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Dominique Bistro

A cute, artisanal French Cafe located in the heart of the West Village, Dominique Bistro is a showcase to the rich history of French food.

Dominique Bistro opened late last year and I was invited in to check out what head chef and namesake, Dominick Pepe, was dishing out. 

The restaurant is a Parisian-style cafe on the corner of Christopher and Gay Streets. The front of the restaurant has an enormous floor to ceiling window looking out onto Christopher Street and I was lucky enough to be seated in an ideal spot to take advantage of the view. The interior features an open kitchen with pops of French cultural flare scattered throughout. The vibe is classy and modern, and welcoming and inviting. It’s the kind of place I’d like to spend an afternoon sipping on wine.

The food exiting the open kitchen is comforting French fare. You have your classics such as Croque-monsieur, as well as authentic countryside dishes such as beef bouillabaisse.

I sampled a range of dishes. To start I tasted the ahi tuna tartare, pear salad and tomato soup. The highlights however were the main courses – beef bourguignon with braised beef, carrots, onions, mushrooms, potatoes and a red wine demi, and fettuccine with chanterelles, burgundy truffles in brown butter.

The bourguignon was my favorite dish. It hit the spot and helped warm me up on a cold January night. This hearty beef stew had a gracious serving of beef and seemingly dissolved after a few bites. Delicious.

Let’s not forget about dessert! I opted for the chocolate mousse and a heaping serving of sweetness came out. We’re not talking about any prim and proper chocolate mousse in a dish. This is a large hunk of chocolate mousse plopped down on a plate and decorated with strawberries.

Dominique Bistro has gained a spot on my list of recommended restaurants in NYC. It’s the perfect quaint West Village cafe where you can sit and enjoy a casual glass (or bottle) of wine or treat yourself to some heartier French fare.

Dominique Bistro  Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

 

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Bagatelle is Much More Than a Weekend Brunch Spot

1682 French Louisiana: New Orleans’ French Quarter in Long Island City

1682 French Louisiana – 48-19 Vernon Boulevard, Long Island City, New York

Aside from the wonder that is Bourbon Street, New Orleans is known for its incredible food culture. Now, in a Long Island City cafe formerly known as Cranky’s, 1682 French Louisiana is bringing the French Quarter to the city.

The owners, Mina and Jimi, have transformed this former coffee shop into a French/Cajun restaurant. The interior pays homage to its coffee shop roots by still giving off a “coffee shop vibe.” And service with a smile is something you’ll definitely get here. Mina makes it a point to make her way to every table, greeting everyone with a friendly “Bonjour!” and sitting with those that want to chat into the night.

I was recently invited in to check out the menu and chowed down on some delicious dishes.

Creole Style Fries 1682 French Louisiana

We started off with some Creole Style Fries. These very thin and crispy fries were piled high and served with an avocado dipping sauce. They were coated with an addictive Cajun seasoning that had me grabbing them by the handful.

Creole Shrimp and Goat Cheese Crepe 1682 French Louisiana

One of the favorite dishes of the night was the Creole Shrimp and Goat Cheese Crepe. This appetizer consisted of a crepe filled with goat cheese and topped with shrimp and a creole butter sauce made with white wine. This dish gave my taste buds an immediate spicy kick that was quickly offset by a flood of delicious goat cheese.

Crab Meat and Avocado Terrine 1682 French Louisiana

Unfortunately, this wasn’t a favorite of mine. A thick bed of avocado was topped with a layer of crab meat and sour cream. The appetizer was very light and refreshing, but it struggled to find any real defining flavor.

Shrimp and Andouille Jambalaya 1682 French Louisiana

Shrimp and Andouille Jambalaya 1682 French Louisiana 2

Just look at that presentation! Another favorite of the night was the Shrimp and Andouille Jambalya. A generous amount of shrimp and Andouille sausage was served over dirty rice. This was all surrounded by a precisely placed wall of mussels. Delicious, delicious, delicious. The dish had just the right amount of kick to it and was extremely flavorful. It was served with a doughy homemade Cajun biscuit. I’d order this again in a heartbeat.

Cajun Brook Trout Fillet 1682 French Louisiana

The Cajun Brook Trout Fillet came sitting on wild rice and spinach, bordered by a rich-colored beet sauce. The fillet was perfectly cooked and there was a lot of it. The spinach gave off a healthy appearance, but it had a very buttery flavor so I’m assuming it wasn’t giving me those Popeye health benefits (I wasn’t complaining). This, combined with the sticky wild rice, made for a perfect combination.

Bourbon Coconut Bread Pudding 1682 French Louisiana

Time for dessert. Bourbon Coconut Bread Pudding sat in a pool of bourbon cream sauce. You could taste the alcohol in this rich and moist dessert, and it was damn good.

The Verdict

1682 French Louisiana has a lot of competition to deal with, with lots of ethnic restaurants dotting the surrounding blocks. However, after my experience, I think they’ll do just fine. The food was delicious all around and the service made it feel like home. True care was clearly placed on the presentation as every dish came out looking incredible. I’ve heard the weekend brunch here is packed, but I plan on giving it a try very soon! I highly recommend 1682 French Louisiana. And for those of you in Manhattan, it’s not that far away! 

1682 French Louisiana on Urbanspoon

Restaurant Information


* Restaurant Name
Cranky’s Café
* Overall
★★★☆☆
* Neighborhood / Cuisine
Hunters Point / Cajun / Creole
* Street Address
48-19 Vernon Blvd. (Between 48th Ave. & 49th Ave.), Long Island City, NY 11101
* Phone
(347) 738-4921

Bagatelle Mediterranean Bistro

Bagatelle – One Little West 12th Street, Manhattan, New York

I recently was invited to check out Bagatelle, a Mediterranean bistro located in the heart of New York City’s Meatpacking District. Wow is all I can say. Holy crap this place is good!

Bagatelle Artwork

Dom F****** Perignon – I’d Call This Edgy Artwork

Call it a bistro if you’d like, but Bagatelle is nothing of the sort. Led by Chef Sébastien Chamaret, Bagatelle transports diners to France to experience traditional French classics, with a big twist. Bagatelle takes everything you expect from a French bistro and kicks it up to the next level. Whether it’s edgy, rotating artwork decorating the spacious white interior or DJs spinning some pop mixes to keep everyone moving, Bagatelle gives off a modern, hip vibe – right on par with its location in the Meatpacking District.

I had the opportunity to try A LOT of food from Bagatelle’s menu and everything was incredibly delicious. A complete list of what I sampled is at the end of the post, but let’s cut straight to the pictures. 

Assorted Charcuterie Platter

Assorted Charcuterie Platter (Assiette de Charcuterie)

An assorted charcuterie platter helped start off the feast and contained an enormous pile of assorted meats – yum.

Fresh and Smoked Salmon Tartare

Fresh and Smoked Salmon Tartare (Tartare aux Deux Saumons)

Fresh and smoked Scottish salmon tartar with shallots, salmon caviar and dill crème fraiche was served in a Mason jar circled by olive oil crostini.

Haricots Verts and Smoked Duck Proscuito Salad

Haricots Verts and Smoked Duck Prosciutto Salad (Haricots Verts et Canard Fumé)

Duck in a salad? Why not? The Haricots Verts and Smoked Duck Prosciutto Salad was made up of string beans, radicchio and topped with an ample layer of smoked duck prosciutto and truffle vinaigrette. Delicious

Foie Gras Creme Brulee

Foie Gras Creme Brulee

The Foie Gras Creme Brulee wins the award for most unique dish of the night. That jar is filled with foie gras but it has a layer of caramelized sugar on top. The contrast between the savory foie gras and sweetness of the sugar had my taste buds second guessing themselves all night. This is an awesome dish and a ‘must order.’

Calamari, Parsley Butter, Polenta Cake & Tomato Confit

Calamari, Parsley Butter, Polenta Cake and Tomato Confit (Calamars Snackes au Beurre Aille)

Calamari kicked up a notch with tomato confit, polenta and garlic butter came out in a large saute pan. This dish had a heavy helping of salt which didn’t help the fact that I was already addicted to the polenta and calamari mix. Add in the tomato confit and I was almost fooled into thinking this was actually good for me!

Parisian Truffle Gnocchi

Parisian Truffle Gnocchi (Gnocchi Truffes à la Parisienne de Nicolas)

Another favorite was the Parisian Truffle Gnocchi. This dish is made up of homemade gnocchi with a black truffle pesto filling and truffle sauce. To top it all off, a generous amount of truffle shavings are scattered on top. Wow. This dish oozed truffle deliciousness. The gnocchi was perfectly cooked and seemingly floated through the creamy sauce onto my fork, awaiting the next bite.

Thyme and Parmesan Crusted Scallops

Thyme and Parmesan Crusted Scallops (Coquilles St.Jacques Rôties au Parmesan)

Thyme and Parmesan crusted scallops with artichokes mousseline and a cabernet demi-glace were eloquently lined up down a plate. The crust on these scallops had a nice crunch to it – something I love – instead of a soggy exterior that you occasionally come across.

Grilled Atlantic Salmon

Grilled Atlantic Salmon (Filet de Saumon Sauvage Grillé)

Grilled wild salmon filets with an asparagus hollandaise sauce and plump pearl onions lined another plate. Notice the focus on the onions. I’m obsessed with them and these were delicious. (Oh yea, the salmon was also incredible.)

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Candied Pecans

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, Candied Pecans

One of the side dishes I had the chance to try was the Brussels sprouts. Butternut squash and candied pecans were mixed together with Brussels Sprouts and combined to make a colorful and tasty side dish.

Whole Roasted Truffle Chicken and Country Potatoes

Whole Roasted Truffle Chicken and Country Potatoes (Poulet Rôti Entier à la Truffe – Pour Deux)

One of Bagatelle’s signature dishes is its Whole Roasted Truffle Chicken and Country Potatoes. This is a dish served for two and is exactly as it sounds – huge pieces of chicken are served in a saute pan on a bed of country style potatoes. The chicken was very moist and had a subtle truffle flavor. With the presentation and the name, I almost felt as if I should have been on a farm somewhere while eating this.

Cote de Boeuf for Two

Cote de Boeuf for Two

Speaking of meals for two, the Cote de Boeuf for Two is a 26 ounce sliced, natural-fed grilled black angus bone-in ribeye served on a wooden cutting board with a heaping pile of pommes frites. Once again, delicious. The seared exterior of the steak kept all the juices inside and ensured each bite was packed with flavor. They say this dish is for two, I’d like to see the size of those two people.

Profiteroles

Profiteroles

Time for dessert! Profiteroles on steroids came three to a plate, topped with chocolate sauce and powdered sugar. These guys were enormous. The pastry had a crispy exterior which gave way to a light and hollow interior, leaving more room for the ice cream filling.

Floating Island

Floating Island

A favorite dessert of mine was the Floating Island. This dish consists of meringue floating on vanilla custard. It was extremely light and refreshing – a nice change of pace from the heavier desserts on the table.

The Verdict

Stop reading this and go to Bagatelle! Everything, from the side dishes to the entrees to the drinks to the atmosphere was perfectly presented and captivating. All of the dishes I had the opportunity to try exceeded my expectations and it’s clear that Chef Sébastien Chamaret is doing something right back there. I cannot wait to go back. Next time it’ll be for one of Bagatelle’s famous champagne brunches

*This meal was provided free, courtesy of Bagatelle. A complete listing of everything I ate can be found below. 

Bagatelle Signature’s Dishes

  • Ahi tuna tartare, lime soy vinaigrette, avocado salad and taro chips
  • Bagatelle salad, heart of lettuce, light herb vinaigrette, chopped fresh herbs
  • Parisian truffle gnocchi
  • Whole roasted truffle chicken, country potatoes

Additional Dishes

  • Fresh and smoked salmon tartare
  • White truffle pizza
  • Haricots verts and smoked duck prosciutto salad
  • Assorted charcuterie platter
  • Foie gras creme brulee
  • Calamari, parsley butter, polenta cake and tomato confit
  • Crab and citrus salad
  • Cote de boeuf for two
  • Grilled Atlantic salmon
  • Thyme and parmesan crusted scallops
  • Assorted side dishes, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, spinach, truffle fries
  • Apple tarte Tatin
  • Profiteroles
  • Floating island
  • Brioche and pear bread pudding

Bagatelle on Urbanspoon

The World’s Greatest Lobster Roll

You’ve probably never heard of Fourchu Lobsters or the small fishing village of the same name in Nova Scotia where they hail from. In fact, there are only 47 residents, mostly fishermen and their families, that live there.

Despite this small population, Fourchu has gained quite some fame. The lobsters hauled up from the freezing cold waters off the cost of this town have been labeled the Rolls Royce of Lobster. Lucky for New Yorkers, L’Ecole in Manhattan has it hands on some for a limited time. Perfect for a summer lobster roll, they’re only available until August before they disappear again until next summer.

Hat tip to Gothamist who gave the heads up on “the very best lobsters in the world” returning to NYC.

Fourchu Lobster Roll
Photo courtesy of Gothamist

Did Someone Say “Belgian Feast”?

Restaurant: Jacques Brasserie – 204-206 East 85th Street, Manhattan New York 

Last week, Hailey and I checked out Jacques Brasserie on the Upper East Side. The restaurant has a “Belgian Feast” special where for you get a pile of mussels, frites and a draft beer from Sunday through Thursday 5:30 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. Any menu that has the word ‘feast’ in it is right up my alley – we of course took full advantage of this special.

Atmosphere

It’s been a long time since I visited France, but if I were to envision what a French restaurant looks like, Jacques Brasserie fits that stereotype. The restaurant has a small outdoor seating area and indoors is covered in dark wood and old French posters. There are lots of mirrors throughout the space to make it feel larger than it actually is (not that it’s particularly small to begin with). It may just be me in my old age (28 years old, yikes!) but the place gives off a somewhat old-timey feel.

Exterior of Jacques Brasserie
Exterior of Jacques Brasserie

Since we were there for mussels, I immediately jump to compare Jacques Brasserie to one of my favorite mussel places in New York City – BXL. Aside from the fact that one is French and the other is Belgian, I’d say BXL has a bigger bar atmosphere whereas Jacques Brasserie feels more like an actual restaurant. Take your pick for what you’re looking for.

Interior of Jacques Brasserie
Interior of Jacques Brasserie

Food

Let’s get feasting! The “Belgian Feast” special comes with a heaping pot of mussels, frites and a draft beer. On the menu, you have a choice of various flavors ranging from Marinieres (Chardonnay, garlic, parsley) to Provencale (tomato, garlic, basil) to Dijonnaise (mustard, shallots, garlic). Not wanting to get too crazy, Hailey and I decided on:

  • Marinieres: Chardonnay, garlic, parsley
  • Poulette: Chive and cream
Mussels at Jacques Brasserie
Mussels at Jacques Brasserie

First things first, you get a nice basket of warm, fresh bread sliced from a baguette placed on your table. If you’re asking why this is important you should probably just stop reading. This is essential so you have something to dip in the sauce leftover from the mussels.

Frites at Jacques Brasserie
Frites at Jacques Brasserie

I’m a guy and I can put down a lot of food. Whenever I eat mussels I often have to down a lot of the little guys until I even feel remotely full. However, the mussels at Jacques Brasserie are nothing short of enormous. These are probably some of the largest mussels I’ve had in a long time and I surprisingly found myself pretty full after eating a bucket of them. In addition to the mussels, the frites were crispy and a nice golden brown color. They were coated in lots of salt which made them nearly addictive.

Service

The service at Jacques Brasserie was nothing short of great. Our waiter almost seemed enthusiastic to serve us, like I was doing him a favor. A side effect of eating mussels is lots of leftover shells. The staff eagerly shuttled discarded shells away so we were never left with anything resembling a Jenga-style pile of mussels waiting to tip over into our laps.

Value

For $22 you get a heaping bowl of mussels, frites and a draft beer. I challenge you to find a better deal with the same quality of food and atmosphere. Great value!

The Verdict

Jacques Brasserie has been a neighborhood staple on the Upper East Side more more than 20 years. I’m not sure how long they’ve been doing their “Belgian Feast,” but it’s one hell of a deal. The food was delicious, the service was superb and Hailey and I had a great experience. The only downside is the “Belgian Feast” only runs from 5:30 – 7:00 p.m. so it can be a little tough to get there for those working a little later into the night. However, if you can skip out of work on time than head on up to the Upper East Side for a little taste of France. You won’t regret it. 

*This meal was provided free, courtesy of Jacques Brasserie. 

Jacques Brasserie on Urbanspoon

Cedric Bistro Lives Up to the Rest of Harlem’s Restaurant Row

Restaurant: Cedric Bistro – 185 St. Nicholas Avenue, Manhattan, New York

Harlem’s “restaurant row” is one of the city’s up and coming neighborhoods and the restaurants down Frederick Douglas Boulevard between 110th Street and 125th Street are no joke. Lido, which I’ve previously reviewed, is located on this strip and Cedric, located just off of Frederick Douglas, definitely lives up to the neighborhood hype.

Cedric Bistro in HarlemLast weekend, a group of us visited Cedric for brunch. It was a gorgeous day out and if you’re looking for an open air dining experience in the neighborhood, Cedric is the place to be. The restaurant is cozy, with about 15 tables, and is surrounded by floor to ceiling windows on two sides of the restaurant facing the street. On a nice day, these windows are swung open giving you a nice breeze and great atmosphere as you eat.

The service at Cedric is a little slow. After being seated it took a good 15 minutes before a waitress came over asking for our drink orders and another 15 minutes before those drinks arrived. However, the place gives off that vibe and encourages you to relax, enjoy the atmosphere and company, and take your time. They don’t rush you out.

Omelet with Spinach and Goat Cheese
Omelet with Spinach and Goat Cheese

For brunch, I ordered:

  • Omelet with Spinach and Goat Cheese

Our food arrived fairly quickly (compared to our drinks) and there was an unanimous decision that is was all very good. I’m a sucker for goat cheese so I wasn’t complaining about my meal. I did notice that the spinach appeared to be a little bit watery as there was some liquid (I assume it was water) under my omelet but it didn’t detract from the taste, just from the visual appeal. My omelet came with both a side salad and fries which were nothing to brag about – I mean it’s just fries and a salad. I will say that the fries were a little soggy and I would have liked them a little crispier.

The Verdict

If you live around Harlem’s “restaurant row,” I encourage you to give Cedric a try, especially if it’s a nice day out. Brunch is a little bit pricy with entrees around $15-$20 and drinks priced at $7/each. There are no unlimited drink specials or complimentary drinks with your order. The food is above average but the real highlight is the atmosphere. Enjoy dining al fresco and relaxing as you are encouraged to stay as long as you’d like. I would pay Cedric a visit again.

Cédric French Bistro on Urbanspoon

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