When star chef Jason Fox stepped back into the kitchen at the Proper Hotel in January 2020, in addition to revamping the rooftop snack menu at Charmaine’s and the downstairs dinner menu at Villon, he promised changes were coming to La Bande, that gorgeous green bar at the tip of the flatiron. Well, it only took a pandemic and a year and a half, but it’s finally happening: La Bande is reopening on Wednesday, September 22, but this time as a tapas bar with a robust menu of grilled squid and tomato toast, and gin and tonics with unusual garnishes.
La Bande was previously a coffee bar, only open for early hours, to keep hotel guests in espresso and pastries. But Fox says as soon as he saw the space, he started craving a full menu. “It was such a cool, European-style corner cafe … ” Fox says. “This feels like it should be a busting nighttime scene.” Fox has a brother living in Barcelona, and La Bande is loosely inspired by how they love to eat there, bouncing between boquerias. The menu was fully developed when the city locked down in spring of 2020, and it’s ready to party now.
“It’s small bites, but a full meal,” Fox says. Halibut cheeks and squid are thrown on the plancha. There’s housemade merguez sausage, and a whole ham leg strung up by the hock on the counter for shaving along with other charcuterie. Catching the tinned fish trend, the conservas feature sardines and mussels. And as at Commonwealth, his previous Michelin-starred restaurant, Fox still loves locally farmed and foraged vegetables — the toast rubbed down with late-season dry-farmed tomatoes is sure to be a simple pleasure, as are squashes roasted over hot coals.
Drinks are courtesy of Josh Harris of the Bon Vivants, who also advises on the wildly popular cocktails at Charmaine’s rooftop bar. But for La Bande and this Spanish-inspired concept, he dug into gin and vermouth, featured in both white and red negronis, and gin and tonics, including a “Doctor’s Note” bottle service situation for four people, which comes with a selection of tonics, specially shaped ice, and more unusual garnishes.
La Bande is in the sharp tip of the triangular building, as the Proper Hotel lives within a Beaux-Arts flatiron first built in 1908. Entering from Market Street, wind past Villon and through the lobby, and La Bande is tucked away on the right. All these shining interiors are the work of designer Kelly Wearstler, who restored the La Bande in green tiles, green marble, and brass details. It’s an intimate space, with half a dozen seats pulling up to the bar, a dozen seats gathered around a communal table, and a few additional tall tables. Step outside, and there are two dozen more sidewalk seats, slightly protected from the street with plants and heat lamps.
La Bande opens on Wednesday, September 22. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 4:30 to 9:30 p.m. Check out the full menu, below.