This used to be the home of Bistro du Nord. The space, under the same ownership and chef, has been redone with a soothing blue-gray scheme, the walls adored wih classic French photos, posters and other artwork. Overall it feels far more like France than in the previous incarnation. Nothing on the menu strays from the classic bistro offerings but, judging from what I and my companions have eaten, the food is nicely prepared. The space is small with seating both up and downstairs and, because there are (relatively) few tables overall, the noise level is manageable.
My salad nicoise was delicious with a decent-sized piece of tuna cooked medium rare as ordered, green beans, hardboiled eggs, anchovies and red peppers, all served over a bed of mesclun with a well-flavored vinaigrette. The tuna tartare was attractive and, according to my dining companion, a delicious companion to the gazpacho she’d ordered. Omelets are rolled into thick roulades and cut into thirds, served with different ingredients each day. The classic tomato and mozzarella salad, while more Italian than French, looked good on the table next to me even though it’s a little early for great tomatoes.
A three course “express” lunch is a good value at $18.95 with a soup or salad starter, an egg-based main course and three dessert offerings—crème caramel, ice cream or sorbet. A dinner reservation would be a good idea because the place is so small. People swear by the lamb shank while others opt for the risotto of the day, one of the many steaks, (entrecote, rib steak, a “simple” grilled paillard), or the restaurant’s take on mac and cheese. You won’t leave feeling as though you’d visited an eating spot of striking creativity but rather that you enjoyed an evening of civility with very pleasant food nicely served. The “Brunch Parisian” offers the usual drink suspects (Bloody Mary, Champagne, Mimosa, Bellini or soda or juice); roast chicken or the nicoise salad or eggs in different guises and dessert for $18.95. From five to seven in the evening, there is a $19 pre- theater prix fixe that draws a crowd.
Many dishes are rich as the chef doesn’t seem to spare the use of butter but bistro cooking is based on butter so, if you’re religiously counting calories, wait until another time to dine here. The wine list is extensive—by the bottle as well as by the glass, and the bread is exactly as it should be (crunchy crust, white interior that gets hard when exposed to air). It’s easy to run up a fairly hearty tab as the restaurant draws many patrons from its UES location in tony Carnegie Hill. However, if you chose one of the set menus, it’s not hard to rein in prices depending on what, and how much alcohol, you imbibe. Sometimes service is a little slow but the waitstaff is pleasant and makes a real effort. Go here for a pleasant meal in surroundings that practically make you burst into “I Love Paris.”