Orhan Cakir, previous owner of the well-known Turks & Frogs, has expanded his Pierre Loti Restaurant at 258 W. 15th Street, an intimate and romantic restaurant, by taking over the space next door. The expanded space, now twice the size, has more than doubled the capacity, increasing the number of seats and including an outdoor patio.
Re-designed and remodeled by Cakir himself, by hand (with a little help from his friends), it features an 18 x 15 ft. hand-carved U-shaped bar at its center, an excellent spot for guests to meet and visit with their neighbors over a glass of wine, a charcuterie station, and unlike the Irving Place location, will be open for lunch within a few weeks. The expanded space also has room for a separate dining room that can be completely closed off for a private party or open for smaller groups.
Located where Chelsea meets the West Village, this outpost has the Pierre Loti signature deep red walls and pillow-covered banquets, pressed tin ceilings, and white subway tiles, but also has its own distinctive personality, design, and menu.
Like its sister locations Pierre Loti Wine Bar (53 Irving Place, just off Union Square) and Pierre Loti Restaurant and Wine Bar on E. 52nd Street (a quiet block just steps from the bustle of Midtown), it pays fitting tribute to the romantic world-traveling French novelist, Pierre Loti, who serves as its inspiration. Like any siblings, each Pierre Loti location is different, but they share common traits: wine-friendly olive-oil based cuisine made from only the freshest ingredients, hand-picked from local producers and farmer’s markets, a choice of small and large plates, and a menu that changes with the seasons.
With a plethora of options to choose from, some dishes good for sharing, while others are a perfect size to pair with a select vintage. A great way to start the evening by sharing is with a plate of smooth and creamy taramosalata. The red caviar blended with the perfect hints of olive oil and lemon juice tastes delicious on a piece of warm pita.
The Pierre salad is a tower of chopped tomatoes, cucumber and red onion, topped with homemade yogurt. Tender bellies of grilled calamari are stuffed with a savory, umami-rich filling of shitake mushrooms and shrimp. Grilled Halloumi cheese (which turns golden brown and crisp on the outside) tops a frisee salad, while a salad of Turkish dried figs, black-eyed beans and cherry tomato with hazelnut vinaigrette is an intriguing combination.
Classically inspired hot appetizers include Turkish beef dumplings with light garlic yogurt sauce and pan seared jumbo sea scallops served over a colorful Anatolian salsa.
If you feel like trying a larger portion for dinner, the succulent lamb chops served with earthy chanterelle mushrooms over a puree of sweet peas is a perfect way to go.
In homage to Pierre Loti’s country of origin, Orhan’s carefully curated wines by the bottle (over 200 on the list) all hail from France. The “by the glass” list, however, is a frequently changing roster of more than 40 global wines that pay tribute to Loti’s travels. Guests can also select from cow, goat and sheep cheeses, and chocolate bonbons from the famous French confectioner, Michel Cluizel, with recommendations for wine or bubbly pairings.
Pierre Loti Restaurant Chelsea is located at 258 West 15th Street between 7th and 8th avenues. For reservations or to plan private parties, please call 212.755.5684. www.pierrelotiwinebar.com