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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.


    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.)


      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.

                1. I don't know if "old school" should translate to pricey white tablecloth, but I went to a darling Proven├žale bistro in NoHo with a Proven├žale hostess and French waiters to boot. I believe it was called Chez Jacqueline, but could be wrong. But at $30 each for dinner (no wine) it was a steal for a great ambience.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: JungMann

                    You're right that "classic" fare certainly extends to French bistros. I've not been to Chez Jacqueline, but looking at the menu, I'd say it does not quite fit that category.


                  2. Not really sure what you mean by "old school french", but I've always found Montparnesse on 52nd b/t 2nd and 3rd to be a nice, reliable french bistro type place. I love their coq au vin, and the hangar steak is quite yummy as well.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: elecsheep9

                      I went to fleur de sel and was essentially disappointed. The food is great--what little you get of it. Probably the most miniscule, high-flavor portions I've ever experienced. The wine prices are astronomical. Certainly, I wouldn't classify the place as "classic"; definitely contemporary, and very pricey, like close to $300 for two.

                    2. Poke your head into La Grenouille, then make your decision.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: howboy

                        If it's inconvenient to go in person to check it out, there are photos on the website. A beautiful, elegant place and one of the last of NYC's grandes dames French haute
                        cuisine restaurants.

                        http://www.la-grenouille.com/ (Click on Gallery.)

                      2. Le Beouf a la Mode is old school.

                        1. I love Le Bateau Ivre on 51st btw 2nd and 3rd. French waitstaff, authentic bistro fare, and TONS of wine...something like 250 bottles, most by the glass too! Also, they serve dinner til 4 am.

                          1. Chez Napoleon, at 50th Street and 9th Ave.