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Best French Bistro

I just posted, but I think it was way too broad, so I am going to start again.
I will be traveling to New York with family (mom, sister, aunts) in autumn. We all love French food. I have seen a few posts on different French Bistro's on the site, but if we were going to choose just one... what should it be?

Pastis
Balthazar
Artisanal

I am sure there are plenty of others, but this is what I have found so far.

Also- we will be traveling for my mom's birthday- are any of the above worthy for a birthday dinner?

Thanks!!
Alexa
http://www.52perfectdays.com

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Artisanal
2 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10016

Pastis
9 9th Ave, New York, NY 10014

Balthazar
80 Spring St, New York, NY 10012

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  1. I'd order them as:
    Balthazar
    Artisanal
    Pastis

    Artisanal is better, though, if you're looking for fondu. Balthazar is bustling and can be fun/celebratory. I think it would work for a b-day dinner, but it depends on what kind of atmosphere you're looking for.

    1. Not to get too technical, but Balthazar and Artisanal are both brasseries, not bistros. Both are good though. Better than the three IMO (and a bistro to boot) is Raoul's in Soho.

      2 Replies
      1. re: digsnola

        Ha, I was going to say the same thing! def brasseries!

        1. re: digsnola

          digsnola, what do you like at Raoul's? (besides the steak frites)...i used to like R's a long time ago, but i've found the menu really disappointing lately and the tuna tartar i had there a couple months ago was simply awful (full of eggplant skin and a hot sauce that didn't work at all)...i want to like Raoul's again, but there's not much on their current menu that i want to order...

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          Raoul's
          180 Prince St., New York, NY 10012

        2. Being a cheese fiend I prefer Artisanal, but I'm also partial to Cosette - a tiny piece of paris on 33rd near 3rd Ave.

          3 Replies
          1. re: Spends Rent on Food

            Is Cosette near Penn Station? We will be staying in the area.
            Alexa
            http://www.52perfectdays.com

            1. re: alexa52

              From Penn Station, Cosette is a 15 minute walk due east on 33rd (Penn Station is on 33rd). Otherwise you can stop walking after 10 minutes and eat at Artisanal (32nd & Park)

              1. re: Spends Rent on Food

                Le Gigot in the Village. Small, quaint, romantic and fantastic food.

          2. Thanks for all the recommendations. We ended up at Balthazar first. I can't say enough. Everyone's food was amazing, great service, nice wine list. I would recommend it highly.

            We also tried Artisanal, and while the fondue was very good (we had the traditional) the service was horrible. Our waitress didn't give us the time of day. We had to flag her down to order additional wine, water, forks for the fondue, etc. Although she couldn't find time to attend to our table it seemed like she couldn't do enough for the couple sitting in a table near us. I rarely leave a bad tip-- but in this case we did and spoke to the manager.

            Alexa
            http://52perfectdays.com

            1. I don't know about "Best," because I'm sure there are bistros I haven't been to... but my favorite is Gascogne on 8th and 18th.

              Glad you had a good time in New York, but for the record, Balthazar is a brasserie, not a bistro. I've never been to Artisanal.

              1 Reply
              1. re: ChefJune

                re: brasserie vs. bistro...while it's true that Balthazar is brasserie (a NY version of one anyway), i think the br/b distinction has less meaning in NYC, where i feel the French options are pretty limited...

                fwiw, i like Cercle Rouge Brasserie better than any of the other places mentioned...have recently started going and it's now far and away my favorite option for French food in NY...

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                Cercle Rouge
                241 W. Broadway, New York, NY 10013