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Apr 3, 2009 11:55 AM

Casual,reasonable french bistro with menu similar to L'express?

Visiting and looking for some French comfort food tha is reasonably priced. Looked at the L'express menu ,liked it. Is the food good there? Any other recs, staying midtown but doesn't have to be there just in manhattan. Enjoy chacuterie,cheeses, onion tart, beef bougonoine, steak tartare, goat cheese salads, onion soup etc just some classic french comfort food. Thanks

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  1. In my view, the food at L'Express is mediocre (though that was not the case when they first opened many years ago). However, two other restaurants under the same ownership have very good food: Marseille, in midtown, on the corner of 9th Av. & 44th St., and Cafe d'Alsace, on the UES, on the corner of 2nd Av. & 88th St.

    For exceptional charcuterie, *the* place to go is Bar Boulud, on the UWS, on B'way, b/t 63rd & 64th Sts. The boudin blanc is also first-rate.

    Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

    1. I'm a fan of L'Express. I love the casual environment, French onion soup, bar, and the best croques in the city. I think you'd also have luck at Les Halles on Park Avenue.

      1. I find L'Express utterly mediocre. Artisanal is a better bet. Also try Jean Claude in Soho, Felix in Soho, Landmarc in Tribeca or the midtown Time Warner Center, and ditto the recommendation for Marseille on 9th Ave.
        Bon appetit!

        1. French Roast is almost exactly like L'Express, only better, and in the same price range. Marseille and Cafe D'Alsace are more expensive, and less casual. Oddly, all three restaurants seem to share a web designer:

          Village on W. 9th St. is another option (it would be my first choice), as is Casinis on the Lower East Side.

          3 Replies
          1. re: small h

            I don't agree that Marseille and d'Alsace are less casual though they are more expensive.

            All three share the same web designer because all are owned by the same restaurant group, Tour de France:

            1. re: RGR

              Ah, mystery solved. I thought the universe was converging.

              "Casual" is in the eye of the beholder, but I behold Marseille's big round booths and L'Express' little rickety tables and pick b) as the more casual option. Holy Moses, L'Express is owned by Tour de France also. The universe IS converging.

              1. re: small h

                I agree completely that Marseille's interior decor is far more attractive than L'Express's, which seems to have become more grungy over the years. But because Marseille's space is more appealing doesn't mean it's a less casual place. You can dress "down" at either and feel quite comfortable.

          2. café forant


            Cafe Forant
            449 W 51st St Ste Frnt, New York, NY 10019

            8 Replies
            1. re: holland_oats

              Is this place new? Despite the Frenchified name, the menu looks American with a few French dishes included.

              1. re: RGR

                Thanks for the many suggestions. I will do one of these for lunch and it looks as if only L'express and Les Halles do Croques, anywhere else do an especially good croque. Like the looks and menu of Marseille and seems do be more reasonable than say Landmarc or Felix.

                1. re: mick

                  I am not a fan of Les Halles. Mediocre food, indifferent service, uncomfortably tight tables, and an insanely high noise level.

                  Bar Boulud has a Croque Monsieur on the lunch and brunch menus. I haven't had it, but someone I know who tried it said it was "decadent."


                  1. re: RGR

                    One bistro that not gets talked about often is Lucien on the Lower east side. I went once and loved the food and the service there.

                    On a more upscale bistro scale, there is Benoit. I went there a couple of months ago and was pleasanly impressed.

                    1. re: cricri7

                      I like Lucien a whole lot, but it's not a good value. It's a nice place to hang out at the bar for a drink and a snack, but the quality of the food doesn't justify the price.

                        1. re: mick

                          Pastis is fine. It's a bit of a scene, but not in a bad way. And it's loud at prime time. It's one of my go-to places to catch up with friends from out of town, because it's consistent and dependable. The atmosphere outpaces the food, which is not to say the food is bad - just not transcendent.

                          1. re: mick

                            Excellent. Very good food and cocktails.