Restaurants in the Meat-packing District have been
creating a buzz lately, but when it comes to celebrity sightings, the
newcomers will have to measure up to neighborhood veteran Florent,
which has been attracting stars for nearly 15 years.
Though the reasonably priced French bistro's fare
is an attraction, the main event here is the crowd, which, on weekends,
never sleeps. At any hour Friday through Sunday, especially late night,
the place is packed with an eclectic mix of revelers.
Those colorful patrons stand out against Florent's
low-key backdrop. The walls are covered with simple stainless steel,
mirrors and framed maps of cities.
When famous folks stop by owner Florent Morellet,
a sprightly Frenchman, will often escort them to table 19, a cozy spot
in the rear of the room that provides a measure of privacy. Madonna,
Jerry Seinfeld, Bette Midler, Jodie Foster and the late artist Roy
Lichenstein have all been seated there.
Occasionally, celebs slip in with little fanfare.
In fact, a waiter had to give Morellet the heads-up when Susan Sarandon
was led to one of the not-so-private tables in the center of the room.
The center tables are the right thing for Spike Lee, when he
has his children in tow. But in his kidless days, Lee usually took a
seat at the counter. Other counter-friendly guests include Willem
Dafoe, who was spotted not long ago munching the goat cheese salad
with a friend. The late Malcom Forbes used to sit counterside as well.
The banquette that lines the other end of the room
has attracted a long list of actresses such as Bernadette Peters,
Bebe Neuwirth, Sandra Bernhard and Catherine Deneuve. Not
to be outdone by the on-screen talents, directors Roberto Benigni
and Steven Spielberg have also snagged spots along the banquette.
ORDER IT: Start out with one of the many salads or
the sesame chicken brochettes. And if you're a fan of boudin noir (blood
sausage), you can get it here--it's one of Morellet's favorite items
on the menu.
Four steaks are offered--all of which go wonderfully
with Florent's fabulous frites, or fries--including the steak au
poivre, which is topped with a delicious mustard sauce. Here, there
are two ways to indulge in mussels: in the regular sauce of white wine,
lemon, garlic and onion, or the mussels du jour. Either way, they come
For a decadent dessert, try the chocolate truffle
cake, or choose the light, but luscious rice pudding from the list of