Alleyway Appetite

A Union Square refuge for all-day eating

Chances are good you'll find yourself in Union Square during the next month–if not to shop, then to ogle the giant tree or check out the dogs and cats in the Macy's windows.

That you will require a pick-me-up during your visit is a foregone conclusion.

Claudine to the rescue. The latest feather in restaurateur Franck LeClerc's cap is located on Claude Lane, the same FiDi alley as his other two restaurants, Café Claude and Gitane, and serves an eclectic all-day menu.

The most restorative item is the soup ($6 for a small; $9 for a large). A rich chicken stock fortified with cubes of sweet carrots, celery and onion is further bolstered by fregola, a toasted large-format couscous. Tiny meatballs made from beef, pork and veal float in the broth; they are both completely adorable and all a meatball ought to be–light in texture but heavy on flavor.

The rest of the menu is rounded out with items that could be a snack, lunch or dinner. Sit at the round bar and have a glass of wine and the chicken liver mousse ($8), or a good old strip steak ($19).

When you're ready and restored, the holiday madness awaits.

Claudine, 8 Claude Ln.; 415-362-1988 or myclaudine.com