Tag Archives: escargot

Bistro Pierre Lapin

NOTE: THIS PLACE IS CLOSED

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

North End Grill Bistro du Nord

The Union Square Hospitality Group is hosting a pop-up French restaurant called “Bistro du Nord” in the North End Grill space throughout January. This is the group of restaurants headed up by chef Danny Meyer, who recently went “no tip” and “service included” in the menu pricing of all his joints. Even the coat check is included! But the prices… for a tip-included place, they were amazing. I was expecting some inflated numbers, but to me, they all looked like what you’d see at any other restaurant.

I was invited in by the group to sample some of the delicious items that chef Eric Korsh is featuring on this limited run menu (though some items may still be available after the pop-up is finished). He’s the chef there at North End Grill, even when there is no pop-up going on, so you can expect the same level of execution and awesomeness if you happen to miss the pop-up.

So let me get down to it, because we tried a lot of good stuff.

Duck egg en meurette.

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If you’re like me, and have no idea what some French culinary terms mean, then I will explain. “En meurette” basically means that the duck egg is served in a red wine reduction, like a bourguignon or meat gravy type sauce. The egg here was nicely poached and served with mushrooms and black truffles.

Roasted oysters with spinach and bacon.

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I believe some cheese was involved as well. These were beautiful and fantastic.

Escargot with garlic and parsley butter.

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Really nice in the little skillet, and already plucked from the shell, so no work is involved.

Tarte flambe.

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This was essentially a nice, light, airy flatbread – almost like zaatar, but less aggressive with the spice.

French onion soup with bone marrow.

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Beautiful. This one was topped with a piece of toast and melty gruyere, but that bone marrow in the middle was just absolutely awesome.

Now for the entrees.

Steamed trout.

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I was a little skeptical of a steamed fish item, but this was so tasty. I even remarked that it reminded me of something Scandinavian, perhaps because of the presence of dill and a thickened broth sauce.

Crispy skate wing – my apologies for not getting a picture. This fish was so light yet flavorful that it threw me off guard. The crisp on the outside of the fish was so awesome.

Roast chicken.

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Super crispy outside skin and perfect tenderness within. The cabbage wrap was filled with more succulent, tender meat as well as some fois gras and parsley root. Very elegant.

Cassoulet.

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What a refreshing improvement from the last cassoulet my wife and I had at The House. This one had the meat on full display: pork belly and a duck leg. With trotter and white beans in the dish, this was a nice and hearty dish, but it didn’t seem heavy at all.

NY strip steak au poivre.

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I had the kitchen slice this for us so it was easier to share. This was perfectly cooked to medium rare, and the peppery sauce really complimented the prime beef. The chef trimmed off any gristle from the sides, and the quality of the cut was top notch. It was lean but very flavorful, and the texture was incredibly tender. 9/10.

On the side we had some wood grilled fennel, which was really nice and helped us digest. We also had some fries, as they came with the steak. They had a perfect crisp and were nicely seasoned.

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There’s always room for dessert.

Apple and huckleberry galette.

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This was right up my alley. Sweetness with a little bit of tartness, and then warm mixed with cold ice cream. Perfection.

Chocolate souffle.

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Perfect execution on this, and the chocolate was rich and decadent without being overpowering or overly sweet.

Paris-brest.

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I loved this. The one here was apple and hazelnut cream flavored. It was light and airy, soft yet crisp. I could easily inhale a few of these.

I think that about does it. Get your asses down here and try some of this delicious French fare while the pop-up lasts!

NORTH END GRILL
104 North End Ave
New York, NY 10282

Monsieur Paul

Epcot Center in Disney World is famed for its “world walk,” highlighting about a dozen countries and offering some cuisine and culture from each. This place, in the French pavilion, is known to be one of the better places to eat in the park.

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My wife scored us some reservations in advance of our trip, and I was looking forward to trying the steak selections.

First off, the bread at this place is amazing. You can choose from about four different kinds: mushroom onion bread, Swiss cheese bread, traditional baguette, poppy seed, etc.

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My wife and I each had a price fix menu. For $89, we received the following:

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The escargot was great. It had the texture of clams and a great truffle essence.

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For my starter, I went with the oxtail soup. It was okay – not as robust in flavor as I hoped, but the use of truffle was generous, and the popover on top of the soup bowl was magnificent. French cuisine is great for shit like this.

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My wife went with the lobster item, which came with a truffle broth, quail egg and some fancy foam.

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For my entree, I went with the strip steak. It was cooked perfectly to medium rare. My only gripe is that I like my steak seared hard on the outside with a crust, whereas this was served almost like a sous vide style. It was still excellent though. I’d say an eight out of ten.

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It came with some tomatoes, potatoes and asparagus:

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And a nice truffle wine reduction sauce for the top:

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My wife’s lamb rib chop was crusted with pistachio, and also cooked absolutely perfectly.

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Some other guests at the table ordered the filet, which was equally delicious and nicely prepared. On top is a mushroom and bacon mash of some kind.

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La Myrtille is a short bread base with a pistachio cake, topped with fresh blueberries and compote, vanilla cream, and creme fraiche ice cream. Not only was it beautiful, but it was the best dessert of the night, and we sampled a bunch from other plates. It was unique, and the right balance of sweet and savory for me. Perfect.

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Here’s a look at the almond, mango yogurt and strawberry concoction that I also tried – pretty good!

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And this was my wife’s dessert, L’ile Flottante, which was light meringue, vanilla creme Anglaise, rum raisons, toasted almonds and a vanilla tuile.

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La Sirene

What’s more diddy than P-Diddy? Didier:

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I guess I should say WHO is more diddy than P-Diddy. Okay you’re probably confused…

Didier is the owner, chef and manager of three excellent NYC French restaurants. I’ve written a rave review of Le Village from a previous press meal, and now I’m writing one for La Sirene, the popular classical French joint on Broome Street, just east of Varick at the lower edge of Soho.

Anyway, Didier is an intense, animated guy who is really passionate about his food. Everything he serves is of superior quality and taste, and made right there in-house. After eating at two of his restaurants, I can safely say that there is nothing that the man can’t execute with flawless precision. Every app, entree and dessert I’ve tasted has ranged from far above average to excellent, with one or two “best I’ve ever had” things in there as well.

Didier focuses his energy on classic French dishes, made from family recipes that he has been honing for upwards of 30 years. Some of these dishes are so labor intensive that you wonder how the hell he could be cranking them out seven days a week. Even some of the sauces take days to prepare, all from scratch – from roasted bone stock, reduced with wine, and distilled into just a few ounces of absolute heaven in a bowl.

Other French places I have been to will have something like coq au vin or cassoulet on the menu, yet every time you go in and ask for it, they are somehow not able to make it for you. They’re “out” of cassoulet. And other French joints only serve those crazy, impossible dishes one day a week. “Monday Dinner Special: Coq au Vin.” Not served any other day of the week. This is not the case at La Sirene. Didier cranks these fucks out like a machine, and they are all amazing, and available every damn day for hundreds of diners. That is quite impressive, to say the least.

So let’s get right down to business, shall we?

La Sirene recently acquired a liquor license (it used to be solely BYOB), so we started with some Spanish wine: Temperanillo (red) and Airen (white). Both were smooth, but I tend to gravitate toward red in general.

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The table bread is all made in-house, and is a rustic farmhouse style with a crusty outside and a soft, fluffy, absorbent inside that’s excellent for dipping into the sauces that come with the mussels.

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While I got to taste a little bit of everything that each of the five press diners ate, I will try to just focus on the items that my wife and I ordered – really because I ate more of those items than the others.

First was the sauteed baby octopus. This was simply tossed with garlic, parsley, tomato, olive oil and mushrooms, and served warm on a bed of mixed greens. The ‘pus was perfectly cooked. Nice and tender, with great flavors. Although one doesn’t exactly associate this sort of dish with classic French cuisine (it sounds more Mediterranean / Greek-Italian), it was a definite crowd pleaser. Everyone liked it.

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My wife had the Creole mussels, which were served in a creamy tomato and chorizo broth with herbs. We liked this a whole lot better than the other mussel dish we tried, which was “Rochelaises” style, with curry and apples. The chorizo just goes so well with shellfish, and I was sopping up that amazing sauce with bread for a while after the mussels were fully devoured.

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When in France, do as the French do: Eat snails. These little shits were so damned tasty. Buttery, garlicky, herby and tender. I could easily put down three dozen of these like nothing. Didier’s escargot is a must-try, and the best version of the dish that I’ve ever had.

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The entrees were spectacular. Until this meal, I had never tried cassoulet. I think I might have just spoiled myself with this first. My expectations and standards on future cassoulet meals are now way too high, thanks to Didier. It’s like having a rib eye at Del Frisco’s for the first steak of your life. While I have nothing to which to compare Didier’s cassoulet, I can safely say that it is amazing. Behold, my new favorite French dish:

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It was so hearty and packed with flavor. So many different types of meat were happily co-mingling in this rustic dish. It was like a dream-come-true. Inside was a delicious potpourri of cannellini beans, carrots, tomatoes, garlic, duck confit, slab bacon and pork sausage, all braised with duck fat, white wine stock and foie gras jus. Come on… And on top was an array of homemade bread crumbs that were broiled to crispy perfection, so that every bite of this dish had texture versatility as well as flavor variety.

It was difficult to pull myself away from that cassolet. It was my wife’s dish. I, of course, had steak. At first I was conflicted: should I order the hanger steak, one of Didier’s signature items, or the “Tournedos Rossini,” a signature filet mignon item? BOTH STEAK and BOTH SIGNATURE DISHES! It was like Sophie’s Choice for me, except, unlike Sophie, (SPOILER ALERT) I didn’t have to hand one of my children over to the Nazis to save mine and my other child’s lives.

Okay, so after much back-and-forth, I quietly resolved that I would just come back again soon for the hanger steak. I ordered the “Tournedos Rossini,” which is filet mignon, topped with fois gras, truffles and a shallot/port wine reduction sauce.

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This was nothing short of decadent. The fois gras added that much needed fat element back into the cut of tenderloin. So good. And it was expertly cooked to medium rare as well.

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I was thoroughly impressed. For a non-steakhouse, this place does an excellent job with the world’s most prized and sought-after beef cut. Bravo!

Our entrees were served with a nice side plate of veggies. Celery with breadcrumbs and garlic (my favorite of the four), butternut squash, green beans (really fucking delicious, by the way – how on earth does one make green beans so damned good), and carrot puree. This plate comes with each entree, but sometimes Didier will mix up the contents depending on what’s fresh and in season.

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Dessert is such a treat when you’re at a place that really knows what the fuck they’re doing in the kitchen. La Sirene is one of those places. We tried five different desserts, and I made damn sure to take nice photos of each and every one, because they were all stellar.

I’ll start with the chantilly here. Essentially this was a cream puff item: puff pastry filled with vanilla whipped cream. Simple, elegant, light – and a cool, refreshing way to end a meal.

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The steakhouse man in me will always look for a creme brulee of some kind. The one offered here is a banana brulee. Custard with banana and cookie in it. Really delicious and perfectly executed, with generous chunks of very ripe and sweet bananas inside.

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This strawberry tart was actually my favorite dessert of the five. The tart crust itself was flakey, buttery and light. It was sweet, yet slightly savory, to counter-balance against the sweet strawberries, whipped cream and custard that was on top. A real winner for me. I wish I was able to eat more of this.

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My order was the profiteroles. These were essentially the same as the chantilly cream puffs, except filled with vanilla ice cream and draped in melty chocolate. Fucking awesome. And the whipped cream added that lightness that I wanted at dessert time, in addition to the sweetness.

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My wife ordered the chocolate lava cake. This was a sight to see. It comes served on a long plate consisting of three items: whipped cream, the cake itself and vanilla ice cream. See below:

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But when you cut into this baby, that ooey-gooey melty chocolate lava just oozes out of the center.

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I’m usually not a big chocolate-on-top-of-chocolate fan at dessert time, but this was a really great dish with a stunning presentation.

I think that about wraps it up. I look forward to coming back to try the other signature beef dish, the hanger steak, and I eventually plan to try out Didier’s third dining establishment, the fondue joint next door called Taureau. So far Didier is two for two with La Sirene and Le Village. Essentially he has taken victories at the Derby and Preakness, and I am interested to see if he will score the Triple Crown at Belmont. See what I did there? That’s a horse racing metaphor, because the Belmont Stakes are just a few weeks away, and we have a potential Triple Crown winner on our hands this year.

LA SIRENE
558 Broome St.
New York, NY 10013