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Favorite French Restaurants

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Being fond of French cuisine, I would like to know your favorite spots - from the bistros and cafes to the more refined servers of the Haute stuff. I am an out-of-towner and will be visiting in either Jan. or Feb. Price is of no concern.

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  1. There are very few authentic, traditional bistros, but two that have been around for many years and are still serving excellent food are La Petite Auberge and Chez Napoleon. For haute cuisine, La Grenouille gets favorable reports on this board, and is generally considered the last of the great high-end traditional places. For more modern, there are Jean-Georges and Picholine.

    1 Reply
    1. re: rrems

      Just remembered I should add to the list, Marseille.

    2. La Mangeoire, 1008 Second Avenue between 52rd & 54th. Christian Delouvrier is serving outstanding Provençal meals at comparatively modest prices in a charming setting.

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      La Mangeoire
      1008 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10022

      3 Replies
      1. re: JoanN

        la sirene

        1. re: wojiparu

          the best part of la sirene is that you can bring your own wine.

        2. re: JoanN

          I'm fond of Café Joul on 1st Ave bet 58 & 59.
          For something light, I like to fall into Le Bateau Ivre which is open quite late. The French
          crowd from the U.N. turns up there all the time.

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          Le Bateau Ivre
          230 E 51st St, New York, NY 10022

        3. Do not go to Le Périgord. Tired room, boring food.

          1. La Grenouille
            Bistro Vendome
            La Mangeoire

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            La Grenouille
            3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

            La Mangeoire
            1008 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10022

            Bistro Vendome
            405 E 58th St, New York, NY 10022

            1 Reply
            1. re: gutsofsteel

              Please tell us more about Bistro Vendome and La Mangeoire.

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              La Mangeoire
              1008 Second Avenue, New York, NY 10022

            2. Second (or third) La Sirene. Add Cafe d'Alsace (stick to the chooucroute and beer), Raoul's (still good after all these years), Gasgone (again, they are best at their own regional offerings), and, if you can travel, Tournesol--Long Island City, but very close to the subway. All are low key and on the smallish side--so plan ahead or go on an off hour. Please let us know what you do and how it all works out.

              5 Replies
              1. re: Upperwestsider

                Cafe d'Alsace is a good neighborhood restaurant, but I wouldn't go out of my way for it. And it's not classic/traditional French - it's Alsatian. In case that matters to the OP.

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                Cafe d'Alsace
                1695 2nd Ave, New York, NY 10128

                1. re: Upperwestsider

                  Just came back to add Gasgone to the list. You beat me to it.

                  1. re: JoanN

                    In case somebody wants to search...it's Gascogne, Not Gasgone.

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                    Gascogne
                    158 8th Ave, New York, NY 10011

                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                      What's the emoticon for I'm embarrassed?

                  2. re: Upperwestsider

                    My brother and I had a very good and pleasant meal at La Sirene some time ago. Has the restaurant continued on the same high level, now that the chef has to also spend time at his fondue restaurant, Taureau, in the East Village?

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                    La Sirene
                    558 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013

                    Taureau
                    127 E 7th St, New York, NY 10009

                  3. Daniel is my favorite at the high end with Le Bernardin a close second.

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                    Le Bernardin
                    155 W. 51st St., New York, NY 10019

                    1. A cute little french bistro I really enjoy is Bistro 61 (61st and 1st). I love the Gnocchi (but it may be seasonal). An extra bonus is the good pricing (most entrees $20 or less). I love this Gnocchi so much I can't order Gnocchi anywhere else I go.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: sumaya99

                        I like Bistro 61 too, they have great steak tartare. I really would have to suggest La Grenouille as well as the other posters, it is very beautiful with fantastic floral arrangements.

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                        La Grenouille
                        3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

                      2. I love La Grenouille, but I'd have to pic Casimir for the fact that I live around the corner. Best Steak Tartare that I've had in the city. The Maple & Soy glazed duck breast is really good too, as well as the Boudin Noir.
                        ___
                        http://www.eveats.com

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                        La Grenouille
                        3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

                        1. I like Le Gigot in the West Village.

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                          Le Gigot
                          18 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: fatema

                            As do I.

                          2. Sadly most of the modest bistros named in the thread so far are average at best (I am sentimental about La Petite Auberge and Chez Napoleon but expecting excellence [sic] will lead to disappointment) . The closest we have to a good Parisian brasserie is L'Absinthe on the Upper East Side, or Balthazar if you can get in.

                            Benoit generally does a good job of imitating a decent French bistro, although it tends to get dismissed because people expect more from Alain Ducasse.

                            La Grenouille does very traditional cuisine bourgeois quite well - quenelles de brochet, oxtail, veal kidneys - but the price is astonishing.

                            For authentic but much more downscale French experiences, the tiny Zucco on Orchard or Lina Frey on Houston. Zucco is quirky but has a real French sensibility. Lina Frey feels like a casual, young persons' restaurant in Paris - a reminder that Paris is now a cosmopolitan city.

                            -----
                            La Grenouille
                            3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

                            Zucco
                            188 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

                            Lina Frey
                            201 E Houston St, New York, NY 10002

                            4 Replies
                            1. re: Wilfrid

                              Zucco reopened after Zucco died?

                              -----
                              Zucco
                              188 Orchard St, New York, NY 10002

                              1. re: gutsofsteel

                                There are Yelp and Menupages reports from September. Did you go and find it closed?

                                1. re: gutsofsteel

                                  I don't know that it closed. It is certainly open now.

                                2. re: Wilfrid

                                  Certainly La Grenouille is very expensive, but I don't think the prices are astonishing when compared to other high end restaurants in the city. If you want to see astonishing, check out Le Cirque. I was gobsmacked -- and relieved that I wasn't paying.

                                  -----
                                  La Grenouille
                                  3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY 10022

                                  Le Cirque
                                  151 East 58th Street, New York, NY 10022

                                3. Just south of La Mangeoire is another bistro, La Mediterranée. It's at 947 2nd Ave, between 50th and 51st.

                                  http://www.lamediterraneeny.com

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: ambrose

                                    I've walked by many times....how is La Mediterranee? Is it one of your favorite French restaurants in the city?

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                                    La Mediterranee
                                    947 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10022

                                    1. re: gutsofsteel

                                      I had lunch there a number of years ago. It's not even really French, really more like a Greek idea of French. I would not recommend it.

                                      1. re: rrems

                                        Hmmmm, I remember ordering a forgettable Italian pasta dish at this restaurant many years ago. Our waiter sulked when my conpanion decided not to order any wine, even as he (waiter) was pushing "our merlot as our most popular order".

                                    2. re: ambrose

                                      After walking by this place a thousand times, I had a lovely dinner at La Mediterranée a couple of weeks ago for the frst time. The food is not haute, but doesn't pretend to be, just simple and comforting, as I expect bistro food to be, and easy on the wallet. A bonus: an old-timer played beautiful, traditional tunes the entire time. It was a charming experience and I would definitely return.

                                      At the other end of the spectrum I do love La Grenouille!