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good unpretentious French restaurant?

Looking for a good French restaurant to celebrate double birthdays. La Lunchonette is closed for the weekend, and that is the type of palce I'm looking for. Not fancy (bad weather expected) but definitely good authetic French food. Recommendations appreciated!

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  1. I like Le Bateau Ivre or Montparnasse. Both are on 51st between 2nd and 3rd Ave. Small bistro style places.

    1 Reply
    1. re: oldone

      i would skip montparnasse and Le bateau Ivre. I have been to both recently and neither has good food. Le Bateau Ivre is by far a better atmosphere for a birthday. The atmosphere is fun but the food is at best mediocre

    2. Cosette, on 33rd St., b/t Lex & 3rd, is a small, cozy French bistro with nicely-prepared classic dishes.


      Gascogne, on 8th Av., b/t 17th & 18th Sts., has very good food, and the menu emphasizes dishes of that eponymous region in France. Unfortunately, the weather this weekend is probably not going to be conducive to sitting in their lovely back garden. But the interior is small, cozy and very charming.


      1 Reply
      1. re: RGR

        Second for Gascogne. Good food, good wine list, unprentious service, and most definitely worthwhile whether the back garden is available or non.

      2. For classic bistro fare I'm fond of Le Pere Pinard on the L.E.S. I sent a French family I know and they loved it. Totally unpretentious.


        1. Le Refuge, on 82nd St. bet Lexington and 3rd aves. You can check the menu at menupages.com. It's a nice bistro, the room is very pleasant and I always see a bunch of French people eating there.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Toot

            I was there last month and posted about it. It was OK, but nothing special that I would be in a rush to return.

          2. you could also go to jubilee on 54st between second and third. The food is yummy, but the atmosphere is not that great (a bit sedate and on the older side)-very pleasant.

            1. Le Gigot on Cornelia St. is great. Very tasty French food and cozy "authentic" vibe. I recommend it.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Pernod

                Love Le Gigot - but just got home from Pearl Oyster Bar and Le Gigot was closed - there was a hand written sign in the window - I suspect they might be closed for the weekend.

              2. Chez Lucien on 1st avenue near Houston is one of the best meals I've had in NY. It is not stuffy and is a cool french bistro. Some people don't like Jules on St-Mark's place but I liked it very much. It is not pretentious and not too expensive. There is live jazz also which makes for an interesting atmosphere.

                1 Reply
                1. re: cricri7

                  I don't mean to be negative, but I ate there recently as well and was very dissappointed by the food. The atmosphere was really nice, but my steak au poivre was chewy and the sauce was flavorless.

                2. Unpretentious, charming, rustic, romantic and intimate with authentic French bistro food? La Boite en Bois on W.68th - one of the "quiet" gems in the city. The entrecote au poivre is great as is the roast chicken and the pot au feu de poisson.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: livetotravel

                    We have been going there for years!

                  2. Another spot with underrated french bistro food is Cafe Charbon in the LES. It's at Orchard & Stanton.

                    1. How about Village? I Had a wonderful meal there and the space is nice.
                      62 W 9th St, New York 10011
                      Btwn 5th & 6th Ave


                      1. Try "26 Seat" on Avenue B between 10th & 11th. www.26seats.com
                        Great little place...it only has...26 seats. Was just there tonight. Consistently good food at a reasonable price. Friendly staff. Mussels are excellent. French onion soup is also wonderful.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: chung.william

                          I had a very bad experience at 26 seats and will not go back. I made reservations a couple weeks before hand and when I showed up at the restaurant it was empty except for one other couple. However, the staff insisted on seating us at a shared table even though there were three two person tables empty. When we asked to move to another table, they refused. Those tables remained empty the entire time we were there. Talk about feeling like a second class citizen.

                        2. Has anyone been to La Petite Auberge lately? I used to go often - unpretentious, neighborhoody and very good, down-to-earth French fare. (Lexington, around 28th Street.)

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: foodluvngal

                            It really isnt great. the food is too heavy and service wasnt really great

                          2. Cafe D'Alsace on upper east side, I haven't been there for a while but used to go to La Boeuf a la mode

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: fschil

                              Cafe D'Alsace has (sadly) deteriorated since it first opened - check recent posts before you consider going there.

                              1. re: fschil

                                We were at Cafe d'Alsace for dinner last week.

                                Our first time dining there and, so we don't know whether it deteriorated. Anyway, we weren't impressed at all with the frozen-dinner-picture-on-the-box-looking dishes and the very gimmicky beer service. Service was very spotty and inconsistent.

                                I wished I checked recent posts before we went.

                                1. re: fschil

                                  We have been going to La Boeuf for over 30 years. It is where our daughter learned how to behave in a "grown up" restaurant and is still our place for big doings. Every time we go and drop a bundle elsewhere we wonder why we didn't go to La Boeuf. You absolutely get a wonderful meal (appetizer, soup/salad, entree with about 4 sides, and dessert, the chocolate mousse is not to be missed) for about $40 prix fixe. I know the rap is that the crowd is older; so what, you can hear your companions and enjoy the meal. Still one of the great bargains in the city.

                                2. Fleur de Sel. Such a cozy place. Dinner can be very pricy, but the lunch deal is amazing.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: baconstrip

                                    and what could be more charming then eating in a place where the chef/owner has his own art work hanging on the walls!

                                  2. We've only been to Brasserie LCB once, sometime early this year.

                                    The cassoulet is one of the better oned I've had in this country, my wife liked her steak frittes, and the place has that belle epoquish ambiance to it, complete with long white-aproned French waiters - I'm not sure whether you view this as "pretentious", but it's quite authentic in my view.

                                    Decent wine selection and pricing, too.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: RCC

                                      I went recently and was served nearly inedible food. I pposted on my experience recently.

                                    2. Check out Jean Claude on Sullivan Street in SoHo. It's been there a while, and it's really tasty and not at all pretentious. Very chilled out for the neighborhood. Their scallop appetizer and skate entree are great.

                                      1. I recommend:

                                        Le Jardin Bistro
                                        25 Cleveland Pl
                                        New York, NY 10012
                                        (212) 343-9599

                                        1. From what you're saying, I'd suggest Jarnac in the West Village. It's small, cozy, great food, unpretentious and not loud. I hate Alsace, was okay with Le Gigot, but I think the downtown feel is closer to what you're looking for.

                                          1. I agree with the poster who mentioned Boite en Bois on W.68th it's a great, old-fashioned French restaurant. Reservations here are de rigeur because the place is small.

                                            I would add Montrachet to the list.
                                            They're at 239 W Broadway (between Walker Street and North Moore Street)and it's a pretty low key place with very good food.


                                            1. i really like casimir in alphabet city and would recommend it. not pretentious.

                                              has anyone been lately? it's been a few years since i've been.

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: raybird

                                                I used to go there often quite a few years ago. I walked by a few months ago (didn't eat) and it looked the same as ever, basically the same menu too.

                                                1. re: raybird

                                                  eh. I think it's slowly going downhill. Nothing remarkable. I ahve tried most of the restaurants recommended and don't feel any of teh food comes close to La Lunchonette.

                                                2. La Luncheonette is my regular call. I just wish they had pommes frites. The fish dishes are especially good and the owners and servers are very nice. I like that the ambience is low key and not too precious.

                                                  1. Had my birthday dinner at La Mirabelle on West. 86th Street. Recommend the duck preparation. Very warm homey atmosphere- ask for the special waitress to sing "Happy Birthday."

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: hopegoode

                                                      I have always wondered about this place, but hadn't yet eaten there. Years ago, I lived in that building, but I don't think the restaurant was there then. Any other dishes that you'd recommend - or suggest skipping?


                                                    2. I think Les Halles is great and always a good atmosphere

                                                      1 Reply
                                                      1. re: ashea9167

                                                        Though it's annoyingly loud, I agree with you. It gets bad press, but I really enjoyed my entire meal there.