Pastis Restaurant West Village New York

Grandlife guide

Pastis 2.0: The Rebirth of a New York Culinary Icon

back to list

Mention Pastis—the famed French brasserie which set the stage for the transformation of the Meatpacking district from slaughterhouses and seedy sex clubs to hip culinary hub when it opened in 1999 as the ‘impossible to get into’ all-day café—to any bonafide New Yorker and they’ll quickly recount stories of boozy brunches, long lunches and late-night dinners back in the day. An instant hit with celebrities like Jay Z, supermodels Linda Evangelista et al., and the fashion pack—Anna Wintour and Sarah Jessica Parker were regulars, and Pastis played something of a starring role in Sex and The City—the grief was almost palpable when the legendary bistro closed its doors in 2014 after the landlord tripled the rent. 

But just like on Planet Fashion, no hot trend is ever really dead, and last month saw the bold return of Pastis at 52 Gansevoort Street, a short cobblestoned stroll from its original locale on the West 12th and Ninth Avenue corner. Checking out its new incarnation one recent Monday evening, it was immediate from the beautiful, and heaving crowd (yes, on a Monday) that the magic has indeed been reignited. Pastis 2.0 is bigger (8500 square feet to be precise, 2000 bigger than its predecessor), better, and even more atmospheric. The expansive space has three rooms that flow into each other and 180 seats, a sidewalk patio for alfresco dining (a favorite pastime for New Yorkers in summer), and a bathroom evocative of an old wine cellar. This is New York does Paris at its finest, right down to the signature subway tiles, distressed mirrors, mosaic floor, gilt lighting and red leather banquette seats favored by renowned chef Keith McNally (incidentally there’s a law in NYC that says a McNally can’t open a restaurant without subway tiles and vintage mirrors) who teamed up with American restaurateur Stephen Starr (Le Coucou and Buddakan) for Pastis second chapter. Head chef is Michael Abt, a Starr alumni who cut his teeth at Le Diplomate Washington and Parc, Philadelphia’s Parc. 

Ushered into the intimate said leather banquette, the vibe felt celebratory, so oysters with mignonette washed down with a crisp glass of La Caravelle champagne (when in Paris) was in order. Next up, salade verte. Not one to usually opt for a simple garden salad, this quintessential French classic was anything but basic. Just ask my dinner companion who I battled it out with over the last mouthwatering vinegar infused iceberg leaf. The prelude to the entrée was the impossible to resist Monday plat du jour, shrimp au Pastis. grilled fresh Australian tiger shrimp. As it happens I’m Aussie—and although contrary to popular misconception they are actually called prawns—I can attest they were to-die-for. A fierce debate ensued over the choice of entrée—a tough choice between the moules frites with white wine and garlic, the grilled salmon with sorrel and cucumbers, the whole branzino with market vegetables and aioli, and the sea scallops with grand mariner—before I settled on steak frites filet au poivre (a new twist on their signature steak frites). I mean, how can you really say you went to the iconic Pastis and not have their most iconic dish. If it’s good enough for Anna…

As for the rest of the traditional French fare-inspired menu, it is a hybrid of old and new dishes. Fear not, there’s still the beloved cheeseburger à l’Américaine, steak sandwich with onions and gruyere, and beloved brunch staples avocado toast and quiche Florentine. Popular newbies include skate moutarde, veal escalopes and herring with potatoes. Game fans and the more adventurous can take their pick from duck aux olives, pork Milanese with arugula and parmesan, rabbit pappardelle with white wine and niçoise olives, Grilled Lamb Steak with artichokes and mint, calves liver au vinaigre with sauteed onions and boudin blanc sausages.  For the finale, no one does dessert quite like the French and the Pastis offering promises to delight even the hard to please sweet tooth. For my money, opt for the vanilla bean crème brûlée, profiteroles with vanilla ice cream and bittersweet chocolate, or the artisanal sorbet and ice cream. That is, if you can go past the mousse au chocolat.  

I could go on of course—don’t even get me started on the wine list which features an exclusively French curated line up of the best champagne and vino from regions Loire Valley, South of France, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Rhone—because the breakfast, brunch, lunch and dinner menu is extensive. So add this resurrected neighborhood stalwart to the top of your hit list. Assuming you can score a table that is…

WORDS Natasha Silva-Jelly

You May Also Like

New York Stores bookstore coming soon abc home adam green brianna lance tali lennox academy records maryam nassir zadeh no.6 store shopping the realreal sincerely tommy strand bookstore mast di palo's

Local Go-Tos With Adam Green, Brianna Lance, Nikki Kynard & Others

art & design
now open
We asked friends of GrandLife to share their favorite NYC stores and what they love about them. Here’s what they told us…
ABC kitchen loring place diner marlow & Sons olmsted blue hill at stone barns farm-to-table season locally grown new york restaurant outdoor dining

6 Farm-to-Table Restaurants to Visit Now

now open
New York is teeming with seasonal and locally grown fare and many of the city’s top spots are now open for outdoor dining.
Pace Gallery Julian Schnabel Deitch Projects Peter Nagy Arlene Shechet Shrine The Hole Katsu Dot David Zwirner

Get your Art Fix at these New York Galleries

art & design
From Julian Schnabel's large-scale works at Pace Gallery to Peter Nagy's reflections on ’80s New York at Deitch Projects—we share a hit list of exhibitions to visit now.
Alfresco Dining Sidewalk seating outdoor dining new york open street program dimes ten bells dudleys kikis greek the odeon dante gilligans little ways via carota buvette bar pisellino carbone roxy hotel

Weekend Block Party: Alfresco Dining, Live Jazz & More

food & drink
From Orchard to Grove, we roundup the liveliest streets downtown with recommendations on venues to visit, when to go (happy hour, anyone?), and more. 
Little Ways Soho restaurant bar the flower shop ronnie flynn dylan hales new york dining al fresco

Welcome to Little Ways

food & drink
A ’70s-style bistro from the Flower Shop team, now open for al fresco dining. Co-founders Ronnie Flynn and Dylan Hales give us the grand tour. 
Peter Ruppert Lucien Pastis Don Papa Rum Sweet Water Summer Cocktail New York cocktail bar summer

Peter Ruppert's Guide to Summer Drinking

food & drink
Where to drink, what to drink, and how to drink it.
Chloë Sevigny, Natasha Lyonne, Mick Rock, richard boch, akiva epstein, anouk colantoni, veselka, raoul's, the odeon, souen, grand central oyster bar, ana kras

Local Go-Tos with Chloë Sevigny, Natasha Lyonne, Mick Rock and others

food & drink
We asked some of our favorite locals to share their neighborhood spots and what they order when they go. Here’s what they told us…
Drive-in theater New york Upstate Greenpoint Bel Aire Diner Skyline Theater Tribeca Drive-In

A Night at the Drive-In

From classic spots to summer pop-ups, we round up our favorite al fresco theaters, for your viewing pleasure.
Best Rate Promise
Soho Grand Hotel

310 West Broadway
New York, NY 10013

(212) 965-3000
The Roxy Hotel Tribeca

2 6th Avenue
New York, NY 10013