Cafe Luxembourg now profoundly mediocre
Cafe Luxembourg was a restaurant we went to when we wanted some true bistro classics. Since we no longer live in Manhattan, we had not gone there recently, so when we had a concert to attend at the Beacon, we happily made a reservation at Cafe Luxembourg. My husband ordered the frisee salad minus the fried egg, and his assessment was that it was under-dressed and almost tasteless. I ordered the crispy artichokes with tapenade, and was disappointed by the bland, almost tasteless fried artichokes served with a ramekin of tapenade. Somehow I was thinking that it would more of a "dish" as opposed to a plate of fried artichokes. We both ordered the steak frites, mine was au poivre and my husband's was with Bernaise. Both were cooked more than the requested medium rare, and my au poivre was surprissingly bland and tasteless. Even the rolls served first seemed slightly stale and were almost tasteless. The frites were the only satisfying part of the meal. We were disappointed that our return to a formerly favorite haunt yielded a dinner that was something that we could make better at home. The sole high point was the service, which was attentive.
Does Cafe Lux have a new chef and/or new management? That's what it feels like lately. The lights aren't as dim, the menu is shortened (and not to my liking), and some of their classics - even the hot fudge sundae - have been reinvented and decidely not for the better. I am very disappointed. It just feels different, not as warm, and the food is not as good as it was a year or two ago.
I live practically around the corner from Café Luxembourg and often end up there by default when I have out-of-town guests looking for a late meal after many hours at the Javits Center. It’s open late, it’s right out the back door, and we can nearly always get in at about 10:00 p.m. So I guess I’ve been there at least four or five times in the past year.
There must be tremendous turnover in the kitchen, or perhaps they just fall apart when it gets busy, because it’s almost astonishing how essentially the same meal can be just right on one visit and totally screwed up just a few nights later. I’ve had the burger both seriously overcooked and so perfectly prepared I thought it one of the better burgers I’d ever had. Same with the steak frites; just right on one visit, shoeleather the next.
I think you can still get a good meal at Café Luxembourg, you just can’t count on it.