NYC Restaurants

Metropol
234 West 4th Street
New York, NY, 10014
(212) 206-8393 Map

Cuisine: French (Bistro)

Menu: Add your menu. It's Free!

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Cititour Review:
My Dinner at Metropol

After dining at Metropol the other week, one fact was crystal clear. There are some people who open restaurants simply because their apartments are too small to accommodate all of their friends. Christiano Jannou, a music industry producer (who has worked on records for Madonna and Maxwell) is one such individual. A swarthy, handsome type, with a thick mane of dark hair that falls to his shoulders, deep dark eyes, and the perfect double kiss, and handshake-back pat combo, Christiano has a lot of friends, and his “living room,” now has a name, rows of sturdy bistro tables, a distressed mirrored back bar, and floor to ceiling panoramic windows overlooking the quaint corner of West 10th and West 4th Streets.

The thing about people who open restaurants as stylish holding pens for their crew of peeps is this: they need to understand that there will occasionally be people dining in their restaurants who are not their friends, and that these non-friends might actually like to eat food that tastes good and might enjoy being served by waiters who understand the menu, and are capable of (or at least marginally interested in) taking dinner orders and offering service. While friends of the host may not care, non-friends (also known as customers) will. And those non-friends (see previous parenthetical) will not come back. And then the living room, once known as a restaurant, will close. And the return to the apartment is inevitable. The sad thing for Christiano is that Metropol, a sexy faux bistro warmed with chocolate and ebony tones and slated with oversized black and whites of Nico and Edie Sedgwick, has the potential to be a solid neighborhood spot, but in its current incarnation, it is a first rate disaster.

To begin with, the noise level is phenomenal. I think dining under the soft purr of a 747 might be a more peaceful experience. I had lost my voice by the end of dinner. Noise aside, the service is careless, thoughtless, and basically non-existent. Why bother having people pose as waiters if they are not going to do anything? I’d rather take my own order and serve myself. But the menu—that reads well with classic bistro fare—turns out to be the most dreadful part of the entire experience. I mean it takes effort to make food that is this bad.

We started with the Frisee Salad ($11), a Caramelized Onion Tart ($8), and a Lobster and Artichoke Salad ($12.50, and curiously listed under raw bar). The onion tart arrived smothered in a suffocating blanket of super sweet overly cloying onions, layered with a thick spread of goat cheese, set on a giant puff of crust. I think there were enough onions on this tart for four tarts and enough goat cheese for a dozen omelettes. Restraint is something this kitchen, under the care of Olivier Samuel Smith (Lucien, Casimir), knows little about. The lobster salad was not bad actually—nice chunks of meat with greens and artichoke hearts, but the Frisee was perhaps the worst salad I have had the misfortune to come to know. Frisee is a French bistro classic—a salad lyonnaisse—that is traditionally composed of, yes, Frisee, along with chunky lardons, and a poached egg on top. At Metropol, the salad was composed of frisee, and that is where the resemblance to the classic stopped. The chef also added arugula, a couple of slices of bacon that seemed to have been cooked for breakfast sometime in the previous week, and a quartet of potato chips topped with semi-melted slabs of brie cheese (!), all dressed up in an crazy amount of overly lemony vinaigrette. This is what I might expect if Olive Garden opened a faux French Bistro. It was a ridiculous and ill-conceived combination that is best described as awful.

After our first courses were cleared, we made an attempt at conversation. In between yelling at each other (the only way to communicate over the deafening music and the roar of the dinner crowd), we tried to flag down our waiter because the ice in the wine bucket where we were chilling our (now empty) bottle of Proseco had melted and water was now pouring down over the sides of the bucket and onto our table (and into Laura’s lap). Eventually a bus boy noticed the flood and helped us out. When the waiter re-appeared, we ordered a couple of glasses of (bad) wine (the wine list, I might add is typed up in such a light font that it is virtually impossible to read without infrared vision), and waited for our entrees, hoping for a better showing.

Things improved slightly with the Steak Frites ($21)—a nice, full flavored grilled strip that was perfectly done at medium rare, as I had ordered it, though the fries were grainy and too potatoe-y, and tasted like cornmeal more than French fries. Cori’s Mussels ($12), served in what was billed as a white wine and shallot broth, were tiny and shriveled, and seemed to have been cooked in dishwater, while Laura’s Sea Scallops Provencal ($20)—served with vegetable cous cous and pancetta—were watery, flabby, and tasteless. Yikes.

We left Metropol quite quickly, after a strange exchange with a passive aggressive manager who came to our table to assure us that even though there were people waiting at the bar for our table, that we should take out time and not rush. Okay, sure.

After we exited the restaurant, we were standing out on the corner to decide where to go next for a drink (or ten), when Christiano came outside, flanked by several friends who were all blowing sunshine his way, telling him how amazing the food was and how much they loved his restaurant. Yes, I am sure they did. It was probably a lot roomier than Christiano’s apartment, and with a better bar. Friends may tell you what you want to hear, but eventually someone will tell you the truth. I actually spoke to Christiano after my dinner experience—he is a quite a nice guy so I am a bit sorry to have to write such a negative review. I gave him some constructive advice, so I hope that things improve at Metropol. Because your friends, who may be lovely creatures indeed, are not going to keep you in business. Your customers will.
Review By: Andrea Strong

Neighborhood: West Village


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