Serge Becker could draw a crowd if he served nothing more interesting than baked beans on toast. At Caf Select, the nightlife-impresario-turned-restaurateur (La Esquina, the Box, 205) does virtually that—offering up the sort of working-class Swiss comfort food you might find in a factory cafeteria in the Alps. (Becker, who grew up in Switzerland, was presumably pining for the simple pleasures of home.) The restaurant’s scuffed retro decor features classic creaky bistro tables and chairs, art posters as wallpaper and an oversize clock that might’ve been swiped from the central train station in Basel. Despite its hip clientele (lots of guys wearing wool caps indoors), raucous rock soundtrack and Waverly Inn--style (we’re not really open, wink, wink) “preview” menu, the place is a snooze. A wan mini--cheese tart with a side of vinegary lettuce tastes like it emerged from the microwave. A more promising entre of walleye meunire shows up as three sad, underseasoned fish fingers with (beware) residual bones and simple boiled potatoes. Slivered veal tossed with mushrooms in rich stroganoff gravy provides more earthy satisfaction, but the accompanying spaetzle got all of the salt the walleye was missing. Desserts, including a soggy-crusted apple-almond tart, don’t offer much solace or incentive to stay. If this is what passes for real Swiss cuisine, there’s a very good reason there are so few spots in New York where you’ll find it.
|Venue name:||Café Select||Contact:|
212 Lafayette St
|Cross street:||at Kenmare St|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Wed, Sun 9am–midnight; Thu–Sat 9am–2am|
|Transport:||Subway: 6 to Spring St|
|Price:||Average main course: $18. AmEx, MC, V|