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Reasonable, yet terrific French for 25th Anniversay

g
gonnif Aug 15, 2011 06:36 AM

Hi All,
My bro is looking to celebrate with his wife and come in from NJ. He doesn't want to go top tier (Daniel, Corton, etc.) is really looking for something truly french, rather than inspired like EMP or the like. I've always thought Tocqueville is a great place and reasonable for what you get, but could use a little help and suggestions. On behalf of my older brother, thanks!!!

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Tocqueville
1 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

Corton
239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

  1. m
    mahler5 Aug 28, 2011 01:04 PM

    I've had many wonderful meals at Le Gigot. It's well within your price point, and the mood is just so.

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    Le Gigot
    18 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014

    1 Reply
    1. re: mahler5
      s
      Simon Aug 28, 2011 02:44 PM

      Hi mahler, i tried Le Gigot about 3 or 4 times a couple years ago and was pretty underwhelmed. At first i was happy because unlike most other bistros in NY they seem to at least have a handle on the concept of a bistro. But most of the food i had was mediocre (and the duck confit was actually bad - dry and tough and i remember explainin to my gf at the time, who'd never had the dish before, how this was a bad example of it and she should try it again elsewhere. )

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      Le Gigot
      18 Cornelia Street, New York, NY 10014

    2. s
      Simon Aug 21, 2011 06:57 PM

      in general, i think French food in NYC is pretty bad...especially at the reasonable level (there isn't a single bistro in the whole city that i've been to that i'd consider passable)...

      my advice would be to see if they are amenable to Italian cuisine, of which we have a wealth of yummy options...

      15 Replies
      1. re: Simon
        c
        City Kid Aug 22, 2011 08:04 AM

        I've had very good experiences at several French bistros. Not fancy, but I have found Le Magnifique and Le Paris both very satisfying and authentic -- perhaps not special enough for the OP's occasion. When I'm in the mood nothing hits the spot like moules frites. A Parisienne foodie acquaintance who lived in NYC for many years swears by Jubilee when she needs a French bistro fix.

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        Le Magnifique
        1022 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10021

        Le Paris
        1312 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10128

        1. re: City Kid
          s
          Simon Aug 22, 2011 07:50 PM

          hi...so i tried Jubilee tonight on your rec...i started a thread earlier asking for suggestions to take a friend to who is staying at the Parker Meridian...so when i saw Jubilee was on E.54th and generally walkable, i figured i'd kill two birds/threads with one stone/visit, etc...

          Odd little place that Jubilee...

          the good news: my soupe de poisson was excellent: delightfully fishy without being too salty, not too rich, just great...the service (by sultry and thickly-accented South Americans) was good...both my friends (another one joined) ate literally every single bite of their salmon and chicken main courses...wine list is not so interesting but quite reasonably priced...and the tiny dark bar area in the back, up a few steps through an archway that looks like it might be a vestige of some Middle Eastern restaurant that inhabited the same space long ago, is kind of alluring: the bar has a discreet tawdry look that has rendezvous written all over it...

          the so-so: my crab cakes were merely ok: fine but i wouldn't order them again...the vibe is a little on the drab/fading side (lots of older locals eating their dinners sleepily, etc)...

          overall: Does it change my impression that French bistro food in NYC is not very good?...no...it was an excellent call for the evening because of the location and solid food, but i wouldn't go out of my way to eat there -- given that i live downtown, i can't imagine traveling to 54th/1st for it...still, i'm happy to have it in my list of quirky location-specific options, and i'd consider going to get some food at the bar if i was going there with someone who'd appreciate the retro/film-noir feel of it and we happened to be in the neighborhood...

          Thanks for the suggestion in any case, as i'd never even heard of it before this...

          -----
          Jubilee
          347 E 54th St, New York, NY 10022

          1. re: Simon
            g
            gutsofsteel Aug 23, 2011 04:10 AM

            Try the moules frites at Jubilee sometime, Simon. Pretty decent.

            Love your description of the bar.

            1. re: gutsofsteel
              c
              City Kid Aug 23, 2011 06:40 AM

              I absolutely plan to go to Jubilee sometime for the moules frites, thanks for the rec, GOS. It wouldn't occur to me to order crab cakes in a French bistro...I'm glad it worked for you last night, Simon -- the French woman who recommended it to me seems like a very good source after a lifetime in Paris and one who knows good food.

              1. re: City Kid
                s
                Simon Aug 23, 2011 08:00 AM

                one of the moules choices was a moules vinagrette, which sounded tasty and i might try next time.

                fwiw, crabcakes are sometimes served at bistros in France -- the Americans, British, and French (and Vietnamese) all try to claim to have invented them :)

                Curious if Jubilee is more crowded on weekends...it has a kind of House-of-Usher feel to it, like it might be frightening to see what it looks like if they turned up the lights...

        2. re: Simon
          r
          RGR Aug 22, 2011 11:12 AM

          I strongly disagree with you, Simon. There is much delicious French food to be had in NYC at the "reasonable" level.

          Two bistros, La Petite Auberge and Le Parisien, immediately come to mind.

          Le Parisien photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/sets/72157625626869537/

          La Petite Auberge photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/sets/72157619567407983/with/3620333570/

          In the brasserie category, there's Cercle Rouge.

          Cercle Rouge photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/sets/72157623454728725/

          And there is even very reasonable on the upscale level. Tocqueville's 3-course lunch prix-fixe is an incredible bargain, and the food is always superb.

          Tocqueville photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/sets/72157625626586975/

          If you've been to all of these, and you've not found the food "passable," then as the French say, "Chacun à son goût."

          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

          -----
          Tocqueville
          1 East 15th Street, New York, NY 10003

          La Petite Auberge
          116 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

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

          Le Parisien
          163 E 33rd St, New York, NY 10016

          1. re: RGR
            s
            Simon Aug 22, 2011 02:20 PM

            hi RGR...i haven't been to those -- i've been meaning to try Petite Auberge as i remember you recommended it a while ago, and it's walkable from my new home near Gramercy...i've been to Cercle Rouge only for a drink at the bar, so i'll check that one out sometime as well...

            i'm maybe a bit spoiled, as i lived in Paris for a few months last year, but i'd love to find a place for things like coq au vin, endive salade, bouillabaise, etc...years ago, i used to go to Lucien, but sadly it went downhill in such a frighteningly drastic way that i don't go anymore...

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            Lucien
            14 1st Ave, New York, NY 10009

            1. re: Simon
              r
              RGR Aug 22, 2011 03:56 PM

              Simon,

              I think it's going to be difficult to find a single place that serves all the dishes you mention to say nothing of preparing them to your satisfaction. La Petite Auberge does not have coq au vin or bouillabaisse on the menu. They do have an endive salad, but we've never tried it -- the main reason being that a small, very nicely-dressed green salad comes with every main course. Cercle Rouge and Le Parisien also serve endive salad. We've tried both, and both were excellent. C.R. has bouillabaisse on the menu (not my thing) but no coq au vin. Le Parisien has neither. We've had coq au vin at dbBistro. Imo, first-rate + the little pot of spaetzle that came with it was fantastic. Granted on the more expensive side, though.

              http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com .

              1. re: RGR
                s
                Simon Aug 22, 2011 04:11 PM

                Thanks. No need for a place to have the specific dishes - i just listed those as three examples of the kind of dishes i like. What are your favs at Petite Auberge?

                1. re: Simon
                  r
                  RGR Aug 22, 2011 05:45 PM

                  Apps: Shimp cocktail. Yes, I know it's not French, but the shrimp are always large and very fresh, and the cocktail sauce is terrific. Plus, they garnish the bowl with endive leaves -- perfect for scooping up that sauce. Escargots de Bourgogne. Lots of garlic in the butter sauce. Yum! Onion soup. Leeks vinaigrette.

                  Mains: Duck à l'orange. Dover sole (expensive but worth it). Mr. R. likes the steak au poivre. Liver and onions is excellent. It's not on the regular menu but is often a special. The broiled lamb chops are very good, but the last time we had the rack of lamb for two, it was disappointing.

                  Dessert: They are known for their soufflés and rightly so as they are divine. Only two flavors. We prefer the Grand Marnier, but the chocolate is very good, too. The problem for a solo diner is that the soufflés are not single portioned. They are meant for two (or more) to share. They also serve a textbook crème caramel.

                  http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                  1. re: RGR
                    s
                    Simon Aug 22, 2011 07:55 PM

                    i'll probably try Cercle Rouge first -- the Petite Auberge menu didn't really interest me, with the exception of the leeks, a dish i love which is rarely offered in NYC...

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

                    1. re: Simon
                      Kurtis Aug 23, 2011 06:40 PM

                      We were very disappointed with our visit to Petite Auberge less than a month ago despite the fact that we really wanted to like the place. While the service was good, the food was on the worse side of mediocre. We had the leeks which was the only save of the evening. Plus, something really off-putting about the smell- damp and moldy - as you enter the place that was unpleasant to say the least. There are times when we feel our bad experience at a restaurant is something unrelated to the food, or due to an off night, but this wasn't one of them.

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                      La Petite Auberge
                      116 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10016

            2. re: RGR
              g
              gutsofsteel Aug 22, 2011 05:05 PM

              It really is a question of frame of reference. For someone who eats in Paris, with that as a benchmark, then no, there is no superb (or even close) classic French bistro cuisine in NYC.

              1. re: gutsofsteel
                hcbk0702 Aug 22, 2011 05:54 PM

                Minetta Tavern is probably the best bet for some of this kind of food in NYC, albeit with limited choices.

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                Minetta Tavern
                113 MacDougal St, New York, NY 10012

            3. re: Simon
              r
              RCC Aug 22, 2011 05:54 PM

              We've had a few that are "passable", but none have really wowed us ... just like you, we're spoiled by the high level in France.

              I don't know if MInetta Tavern can be a bistro or a brasserie, but this one is very much above passable.

            4. ChefJune Aug 19, 2011 11:43 AM

              Are you saying you don't want to recommend Tocqueville to them? Or that you're looking for something different?

              I think Tocqueville would be a great choice, personally.

              1. m
                merhas Aug 18, 2011 08:02 AM

                Bistro Vendome is fantastic

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

                2 Replies
                1. re: merhas
                  r
                  RGR Aug 18, 2011 02:25 PM

                  We've had dinner once at Bistro Vendome. While the food was fine, service was so horrible that we would never go back.

                  Bistro Vendome photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/sets/72157624195437776/with/4666427476/

                  http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                  1. re: RGR
                    m
                    merhas Aug 28, 2011 11:39 AM

                    that's too bad. i've never had that experience there before. The mussels are amazing there.

                2. loratliff Aug 15, 2011 12:48 PM

                  If you're willing to go pretty rustic and down to earth, I love La Sirene. Itty bitty restaurant, BYOB and very good food. I would say it certainly meets most people's expectations of reasonable, too.

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                  La Sirene
                  558 Broome Street, New York, NY 10013

                  1. r
                    RGR Aug 15, 2011 08:59 AM

                    Following on what gos posted, it would be helpful for you to be specific, so give us your per person budget for *food only* (drinks, tax & tip additional).

                    http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                    1. g
                      gutsofsteel Aug 15, 2011 06:52 AM

                      What is "reasonable" for you?

                      9 Replies
                      1. re: gutsofsteel
                        g
                        gonnif Aug 15, 2011 02:05 PM

                        thanks for the replies. For reasonable, I would say up to $125 pp, though under a hundred is better, w/o wine, tax, tip.
                        Also, I thought of Sirene, but I think it's a little to rustic, funky for this occasion.

                        1. re: gonnif
                          r
                          RGR Aug 15, 2011 02:23 PM

                          If your brother and his wife want to go truly French and classic, I highly recommend La Grenouille, one of the last of NYC's Grandes Dames of haute French cuisine. The dinner prix-fixe is $98 though there are some supplements. The food's delicious, service is cordial and attentive, and the space adorned with the famous gorgeous floral arrangements is lovely. Perfect, imo, for a special occasion.

                          La Grenouille photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/11863391@N03/sets/72157626561877288/

                          http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

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

                          1. re: RGR
                            h
                            H Manning Aug 15, 2011 02:29 PM

                            The chef at La Grenouille moved to La Silhouette just a few weeks ago.

                            http://ny.eater.com/archives/2011/07/...

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

                            La Silhouette
                            362 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019

                            1. re: H Manning
                              r
                              RGR Aug 15, 2011 02:33 PM

                              Are you implying that there might be a problem with the food at La Grenouille? Or are you recommending La Silhouette (which we haven't been to)?

                              http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                              1. re: RGR
                                h
                                H Manning Aug 15, 2011 02:38 PM

                                I'm recommending La Silhouette. I like La Grenouille but it is too "top tier" for the OP, since the prix fixe of $98 just a few dollars less than Daniel.

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

                                La Silhouette
                                362 W 53rd St, New York, NY 10019

                                1. re: H Manning
                                  r
                                  RGR Aug 15, 2011 02:45 PM

                                  You are not up-to-date on what's happening at Corton re: the menu. They recently eliminated the 3-course prix-fixe (which I'm presuming you were referring to). Now, it's either a 6-course prix-fixe for $115 or the tasting menu for $155. In any case, the OP stated $125 in the post above, so Grenouille fits that budget.

                                  http://thewizardofroz.wordpress.com

                                  -----
                                  Corton
                                  239 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013

                                  1. re: H Manning
                                    f
                                    foodyum Aug 15, 2011 04:25 PM

                                    I love the food at La Silhoutte but the room doesn't have that big event feel that the OP may be looking for.
                                    How about Picholine?

                                    -----
                                    Picholine
                                    35 West 64th St., New York, NY 10023

                                2. re: H Manning
                                  Kurtis Aug 15, 2011 02:34 PM

                                  Has anyone been to either of the two since the change?

                                3. re: RGR
                                  c
                                  City Kid Aug 18, 2011 08:29 AM

                                  Totally agree, RGR, La Grenouille is the perfect choice for the occasion!!!

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