Epernay’s executive chef Jayson Grossberg trained under legendary French chef Jean-Louis Palladin before attending New York’s Culinary Institute of America. Grossberg has used his pabulum-preparing powers for good and not evil, recently redesigning Epernay’s menu to add flavorful new dishes, such as the summer gazpacho with crab meat and lime ($10.95). Fresh-caught mussels come in three broths, such as the “a la Linda” with saffron and tomato ($15.95 single serving, $19.95 shared platter). If you'd like to keep your meal as light at a globetrotting eccentric's hot-air balloon, try a juicy beet salad with summer melon, arugula, and feta cheese ($10.95). Reward your stomach for keeping quiet during last night’s visit to the opera with an entree such as caramelized sea scallops with sweet corn, bacon, and tomato ($26.95). Or delve into the crispy duck breast with wild mushrooms, pistachios, and asparagus soaking in a sundried blueberry jus ($26.95) to enjoy a culinary harmony unseen since the California Raisins dominated the airwaves.
Red Hen Bistro orchestrates fresh, organic ingredients into a seasonal menu of French-American fare. Diners settle into the cozy confines of cherry-red walls with an hors d’oeuvres of moules frites, a plate of mussels basking in a tastescape of white wine, chorizo, and dijon cream ($13.95). Braised beef short ribs preen in a roasted cremini demi glace ($25.95) and a cushion of warm lentil salad supports pan-seared scallops ($25.95). Sate carbo-carnivorous cravings with the croque madame, which spreads dijon aioli on franchese bread, folds in ham and gruyere, and tops everything with an organic egg cooked sunny-side up ($12.95). Each week the desserts change according to availability of quality seasonal ingredients and horoscope readings.
Star chef and restaurateur Peter Xaviar Kelly opened his first restaurant, Xaviar’s in Garrison, when he was 23. Since then he has battled Bobby Flay, cooked at the James Beard House, introduced Anthony Bourdain to the Hudson Valley's bounty, and opened more restaurants. At his latest, Xaviars X2O on the Hudson, the Zagat-rated menu mixes Asian embellishments with Italian and Spanish touches and traditional French techniques. Thai barbecue, for example, spices the grilled portuguese octopus appetizer, and a brown-sugar-cayenne crust plays off the béarnaise sauce that tops aged-and-grilled cowboy rib eye steaks. In the Dylan Lounge, chefs slice sushi rolls into edible artworks such as jalapeño hamachi with pumpkin-seed oil.
An active turn-of-the-century Victorian pier hosts Xaviars' dining room on the Hudson. Vaulted 25-foot ceilings take support from three walls of glass that grant sweeping views of the Tappan Zee and George Washington Bridges, pepper dinners with sunsets over the Palisades, and allow guests to keep eyes out for approaching giants. Inside, dark-wood furniture, mod lighting, and stark white tablecloths set an elegant stage for edible performances.
Chez Lucienne greets diners with a quietly refined meal in a space that's at once welcoming and intimate. Moving between the restaurant's quaint interior and beautiful outdoor terrace, a friendly and accommodating staff circles about white-linen tabletops and powder-blue banquettes while patrons mull over the inspired fare of Head Chef Thomas Obaton, whose affinity for innovative simplicity goes into every dish. Brunch crowds can indulge in the uncommon post-noon sensibilities of Tartare de Thon, a tuna tartare with wasabi caviar and sesame oil ($11.95), and savory crêpes de poulet au sauce champagne, a blanket of crêpe wrapped about chicken, sautéed spinach, mushrooms, roasted peppers, toasted peanuts, and gooey brie ($14.95).
Chef and owner Jean Luc Kieffer constructs a dinner menu brimming with traditional French cuisine infused with contemporary twists using seasonal and locally sourced ingredients. Limber up chewing muscles with escargot ($14) draped in garlic butter, mushrooms, and toasted almonds. The pan-seared trout ($22) joins forces with sautéed green market vegetables and couscous for a heartier main-course meal, and duck confit ($23) dissuades growling stomachs from blurting out their owners' bank account passwords with poached duck leg, spatzle, spinach, and lar dons. Mealtime codas then commence with offerings from the dessert menu, such as ginger crème brûlée ($8) or chocolate fondant à la mode ($12).
Snuggled behind a red-trimmed Parisian façade, Alouette French Bistro presents generous portions of contemporary French cuisine. The menu boasts a diverse selection of traditional Gallic proteins peppered with freshly sourced ingredients and unexpected flourishes, exemplified by the Maplecrest free-range chicken and chive pomme purée, slathered in a basting of shiitake and truffle oil. A bumper crop of all-organic fruits and veggies garnishes plates of diver sea scallops and roasted lamb with saffron-spiced fingerling potatoes and savory tomato confit. The wine list overflows with reds, whites, and bubbles from Europe and the New World, while desserts and cordials cap off dinners with dulcet notes of sweetness.
Alouette’s intimacy is enhanced by flowing red curtains, vintage hardwood flooring, and an elegant antique chandelier. Owner Jon Michael Pardo cultivates a high-class, yet low-key atmosphere, plying patrons with elegant meals prepared by a native French chef and delivered by a friendly wait staff. The two-tiered space allows for romantic dining as well as weekly musical performances by local jazz, classical, and washboard-percussion performers.
As a child, Claude Solliard filled his mother's pantry with produce from the northern Italian countryside. He picked wild mushrooms, tended grapevines, and harvested bushels of spaghetti, becoming a farm-to-table chef long before it came into fashion. As the executive chef of Oregano Bar & Bistro, Solliard reprises this role while fusing French and Iberian (Spanish and Portuguese) cuisine. He adds French flair to paella by adding duck, and redefines ratatouille by plating it with Serrano ham and salmon.
When New York Times reported on the opening of Oregano Bar & Bistro, it placed special emphasis on the bistro's décor concept, which originated from the mind of Erick Caceres. To create a classic-yet-modern ambiance, Caceres outfitted the 133-seat bistro with a glass-enclosed garden room and waterfall. A red-leather banquette stretches across the main dining room and backs up to a wall inlaid with mirrors that advertise the catch of the day and your face.