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Jan 3, 2008 11:09 AM

Best French

Coming to Manhattan in mid January with my parents (in their 60s) and looking for an excellent French restaurant. My parents don't drink so the wine menu is not an issue (unfortunately for me). Location is also not much of an issue. Just want something fabulous! Was thinking about Cafe des Artiste? Any other suggestions? Input on Cafe des Artiste? Thanks!

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  1. Not sure what they opinion of others on the board is but I am not a big fan of C d A. Why not check out Chez Napoleon. Or if you are going more French bistro you could check Artisanal (focused on cheese and can get boisterous so you may not like that) or Marseille on 44th, a very solid place.

    I should also add that I left out some big name choices, I based my comments on what was in the range of C d A. If that wasn't the case then you of course have the big guns like Le Bernadin.

    1. I truly hope you find something a little nicer than CdA. It's not a BAD place; My wife and I have been there several times for a nice quick meal pre theater. The steak au poivre is my favorite and the duck my wife's. But beyond some decent main courses, this place doesn't have a great deal to offer. The 'soup' that comes with the full dinner is absolutely atrocious and the 'salad' not much better (great bread though). A nice place, kind of crowded, decent service, but really nothing special. 'Excellent' is definitely not an adjective I would use for CdA.

      1. Personally I wouldn't go to Cafe des Artistes. However, it would be helpful to know your budget as there's a wide range of prices for French.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Miss Needle

          Thirty dollar entrees is about what I had in mind. Love foie, duck, oysters, escargot, the basics. Thanks for all the help!

        2. They might like La Grenouille - the last of the high end traditional French in NYC.

          3 Replies
          1. re: MMRuth

            imo, La Grenouille is really wonderful. That's where I'd take them. and you should be able to get a glass of wine to go with YOUR dinner, even if they don't care for any.

            1. re: ChefJune

              I may be an idiot, but I can't decipher the menu at La Grenouille. Are all the entrees the same price? Thanks!

              1. re: leahjensen

                I believe it is a prix fixe menu, with additional charges for certain dishes - I'll take a quick look.

                Edit - the dinner prix fixe is $95. Looks like otherwise each course is the same price, though it is unclear to me if the "supplement" charge applies if ordering a la carte. The lunch prix fixe is $45, which is a great price - looks like it is in celebration of their 45th anniversary, and I think is quite bit less than it was when I went last year.

          2. Cafe des Artistes is way past its prime. If you want French in that neighborhood (UWS), you'd be much better off with Picholine. Though we haven't been there in quite some time, recent reports indicate that the food remains excellent.


            My first pick would be Eleven Madison Park. Chef Daniel Humm's French-inspired cuisine is exquisite. Even though your parents don't drink, the sommelier will be happy to help you do wine pairings by the glass -- which is what my husband does because I don't drink. Friendly, professional service, and the huge space is gorgeous!


            The 4-star Jean Georges is certainly worthy of consideration. Superb cuisine, excellent wine pairings, impeccable service, and wonderful atmospherics.


            If you prefer a place that's more intimate, Fleur de Sel is another of our favorites. Chef/owner Cyril Reynaud's contemporary French cuisine is seriously delicious, they also do excellent wine pairings, service is pleasant and polished, and the small, cozy space has lovely ambiance.


            I'm not sure why Spiritchaser thinks Marseille and Artisanal are "in the range" of Cafe des Artistes because they are not. CdeA is upscale while the other two are in the moderate price range. Marseille serves very good, but not fabulous, food in a bustling brasserie setting. I'm not a fan of Artisanal but even so, I don't think those people who like it would describe the food there as fabulous. Frankly, I don't think either is what you are looking for. (Note: Picholine, which I mentioned above, has the same ownership as Artisanal.)

            2 Replies
            1. re: RGR

              i LOVE fleur de sel. and they have a really reasonable lunch prix fixe too - def worth it. you could always do balthazar, some people think it's over rated but i think it's still very solid food if not a little cramped. annoying to get a reservation though, i think it must be in all the guide books b/c it tends to be a bit touristy too.

              1. re: Renguin

                I prefer Artisanal over Balthazar. Artisanal has a $35 prix fixe dinner. We just had lunch there last week and service and food were good. I have also been for dinner. Artisanal can get lively and noisy. I have also been to Marseille and it is satisfying (they had a prix fixe dinner). IMO (and as already noted above by RGR), neither meets OP's request for excellent and fabulous.