For those days when you realize that all you actually wants to do in life is sit in a cafe in Paris and eat foie gras forever, this charming and eclectic corner of the West Village will please until you can actually buy the plane ticket.
Some of my best memories from Paris surround sitting in cafes on Rue Cler in the 7th Arrondissement and passing the time whittling away at cups of coffee, bottles of wine, and plates of eggs, tartare, and caviar. These are the comfortable establishments that prove that there is no wrong time of day for any French food, and in fact, much of it is better together.
Whynot is the closest the West Village has come to achieving this refined sense of French living, with its long hours and small but classic bistro menu, and I can only hope it continues is this direction.
But because this will always be New York and not Paris, laptops are allowed in the large room downstairs for those studying and working during the day. Upstairs, one can pretend for a minute that their only goal for the day is to watch people on the street and finish several cups of creamy coffee. One can also pretend that a constant flow of bistro food is necessary as well, and enjoy a Croque Monsieur with proscuitto cotto and gruyere cheese or a Croque Champignon with even more gruyere and a layer of roasted mushrooms. The food is impeccably fresh and well-suited for the brunch lovers of New York, not only with light egg options and salads, but also with some welcome surprises like Steak Tartare with shallots, cornichons, and a quail egg, as well as the Foie Gras au Torchon, with apricot jam, fleur de sel, and toast. The menu is confident in what it offers, and after just a whiff of the rich flavors coming from behind the quaint kitchen doors, it's impossible not to indulge.
While not extensive, the wine list is also thoughtful, featuring plenty of bottles below $50, perfect for those classic Parisian days that turn seamlessly into romantic evenings.
As Whynot continues to act more as a cafe than as a full-time restaurant, there's never a wait for a table, even though, true to French form, once you sit back at one, there's no pressure to ever leave.