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  Occasion: Cuisine: Area: Cost: Rating:
  Night Out New American East Village Moderate Good

long beans, all set in a puddle of deeply flavored coconut and lemongrass curry. Fabulous.

Dinner ended with a riff on churros con chocolate ($9) that arrive like a holiday from Spain. Instead of long thin churros you get a trio of hot sugared pom pom-styled donuts filled with a hit of dulce de leche that squirts out into your mouth (careful, it is hot). And instead of hot chocolate, you get a little glass bottle of chocolate milk, with three straws. We slurped some milk, ate our donuts, then slurped some more; we were effectively transformed into five year olds. We were very happy girls.

Now, if I were to judge Colors on its business model and its moral character alone, I would give it an A+. But Colors is a restaurant, and like any other in New York City, it has to be judged first by its food, service, and design. Judging it here as a restaurant like any other, I give it a B+. I liked a lot of the food, and I also liked the 30’s diner design, but it is the union of these elements within the concept that I am having trouble with; somehow the pieces do not all come together.

My suggestion is this. The restaurant is lovely, maybe too lovely. Waiters are formally dressed in white button down shirts and ties. There are heavy white tablecloths and lots of precious flatware and stemware. These are beautiful touches, but I am not sure they belong at Colors. This is not Windows on the World. This is Lafayette Street. Part of me wonders what might happen if they toned it down a notch and played up the festival of food on the plate and let it go a little bit, lightening the formality, removing the tablecloths, the button-down shirts and the ties. What if there were chrome deco diner tables, and waiters in black button down shirts and black pants? What if they let the place become a little bit less formal, and gave it a little more edge? Then maybe the home-style, global nature of the food would not seem at odds with the setting. Maybe? Maybe not. Just one girl’s opinon.
Even so, as it stands today, Colors is a magnificent achievement for these 58 employee-owners. It is a ground-breaking concept that may change the face of the restaurant business as we know it. It is also an example of what can grow from loss, of what we can create when we think outside the box, and of what we find when we take the time to look beneath the surface.

Colors is located at 417 Lafayette Street, between Astor a ... [more, click below]

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