225 Varick Street

George Forgeois, the French restaurateur behind well-known New York bistros Café Noir and Bar Tabac, recently added a new eatery to his lineup named Clarkson. The 100-seat, European-style restaurant, located at 225 Varick Street in Tribeca, opened in February. Clarkson’s menu is based around shared plates, including oysters, charcuterie and cheese. Mr. Forgeios’s intention was to create an informal dining experience with good food. “It’s better to come three times a week than once a month,” he said. Mr. Forgeois spoke to The Commercial Observer about the restaurant’s layout and its unique features.
The entire restaurant is inspired by boat design, based on Mr. Forgeois’s travels through Africa as a child. “I want this to be a meeting place where people go around the world, who travel a lot—their stories. That’s why I make it look like a boat,” Mr. Forgeois said. Clarkson’s 30-seat bar is made of a mixture of mahogany and cherrywood and is designed to resemble the deck of a boat. “It’s very wide, very comfortable to sit and eat,” Mr. Forgeois said. “It’s not strictly to drink.”


The restaurant also features a secluded corner section—a “zebra room” inspired by both the Lenox Lounge in Harlem and Mr. Forgeois’s time in Africa. “You know, since I grew up in Africa, I thought the zebra would be a nice touch,” he said. The zebra room also includes a window, allowing diners to view the action at the bar. The restaurant’s frontage used to include large windows, which created noise problems due to Holland Tunnel traffic. To solve the problem, Mr. Forgeois closed off the windows and installed wood frontage and a small window with blinds, which are closed at rush hour. “This way, when you walk in, you forget about the street,” according to Mr. Forgeois. “You look at the bar, you look at the décor, and you’re in another world.


In another travel-inspired design twist, Mr. Forgeois intends for the area to the right of the zebra room to resemble a train. “Like the Orient Express, that’s what I wanted to reflect,” he said.

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