I was recently invited to a press dinner at Paname, a French bistro on 2nd Avenue and 56th Street. I’m by no means a master of knowledge on French cuisine, but the food here was pretty great, so it merits a nice write up with pretty pictures.
Chef-owner Bernard Ros is a really well-seasoned restaurateur. He’s been in the game for 45 years in NYC, learning how to cook and run restaurants in Paris with his parents from a very young age. He has run successful restaurants throughout the boro, bouncing around to find the best rents that make sense for his style of restaurant, and the atmosphere he wishes to create: classic, neighborhood, mom & pop, casual yet refined dining, with top quality ingredients.
Bernard’s specialty is seafood, but he hits the high mark on all sorts of fare, including the traditional duck and steak entrees and even desserts (all of which he still makes himself as head chef).
When I asked him how he still keeps the passion for cooking after so many years, his response was that he keeps pushing himself to make better quality food with better ingredients. That’s the kind of drive that keeps him successful in the most dog-eat-dog city in the world, I suppose. And cheers to him for doing it, because we all get to benefit from his hard work and decades of experience.
Authentic is the word that best sums up the experience here at Paname. Even the Mayor of Paris has said that this place is like dining on a corner of the great city of Paris, that city of mi amours, mercis, oui ouis, bon bons and all that good stuff (French vanilla, butter pecan, chocolate deluxe). That’s a reference to Chef Raekwon (rapper), if you didn’t know.
Okay so now on to the important part of the review – food and pics. You’ll notice right away that the presentation and plating here is excellent. You eat first with your eyes, my friends.
We started with an amuse bouche of puff pastry with gorgonzola cheese and red and green sauce. The cheese was great here. Slightly melty, with just enough funk to open up the taste buds.
The star of the appetizers was the pate with cornichon and mustard, with a light vinaigrette salad. The pate was meaty and substantial, unlike so many other places that essentially give you a soft, spreadable mousse. This was like a little liver steak. Amazing.
Next was the crab cake. Now, don’t get me wrong, this is a pretty decent crab cake, but after dining at some of the worlds best steak houses, Del Frisco’s has pretty much hit the apex when it comes to crab cakes. I would steer you more toward the traditional French culinary items here, because they are done so very well.
We also tried the baby octopus with beans. This was beautifully prepared and it packed a lot of flavor, though I think maybe it would come out nicer with proper braised adult octopus legs instead of the finicky and difficult to cook baby octo, which can become tough at times and cook unevenly.
For entrees we tried the duck with orange sauce: a classic. It was served with a small side of al dente barley and a vegetable medley (string beans, carrots, cauliflower). What you got was half a breast and a leg. Both were executed perfectly, juicy and tender, with the skin being the star of the show. My wife is pretty much a duck connoisseur, so to impress her is no easy feat. This dish won her over big time.
I had the bouillabaisse, which was served up with cod, mussels, shrimp, and Littleneck clams. The sauce was really good, and the toasted bread that came with it had a nice spicy mayo spread for the fat to cut the acid. Beautiful. The seafood was tender and packed a lot of great flavor.
We also tried the sushi grade tuna. Our host ordered it well done, which is way overcooked for our liking, but it still tasted great.
And on the side we had some perfect, crispy, golden-brown french fries. Wonderful.
As a pre-dessert, the staff brought out a small dessert plate with butterfly cookies, half bite muffin type things, and a chocolate biscotti type of baked creation.
For dessert proper, we had creme brulee, which was great and very big…
…Crepes, which were a bit thick and doughy, but I enjoyed them because they were very flavorful with the grand marnier and almonds…
…And a plate of fruit, nuts and cheese. Simple and elegant.
For wines, if you get a similar type of meal, I would go with the Sauvignon blanc to start, then build to the rose, and finish off with the Cotes du Rhone, a very light but still flavorful red.
1068 2nd Ave.
New York, NY 10022