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May 7, 2007 02:51 PM

French bisto suggestions?

Myself and three old friends are getting together for dinner next week. Any suggestions for an outstanding French bistro? It's one of the cuisines I know shamefully little about.

All of us are guys in our late 20s / early 30s who live in New York. I'm looking for somewhere casual where we can eat some terrific grub and swap stories. Definitely don't want stuffy or business-like or romantic or velvet-rope-scene. Cost not really an issue.

All four of us are pretty seriously into our food, so that's the prime criterion here (which should go without saying, but just to be clear...)

The ideal would be something like tia pol (great food, casual vibe), but French and without a 4 hour wait.

I did a search but didn't see anything that fit the bill - apologies if I missed an applicable thread.

Any and all suggestions welcome.

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  1. For casual French bistro fare, I like Bistro Les Amis in Soho. It's on the southeast corner of Spring & Thompson Streets. There's indoor and street-side dining. (We usually eat inside, since there can be a lot of traffic noise, fumes, etc., and there's no barrier between the tables and the sidewalks.) But the food is good and so is the service. And they serve great crusty sourdough bread, along with pungent black olives.

    We had dinner there on Friday. Walked in without reservations at around 6:30 and were seated right away. My husband started with a mixed green salad with a wonderful vinaigrette dressing, thinly sliced apples and a few walnuts. My starter was potato leek soup. Very good. His main course was crisp roasted salmon on a bed of lentils, which he enjoyed. Mine was a special - lamb chops with ratatouille. The chops were perfectly cooked and the ratatouille was perfect.

    I like this place a lot and recommend it.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Deenso

      I've always had pleasant experiences at Montparnesse on 51st Street (or 52nd Street) between 2nd and 3rd. Terrific Coq au Vin.

      1. re: Deenso

        I'm a big fan of Bistros Les Amis as well, but I'm not sure it's the best setting for a group of four guys looking to swap stories. The place is small and charming, and much more suitable for a couple.

        Balthazar on Spring between Broadway and Crosby, and Les Halles on Park Avenue would likely be better bets, though neither are really bistros and there might be a bit of a wait.

        1. re: Deenso

          Would Bistro Les Amis be a good place for a group of 15 to celebrate a 31st birthday? We are interested in a low key place with good food and reasonable prices.

          1. re: jackieparis

            Low key with good food and reasonable prices it is, but it's a relatively small space. I don't know if they'd be able to set up for a party that size, but it's certainly worth a visit or at least a phone call.

        2. i love le singe vert in chelsea for typical french bistro fare done really well. you can try all the old standbys, escargot, mussels, steak frites.
          always great!

          3 Replies
          1. re: ceeceee

            dear god, i hate le singe's my sister's neighborhood joint and the service is always absolutely terrible...and the food is very low in quality.

            les halles on park, artisanal...theyre big but solid.

            1. re: sam1

              I love Lucien on 1st st and 1st ave. The food is consistently good and the atmosphere is true Parisian bistro. I recommend making a reservation for dinner.

              1. re: sam1

                wow, i've had some really great meals there. the mussels are always fantastic, fresh and perfectly prepared. the french fries-perfect, salty, addictive!
                my husband love the steak.
                the service you say is "awlays" terrible. why do you keep going there? i find the service just Ok, nothing stellar, but friendly and adequate.

            2. I like the Village on w 9th a lot. A booth would be good for four guys

              1. I must strongly disagree with the Les Halles suggestion. Aside from the fact that it's a brasserie, not a bistro, the food is terrible, service is worse, the cramped seating would make a sardine feel uncomfortable, and the insanely high noise level will have you reaching for the aspirin bottle. In a word: Avoid!

                If you do want to go to a brasserie, I would recommend Marseille, on the corner of 9th Av. & 44th St. Excellent French/Mediterranean cuisine. Attractive, comfortable setting that's lively without being too noisy. Best to reserve after 8 when the pre-theater has left.


                Back to bistros...

                Regulars to this board know that Park Bistro, on Park Av. S., b/t 28th & 29th Sts., is one of our favorites. Delicious modern French cuisine, excellent wine list, efficient service, and comfortable Paris bistro-style surroundings.


                dbBistro Moderne, on 44th St., b/t 5th & 6th Avs., is 4-star chef Daniel Boulud's upscale take on French bistro cuisine. Needless to say, the food is first-rate. The space has stylish contemporary decor. Attracts a big pre-theater crowd so, as with Marseille, it's best to go after 8.


                Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

                1. Had dinner last Saturday at Artisanal--Park & 32nd. Really good food and service, great atmosphere.