Tag Archives: french bistro

Coco J’adore

My wife and I tried the newly opened Meatpacking District French joint “Coco J’adore” this past weekend.

This place has a really beautiful interior that’s just screaming to be infiltrated by trendy types, insta-models and brunch-drunk socialites.

It will no doubt become a big time scene place with hard to acquire tables, but contrary to what you might assume from my lead-in, it’ll be worth the effort to get in here.

Both the food and drinks are awesome. Over the course of our sweeping menu tasting, we tried four different cocktails.

1) Covent Garden

This refreshing take on a sour was made with gin, aperol, amaro, chamomile peppercorn syrup, egg white and lemon.

2) Gustavia

Rum, cachasa, passion fruit, demerara, campari and ginger beer.

3) Madison

Rye, ricard, earl grey tea syrup, black cherry and lemon.

4) Nevsky

This was a favorite. Vodka, cinnamon, green apple juice, lemon and rose powder.

All tended to be on the sweet side, but there were a few others that were more robust in profile as well. I’ll try those next time.

Okay on to the food.

First off, nice table bread with whipped butter.

This fava bean “hummus” with mixed olives and citrus was awesome. I could eat this by the bucketload.

These scallops were perfectly seared and presented in a sauce that was reminiscent of runny egg yolk. Delicious. That;’s a carrot salsa on top.

I loved the escargots. They’re served in-shell in an aromatic bowl of peppercorns. Delicious. These are top tier.

We tried two pasta dishes: the salt cod agnolotti, which was our favorite of the two, and the rabbit gnocchi. The rabbit ate more like a fall or winter dish, while the agnolotti was light, summery and fresh. Both good though.

Next up, the wild salmon with couscous and broccoli rabe. Excellent. Nice crispy skin too. This was my wife’s favorite.

The filet mignon was cooked to a nice medium rare and served on a bed of mashed potatoes with a mix of sautéed wild mushrooms. Very nicely done. 8/10.

For dessert, we had the creme brûlée and the chocolate soufflé with vanilla ice cream. Of these, we preferred the creme brûlée but both were good.

This is a great addition to the neighborhood. Go give it a shot before it gets mobbed!

COCO J’ADORE
1 Little West 12th Street
New York, NY 10014

Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote

There can be beauty in simplicity, and comfort in consistency. One can easily get swept away in the panoply of new and exciting menu items from the plethora of cuisines represented by the multitude of talented chefs in NYC. And I just used several words that are synonymous with “many.”

But there’s something to be said for a simple yet perfectly executed steak frites meal from a familiar French bistro.

Le Relais de Venise L’Entrecote is one of those French joints slinging such a classic meal. In fact, it’s the ONLY thing they serve. The menu is set: salad, fries and steak. The only choices you have are related to wine and dessert. Well, other than how you want your steak cooked and whether you want sauce, that is.

This kind of streamlined dining experience is awesome to me. One thing is for sure, though, and I can attest to it myself: If you’re going to focus on one thing (steak), you better damn well do it proud. Le Relais does. This is a great meal, and it comes at a great price to boot: $29.95 for the steak, fries and salad.

Let me start with the salad. It’s a simple plate of greens, nicely dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette and topped with walnuts.

It’s a great way to start, along with the sliced baguette table bread and dijon mustard (screw butter).

The steak and fries come out together.

Don’t be alarmed: A second plate of steak and fries comes out when you’re finished with this plate. I assume that’s why they call it “le relais,” or “the relay” in American: You’re getting a new steak “baton” handed off to you right after finishing the first. In round two, you get a similar amount of fries, and about half the amount of steak.

The sauce is a mustard- and peppercorn-based gravy. It’s really nice, especially with the fries. You can hold the sauce, or get it on the side, if you want, but I think this is one of the rare occasions where the sauce really makes the steak pop.

The steak hails from Cambridge Packing, and is a very nice, lean, tender strip loin cut. Pictured here is “rare,” but you can order “blue,” “medium” or “well done.” They even mark the table with your order preference as well.

That SOS means “sauce on side,” R means rare, and the M is medium. No sauce markings means that the plate will come out pre-sauced.

This steak is a solid 8/10, and the fries are incredible. Perfectly golden brown and crisp.

I’m not rating the joint on my full 100-point scale, because it’s too focused on the one dish to really be in the same ballpark as a full-menu steakhouse. However, I love the fact that this place is shameless in its offering of just one dish. It’s easily one of the best steak frites I’ve had in NYC, especially at that reasonable price point.

Now for dessert. There are so many to choose from! We went with a classic creme brûlée, and their house special, which is a layered tower of hazelnut ice cream and meringue, topped with chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

The tower was the winner, as the creme brûlée was a bit eggy for my liking (though still very tasty).

This place is a home run, and anyone who has been here usually sings its praise any time steak is mentioned in a conversation. The best part: If you hate midtown, then you can go to the brand new location in SoHo. I’ll be heading there ASAP for sure.

LE RELAIS DE VENISE L’ENTRECOTE
590 Lexington Ave
New York, NY 10022

Felix

I’d been to Felix a few times for drinks in the nice weather, but I never actually sat down to eat until yesterday. I was invited in to take photos of the food and post some stuff to Instagram, so my wife and I went for dinner and tried some good French classics.

First, the foie gras terrine.

This was incredibly smooth and creamy. It was served with toasted bread and some caramelized shallots. Highly recommended, but I actually liked eating it better with the table bread than the toast.

I had to get the beef carpaccio, just because, you know, beef.

It was beautifully plated with arugula and shaved parmesan. Also really tasty, and also recommended.

My wife went with the cassoulet.

This baby was packed with a massive assortment of meats: chicken, duck, pork and two types of sausage.

Very nice.

I went with what was described on the menu as both a cote de boeuf and an aged 40oz prime rib for two. However, what came out was more like a traditional steak as opposed to roasted prime rib.

It also felt like it was a little smaller than 40oz. Perhaps maybe 32oz.

I ordered somewhere between rare and medium rare. Some parts were spot on, and others were over. But the flavor was pretty good at a solid 7/10. It also came with a nice vegetable medley of string beans, carrots, mushrooms and baby Brussels sprouts. The fries were really great too.

The three sauces that came with it were Bernaise, peppercorn and blue cheese (and a small dish of dijon for the fries). My favorites were the peppercorn and the blue cheese, but I was going into the peppercorn more because the blue cheese sauce was strong.

For dessert we tried the apple tart (tarte tatin).

This had a great texture on the outer edges of the tarte, with a soft and tasty apple inside. A nice pairing with some vanilla ice cream.

FELIX
340 W Broadway
New York, NY 10013

Little Frog

Little Frog is a new French bistro that just opened up a few months ago on East 86th street between 1st and 2nd Avenues. I came here with a bunch of food enthusiasts and bloggers for a press dinner. Here’s what we tried:

House Bread:

This flatbread comes nicely packaged and warm inside of a paper bag with the Little Frog logo stamped on it.

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Lamb Meatballs:

It may not strike you as a particularly French item, but lamb meatballs here are served with a dollop of labneh (a Lebanese style of cream cheese) and a host of Mediterranean spices, paying tribute to the old French colonies in North Africa, no doubt.

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It’s tough to compete with Mom’s homemade meatballs, but these were tasty nonetheless.

Duck Liver Foie Gras:

Beautiful and delicious. Super smooth texture, nice and velvety. If you like this sort of thing, please get it. This was my favorite app.

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Pork Belly:

Can’t go wrong here. The thick slices of tender, braised bacon sit on a bed of delicious lentils. This is a winner, so I shot it twice.

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Grilled Octopus:

I’ve had more tender tentacle in my day, but that doesn’t mean that this was tough by any means. The dressing was perfect and the flavors really popped.

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Salmon Tartare:

This is served with lemon sabayon and capers, but it sits on a bed of crispy quinoa that really adds an awesome textural element to the dish. It stands out as a really great app.

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Beets & Kale:

This salad was simple and tasty. Far be it from me, the meat guy, to praise a salad, but this hit the spot after dipping into some of the more meaty apps earlier.

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Okay now onward to the entrees. We started with this incredible duck flambe.

This is one of the better duck dishes I’ve had. The meat was super tender and tasty, and the skin remained crisp and flavorful, with all fat rendered out nicely.

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The steak au poivre is a top sirloin cut that’s smothered with peppercorns and then topped with gravy. Ours was cooked to about medium, but it still remained very juicy from the gravy. Also, the tenderness of the cut surprised me; I’m usually apprehensive about top sirloin, but this was good stuff. 7/10.

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The Coq Au Vin was a bit dry at the outer edges, but the tenderness and juiciness of the inner meat made up for it in spades.

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A few of us claimed that this was the best entree of the night, though the others were ready to throw down in a pitched battle to defend the duck.

If you’re still hungry, get the ice cream sundae for multiple diners. It comes served in a massive bowl, complete with a lit sparkler shooting out the top. I took this shot after the sparkler was removed:

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UPDATE 9/28/17

Filet Mignon: 9/10

Froggy Burger: So good!

Salmon Tartare: great crunch and texture from the crispy quinoa.

LITTLE FROG
322 E 86th Street
New York, NY 10028