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Good french food which wont kill my wallet

Have some friends coming into the city in 2 weeks. Need a nice french place, that won't kill my wallet. We all like drinks and desserts also, so a nice suggestion for dessert and drinks for after that is not too expensive will also help

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  1. La Boite en Bois -- an intimate 10-table walk-down French bistro at 68th & Columbus should fill the bill nicely. Their bread pudding for dessert is to die for. (Ask in advance. They sometimes run out)

    3 Replies
    1. re: idia

      check out the lunch menu. not sure i'd trust a french restaurant that doesnt even come close to the correct spelling of monsieur.

      1. re: rooney

        Rooney: I had to laugh because I too feel that way about the spelling of "monsieur" and other things misspelled on the menu as well.
        If it were an upscale restaurant I would, just like you, be absolutely turned off.
        But we are only speaking of a good French restaurant "THAT WON'T KILL HER POCKETBOOK." This place is not the panacea of French restaurants by a longshot but it is pleasant, popular and friendly with better than decent food -- hence my recommendation.

        1. re: rooney

          It's close-ish. Messieurs is the plural of monsieur, but they still left off the last s...maybe for "savings."

        1. re: LeahBaila

          When L'Express first opened many years ago, the food was really good. However, over time, I think the quality has greatly deteriorated.

          Marseille is in the same restaurant group, but the food is vastly superior, and the ambiance is much nicer as well.


          1. re: RGR

            I disagree. L'Express has, by far, the best croque monsieur in town.

        2. Please be more specific about your price range so we can make more informed recommendations.

          5 Replies
            1. re: pancun187

              OK, so many (most? all?) of the recommendations here are pretty useless for you. You will have difficulty finding a decent meal for less than $60 for two courses and wine with tax and tip.

              1. re: pancun187

                actually, cafe du soleil would work for that price, as would le gigot on cornelia st., and plenty of other bistro type places.

                i've heard some good things about tout va vien in hell's kitchen / midtown east, which would work price-wise, but perhaps someone else can give you more details about the quality of the food.

                1. re: cimui

                  Le Gigot for under $50? I don't think so. Take a look at the menu. Tout va Bien would definitely fit the price category. I've never been there but have the impression the food is nothing to write home about?
                  Chez Napoleon has a 3-course prix-fixe for $30 but the selection is rather limited. Cafe du Soleil would work also, but the food is mediocre IMO. Not too bad for the price, though.

                  1. re: rrems

                    I actually think that Le Gigot is doable under $50 if you stick with 3 course meal and a glass of wine.

                    If you really want it cheap, you can try La Bonne Soupe. That will fit the bill for sure, albeit limited selection

            2. Has anyone been to Gavroche on West 14th lately? It used to have a decent reputation...

              4 Replies
              1. re: sea97horse

                We had brunch at Gavroche towards the end of last summer, and I thought the food was somewhat disappointing when compared to meals we had previously had there.

                In that general vicinity, Gascogne is a much better choice. Delicious food and very charming atmospherics whether inside or in the very lovely garden.


                1. re: RGR

                  I had brunch there last spring. It was almost empty and the service was deplorable. The food was mediocre at best

                  1. re: RGR

                    Unfortunately, Gavroche started out excellent and has slowly dropped to barely above average. We haven't felt inclined to go there in the last year.

                    1. re: rrems

                      Not only has the food gone downhill, but the garden looked very neglected. :-(

                2. My favourite is La Luncheonette way over on 10th Ave. Very fairly priced.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: sing me a bar

                    agreed...La Lunchonette is good...as is Lucien...depends on the atmosphere you want...LaLunchonette is quiet, film noir, like a castaway from a French harbor...Lucien is East Village grungey trendy and usually packed...

                    1. re: sing me a bar

                      I'll throw my support behind La Lunchonette. Once inside, it feels to me like eating in a French country farmhouse!

                    2. Perhaps the early bird $25 dinner at La Sirene? BYOB, very very French, and the friendliest place in town. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/501523

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: Brian S

                        We've not been to La Sirene, but now that it's been reviewed so favorably in "The NY Times," I'm guessing it might not be so easy to get a reservation.

                        1. re: RGR

                          I went the Friday after the review, called one hour before I went, and got a reservation... because I dined at 5 PM! People who called while I was there were told it was booked for the entire evening. But 5 PM was quite pleasant, with the sun pouring in through the front window.

                          1. re: Brian S

                            I recall that right after the review came out, eater included La Sirene in one of their resy thingys, and the response was, "We're fully booked." Not exactly a surprise.

                            If dining at 5 p.m. is the best way to snag a reservation, that's fine with us.

                        2. re: Brian S

                          A good suggestion with La Sirene.

                          We've been there more than a few times since it opened last year and this small, very friendly bistro never provided any dissapointing experience. Didier, the owner/chef, is such a hoot, a fun conversationalist and a nice host. His cooking are very homey and very provincial. The cassoulet, which I've had on more than a couple of occasions, remains one of the better one that I've had in the city.

                          1. re: RCC

                            Yes, Didier Pawlicki is a gem. I tried to capture the spirit of the place when I first wrote about it. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/501523

                        3. Nice/Martin 79th & Amsterdam.
                          Reasonable priced, great in the afternoon esp. for sidewalk dining.

                          I am a total sucker for wonderful panisess.

                          1. Lucien....Jules where you have live jazz....Les Halles....La petite auberge. Those are cute little bistros where you won't break the bank. It may not be the best dinner you ever had but you probably will get a good dinner.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: cricri7

                              I must disagree about Les Halles. No way is it a cute little bistro. It is, in fact, a sizable brasserie with seating that would make a sardine feel squeezed and a hideously high noise level. As for getting a good dinner, in my view, the odds are against that because the food's mediocre at best.

                              On the other hand, La Petite Auberge, which is one of our favs, does fit your description. The ambiance of a cozy country inn in Britanny and always a good meal. When it comes to dessert, the souffles are seriously delicious!


                              1. re: cricri7

                                I went to Jules within the past couple of months or so after not having gone for a lot of years. It was fairly good with friendly service and close to pancun's budget, though possibly a little over, depending on what and how much you order. I enjoyed the experience. It's not a place I'd travel to just for the purpose of dining, but it's a good neighborhood bistro with good jazz.

                              2. Cafe du Soleil on 104th and B'way is very reasonable. They have some competently executed bistro standards like coq au vin, moules frites, rotisserie chicken. The potato sides (mashed potato with chevres, rosemary roasted potatoes, etc..) all tend to be good. And their chocolate mousse is something I go out of my way for (which is saying a lot for a non-dessert lover).

                                I've never had cocktails, there, but the selection of wines by the glass is decent.

                                1. L'Ecole, the restaurant for the French Culinary Institute. I don't do much French dining, so I can't compare it to other places. I can, however, tell you that every course my wife and I had there ranged from good to excellent. And more to the point about your wallet, the dinner menu is a $40 prix fixe. The courses depend on the seating time...check out their website for more info on that.

                                  1. Bistro les Amis in Soho.

                                    Bistro Les Amis
                                    180 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

                                    1. I second Le Boite en Bois. It is a really great place for excellent french food at a decent price. They have a set menu which makes it economical. I had the most delicious wild mushroom ravioli, steak with a cognac cream sauce, veal.... it was all excellent!

                                      1. Has anyone been to Casimir in the EV lately?

                                        4 Replies
                                        1. re: amysal47

                                          Not too recently. I normally go there only for drinks, though. Casimir and Lucien are both places where I've found the fish or shellfish a little old-tasting (in Lucien's case, a bouillabaisse that was barely tolerable and which have caused me not to go back since - I hope the place is better now, all these years later; in Casimir's case, moules marinieres which were quite a bit more tolerable than Luciens' bouillabaisse but still not optimal - again, this is several years ago, and things could have improved - and by the way, I also found that the moules marinieres I had at Jules recently left something to be desired, though all the other items I had there were at least solidly good).

                                          1. re: Pan

                                            Sorry you had a poor bouillabaise at Lucien...i've had that dish there literally dozens of times: on a couple occassions it's been too salty (i suppose when the broth has cooked down too much)...but i've never had any seafood there that hasn't been fresh...

                                            My standard order at Lucien is the endive salad, red wine, and either the escargot (if i'm just there for a snack) or the bouillabaise or the duck or the salmon...the owner is pretty picky/responsible about the kitchen: i'd say that if you ever have a sub-standard dish there, just mention it to the waitress or manager or Lucien if he's there, and they'll surely comp it and/or bring you something else...

                                            Casimir i only tried once: and the servers were so rude and late in bringing our menus and (not) taking our order, that we walked out before we got to try the food...

                                            1. re: Simon

                                              I would have sent back the dish, except that I was being treated by a student. Under any other circumstances, I definitely would have sent the dish back.

                                            2. re: Pan

                                              Agreed...Had a nasty sea bass at Lucien. Very "fishy" tasting.


                                          2. I don't think I saw Le Pere Pinard on the LES mentioned yet - their prixe fix menu is an absolute steal - 3 courses for $16. I know it's only available til 7pm and think it starts at 5pm. I thought the food was quite good.

                                            1. Le Gamin on Houston is very good, very authentically French. My friend's French husband virtually refuses to eat anywhere else when we eat out together. Everything I've had there has been very good, maybe not spectacular, but very reliable.

                                              Le Gamin
                                              132 W Houston St, New York, NY 10012

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: ballulah

                                                I think that might be the only restaurant I have not tried on that stretch of Houston, for whatever reason. Thanks for the rec -- I'll give it a go next time I'm in the neighborhood.

                                              2. I haven't been there in a while, but I remember Cafe Charbon on the LES having decent bistro fare. Really comfortable atmosphere with very reasonable prices (mains in the teens). It's also in the LES, where you've got tons of bars once you leave the restaurant.

                                                1. Gascogne on 8th Ave at 18th. yummy food, lovely ambiance, reasonable prices, really French. One of my all-time favorites in New York.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: ChefJune

                                                    Agreed on Gascogne. Le Pere Pinard has decent food, but probably more suitable for a younger set because it can get really noisy inside.

                                                  2. someone had mentioned cafe napoleon. does anyone has any comments on this place for good french bistro? I'm curious.

                                                    1. Try Les Gamins on west 4th street in the west village. Good country style french food.

                                                      1. I just thought of another spot where you'd find good food at a decent price - and live music, too. I don't know if anybody's mentioned Jules, on East 8th Street. Nothing fancy, but a good vibe.

                                                        Jules Bistro
                                                        65 St Marks Pl, New York, NY 10003

                                                        1. Le Singe Vert - 7th Ave b/t 19th & 20th