There are lots of ways to know if a restaurant is essential. Four stars = essential; Fondue until 4 AM = essential; McNally venue #4 = essential. Four panic-laced emails to Eater in as many hours when said venue is shuttered by the health dept. = e. ssential:
1) "Seems like every place is closing up for renovations right now. Or just closing. Walked past L'Express last night - closed with papered up windows. Anyone know if it's reno or toast?"
2) "Local 24 hour stalwart L'express on 20th street and Park ave south is closed for the week for remodeling and repairs. we had quite the scare when we tried to eat there this week and saw brown paper on the windows and door. Its never closed and never empty so we were quite confused!"
3) "Any news on L'Express at 20th and Park Avenue South? It was shuttered by the Health Dept in the last three days, but seems to be reopening after "renovations"..."
4) "What happened to L'Express? The 24 hour diner on Park & 20th has been closed since Wed without explanation. As a tenant of the building above it, I'd be happy to hear that this raucous post-party spot is gone for good. But is it another victim of the Dept of Health's crackdown? Better call my exterminator."
So, yes. Park Avenue South favorite L'Express was shuttered Wednesday by the heath department (our apologies for not brining you the news sooner). "We had a little problem with inspections and everything is hopefully taken care of," said the nice woman we just spoke to on the phone. "We'll be opening up hopefully later tonight," she predicted.
[photo courtesy Yelp]