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.
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.
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.
Bubbling cauldrons fill the tables at Taureau, sending up a bouquet of scents that mixes simmering cheese blends, deluxe chocolate at its melting point, and oil that adds a crispy layer to marinated meats. These smells, and the flavors that they represent, were enough to entice the staffers at Zagat, who gave the spot a coveted 27 out of 30 for their molten entrees. During each outing, diners skewer everything from carrots, strawberries and marshmallows to pork tenderloin and filet mignon before sending them deep into the tableside fondue vats. The decadent feast caters to the tastes of both vegetarians and clients with food allergies, and every portion comes with chunks of fresh bread and field green salads. Meals unfold within the romantic confines of Taureau’s BYOB dining room, which is a favorite setting for occasions ranging from first dates to intense interrogations of criminal gingerbread men.
Head chef Romain Bonnans brings his family's recipes to A.O.C. L'aile ou la Cuisse, his own slice of France in the West Village. Bonnans lends his authentic touch to recipes both classic and contemporary, from niçoise salad with fresh tuna and string beans to coq au vin, a red-wine chicken stew. Guests dine amid exposed brick, wrought-iron accents, and French-inspired artwork in the main dining room, or fancy themselves at an outdoor Parisian café while in the seasonal garden. There, flower boxes and climbing vines hang on the white latticework of a surrounding wall that effectively cuts diners off from the outside world and gives them free, unabashed rein to try holding their fork in their other hand.