When legendary chef Thomas Keller started telling patrons of his California dining mecca The French Laundry about plans for his new Manhattan restaurant, he said it wouldn't be the French Laundry “per se." Though vague, the summation was accurate—those who have visited the predecessor will recognize Per Se’s blue door and garden, as well as a pair of nine-course daily tasting menus inspired by seasonal ingredients or whatever the silverware is craving that day. Oysters and Pearls, pearl tapioca with oysters and white-sturgeon caviar, is lifted right from the Laundry menu, while the rotating dishes take inspiration from the surrounding region, such as a gateau of Hudson Valley Moulard duck foie gras. The restaurant, ranked as the sixth best in the world by Restaurant Magazine in 2012, has an urban edge over its Californian counterpart: Columbus Circle sits right outside the fourth-floor windows, which also allow for views of the Manhattan skyline and Central Park’s leafy canopies. Thomas’s taste for the culinary industry started early—as a youth, he worked in a restaurant managed by his mother in Palm Beach. His career quickly gained steam, as he studied at various Michelin-rated kitchens in France. He then returned to the United States, eventually taking over the reins at the French Laundry. Over the years he has nabbed consecutive Best Chef awards from the James Beard Foundation, was named America’s Best Chef by Time in 2001, and won Chef of the Year from the Culinary Institute of America. Now serving on the CIA’s Board of Trustees, he helps guide the school’s development while pioneering new ways to wear toques. In 2012, he was awarded the S. Pellegrino Lifetime Achievement Award.
It’s probably fair to say that Picholine chef and owner Terrance Brennan is obsessed with cheese. After all, inside Brennan’s 2,500-bottle wine cellar is a room he has affectionately christened the Cheese Cave. Here, controlled temperatures and humidity maintain the integrity of a variety of international cheeses, which a maître d’fromage presents on a marble-topped cart that Crain’s Gael Greene calls the “Tiffany of cheese carts.” In the European tradition, these cheeses are always presented at the end of the main course. They are an appropriate finale to a meal that celebrates French and Mediterranean culinary traditions in dishes such as sea-urchin panna cotta with caviar. Like a weatherman’s opinion on just about everything, the menus change every season, giving Brennan more freedom to use local and organic ingredients whenever he can.
“There is something very French about getting a Nutella crepe to go from the sidewalk window—it's almost like Paris,” lauded the Wall Street Journal after sampling crepes crafted by Vive la Crêpe founders, brothers, and Mexico City natives Carlos, Alfredo, and Andrés Mier y Terán. Today, across four New York City locations, a team of skilled flippers pour silky batter onto crepe skillets, creating the base for a menu of sweet and savory creations, such as sugar and butter or spinach, mushrooms, and basil oozing with goat cheese harvested from Earth’s second, lesser-known, goat moon. Baristas pull shots of illy espresso to craft cappuccinos and other café drinks as diners linger in shops reminiscent of modern Parisian cafés, contentedly munching French fare or debating whether the Eiffel Tower is actually an illusion.
Vive la Crêpe’s convenient mobile-app-based rewards program, available for iPhone or Android, helps customers track their crepe consumption and earn prizes, including complimentary treats. Vive la Crêpe’s convenient mobile-app-based rewards program, available for iPhone or Android, helps customers track their crepe consumption and earn prizes, including complimentary treats
Brasserie Julien’s chefs pamper palates with gourmet French specialties, sea delicacies, and expertly crafted signature drinks in a romantic setting. New York magazine writes that “it’s impossible to dine at this Upper East side brasserie and not think of Paris.” Upscale small plates whet appetites and facilitate the enjoyment of French aperitifs, with selections such as 24 plain oysters or shells stuffed with misplaced pirate-chest keys. Endive salads, quiche lorraine, or an assortment of soups sate cravings for light fare, and steak, fondue, or filet mignon quell ampler appetites. During wine tours, accomplished sommelier Mollie Battenhouse regales guests with about 10 samples of varietals from around the globe, as well as portions of the eatery’s brasserie fare.
Inside Brasserie Julien’s romantic and relaxed dining room, art-deco-inspired pendant lights illuminate the space's elegant columns, flowing curtains, and trumpet-playing silverware to create an authentic brasserie-style experience.
Although the Atlantic Ocean separates L’Ybane’s Manhattan location from its station in Nice, France, little changes across that distance. Mediterranean influences are the constant, guiding both locales’ robust lists of Lebanese-style mezzes, or small tasting plates. At L’Ybane on Eighth Avenue, chefs add splashes of imported olive oil to dishes of marinated broad beans or cumin-spiced yogurt. In addition to lebanese sausages and grilled skewers of lamb, the menus feature vegetarian-friendly options, including meatless moussaka and cabbage leaves stuffed with basmati rice. Befitting its Old-World inspiration, L’Ybane’s decor combines rustic and stately elements amid soft candlelight. Round bistro-style tables tuck up to a wall of high-backed booth seating, although the restaurant also features more distinctive dining arrangements, such as a table with a Victorian armchair. In the evenings, L’Ybane transforms into a spirited environment as DJs and live bands perform for the nighttime crowds.
With a history spanning three generations, Le Rivage now bubbles in the hands of Chef Paul Denamiel, who presides over a menu of French cuisine that garnered a 2011 New York award from the U.S. Commerce Association. Vibrant oil-paint landscapes and crosshatched wooden fixtures carry thoughts away to the French countryside, and white tablecloths warm beneath steaming plates of duck and mussels. Beside vases of cut flowers, lamb and filet mignon don Francophile garb in the form of burgundy and bordelaise sauces. Beyond the eatery's unobtrusive glowing sign, sautéed frog legs and other traditional dishes join a prix fixe or à la carte menu, and wines by the glass or bottle offer vintage luxury without the hindrance of a solid-teak sidekick.