Le Village

Le Village is a small French bistro where I recently had the opportunity to dine for a press dinner. It’s been open for about a year, on 7th Street near Avenue A, and serves up some really great classical French dishes. It opens for dinner only, all days except Tuesday, and the best part – it is BYOB with no corkage fee! One thing that some of you diners out there may be glad to hear: the menu is very diet-restriction friendly, as it offers many gluten free, vegan and vegetarian dishes that are incredibly good, filling and satisfying; a rare trio of traits in that world of dieting.

The animated and extremely personable chef/owner Didier also runs two other locations across town on Broome Street (La Sirene, another French place, and Taureau, a fondue joint). He’s truly passionate about food, and his spirit shines through the dishes as well. They’re innovative, exciting, energetic and fun, just like he is.

As he spoke with us, I got the sense that he has very high standards in what he serves. My suspicions were confirmed when he explained the rationale for 86’ing the burger that used to be on the menu: it wasn’t perfect in his eyes (and his girlfriend didn’t like it very much either). I can respect that: Don’t serve it unless you are 100% confident that it’s you’re best version of that item. Not only does he treat his food with great respect, but he treats his staff with great respect as well. It seems that he also applies his highly selective attitude in choosing who he has working for him. Everyone who served us and waited on us was amazing, particularly Benjamin.

Didier’s perfectionist view on food translates to a perfect meal. I’m dead serious. Just about everything I ate was the best version of that particular item I’ve ever had.

For example, the French onion soup that we started with: absolutely amazing. By far the best I’ve ever had. Imagine, if you will, your Thanksgiving turkey stuffing floating atop a steaming bowl of thick, hot, velvety onion soup before being topped with a generous-but-not-massive amount of crispy-yet-melty cheese. Unbelievable. And after you let this beast cool down, the soup only gets better and better. Your taste buds sense all sorts of deep and rich flavors when the heat settles down. I can’t even fucking remember the last time I actually WANTED French onion soup, and now I can’t stop thinking about it. Didier took it to the next level, made it exciting. Amazing part about this: if you want, it can be made gluten free and fucking vegan, with ZERO GODDAMN CARBS!

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Another example of bests: the best Brussels sprouts I have ever had. Want to have your mind blown into thousands of bloody little brain bits? They were served with strawberries. Fucking… FUCKING… STRAWBERRIES, MAN – YES YOU READ THAT CORRECTLY! Perfectly caramelized and crisped, the sprouts were offset with a little bit of zing and sweet pop from the strawberries. It’s an unexpected match made in heaven, that, again, demonstrates Didier’s facility with food.

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Okay I’ll hit you with another best. The best Coq au Vin that I’ve ever tasted. Preparations for this dish start a week in advance at Le Village, as the chickensies bathe in wine. When finally served, what you have is a delicious, home-style yet refined stew of unbelievably deep flavor. The meat is so tender, the “gravy” so soulful and satisfying. This is where you go to learn what this classic French dish is all about, what it should actually taste like. Not only is Didier innovative, but he can really rock the shit outta the classics as well.

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Okay let’s get to the other menu items we sampled. We tried these miniature ravioli. The earthy aroma and truffle flavoring really made for a unique appetizer. I could easily devour an entire bowl of these.

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We’re in a fucking French restaurant, for God’s sake. Of course there is an excellent foie gras pate of sorts, with a slice of truffle right on top! Oui!

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These baked gnocchi au gratin were light as pillows despite their creamy, truffled Mornay and Swiss cheddar sauce. It’s very rare to find a chef with a hand skilled at NOT making dense, heavy gnocchi, especially in a cream + cheese base. These were fantastic, and definitely a recommended item.

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Finally, the seared duck breast with green beans and sweet potato was served with a unique and hearty unsweetened chocolate sauce, and garnished with pistachio nuts and red beeper coulis. Perfectly cooked, juicy, and delicious. This satisfied my meat needs for sure. And I am really excited to hit Didier’s other restaurant across town. Apparently the hanger steak there is pretty outstanding.

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My favorite of the three desserts we tried was the banana brûlée. The banana pudding was rich and creamy, and beneath the cracked surface of the brûlée sugar was some banana and wafer for texture.

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The lava cake was good as well, but since I am married to The Cake Dealer, I am admittedly spoiled when it comes to all-things-cake. Her cake is still my favorite.

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Finally, we tried the tart. This was nice and light, very refreshing.

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You should definitely check this place out if you get a chance. All the menu prices are incredibly reasonable, and you save money on booze by being able to bring in your own wine or beer for no corkage/opening fees. Get on it!

UPDATE 2/23/17

The duck rillette was very nicely crafted. It tasted authentic and home made.

While the baked mussels app was a bit small in terms of portion size (only 5), it delivered big on flavor. These reminded me of escargot in their preparation. I just wish they had rinsed the mussels better before cooking, as several of them had some sand or grain in them.

My wife got the baked aged goat cheese tart for her entree. Very different and unique.

I, of course, had steak. This was a butter poached hanger steak. It had a great flavor to it, imparted from the poaching process, and the meat itself was incredibly tender. 8/10.

LE VILLAGE
127 E. 7th St.
New York, NY 10009

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