Dining Room, Chumley'sIn the dead quiet of Bedford Street at night, without even a sign to guide you, you might ring the wrong buzzer in your attempt to find Chumley’s, the historic NYC speakeasy just reopened as a full service restaurant. But just push the door of number 86, and it will open into a dark, wood-paneled dining room filled to the rafters with vintage book covers and portraits of the writers who wrote them – many of whom were Chumley’s patrons of years past.  (more…)

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Cherche Midi

Bar, Cherche MidiIt was 25 minutes past our reservation time on a Tuesday night, and still our table at Cherche Midi hadn’t materialized. Aside from the wait, this can be a bad sign about a newish restaurant. Are the servers overwhelmed? Or the kitchen? Yet Shane McBride, the chef of Cherche Midi, who looks like someone you probably wouldn’t want to run into in a dark alley in Dublin, was leaning against the kitchen pass through, completely unperturbed.  (more…)

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Exterior, Claudette NYC

So a new French bistro opened in the neighborhood. This wouldn’t be so remarkable if it weren’t for the closing of so many bistros in Greenwich Village and the East Village over the last decade – often to become a TD Bank – but Claudette, started by the guys who brought you perennially popular Rosemary’s, was big news from the start. “It’s right around the corner from your apartment,” my mom said when we dined here on a random Monday night, months after it opened. “You should make it your neighborhood place.”

“We haven’t been able to get in until now!” This was sadly true. (more…)

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The Elm

Interior, the Elm

There’s a certain sort of meal you expect to have in Paris – white tablecloths, foie gras, beautifully plated food and bespoke service – that unfortunately I rarely get to have. During fashion week I am too busy running around taking photos, and at the end of the day I often emerge rain soaked and generally unpresentable for fine dining.  (more…)

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Au Za’atar

Fig Crostini, Au Za'atar

Au Za’atar has already gotten a lot of press for a little restaurant in the East Village. This may be because a) it may be the only Arabian-French bistro in the city, and b) it is a new family-run restaurant on Avenue A, where just a block away a neighborhood pub was recently supplanted by the glowing specter of a 7 Eleven. (more…)

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Le Philosophe

There aren’t many truly French restaurants in New York, but Le Philosophe is one of them. This isn’t the fussy cafe setting of Hemingway’s Paris, but a pared-down, black and white aesthetic that cross pollinated from one side of the Atlantic to the other and back again. The photographs on the walls may be of French philosophers, but the sleek open kitchen and industrial chic dining room is, as they say in Paris, très Brooklyn(more…)

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Atrium Dumbo

Of all the neighborhoods in Brooklyn, Dumbo is perhaps the most radically changed since the bad old days of early ’90s New York. Where there once were abandoned factories, artist squats and dark, deserted streets, there’s now a buzz of pedestrian activity, luxury condos and even a fancy florist taking up two storefronts. Atrium Dumbo is a sign of the times, bringing artisanal food and $13 cocktails to a once forlorn area right by the river.  (more…)

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For the last ten years, one man has dominated the French restaurant scene for downtown New Yorkers: Keith McNally. It’s hard to imagine the Meatpacking District without Pastis or SoHo without Balthazaar, two highly stylized restaurants that stole Paris bistro decor and food so effectively that the trend of antiqued mirrors, subway tiles and flea market fixtures has been stolen back by a copycat place in Paris.

But with Pastis closing for nine months in 2014 as a new building is constructed above and longtime chefs Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr leaving McNally’s empire, change is afoot. Now popular local chef Andrew Carmellini (Locanda Verde, the Dutch) is throwing his hat into the ring with the opening of French mega cafe Lafayette. The old Chinatown Brasserie (and Time Cafe/Fez) space has been overhauled with no expense spared, columns covered in glossy Art Deco patterns of inlaid wood, red leather banquettes ringing the raised dining level, walls opened up with huge plate glass windows, copper pans glinting in the saucier and rotisserie station and glassware glimmering above the bar. Baz Luhrman could walk right in and film another scene for the Great Gatsby.  (more…)

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Runner & Stone

A baker from Per Se and Bouchon Bakery sets up shop in a restaurant-and-bakery in the underserved neighborhood of Gowanus, and the first question the table next to us asks at dinner the other night is: What do you have that’s gluten-free?  (more…)

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Cafe Tallulah

It was like watching a bomb explode in slow motion.

When the first piece of shrapnel flies by, you just think: that’s odd. In this case it was a mix-up with our cocktail order. Six of us sat down for dinner in the prettily decorated new French bistro Cafe Tallulah on the Upper West Side, but there were only four water glasses on the table. When I asked for water, our server said: Should I cancel your cocktail order then?

Hmmm.  (more…)

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The owners of Colonie, a continental restaurant on the border of Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill, have been getting a lot of press recently for their most recent openings Gran Electrica and Governor. But before we tried the latest incarnations, D. and I wanted to sample the original, which opened right after D. moved out of the neighborhood and I therefore lost my Brooklyn pied-a-terre. Too bad, because we would have benefitted from this place: Colonie brings a new level of dining sophistication to an area that really needed it. (more…)

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Chandelier, Amelie

When New Yorkers talk about our favorite French restaurants, we’re usually talking about the type of creaky old (looking) bistros that aren’t exactly au courant with young people in Paris. So where would your average Parisian hipster actually go? Someplace a lot like Amélie, the new wine bar that opened quietly on West 8th Street a couple of weeks ago.  (more…)

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Gastronomie 491

One of the things I miss most about Milan and Paris is not, as you might expect, fancy restaurants. What I do miss are the numerous coffee counters in Milan when you could just step in and get an excellent-quality espresso or macchiato for a couple of euros and down it in an instant. In Paris, I miss the gourmet take-out shops right near the Saint Paul metro stop: Aux Désirs de Manon for bread and quiche, Au Sanglier for beautiful terrines, and Pascal Trotté for cheese. There was never any reason to cook anything, even though I had a kitchen there, when there was so much tempting food to take home.

Cheese Counter 2, Gastronomie 491

Finally New York is catching up to Europe with the introduction of Gastronomie 491 to the Upper West Side. This little shop has all kinds of salads, meat, fish and sides you might like for a home cooked meal – if you actually felt like cooking. But why bother when chef Steven Gutterman can do it for you, most likely with much better results?


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The Bowery Diner

When Mathieu Palombino, the French-trained chef who conquered the genre of pizza at Motorino, decided to turn his exacting attention to the American diner, it was exciting news. To what heights would he take the lowly tuna melt, the burger, the “diet plates” heretofore characterized by Jello and cottage cheese? The almost comically varied menu of your typical New York diner, which includes everything from fried eggs to the rarely-ordered fish of the day, seemed ripe for transformation.

Interior, the Bowery Diner

But the menu is a blessing and a bane. Just as, when you sit down at your corner diner, you view the various categories on a multipage menu with skepticism – can they really make pad thai as well as they can make pancakes? – the scope of dishes the kitchen must do well proves daunting here.  (more…)

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Buvette is easy to overlook. Situated on a quiet block in the West Village, it’s narrower than most coffee shops. The bar takes up nearly half the space in a restaurant lined with little cafe tables on one side and a communal table in back. It’s so petite it’s practically miniature.

Terrine, Buvette

Recently a French expat we know recommended Buvette as one of the most authentic French restaurants in Paris. Vraiment? Chef Jodi Williams wrote the book on small Italian plates at Gusto, Morandi, Gottino and more. And now she was cooking the most authentic French food in the city? There have been several positive reviews of Buvette, but this recommendation was what convinced us to go.

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