Any self-respecting, late-night diner has been to Florent at least once.
The diner-style restaurant is open all night, open to anyone who will
make the journey to the meat-packing district to get there.
Around 3 one morning, an Asian woman in a long, straight
dress, sitting with two friends, polished off a bowl of steamed mussels,
had a dessert of cigarettes, then laid down on the long banquette to
take a nap. The server came by and picked up the empty bowl without
batting an eye.
Meanwhile, Flotilla DeBarge, a caberet performer,
grooved to the disco music as she made her way through the mussels.
"I'm hyped after doing a show," she said. "I come for a cup of coffee,
the lentil salad and the mussels and frites."
"You don't know who or what you're going to see in
here," she said, paused, then smiled, "Like me." Though she has spotted
celebrities like Matt Dillon and Marilyn Manson, she added, "I don't
want you to think it's some celebrity-gawking place."
Ms. DeBarge brings her own music for the restaurant
to play, too. "Yeah, that's what drag queens do," said Jose Pita, the
manager, as he passed by with a plate of fried eggs. "They bring their
own music. They don't tolerate anyone else's."
A tone of tolerence is the beauty of this place. Worlds
that might normally collide in daylight, seem to harmonize under Florent.
FLORENT 69 Gansevoort 212.989.5779
Hours: weekends, 24 hours; weekdays, closed 5 to 9
A.M. Reservations accepted
Prices: appetizers, $1.50 to $8.25; entrees, $5.95
to $13.95; desserts, $3.50 to $4.95.
Crowd: from drag queens to lawyers.