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French Bistro east 50's

For Saturday night, we need a French bistro -- steak -- in the east 50's or lower 60's -- after theater


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  1. Montparnasse - 52nd, I believe, just west of 2nd ave.

    1 Reply
    1. re: adam

      Second the Montparnasse rec. Tasty steak frites and coq au vin...

    2. So many in that area: Jubilee (54th between 1st & 2nd) I have personally experienced and really liked--the mussels are great (served 5 ways) and their side salads are wonderful, as well as their tuna tartare appetizer and they do have steak that always looks good though I have not tried. Others that have been recommended to me, but I have not yet tried: Cafe Joul (58-59 on 1st), Deux Amis (on 51st between 1st & 2nd).
      I haven't heard much about Montparnasse, but it is actually on 51st St. between 2rd-3rd.

      14 Replies
      1. re: Mrsfblatt

        I'll second Jubilee.
        I didn't like Cafe Joul the two times I ate there. Just very average and not as cozy as Jubilee. Did anyone else notice the scaffolding that had been up for years and years is finally down?? Amen!

        Has anyone tried Cafe Soleil yet? It's literally across the street from me and have yet to try it.

        1. re: jenniebnyc

          Jennie since you live the closest, I am waiting to hear your report about Cafe Soleil! Curious that there seem to be no reports about it... I barely remember that it is there unless I walk right past the place...I must say that the menu does not look so inspiring, more like "tried and true.."

          1. re: erica

            This is the first I've heard of Cafe Soleil. This is not my neighborhood, but what is wrong with "tried and true"? Presuming, of course, that the food is well-prepared and delicious, I think it's good to have these kinds of places close by when we're in the mood for a solid meal. We have a few in our vicinity, and we happily go to them with some regularity.

            1. re: RGR

              You've now got me motivated. I will give it a try and report back!!

              1. re: jenniebnyc

                Great! I am in that neighborhood occasionally, so I look forward to reading your review.

                1. re: jenniebnyc

                  Get over there tonight!!!! We are waiting!!!!!

                  Seriously, let us know when you check it out....

                2. re: RGR

                  RGR you are right. There is nothing wrong with well done classics. On the contrary. I have only scanned their menu once so need to go back and take another look. Last I checked, they were not on menupgaes...

                  1. re: erica

                    I, too, looked for it on menupages. Only the really high profile places seem to show up there as soon as they open. Perhaps, it will eventually be added. No website either. :-(

                3. re: erica

                  After wanting to try Soleil since it opened i checked the board after my first time there last week. Service was fine, nothing special, but fine. But I must say, I had the worst boeuf bourginon I've ever had in my life. Tried and true, esp. w/ French, is among my favorites, so I went w/ the classic. MISTAKE! Tough meat, fatty, unchewable bits, and perhaps worst of all, bland! (Note another poster found similar...). Sheesh! Other entrees were fine -- Coq au vin and roast chicken. But if they can't do even a respectable B-bourg, what's the point? Just how bad? I never, ever leave food at restaurants. What I don't finish, if more than a bite or two, I bring home. A fair amount of this dish got left on the plate, w/ no regrets. MIGHT try it again for the early bird, but not anytime soon.

                4. re: jenniebnyc

                  We live in the neighborhood and were very excited when it first opened - went the first week and the service was horrendous, and the food only so-so....in the year since, we have been back several times (for breakfast, lunch and dinner), most recently about 3 weeks ago for dinner. The service has gotten somewhat better but the food was serious lacking in taste----it had none - bland pate, overdressed salads, bland fish....very disappointing! Also, the tables are so crowded that you are basically sitting with everyone around you. We could really use an upscale delivious restaurant in the hood - it isnt this one for now.

                  1. re: aimeezing1

                    That is depressing.

                    It reminds me of how I, and other Hounds, felt when a fish/seafood restaurant, Gramercy 24, opened in our 'hood. We were excited, hoping against hope that it would be a winner. Very nice looking place but, sadly, reports about the food from the start were so disappointing that I never bothered to try it. It lasted two years and closed recently.

                    1. re: aimeezing1

                      Truly disappointing! I didn't realize that they have been open for a year already. wonder why they are still not on menupages? And the owner, M. Bouterin, ran a successful place east of there for many years....I never tried it, though.

                      Another place that gets little mention is La Mangeoire, almost next door. Been there at least 20 years. Provencal influence; very pretty place. I've not been in at least 5 years......

                      1. re: erica

                        He is a name in the French food scene. I was not aware that this is his place. Never got to his previous eponymous restaurant, which was, I believe, in the more upscale category. Based on aimeezing1's experiences, it truly is too bad.

                        1. re: RGR

                          I just checked..not only is Antoine Bouterin the owner, but the chef is the one from Bouterin as well, I. Segota.

                5. Sel et Poivre, on Lex, b/t 64th & 65th, serves very good food in a cozy, charming space.


                  1. IMO, Tout Va Bien on 51st & 8th is worth the trek west. It's one of the oldest bistro's in the city, and while the decor is a little outdated, the food is awesome.

                      1. I too live in that neighborhood, and have for almost 7 years, so I'll add my 2 cents to this discussion.

                        Mangeoire (2nd and 53)- overpriced. Not good enough for the high price, IMHO. Feel no need to return.
                        Soleil (2nd and 53)- never ate there, but the menu/decor/vibe of the place seemed uninspired. Not surprised at your experience.
                        Jubilee (54 btw 1 and 2)- I always cringe when people mention it. Not because it's bad, but because I love the place. I don't want it to be TOO discovered. However... HOWEVER... it's just a little bit above what I would call "bistro." If you want more of a casual place, jubilee actually isn't it.
                        Montparnasse (51 btw 2 and 3)- I'd go here more to meet someone for a glass of wine and maybe snack. The bar is usually not too crowded and the food is edible but not amazing.
                        Le Bateau Ivre - more of a wine bar but they serve bistro cuisine. Actually pretty good.

                        Deux Amis (51? between 1 and 2) - When I want casual french bistro, this is my new go-to.
                        Bistro 61 (61 and 1) - Another excellent choice. Can't recommend it highly enough. The food is a little "nouvelle" but very good and very solid. Great staff/service too.

                        I haven't been to L'Entrecote or Joul.

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: egit

                          Ok, now you have me curious. I have lived in this area (extreme east 50s) for....well, more than 20 years...I am totally disgusted by the eating scene around here so I was interested in the comments about Jubilee and Deux Amis. Please tell me what you order at these two that you find so tasty....I want so much to love one of these local places..maybe I have ordered the wrong things..

                          I did have a good meal at Grand Sichuan on Second avenue (55-56) last week, though.

                          1. re: erica

                            um... wine... and.... um... can't remember what else. :-)

                            No, seriously... at Jubilee I almost always start with the mussels. And looking at menupages to jog my memory, I know I've had the scallop dish, and the monkfish, and probably the steak frites. They often have interesting sounding specials, and I usually "fall" for one of them.

                            I typically go to Jubilee only 2-3 times a year, so I don't remember in exhaustive detail what I've had each time. But I do remember having the mussels with the curry (thai), catalanes and the "standard" preparations.

                            Deux Amis: I just recently started going here this past winter. Things I've had include a perfect cassoulet for a frigid winter's night, beef bourguignon, a fish dish which was nice but I can't remember specifically, and I think a steak au poivre.

                            DA isn't *amazing* but it's good, and it's very laid back.

                            To me Deux Amis embodies what a bistro is supposed to be. It's not haute cuisine, and it doesn't take itself so very seriously.

                            1. re: egit

                              Thanks! I did have a good calves liver dish there (DA) a long time ago..I will try the place again. It is such a cozy little place and so close to me; the people are nice, too.

                            2. re: erica

                              I went to Jubilee for the first time last year with friends who rave about the mussels there. We had such a great meal. The restaurant is very cozy, which is something I personally prefer over a modern decor. We started with the mussels in the curry sauce - delicious! Everyone was dipping their bread in the amazing sauce once the mussels were done. I had the scallops for dinner - I remember them being very good. We haven't been back since - but I am definitely looking forward to having more amazing mussels there this summer!

                            3. re: egit

                              sorry, i was talking about 'cafe du soleil' on the UWS -- i wouldnt want to slam an 'innocent' restaurant (assuming there's an east side place called just 'Soleil'?). I thought the pvs. discussion, despite the original post, was referring to cafe du soleil on broadway, so that's why i chimed in on this thread. hope that's not all too confusing!

                            4. French Bistro La Mediterranee located between East 50th and East 5st street on Second ave (2nd) might be a good choice.Check their website at http://www.lamediterraneeny.com