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's made-from-scratch menu revolves around the fresh, seasonal meats, fish, and produce in French and Californian cuisine. Francophiles will feel conflicted in trying to select only one dish, be it the croque madame, an upscale ham-and-cheese sandwich topped with a sunny-side-up egg ($10.95), or the salad nicoise, a hearty helping of organic greens crowned with roasted potatoes and hard-boiled eggs ($8.95). California dreamers can sample West Coast–inspired temptations such as tamales with braised pork ($8.95) and fish tacos served in crisp tortillas ($9.95). Simplicity seekers can opt for the tomato soup and grilled cheese ($9.95) while enjoying the restaurant’s attention to detail—evident in both the food and front-of-house service. With rich-red walls, large windows boasting street views, and touches of French country charm, Red Hen Bistro exudes an air of casual intimacy, though lacy nightclothes are discouraged.
The mastermind behind French Tart is Chef Laurent, whose innovation earned him a gold medal for Most Creative Restaurant Dessert at the Eger Foundation’s 2011 Taste of Staten Island and whose flaky croissant recently won the New York Daily News' Best of New York award. His culinary team also whips up authentic French specialties, including sweet and savory crepes, cheese fondue, and French-style sandwiches, dashed with originality. The eatery’s ever-shifting menu has included such offerings as pan-seared salmon inside puff pastries, zucchini-flower omelets, and chocolate ravioli. Iced teas are served with a blend of rose petals, lavender, jasmine, and dried berries. Along with breakfasts, brunches, and dinners served six days a week, Chef Laurent and his crew fill gift baskets year-round with baked goods, imported French foods, and slightly smaller gift baskets.
Paradou takes its name from a village in the southern French countryside, and the provincial influence is apparent in nearly every aspect of the restaurant. No matter what it is serving, the bistro-style eatery celebrates Provençal cuisine with a notable lack of pretention. This isn’t to say that the seasonal menus are unrefined, though. Chef Kfir Ben Ari creates a handful of dishes that experiment with foie gras, including a reimagined gravlax that features foie gras cured in sugar cane, sea salt, and fennel leaves. However, the majority of the menu tempts diners with hearty, provincial classics such as short ribs braised in red wine, cast-iron-roasted duck breast, and bouillabaisse stew. The wine list complements this cuisine, offering more than 40 French wines by the bottle as well as the glass. The wine selection even influences the restaurant’s decor. Bottle-lined shelves reach from the floor to the ceiling along the restaurant’s back wall, and the tables and bar are built using repurposed French wine crates. Beyond the intimately sized dining room’s whitewashed brick walls and rustic, wooden floorboards, a short walk leads to the covered garden area, which seats outdoorsy guests year-round.
Executive chef Josh Capone’s strict standards for locally sourced ingredients and penchant for West Coast–inspired entrees has earned The Exchange at The Setai Wall Street high praise from journalists and foodies alike. Before diners sample the award-winning food, evenings at The Exchange at The Setai Wall Street begin in the "wine hallway," where candlelight flickers off the floor-to-ceiling glass display cases brimming with wines from America, France, Italy, Spain, and more. Pendant lamps and silk throw pillows lend a calming air to the dining room, where housemade pâté and terrines herald entrees such as local porgy with coconut tapioca and green curry sauce. Pastry chef Alise Ciucci oversees elaborate desserts, including a chocolate napoleon and an inventive squash cheesecake with maple candy. A glass wall separates the kitchen from the dining room, allowing guests to watch the kitchen staff as they prepare and plate each dish.