The streets of downtown New York welcomed another top table last week with the much-anticipated opening of Andrew Carmellini's French eatery, simply called Lafayette. In contrast to the décor of his other hot spots, the Dutch and Locanda Verde, Lafayette is splendidly dramatic. Set in the basement of an iconic William Hardenbergh building in Noho, the sprawling, all-day-dining restaurant is a modern interpretation of France's Grand Cafés.

The sumptuous interior, which boasts custom pendant lights, statuesque tiled columns and a cork ceiling, comes courtesy of Roman + Williams, who have brought their trademark brand of nostalgic elegance to the two-storey space, which most notably includes a bright, airy bakery. The menu is reassuringly good, too, with a hefty offering of rotisserie meats (all cooked in full view of the dining room on an exposed rotisserie) and nouveau French favourites, like duck au poivre and grilled octopus with smoky eggplant.