Category Archives: French

Frenchette

Frenchette has become a very popular place to eat since they scored some critical acclaim from the NY Times. Reservations are difficult to come by, but if you just walk in early and ask for a table by the bar, you should be fine. That’s what my wife and I did over the weekend.

We started with a pair of apps: the terrine and the mortadella.

The mortadella is $9 for about 3 slices of mortadella, placed atop a soft dinner roll and then hit with some shaved parmesan and black truffle on top. This was good, but a bit overpriced (and the truffle wasn’t really that flavorful enough to justify the cost).

The terrine was incredible. Probably one of the better terrines I’ve had. It came with toasted slices of baguette and jars of gherkins and Dijon mustard. A perfect way to start the meal.

They even still give you a bread basket with some nice butter for the table as well. We used that with the terrine as well.

Next up was the 100-day dry aged Masonic Farm rib eye.

That’s a garlic and herb butter you see there on top.

This was pretty good. Lots of really nicely tenderized meat, and tons of edible fat that tasted like meat jelly. The dry aged flavor came through in parts, but not in a wallop. I say this is about 8/10 on my flavor scale. Too pricey though at $135 for what was essentially a steak for one, even though they market this as a steak for two.

We didn’t stop there. We had to try the duck frites.

This was pretty good. While a few bites were sinewy, overall it was a nicely prepared duck breast. I’ve had better, but this is a really affordable and fun version of steak frites from the fowl kingdom.

I had high hopes for this last dish. Artichoke and couscous tagine.

It was bland. But not only that, there were hardly any pieces of artichoke in the dish. In fact, there was only ¾ of one artichoke in it. About eight olives, one or two small carrots, and a few strands of fennel. What a waste. At least I didn’t count on this being a main item.

Overall this was a good meal. I might consider going back for their beef steak frites or au poivre, but I think I’ve pretty much covered everything else that I wanted to try. If that frites doesn’t wow me, then there is no reason for me to come back other than for cocktails at the bar (they make some really nice stuff).

Some of the stuff here is good, but I’m not sure I agree with the NY Times critics who are losing their shit over this place. It’s just above average.

FRENCHETTE
241 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013

Bistro Pierre Lapin

Dining at Bistro Pierre Lapin was probably one of the best French culinary experiences I’ve ever had. Everything I ate was either good or bordering incredible. The meal began with a “slice” of pate, a plate of butter, olives and herb truffle goat cheese, and a basket of small French baguettes that were really hard to stay away from, even though I knew I was about to indulge in a massive and decadent French feast. This may be the best table bread in the city.

Next up was a foie gras mousse, which was silky smooth and one of my favorite bites of the night.

These little guys are pig’s ear pinwheels stuffed with spicy sausage. Really nice.

This head cheese incorporated a boiled egg in the middle. The flavor and texture on this was incredible. This is a must try.

The deviled eggs were great, getting a great pop of texture and flavor from the bacon and pickle additions.

This is a bunch of pig head meat that was deep fried into a delicious patty. Awesome.

This was probably the most unique preparation of escargots I’ve ever seen. They were served with a sunny side up egg, peas, fava beans and a garlic-butter sauce.

The frog’s legs here are the best I’ve ever had, and was one of my favorite dishes of the night. If you have never eaten frog’s legs before, get them here so that you are forever spoiled.

They offer two styles of burger here. The first is a simply grilled burger with foie gras on top, sandwiched between two slices of Texas toast.

They also have an American style burger here as well, with the traditional fixings.

I preferred the American burger over the Texas toast burger, but both were very tasty.

Speaking of toast, this preparation of cognac flambe mushrooms on brioche toast was delicious. I could see this going over really well with the NYC brunch crowd.

These tortelloni are stuffed with rabbit and served with sweet peas in a carbonara sauce (you can see the yolk).

One of the best dishes I tried here was this “Shake N Bake” style breaded pork chop, served with an au poivre sauce. There’s a great story associated with this dish that goes back to when Chef Harold Moore’s mother used to cook pork chops at home. Apparently she used to overcook regular pork chops, but when she followed the instructions on the box for “Shake N Bake,” they came out perfectly every time. So Harold came up with his own breadcrumb mixture here, and the dish is a tribute to his mother’s Shake N Bake dinners at home.

The chicken for two is a great way to go if you’re looking to share:

But I would recommend the leg of lamb if you are going with a group:

This beauty is deboned, stuffed with herbs and spices, rolled back onto the bone, covered with sauce and roasted for hours.

The result is a prime-rib like texture and some dangerously tender and delicious meat. You have to request this a day in advance, and it will feed four to six people with ease.

As for sides. I tried both the clarified butter fries and the truffle fries. Both were excellent, but I think I preferred the truffle fries.

Both the potato gratin and the potato puree were delicious. Between those, I prefer the gratin.

The broccoli was pretty good too. That brown plate at the bottom is actually foie gras stuffing for the roast chicken dish. That stuff is crack.

I will definitely be back here to try more dishes from the entrée menu, and most certainly the artichoke salad. And don’t forget to try one of their tasty and beautiful cocktails. This is their French margarita:

BISTRO PIERRE LAPIN
99 Bank Street
New York, NY 10014

Le Turtle

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS NOW CLOSED!

I went to Le Turtle with a group of Instagram food lunatic friends to try some of their iconic dishes. This ended up being one of the best meals I’ve had in a while. Let me get right down to it.

We started with the following:

Dry aged beef carpaccio with Hokkaido uni and pickled ramp bottoms. Just the right amount of surf with your turf. Great pop from the pickled ramps.

Sliced avocado and radish with avocado mousse, mango curd and mixed grains. Beautiful, light, refreshing and satisfying.

Fresh cheese and beets with apricot kernel oil, toasted sunflower seeds and a maple emulsion. This was fucking fantastic. Get it.

Tagliatelle carbonara with guanciale, pecorino and egg yolk emulsion. Really nice take on the classic pasta dish.

Halibut and tomato with brussels sprouts, calabrian chili and arugula. Perfectly cooked, light and flakey.

Fried octopus with crisped rice, ramp chimichurri sauce and togarashi and arbol chili peppers. One of the very best octopus dishes I’ve ever had. It gets braised for hours before a light batter fry. And the ramp chimichurri is incredible.

Sasso Poulet. This is the best whole chicken dish I’ve eaten. The birds are brined for days and then hung, to allow the skin to cook more crispy. The bird comes out on a plate of burning hay for display purposes, filling the dining room with an amazing aroma.

Then it comes back disarticulated and ready to eat. I particularly liked munching on the feet.

This comes with crispy fingerlings, chicken liver mousse and pickled shishito peppers. At $69 this is a steal, and can easily feed two people.

90 day dry aged Pat LaFrieda cote de boeuf. This comes out to the table for viewing uncut like this, before resting:

And then after resting it comes back ready to serve for two (or more) looking like this:

This would be a 10/10 if there was a bit more char and crisp on the outside. It’s a bit more like a roast. But the flavor is perfect. Not too funky that it fucks up your taste buds. Perfectly cooked. And the fat and trim is diced up and fried, which is a brilliant way to reduce waste and make everyone smile with more tasty bits to eat. 9/10. You can pass on using the molasses sauce that comes with it though.

There was also and Japanese yam dish that came out at this time. I wasn’t a big fan, but it was absolutely stunning.

There was also a simple but tasty salad of greens citrus and blue cheese. Good way to cut the richness of the steak.

Dessert was equally as impressive as the savory courses, and they were all unique, which is rare these days.

Hazelnut financier with blood orange creme anglaise and cranberry dust.

Chocolate sorbet with milk crumbs, sea salt and olive oil.

Forbidden rice pudding with vanilla chai ice cream, rye sand and coconut snow.

I highly recommend this place. Go while ramps are still in season though, because this is one place that actually made me respect that produce. Until now I didn’t get the infatuation with ramps. I’ll be back again very soon. In fact, I’m going tomorrow with my wife.

LE TURTLE
177 Chrystie St
New York, NY 10002

Brasserie Seoul

Brasserie Seoul is a Brooklyn French restaurant where Chef Park is using Korean ingredients to execute his dishes.

I hesitate to call this ppace fusion, since the menu is decidedly French. However I suppose the heavy use of Korean ingredients takes it comfortably into that category.

I came in with two other Instagrammers to shoot some photos of their popular dishes. Here’s what we had:

FIRST ROUND

Foie Gras Amuse: cherry puree and grilled grapes on brioche.

Oysters with Pork Belly: five spice pork belly and chopped kimchi dressing both east and west coast varietals.

Wagyu Beef Tartare: wasabi oil and Korean pear with pinenuts and quail egg.

That was really good. Probably my favorite dish of the night.

SECOND ROUND

Seafood Pancake: bay scallops, shrimp, squid and scallions with a ginger soy aioli.

Truffle Tteok & Cheese: rice cakes with three-cheese bechemel, white truffle oil, panko and gochugaru (a red pepper flake blend).

THIRD ROUND

Cod: jajang puree (black beans), gochugaru carrot reduction, wilted baby kale, and roasted sunchoke.

Kimchi Bouillabaisse: mussels, pollack, shrimp, baby octopus, fried tofu, rice cakes and cabbage kimchi.

FOURTH ROUND

Duck Trio: fried duck confit, breast, crispy skin and foie. More like duck four ways I guess. Blood orange gastrique with cherry puree and candied ginger.

Wagyu NY Strip Steak: black garlic, Korean sea salt, green chili puree and citrus cho ganjang (vinegar soy sauce). 7/10. This was a bit leaner than I expected from wagyu. The flavor was nice, but I’ve had much better prime strips at half the price (this will run you $80).

This steak came with roasted fingerling potatoes:

This place is pretty good. I’m not sure I’d hoof it all the way out to Brooklyn for a second visit, but the tartare, seafood pancake, tteok & cheese and duck dishes were all fantastic.

BRASSERIE SEOUL
300 Schermerhorn St
Brooklyn, NY 11217

Marseille

My wife and I went to Marseille in the Times Square / Hell’s Kitchen area to help them promote a special menu for Stinky Cheese Week.

We started with some drinks, and then had a few more. They were all good. Coffee old fashioned, Stinky Cheese Week special negroni, Lillet spritz, and some champagne.

In fact I really liked the bar here as well.

I also really liked the bread and butter they served us with dinner.

We started with the Stinky Cheese Week special French onion soup. I enjoyed the cheese, and the beef broth had a pretty good flavor.

I’ve had better elsewhere, but it was certainly satisfying.

The escargot were a bit light on flavor. I was able to pick up the herb flavors easily, but the garlic and butter application was much less than what I’m used to. In fact it may have been an oil instead of a butter. At least that’s the concensus my wife and I came to. I didn’t dislike them, they were just very light and unexpected.

My wife ordered the duck, which had an interesting preparation. It struck us as more German than French: It came with boiled potatoes as opposed to gratin (menu said gratin). And it also came on a bed of sauerkraut, which seemed to throw off the flavors and compete with the duck.

Unfortunately the duck itself was tough and overcooked in parts.

I had the steak frites. While I ordered it medium rare, it came out at about medium well or well done. It had decent flavor though, despite the awful sin of overcooking, and the fries were actually great. 5/10.

Continuing with the Stinky Cheese Week theme, we shared the blue cheese ice cream profiteroles for dessert.

I kinda liked it. It was like eating a cheese plate in profiterole form, as the ice cream had the cheese in it, the cream puff represented the toast, crackers or bread, and the apples and honey came in the form of a sauce for pouring on top.

It was very interesting, but admittedly not for everyone. In fact stinky cheeses in general would fit that chatacterization, but what can I say: I love some stinky cheeses.

MARSEILLE
630 9th Ave
New York, NY 10036

Le Coq Rico

Le Coq Rico is essentially a steakhouse for fowl. They serve whole, half and quarter birds – everything from chicken to duck to guinea hens. The menu is quite impressive.

My wife and I went in with a photographer who shoots food photos and runs social media accounts as a side business, so we got to try a bunch of things.

First off, they make great cocktails. We tried their old fashioned, and it was excellent.

Since we went in for brunch, we also got to try a pair of their fresh juices. The orange one is called Sirocco Breath, and it’s made with celery, carrot, apple, turmeric and nutmeg. Pop a shot of vodka in this and it is an amazing cocktail as well. So tasty and fresh.

The reddish purple drink is called the Root Twist: beet, ginger and orange. Very nice.

To start, we had the Caesar salad with chicken croquettes. This was  a great salad.

The foie gras terrine en croute was so amazingly flavorful. This has won competitions all over the world. A definite must order.

Okay now on to the main feature. This is a 120-day old Brune Landaise pastured chicken, poached and roasted to perfection.

After slicing:

Some plating:

I really enjoyed this. All the dark meat was juicy, succulent and flavorful, and even the breast meat was incredible – especially when you drizzle some jus on it.

We snacked on this with some fries and a mixed greens salad with vinaigrette.

Now, I know the chicken is the main star, but you NEED to save room for dessert. I’m serious. These are some of the best desserts I’ve had. Every one of them was incredible. Perfectly executed French classics.

Mille Feuille:

100% Chocolate Profiteroles:

L’Ile Flottante:

Chef Westerman’s Vacherin, Ice cream side:

And Sorbet side:

I highly recommend this place. Share a fowl for the table, and go ballistic on desserts. You won’t be disappointed!

LE COQ RICO
30 E 20th St
New York, NY 10003

Commander’s Palace

What can really be said about Commander’s Palace that hasn’t already been said? The sprawling seven dining room Garden District mansion is an American institution of culinary tradition, a birthing place of great chefs, and a damn good place to eat in New Orleans, if not one of the best.

Despite what you might think, however, I do actually have a few negative things to say, but I’ll save those for the end. For now, let’s get down to the meal.

The waiters brought out a sample of the shrimp and tasso henican appetizer. That’s wild Louisiana white shrimp, tasso ham, pickled okra, sweet onions, five pepper jelly and Crystal hot sauce beurre blanc. Certainly one of the best bites of the meal.

I started with a red fish cake. This was essentially a crab cake made with local fish rather than crab meat. It had a nice exterior crust, a good spicy sauce, and a soft, tender inside.

For my main course I had the pecan crusted gulf fish, which is one of the house specialties. This was executed perfectly. The fish tasted like a cross between halibut and catfish.

My wife ordered what I considered to be the star of the meal: dry aged duck breast. This thing packed great flavor, and the fat beneath the crispy skin rendered out perfectly, allowing for a really juicy cut of duck tit.

Now for one of the negatives: the lamb shank was dry as fuck. It did look gorgeous though, and despite the dryness, it still tasted good.

We tried a vast array of desserts, like pecan pie, a massive sundae and a strawberries and cream shortcake.

All were good, but the best of the desserts was their special bread pudding souffle, which one must order with their apps and entrees so that it can be made in time.

While it might look like the pull-out scene of an adult cream pie video on YouPorn, I promise you it tasted better. Wait… I have no experience there, so I can’t really make a fair comparison. In any case it was damn delicious, and the amount of work that goes into this dish (as well as many other dishes) is staggering. It’s no wonder chefs not only learn technique here but are made to excel at them.

This place is awesome. They even sent out a round of shots for us. I forget what was in them, but it was a milky substance that had booze in it.

And speaking of alcohol, you should check out their bar if you get the chance. You will walk through the immaculate kitchen and the chef’s table to get to it, and you can have some of their awesome signature cocktails beside the patio garden.

But here comes the other bad thing: my buddy noticed a small roach on the bar while we were waiting for our other party members to arrive. I’m not sure how that’s possible given the insanely clean kitchen and dining spaces. My only guess is that it came in from outside in the patio area to escape the ungodly cold weather that NOLA was experiencing that weekend. We told the bartender and she was mortified.

Don’t let the two negatives I mentioned stop you from going here though. Every cook has a bad day (dry lamb) and there’s only so much you can do to prevent a bug from getting into an establishment.

COMMANDER’S PALACE
1403 Washington Ave
New Orleans, LA 70130

Compere Lapin

This is Nina Compton’s joint, from the New Orleans season of Top Chef. My wife got us a reservation here and we were all pretty excited to try it.

The cocktails here are awesome, and I’m now firmly of the belief that New Orleans is one of the best places for cocktails in the world. Their take on a mule is served in a brass rabbit, and they can only serve 14 at a time, since that’s how many brass rabbit vessels they have.

I had a Louisville Slugger, which was basically a vanilla smoked old fashioned. Delicious.

Now onto the food. First was this board of amazing biscuits with two kinds of butter (sweet and maple bacon).

We started with a nice round of small plates and apps.

Crispy Pig’s Ears

These were awesome. Great Caribbean spice flavor (Nina hails from St. Lucia), crispy outside, and a little chew inside. Just right.

Conch Croquettes

Another nod to Nina’s background, these Caribbean conch fritters were soft inside and perfectly crisp outside.

Tuna Tartare

This was so good. The spice level was nice, but the flavor and quality of the tuna was exceptional. Not to mention that it’s beautiful to look at. My favorite of the apps, and that’s a big win considering what came next.

Steak Tartare

The meat was nicely minced and served with a skim-coat of smoked beef fat. Amazing! My buddy, who is a big steak tartare aficionado, loved this. This shit was way better than the garbage we had at Dickie Brennan’s.

Now onto the main courses.

Jamaican Jerk Drum

Drum is a fish that’s local to the area. It’s white and flakey, kinda like a halibut. This had a nice crisped coating of jerk spices on the exterior, and a super tender and flakey interior. I loved it. What made this dish really pop, though, were the drops of citrus custard that dotted the plate. When you got that pungent hit of lemon curd in with a bite of all the rest, it really came together.

Seafood Scialatielli

This homemade spaetzl-like pasta was perfectly cooked and served with some high quality shrimp and clams. We really liked it.

Curry Goat

I didn’t get a photo of this, but I did get a bite of my friends dish. It was so tender and flavorful. Nina really nailed it.

Dessert: Soursop Semifreddo

Very rare to see the exotic soursop fruit on a menu stateside, so my wife and I jumped at this. It was served in a log shaped semifreddo form, with shaved celery, meringue and shaved cucumber. Really well balanced.

This was easily one of the best meals we had in New Orleans. I highly recommend this joint.

COMPERE LAPIN
The Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery
535 Tchoupitoulas St
New Orleans, LA 70130

Galatoire’s

Of the seven cuts of steak I tried in New Orleans, the rib eye from Galatoire’s was the best.

It may not look like much from that shot, but it had a massive rib cap on it, and it was cooked perfectly from end to end with a great crust.

There was a little bit of bleed out, but it still remained extremely juicy. 9/10

Okay not that I got that out of the way, let’s talk about the rest of this kickass meal.

Excellent cocktails here, some signature, and many classic ones that are famous for the Big Easy.

This crab appetizer didn’t look like much either, and from the menu description it sounded like it would have been more than dressed lump crab on top of iceberg lettuce and garnished with tomato. Nonetheless it was delicious.

I tried a few versions of gumbo on my trip to New Orleans, but this one was the best. It was rich and thick, not overly salty, and had perfectly cooked duck and andouille within.

The Oysters Rockefeller were amazing. So much of that delicious “creamless” style creamed spinach. Pro-tip: if you’re going here to mimic a steakhouse meal experience, order this and skip out on getting the oysters app and creamed spinach side separately. This baby fulfills both very well.

The creamed spinach was kind of redundant at that point, but still really fucking tasty:

The Potatoes Au Gratin were excellent as well:

As were these Brabant Potatoes – very crisp:

The broccoli, on the other hand, completely phoned in. Lame. Simply steamed and flavored with some salt or butter.

But let me tell you, this Shrimp Étouffée was outstanding:

The shrimp were perfectly cooked. The sauce was incredible: smooth, perfectly velvety and nicely seasoned.

My wife ordered that, and I think the ultimate meal here would be to get the gumbo to start, the steak and etouffe to share as entrees with a side of Oysters Rockefeller, and you can finish up with this bread pudding for dessert:

That’s the perfect Louisiana meal.

GALATOIRE’S
209 Bourbon St
New Orleans, LA 70130

Nice Matin

My wife and I were recently invited into Nice Matin to help promote their Provencal menu in their celebration of Bastille Day.

I’ll say this: Nice Matin is the best French joint in the restaurant group’s ownership among other French joints (L,Express, Cafe D’Alsace, and Le Monde).

We tried a few small bites and drinks from that menu, and, of course, the strip steak frites from the regular menu.

First, we started with some Ricard, which was sponsoring the evening’s French kick-off night. Some diners win goodie bags, and you can enter for a chance to win a trip to France.

Tapenade:

Mussels:

Squash Blossom Beignets:

Onion Tart:

All of those were on the special menu, and all were really good. I think the favorites, for me, were the onion tart and the tapenade, but the squash blossoms were really light and tasty and the mussels were really nice.

The steak was a solid 8/10. The meat was super tender, and I really only took points off because the cook was a little bit over what I asked (medium rare).

The fries were perfectly cooked, but the addition of the Provencal herbs (like lavender) was a little bit aggressive.

For dessert we tried a sesame panna cotta and an olive oil cake. Both were really great, both flavor-wise and texture-wise.

Also, really nice bread here. Warm and tasty.

I definitely recommend this joint for anyone looking for some good classic French fare in the neighborhood.

NICE MATIN
201 W 79th St
New York, NY 10024