Addio Perla, Benvenuto Fairfax, Gabe Stulman’s Play on the All-Day Cafe
Gabe Stulman is at it again; nipping and tweaking his West Village empire.
Not only did he close his French restaurant, Montmartre, last year, as well as go the no-tipping route at Fedora and change the name of his Little Wisco group (now under the nom de plume Happy Cooking Hospitality), he swapped the location of his most high-end eatery, Perla — moving it into a prime, light-flooded W. 4th St. corner, and fiddling with the concept just a bit; reducing check averages by 30% to attract more customers.
But according to the adaptable restaurateur, even that wasn’t enough to save the five-year-old Italian stalwart from oppressive costs and increasing competition (Charlie Bird, Barbuto, dell’anima and Via Carota are mere steps away). Which is why he’s gone entirely back to the drawing board, and overhauled Perla completely — transforming it into a laid-back, all-day eatery called Fairfax, that transitions to a wine bar with food at night.
Hoping to pump up the volume of patrons with an approachable vibe and corresponding menus, Stulman has outfitted the space with couches and communal tables, and started service at 8 am sharp so you can roll in for coffee & breakfast. Laptop tappers and commuters should gravitate towards Sweet Corn and Bacon Muffins, House Granola with maple, buttermilk and stone fruit and Petite Omelettes folded around chives and pattypan squash, transitioning, as the afternoon progresses, into Avocado Toast decked out with za’atar, radish and babaganoush, and the Half Watermelon; a scoopable salad seasoned with cilantro, lime and Aleppo pepper.
Later on in the evening, chef Jack Harris breaks out the olives, almonds, boquerones, meats and cheeses and mains (Spaghetti with sungold tomatoes, a Cubano sandwich with shaved ham and pickles) as well as a series of small plates — from 11am-7pm, you can order one with a glass of wine for only $20. Try the Mushrooms and Parmigiano Custard with Andre Scherer Pinot Blanc from Alsace, Heirloom Tomatoes in tomato broth with orange-tinted Castello Di Lispida “Terralba” from Veneto Italy, and an Arnot-Roberts Syrah from Sonoma, teamed with soft clods of Steak Tartare, served with capers, chips and berbere spice.
Hopefully, Fairfax is the pivot Gabe Stulman was looking for, but if not, we’re sure he’ll be ready with a fix.
234 West 4th St.
Photos via Grub Street