When Annette Yang and Brian Leitner opened Le Vieux, their cozy Mediterranean supper house in the old Noisette space at the end of December, their plan was to keep themselves, and their guests, on their toes by rotating the menu every few weeks as it traversed the cuisines of the "Old World." In two months, the menu has gone from Moroccan to French to Italian. But what might work for a pop-up hasn't quite translated to a restaurant, and now Yang and Leitner are changing tack.
"People wanted the same dishes that they loved," says Yang. "They were feeling like it was hard to recommend a dish to friends if they weren't sure it was still on the menu."
So they're taking the big hits and creating a more stable, broadly Mediterranean menu that will change seasonally, instead of offering a complete reinvention every three weeks. "We'll do the things that have been well received and loved, and the things we do really well," Yang says. "We'll do that lamb tagine from the Moroccan menu and the cassoulet from the French menu. We just want to give people delicious food that they love."
Their brunch menu, with its chocolate babka, skillet-baked eggs with duck confit, and sausage with polenta, has already offered this kind of broader range. And when they feel like diving deeper into a region, they'll simply create specials. "This is the natural evolution of a new business," she says. "You make changes accordingly. We thought people would be super into the changing menu, and maybe they are in spirit, but then when it comes down to it they're like, ‘Shoot, I really liked that thing.'"