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Reasonable Traditional French?

My mother is visiting from Florida and wants to take all the grandchildren out to a real French restaurant of the sort she remembers during 60's visits to NYC, This is not dbModerne, Montrachet, or Le Cote Basque time --are there still some older, traditionals where the food is worthwhile?

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  1. La Grenouille, is I believe, one of the few left - but I'm not sure if you are saying that you don't want places that pricey - which I can certainly understand. LCB is closed, BTW.

    Edit - Hit self over the head - missed "reasonable" in your title. I think there are a couple of places that other posters regularly recommend, but I'm blanking right now. Jubilee might be an option, though I've not been for quite a while. Are you looking for bistro fare, or more traditional French cooking (not that bistro fare isn't traditional)?

    2 Replies
    1. re: MMRuth

      more traditional if we can... busy, buzzy, not in my mother's preferred lexicon. What/ where is Jubliee? LCB ( I was engaged there, 27 years ago...) morphed into LCB-B, no?but I've been away past year so had no idea it had closed.

    2. La Petite Auberge, on Lex, b/t 27th & 28th Sts., does not quite date back to the 60's (it opened 30 years ago), but it is very much like those French bistros. The traditional bistro fare is well-prepared and tasty, and the space has the cozy feel of a little inn in Britanny, which is where the owners -- one of whom is always on the premises -- came from.


      Btw, just to note that La Cote Basque has been closed for a number of years, and both its remake, LCB Brasserie, and Montrachet closed earlier this year.

      5 Replies
      1. re: RGR

        I also like very much La Petite Auberge. I took my mom there a few months ago, and we really liked it. Love the Grand Marnier souffle!

        1. re: ellenost

          I must third La Petite Auberge. I really like that place. Reminds me of a typical small Parisian right bank eatery.

          I should also adivsze to check out Chez Napolean in Hell's Kitchen--a family run gem.

          1. re: ellenost

            La Petite Auberge is a good idea! I remember one sleety winter evening there a few years ago and the welcome that, along with the good food, made the entire evening seem festive

          2. re: RGR

            Also have to agree on La Petite Auberge. My wife and I only go there a couple times a month but since our second visit the host/waiter has remembered us and what we drink.

            The food's good. The staff's friendly and capable.

            1. re: mahalan

              Geez, the last time I was at La Petite Auberge a few months back, it was a real disappintment. Everything was off and the coffee was undrinkable. Perhaps it was just a bad night.

          3. Chez Josephine is a friendly Provençale bistro in NoHo. Prices were very reasonable, atmosphere very traditional bistro, food hearty bistro fare. If, however, she is looking for the traditional French restaurants from the 60s, she's not going to find anything reasonable. Those old-school restaurants were characterized by tuxedoed waiters, high formality and high prices.

            1. Try La Boueuf a la Mode on east 81st street. We have been going there for over thirty five years and their price fixe dinner is an amazing bargain. Consistently good food (the chocolate mousse is not to be missed). It has been owned by the same family the entire time.

              3 Replies
              1. re: smarty

                I moved to the UES recently from Murray Hill. Between what avenues is La Boeuf a la Mode? Sounds like the kind of restaurant I would love.

                1. re: ellenost

                  La Boeuf a la Mode is between East End and York Avenues, on the north side of the street.

                2. re: smarty

                  I live three blocks away, so must say I've probably been there (Le Boeuf a la Mode) at least two dozen times in past 4 years--the last was two weeks ago. The prices have gone up appreciably since last visit and the duck was not what it used to be (crispy, tender, etc)--almost wondered when it had been cooked. Steak frites was (approx?) $12 sppl to the pre fixe of $40 and not even of quality of Bistro Le Steak (also in the greater 'hood). Will continue to go there, but not because I am ecstatic about the food. I miss Sirabella and would like to know whether you know of anything else in the area that is good. I've been away for past year on teaching sabbatical.

                3. Try Capsouto Freres at 451 Washington Street in TriBeCa (Take the #1 train to Varick and walk west). Was just there for brunch a couple of weeks ago, and the food is so good, and the prices so reasonable! (They own the building, so they don't have to pay rent...)

                  Another place I love is Gascogne on 8th Avenue at 18th Street. If the weather is fine you can enjoy their delicious food in the charming atrium garden.

                  1. René Pujol on W. 51 St. goes back a long time (although the family sold the restaurant to it's workers about 2 years ago). It is classic old French with some modern touches. They have a $24 prix fixe lunch and $44 prix fixe dinner.

                    1. La Cote Basque has been closed for about 10 years. (grin) The new restaurant is more a brasserie, and expensive. If cost becomes too much of an issue, you/she might consider La Bonne Soupe (it's on the same block), more of bistro-y place, but totally French down to the mostly French speaking front of house staff... Not fancy, but French, and if not "haute" nor stellar food, at least good and satisfying

                      I haven't been in a very, very long time but Le Veau d'Or - if it's still around and any good or at least decent - might fit the bill (with points for actually having been around back then.) It was always "reasonable" starting back in those same 50s-60s (my mother's in that sense too.)

                      10 Replies
                        1. re: MikeG


                          I think you are wrong about La Cote Basque closing 10 years ago. It was about 5 years ago when Chef/owner Jean-Jacques Rachou decided to replace it with LCB Brasserie. And as I mentioned in my prior post, sadly, LCB closed earlier this year. Alain Ducasse has taken over that space and, in Feb. of next year, will be opening Bistro Benoit there.

                          Le Veau d'Or is definitely still around.

                          1. re: RGR

                            I must've confused it's closing with the demise of my expense account days such as they were. (lol)

                            1. re: MikeG

                              (Geeze I wish I could edit posts from this computer!)

                              I just googled it up and I see that what I was confusing was the closing of the last incarnation, after it moved across the street circa 1995. I never did make it to the then "new" Cote Basque.

                              1. re: MikeG

                                Thank you both! I was engaged ( agreed to, announced, was feted) at LCB 27 years ago and went to LCB-lite only twice. Le Veau D'Or however, may be PRECISELY what Mama is looking for--what a great idea! Unless it's bad...:)
                                again, thanks much---will report back on this.

                                1. re: rosemary1008

                                  If nothing else, you can check menupages.com, I'm pretty sure no one would seriously call it bad, whatever faults it might have.

                                  1. re: rosemary1008

                                    I think Le Veau d'Or sounds like exactly what you're looking for... it's on E 60th just west of Bloomingdales.

                                    1. re: rosemary1008

                                      Don't. Le Veau D'Or has sentimental value but the food is very poor indeed. Beware. Rene Pujol is safe and reasonably priced.

                                      1. re: Wilfrid

                                        "the food is very poor indeed"

                                        That's sad to hear...

                                        1. re: MikeG

                                          I love going to Le Veau d'Or but every time I've been it gets worse. Still, it's lovely to be there and I keep trying.

                              2. A friend of mine talked to me a while ago about Le Périgord on 52nd east. I think it is quite expensive though, but it is an old style french restaurant.

                                4 Replies
                                1. re: cricri7

                                  How about Marseille, on 9th Avenue? It's a beautiful room, and they have a very reasonable and generous prix fixe.

                                  Here is Le Perigord's site.

                                  1. re: brendastarlet

                                    While I like Marseille, first off, it's a brasserie, not a bistro. And more to the point, it bears absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to the French bistos of yesteryear.

                                    Le Perigord is one of the two remaining restaurants that are in the category known as the Grandes Dames of French haute cuisine. (The other is La Grenouille.) Prices are in the upscale category, so since rosemary is looking for "reasonable," it wouldn't be a good fit.

                                    1. re: RGR

                                      The prix fixe lunch price has gone up to $32... but that still could be considered reasonable. Dinner would be more than twice that.

                                  2. re: cricri7

                                    <A friend of mine talked to me a while ago about Le Périgord on 52nd east. I think it is quite expensive though, but it is an old style french restaurant.> Bigger news from there is that Antoine Bouterin is back in the kitchen. Dinner there should be divine!

                                  3. La Luncheonette-18th and 10th. Escargots, lapin, lamb sausage, cassoulet, tarte tatin.

                                    2 Replies
                                    1. re: guttergourmet

                                      Seconded.... i also very much enjoyed the seard fois gras appetizer

                                      1. re: kesues

                                        A reasonable place for french is Aloutte - on Broadway between 97 and 98th street. Not Fabulous - but certainly good - though i'd stay away from the desserts.

                                    2. Maybe not what you're looking for, but what about Les Halles?

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: Brooklyn Enthusiast

                                        Les Halles is not in any way like the traditional French restaurants Rosemary's mother remembers from the 60's. Not only that, the food is barely mediocre, service is awful, seating would make a sardine squirm, and the noise level is hideous.