Very sadly, Yolande’s is closed.
This winter as we trudge through snowdrifts higher than our heads, comfort food has never been more appealing. There’s the American version with mac and cheese, and brownies and whipped cream. But in Ninth Square, comfort food will take you abroad: to France.
Each bite at Yolande’s Bistro & Creperie evokes the sounds of an accordion and views of winding cobblestone lanes. Opened in October 2012 by longtime hotelier Yolande Lacan, it’s a French hideaway just steps from downtown’s bustle.
France is in Lacan’s blood, literally. Her parents are French; her father worked as a corporate chef and her mother as a hotelier. Lacan was conceived in Hawaii at a hotel opening, then bounced around Southern hotels during her toddler years, and finally settled in New Hampshire at an inn her parents bought. The place was a microcosm of all things hotel: fine dining, a creperie, a cabaret, and even a summer-stock theater.
Yolande never left the hotel industry. Work brought her to Connecticut every 10 years, the last time in 2010 to open a hotel in Shelton. After the opening, she was lured away to another hotel job, only to decide it wasn’t right for her. Her desire to be an entrepreneur had been nagging at her, and at the same time the former Central Steakhouse space on Orange Street in New Haven opened, perfect for her own restaurant.
“A bistro is where you find your comfort food in France,” Lacan says. “Not pretentious, not overly fussy. A good meal. It can have the sauces, it cannot have the sauces, but it will be a good, traditional type of meal.” A bistro was a perfect vehicle for the kind of dining experience she wanted to offer. A place that was friendly and warm, where French food wasn’t scary or overpriced. She hired very capable cooks, overseen by Stefanie Ponzillo who runs the kitchen. The recipes are Yolande’s and her father’s; it’s Yolande’s menu with Stephanie’s input and execution. Yolande is on the line when she’s needed, but she’s usually found in the front of the house.
Yolande’s offers brunch, lunch and dinner. Crepes, whether savory or sweet, are on all three menus, with heartier specialties for dinner. If you’re lucky, you can watch Yolande pour the very crepes that will end up on your plate.
Restaurant Website: http://yolandesbistro.com/
• The Detes: 99 Orange St., New Haven. 203-787-7885. Open Tuesday – Friday 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. – 10:30 p.m., Sunday 9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
• Price Range: Brunch and lunch $8-14, appetizers $7-14, dinner $16-25 (galettes with salad), specials $20-30.
• Style of Food: French bistro
• Favorite dishes: Onion soup, Croque Madame crepe, Chevre crepe.
• Drinks: Full bar
• Catering: Yes, both in-house private room and cater-out.
• Vegetarian/Gluten Free available: Yes
• Outdoor seating: No