Though he has spent so much of his life in the kitchen, Jean-Georges Vongerichten ironically finds some of his favorite foods in the street. Inspired by Thai street vendors, the internationally renowned chef branches out from his formal training to craft French cuisine that carries a distinctly Asian tune, such as a cut of salmon with spiced jade emulsion.
Named after an olive native to France and Italy, Picholine fittingly infuses French cuisine with Mediterranean notes. Considering how close the two regions are to one another, this fusion consistently yields surprises, such as a sea-urchin panna cotta with caviar and chilled ocean consommé.
Though it began its life as the flagship restaurant of renowned chef Daniel Bouloud, Daniel has since passed hands to Bouloud protégé Jean François Bruel. Raised on a farm in Lyon, Bruel taps into his upbringing to craft a paprika-dusted chop and crispy belly from a Quebec suckling pig.
Chef Thomas Keller is known for his emphasis on local foods. He and his team at Per Se have created a pair of nine-course tasting menus that celebrate the harvests of New York’s farmers. The small plates are designed, somewhat cruelly, to leave diners wishing they had just one more bite of foie gras or poached quince.
The first thing you’re likely to notice at Bouley is how much the foyer smells like an orchard. There’s a good reason for this: its rows and rows of shelves are filled with fresh apples. This is typical of a restaurant that balances French inspirations with farm-fresh influences in dishes such as an organic Colorado lamb baked with a touch of peppermint.
It’s difficult to pinpoint a single reason for La Grenouille’s enduring popularity. As it marks its 50th birthday, the restaurant is renowned as much for its eclectic crowds and elaborate sprays of flowers as for its classical French cuisine. The Midtown mainstay keeps diners on their toes with bilingual menus grounded in seasonal ingredients.
James Beard-award winning chef Galen Zamarra relies on classic French techniques to prepare New American dishes such as roasted chicken with black trumpet mousse and escargots. The wine list draws heavily from France’s top growing regions, showcasing varietals from lesser-known wine houses in Rhone, Provence, and Languedoc.
French cuisine can suffer from an unfortunate association with snootiness, but never is this less the case than at Tournesol. The affordable bistro dresses down and might even be considered casual, were it not for the inherent sophistication of its homemade foie gras terrine.
As the chef who helped La Grenouille snag a three-star rating from the New York Times, Matthew Tropeano is an authority on French cuisine. For additional evidence, look no further than La Silhouette’s foie gras a la botero, which Tropeano marks with an innovative preparation—he pairs the liver with crushed plantains, pineapple coulis, and a Colombian coffee gel.
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