Asian restaurants in the city can usually be judged by how many Asians dine there, and the same estimation could be made for Le Gamin – which is constantly packed with relaxing ex-patriots, blaring French pop music (yesterday, even a track from recent Brix Picks album L'Homme a Tete de Chou). It's a classically French mini empire that has not suffered from becoming a chain, it is just as charming now as when I first ate here visiting a friend eight years ago.
It's a solid, unassuming place that Jim and I have taken to meeting at for lunch. This can be a risk, since the joie de vivre attitude – a subject which owner and chef Robert Arbor has even written a book about, can depending on the waitress, make the hour lunch a tight pinch time wise. Still, if I have to learn to relax more (which I do – more than any other resolution, that's my most important) I wouldn't mind getting lessons over crepes and croissants.
The best dishes I've tried are the goat cheese, ratatouille and turkey crepe called the Dinde aux legumes (pictured)– it's the most affordable Soho pocket of comfort. The ham and cheese is a good classic and that other bistro classic, the French onion soup is well balanced, not letting clumps of cheese take over completely. I also was very, very happy with a special cauliflower soup and found my daring into the all day breakfast menu worthwhile with a poached egg, potato pancake, ratatouille number.
Ever expanding (they have four current locations) they recently opened a crepe truck in Prospect Heights.