Sunday, March 1, 2009

Au revoir, Patois

Whether loved or loathed, there's little question that the closing of Patois, one of the pioneers of the great Smith Street, comes with a tinge of lament.

When we moved to Brooklyn back in 2000, Smith Street was a fledgling Manhattan annex. There was Bar Tabac, the now famous Petanque battling ground, Bananania, perfecting the pork loin, Uncle Pho's, and a few others, but Patois was widely regarded as Smith Street's flagship restaurant, first in kind. The strip's higher end French bistro set the bar for what became one of New York's best bar and restaurant streets. And it is now gone. Au revoir, Patois...for now.

Back in '98, the NYTimes ran a prophetic article for the decade to come, two months after Alan Harding opened a new era on Smith. (full article here)
Up the block from Sal's is Patois, a French bistro that opened two months ago. With its red banquettes and tiled floors, it is the kind of new restaurant with an old look that is becoming popular in the East Village and SoHo. ''It's cool but neighborhood funky,'' the chef and part owner, Alan Harding, said through a plume of cigar smoke. ''We have the coolest restaurant in Brooklyn.''
It was always regarded for what it was, not really how it did it. (The food and service was as hit and miss as the hangover that drove you there.) It had attitude, and the brunch was always kickin' good. Back in 2006, we shot these few images for a Brooklyn feature in Budget Travel (here).

There is speculation about a reinvention of Patois across the street, but who knows, maybe elsewhere. There is no question anymore that Brooklyn owns its own now, and is much more than one street, one neighborhood, one style---I would quote Bono here, but Jessie would kill me.