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Old school classic french

Can anyone please recommend a nice old school classic french restaurant in manhattan, where the staff is french perhaps? My boyfriend is planning to take his mother out to one for her 61st birthday. I was thinking la grenouille but that might be too pricey and I've heard some things about le veau d'or but I wasn't sure about the quality of late. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks!

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  1. Le Cercle Rouge has never done me wrong. Given, I've only been there for lunch but it brought back memories of my last vacation in France. And if I recall the correctly, the waitsstaff did indeed have some French fellows.

    http://www.cerclerougeresto.com/

    1. At Brasserie LCB (fka La Cote Basque), on 55th St., b/t 5th & 6th Avs., long time chef/owner Jean-Jacques Rachou continues to prepare classic French dishes. Some of the wait staff may be French. But regardless, service is professional and polished. While the gorgeous murals from the Cote Basque days are gone, the current decor is quite handsome. The a la carte menu is on the pricey side. But they also offer a pre-theater and post-theater prix-fixe for around $40.

      Le Perigord has been around a long time and continues to serve the classics. I've not been, but from what I hear, it's quite elegant and tends to get a more mature, well-heeled clientele. While prices are upscale, they are much more reasonable than at La Grenouille. Dinner prix-fixe at Perigord = $65 vs. Grenouille = $95. (Note: At Perigord, jacket & tie are required at dinner; at Grenouille, only a jacket.)

      http://www.leperigord.com
      http://www.la-grenouille.com

      Happy Birthday to your mom and Bon Appetit!

      1. la grenouille is expensive but is completely worth it - the quenelles are sublime as are the souffles.

        1. Rene Pujol (west 51) is a good choice, won't cost serious $.

          5 Replies
          1. re: serious

            At Rene Pujol, while some classic dishes are still served, there are now many modern/creative dishes on the menu.

            1. re: RGR

              But RP has a real French feel. The waitstaff is all French. Whoever answers the phone is more at home in French than English. And people in their 60s would be very comfortable there.

              1. re: bobjbkln

                The last time we were at R.P., which was some time ago, the people who waited on our table were not French. That surprised me because down through the years, the staff had always been French. In fact, what had formerly been quite polished service had a more casual feeling, though it was still efficient.

                Btw, I've heard that sometime during the past year or two, the second generation Pujols sold the restaurant to the employees.

                1. re: RGR

                  It's been almost 18 months since we've been there as well. I think it was just around the time that it became a co-op. But since the employees bought the place and the chef has not changed, I would think that the service (and the nationality of the servers) should not have changed much.

                  BTW, here is a link an article on the co-oping of RP http://www.geo.coop/GEO68RenePujol.htm . I think the article is from the fall of 2005.

                  1. re: bobjbkln

                    Thanks for the link, bobjbkln. Interesting article.

          2. thanks for the suggestions. I'm leaning towards le perigord....but would anyone know if fleur de sel fits into this category? never been, but heard good things about it on this board.

            3 Replies
            1. re: deabot

              Great restaurant; chef is French but staff is not; terrific service, though. I would say "contemporary French" more than "classic French," but a great value.

              1. re: deabot

                Fleur de Sel is one of our favorites, and PSzaas is correct that Chef/owner Cyril Renaud, who comes from Brittany, is serving modern French cuisine. He does have a background in the classics since he was, before opening FdeS, chef at the now defunct Caravelle, which was one of NYC's grandes dames of classical haute French cuisine.