert with mascarpone cream and black truffles did not do it justice, but the butter was so good — infused with seaweed — that it got it’s own close-up.

A few little anecdotes that are what perhaps won me over: in a total Downtown coincidence, my date for the night struck up a conversation with owner Rahul Saito at Crispy Heaven in Soho several weeks ago. He was there taste-testing for the restaurant, and that’s what we were eating that night — the sourdough and the multigrain loaf.

Then, I apologized to the hostess as we were leaving for being a bit too loud — we bumped into friends — but she said they loved hearing people have a good time, which not only made me feel better but made me want to return. And a note on that: we wanted to send drinks over to said friends, who were actually *were* celebrating their wedding anniversary. The sommelier offered to take their order first, then circled back to us with a linen cocktail napkin and a sharpie so we could inscribe a note. Pure charm.

NB: They now have sidewalk seating and a small menu to go with it: cheese plates, foie gras, pate, shishito peppers, gazpacho.

412 Greenwich at Laight
Tuesday to Thursday: 5:30 to 10p
Friday and Saturday: 5:30 to 11p



  1. While I loved your closing anecdote, my favorite is your mention of the amazing bread at Crispy Heaven which we have been devouring weekly since they opened (walk the dog over, throw a baguette under my arm and a couple of their chocolate chip cookies in a bag for the husband and we are set!).

    38 Grand Street, almost at Thompson, across from the Soho Grand dog park – check them out Pam and others!

    • Not only is the bread fantastic at Crispy Heaven, but the (deceptively simple) almond cake is pure unadulterated joy!! Plus, the owner (also head baker) is a such a pleasure to speak with – her breads are old world wonderful with incredible crusts and inner pillows of deliciousness….yum, yum, yum!!

  2. Love L’Abeille. Was wowed on opening night (will never forget that foie gras creme brulee w/ onion sorbet) and have been waiting for another celebratory opportunity to experience the full tasting menu. Cocktails & snacks at the outdoor dining area are also great. And yes, Rahul & the staff are extraordinarily friendly. A wonderful addition to the generally fantastic Greenwich Street dining stretch.

  3. Crispy Heaven is the best bread downtown right now. I carve it constantly and its a 5 minute walk from my house. Bad combination. Oh, the restaurant looks great too.

  4. I really like l’abeille – the bar is super comfortable and casual + the drinks are great. Wishing them continued success

  5. Yay! More overpriced restaurants that will surely fail by year end. I don’t care how much money people make in NYC, they shouldn’t be supporting these overpriced, overrated restaurants. Restaurants now think its okay to charge an arm and a leg for everything from 3 strands of lettuce for salad to a personal pizza to a piece of fish. You can’t go out to dinner with a friend or SO without it being well over $100, which is ridiculous. Glad the government didn’t support restaurants during COVID, they dont deserve the money