In a nod to classic French bistro cuisine but with an updated twist, in celebration of its tenth anniversary, noted restaurateur Jacques Ouari has given his Nolita spot, Jacques 1534, a highly revised, totally delectable menu. Offerings include the usual faves including moules frites, baked eggs with spicy lamb sausage, steak frites and more but now tempt with dishes including a black kale salad and a fresh take on oysters Rockefeller, the bivalves served out of their shells perched on garlicky spinach with a terrific hollandaise sauce revved up by bacon to keep up with the craving for all things porkified.
My dining companion adored her kale salad laced with cheese and served with cheesy toasts. I started with what was described as "crispy artichokes " that turned out to be the tender hearts, flash fried and served with an unexpected and delightful crème fraise to dip into.
The deconstructed tuna roll was beautifully plated with good quality fish and citrus fruit sections; my mussels were pleasingly plump sitting in a broth that carried the unexpected spice kick of curry. Fishophiles can opt for crispy Chatham cod fish 'n chips perch or salmon and those with hearty appetites (not the wispy, gorgeous young things for whom the Nolita area is model central) can enjoy braised short ribs with smoked- paprika mashed 'taters or what looked like a very good burger
The wine list (by glass or bottle) is large and there are tons of cocktails, both standards and specialty, featuring the likes of a blackberry Collins with fresh berries, honey syrup and bourbon or the Jacques 1534 combining upmarket Hendrick's gin with lemon juice, simple syrup, fresh mint and cucumber.
Don't pass up that chocolate soufflé for dessert--yes, it takes an extra twenty minutes, but is worth the wait, ultra chocolaty and served with a generous scoop of chocolate ice cream.
The restaurant has outdoor seating, a boon now that the weather is finally warming up, as well as a cozy interior with leather banquettes and dim, but not overly dark lighting in the evening. The music on order is great--low enough to speak over but melodic to complement dining.
Jacques 1534 is open for weekdays for lunch from 12 noon to 5 PM; serves weekend brunch starting at 11:30 AM and keeps the kitchen open for dinner to midnight, extended to 1 AM Fridays and Saturdays.
Look for a casually chic crowd of locals dotted with stunners who are clearly models. The whole enterprise is the work of Ouari who also owns Jacques Brasserie on the Upper East Side. Service is polished and professional. Food is delicious whether it's a French standby or a new menu addition and the entire experience a great one.