Tag Archives: french cuisine

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

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

Boucherie Park

I’m going to keep this one nice and simple. Boucherie Park is the second location of Boucherie, which I love. The menu is the same, and the decor is very similar. While I like the ambiance of the original location a bit better, this joint has an area up front that I like to call the “meat bar,” where you can order freshly carved slices of prosciutto. They even offer baguettes and sandwiches during the day for lunch from this area. With that give and take on the ambiance of each spot, they actually even out at the same score: 95. You may as well jump over to that review to read more on each section (though I may need to update it). This place is excellent.

Steak Tartare:

Tomahawk:

Iberico Pork:

On another visit we had chicken and rabbit. Rabbit:

Chicken:

Flavor: 9
Choice of Cuts & Quality Available: 9
Portion Size & Plating: 10
Price: 10
Bar: 10
Specials & Other Meats: 10
Apps Sides & Desserts: 9
Seafood Selection: 8
Service: 10
Ambiance: 10

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

Stinky Cheese Week

FREE DESSERT ALERT!!!

Stinky Cheese Week is actually a thing! To celebrate, L’Express and Cafe D’Alsace (and all restaurants within the ownership’s group) are offering a special menu of selections that feature various stinky cheeses.

Okay so I said something about free dessert up above… Well, here is the explanation: I was invited in to try some food in order to let my readers know all about Stinky Cheese Week. If you go into one of their restaurants and mention the words “say cheese” and my blog or instagram account, they will comp you with a free dessert! The participating restaurants are Cafe D’Alsace, Le Monde, L’Express, Nice Matin, French Roast (both uptown and downtown) and Marseille.

Below are my reviews for both L’Express and Cafe D’Alsace.

L’EXPRESS
249 Park Ave S
New York, NY 10003

My wife and I shared the raclette cheese and salumi platter as an app. This was pretty great. The cheese was stretchy and warm, and the meats were good quality.

I had the rib eye steak frites for my entree. The fries were nice and crisp, and the steak was cooked to a perfect medium rare.

While the steak was thinly cut, this isn’t a bad deal for just $29. The cap was tender and there wasn’t much gristle on it. The roquefort cheese and onion sauce really kicked this thing up a notch too.

My wife had the stinky cheese plate for her entree. Some of these fuckers were really funky!

And for dessert, a stinky cheese panna cotta that had a jam topping. This would have been perfect on a bagel, as the panna cotta was thick and had a texture and flavor similar to cream cheese.

CAFE D’ALSACE
1695 2nd Ave
New York, NY 10128

I started with a glass of mint tea. This was a really nice way to start a cheese-centric meal.

A buddy and I shared the frisee salad with bacon and egg. Very nicely done, and I was impressed with the addition of pork rinds.

For my entree, I went with the hanger steak frites, of course.

It was topped with a melted morbier cheese, caramelized onions and a red wine sauce.

I liked this steak more than the rib eye from L’Express. It had a great texture and thickness to it, and it was cooked perfectly with a nice crust on the outside as well.

The fries were great! Very crisp and nicely seasoned.

My buddy ordered the duck l’orange. It was pretty good but the steak was definitely the winning dish for the entrees.

For dessert, we shared an apple tart with vanilla ice cream. Not only was this beautiful, but it was absolutely delicious. I highly recommend ordering this.

Vaucluse

My wife picked up a nice Gilt City deal for this joint that gave us $200 to spend for something like $100. I had heard great things about the burger here, so I figured it was time to check it out now that there was a flash deal at play.

The cocktail menu is pricey at $18, but very nicely crafted.

We shared that burger (the “White Label Burger”) as an app. The patty is an aged beef blend; the cheese is fontina; and it’s topped with a tomato jam and dijonnaise.

They cook it nice and rare, so you don’t lose any of that aged funk to the heat. It’s a potent burger, and part of me still loves a classic roadside American burger better, but this is kinda like having a steak between a bun. Definitely nice.

And like any good French joint, it’s served with frites.

These were pretty good, but not quite on the level of Boucherie, which has now become my benchmark standard, to which all French fries must be compared.

We also tried the calamari stuffed with lobster and rice.

Unfortunately there wasn’t much lobster to this dish. In fact, I couldn’t really find any or taste any in the bites I had. In any case, the tomato sauce was nice, as was the cook on the squid.

My wife had some rabbit, truffle and cheese ravioli for her entree. This was a small portion size for $25, but they at least warned us ahead of time that it would be.

They were excellent. Each raviolo seemed to be partitioned, with one side having the rabbit, and the other side having the cheese.

Of course, I had steak.

This was served with some dressed watercress, but I quickly brushed that bullshit aside. I sliced it up so you could see the perfect cook temp on this prime NY strip steak.

This was actually a steak frites, so it came with more fries and a peppercorn au poivre on the side. Well, I asked for it on the side so I could get this intense shot of foodpourn.

Did you just bust? Because I did.

I ate every bite. It was a great little steak. I didn’t detect any aged flavor, and I assume they would have advertised that if it were the case. Not too bad at $44, but on par with the Jubilee rib eye steak frites that I had just the other day for $40. 8/10.

We shared a lemon tart with basil ice cream for dessert. This was really pretty, and tasted a bit like a key lime pie with the herbaceous basil ice cream on top. We liked this a lot.

Oh and I should mention that this place also brings out an amuse at the beginning, as well as petit fours at the end. I only snapped the amuse, which was a tiny popover style bread with a truffle cream filling. The dessert capper was a chocolate hazelnut bite.

UPDATE 8/18/18

On a second trip, I came in to promote the burger for the Altamarea Group, as well as to try some other items with a group of Instagrammers. Here’s what we had:

Escargots served on bone marrow.

Veal carpaccio.

Steak tartare.

Squid ink spaghetti.

Those rabbit epaulettes again. So good.

Wild boar strozzapreti.

The White Label burger.

Duck.

Veal chop.

Tomahawk rib eye. This was a 10/10 – absolutely perfect.

And some desserts.

VAUCLUSE
100 E 63rd St
New York, NY 10065

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