I recently had the opportunity to catch up with the charming restauranteur Jacques Doassans, owner of the newly opened L’Amant restaurant in New York City’s West Village.
Doassans, once a successful real estate broker in his native Bordeaux, France, came to New York to change his life and discover the world. Along that journey, Doassans and two business partners decided to open a restaurant, and looked to the French colonies for inspiration.
The restaurant was inspired by the movie L’Amant, or “The Lover,” a story of the love affair between a young French woman and an older wealthy Chinese man set in French colonial Vietnam. Everything from the French Indochine menu and cocktail list to the luxurious Thibault Chinoiserie wallpaper and 1920’s jazz music is designed to transport visitors back to that romantic time.
L’Amant’s young and attractive West Village patrons come for its luxurious yet cozy ambiance, unique menu and killer cocktail list. They stay because they are slowly intoxicated by the 1920’s jazz music and old world charm. On any given night, some dine intimately while others languish at the bar or in a pair of deep leather chairs facing the tree-lined street.
Diners and loungers alike sip exquisitely prepared cocktails made from freshly squeezed juices, house-made syrups and premium liquors, like the famed Mekong River, which incorporates an in-house infused apple and ginger vodka. The imaginative and impressive cocktail list draws some older executive types, and Doassans has responded by expanding the wine list to include higher end wines and champagnes. The wine list will continue to evolve with its clientele.
Still a relatively new face on the New York cuisine scene, perhaps if he plays his cards right, Doassans could have a shot at becoming one of New York’s restaurant elite. Asked where he sees the restaurant in five years, he flirtatiously responds, “I don’t know. I guess you’ll just have to come back and see…”
Don’t mind if I do…
If you’re still reading, check out this gorgeous reimagination of L’Amant in 2012: