Posts in French Restaurants '15-16
Le Bilboquet: A French Toy

A toy? Taking in the posh digs, the white napery and a stunning floral arrangement, I’m thinking: This is one expensive toy! 

Later I googled bilboquet to learn it’s a small wooden cup on a spiked wooden stick attached to a ball on a string. The idea is to toss the ball into the air and catch it in the cup. Good for eye-hand coordination. 

Then I checked Zagat 2016: “One does not go for the food alone to this “see-and-be-seen” UES French bistro that functions as a clubhouse for “power” types like “Euros locals” and “Park Avenue dowagers.”  The mix of personalities made it hard to resist; I made a reservation.

From the get-go, with a 7:30pm reservation on a Saturday night, the place was a-buzz, and the staff could not have been more accommodating, the hostess showing us to her favorite table, a lovely corner table for two.  Once seated, I could see why it was a favorite as it offered an excellent view of the dining room.

Read More
Bienvenue à New York, Le Coucou

For those of you following my blog, you’ll remember that last week Veronica’s Grave won a silver medal for memoir in an international competition, with entries coming from more than a dozen countries. Thinking such good news called for a celebration, we headed for one of the hottest destinations in town, Le Coucou on Lafayette Street, sharing as it does the corner at Howard Street with the new Eleven Howard hotel.

Read More
Le Coq Rico: A Beautiful Bird

It came as a shock to learn last week that I have a number of symptoms associated with ‘Untreated Francophilia.’ They vary in both severity and in the type of activity one chooses to engage in. Less acute symptoms, for instance, might include planning the next trip to Paris, within minutes of having returned home from France. Markedly more severe symptoms include the stalking of French restaurants, cafes and patisseries wherever you happen to find yourself.  Experts say the only cure for French Stalker Syndrome is total immersion in French culture -- a month of two in the south of France would be therapeutic.

But finding it impossible to jet off to France any time soon, I head downtown for a few hours to check out a new French outpost in the Flatiron District, Le Coq Rico: The Bistro of Beautiful Birds.

Read More
Paris on the Hudson

When a nephew’s wedding in June brought us north to Poughkeepsie for a weekend of festivities, we thought it the perfect time to squeeze in a visit to the CIA – not to the Central Intelligence Agency, but to the legendary Culinary Institute of America. So it was we arrived on a Saturday morning at the campus in Hyde Park, not knowing exactly what to expect, but having been forewarned by a desk clerk at the hotel that reservations for the dining rooms, be it for lunch or dinner, are hard to come by.

Read More
Springtime at Gabriel Kreuther

Across the street from Bryant Park on East 42nd Street, on the ground floor of the Grace Building, is the eponymously-named Alsatian-inspired Gabriel Kreuther.  Barely a year old, Guide Michelin has awarded it one star, with many patrons insisting it deserves better than that.

Having left The Modern after nearly ten years at the helm, Mr Kreuther has repeated the highly successful concept seen at MoMA of a more casual bar room adjoining a luxe dining room. The overall effect is welcoming, a bright and airy space in the heart of Midtown. A desirable addition to a street that's overloaded with fast food places.

Read More
Come with Me to Paris

On a bitter cold day in New York—thunder-grey skies, snow threatening—we headed for Benoit on West 55th Street. When so many bistros in New York are pale versions of those in Paris, such is not the case with the charming Benoit, owned by Alain Ducasse.  Indeed, this Benoit is a reincarnation of the century-old Benoit in Paris, likewise owned by Mr Ducasse, and featuring many of the old reliable standards of French cooking.

Read More
Quatorze Bis: Home Is Where the Heart Is

Home is where the heart is, home is where you long to be. So goes that old-time saying in which we find a good deal of truth.  For many of us, 'home’ is our parents' home, the place where we've spent our formative years, a place hopefully filled with endearing memories. For others, ‘home’ is the place they’ve created for themselves, possibly the very opposite of what they experienced growing up. As readers of this blog well know, this heart of mine periodically finds itself longing to be in Paris, my spiritual home.  Why Paris? Well, there are reasons for that, to be sure, but they are too complicated to explain in a blog post. To understand the undying lure of Paris—how it all began so many years ago—I highly recommend you read Veronica’s Grave: A Daughter’s Memoir, to be published in May.  (Click here. )

Read More
Vaucluse: Upstairs and Down

On a dark and drizzly evening,  walking north on Park Avenue around 5:30 PM,  I'm brought up short at the sight of lights glowing in the ground floor windows of what is now Vaucluse at the south-east corner of Park and 63rd Street. This space had long been home to Park Avenue -- Winter, Spring, Summer, Autumn, a restaurant that changed its decor along with its menu from season to season. After a 22-year run,  the restaurateur, Michael Stillman, packed up his pots and pans, taking them to lower Park Avenue.

Read More
Breathless at The Whitney

When the Whitney Museum of American Art came into view, it, quite literally,  took my breath away.  Designed by the world-famous architect Renzo Piano, the museum -- all steel and glass,  all light and air-- is a beauty. With its welcoming plaza andterraces extending from the fifth and sixth floors over the High Line, the Whitney climbs and soars above a lively neighborhood scene on Gansevoort Street in the Meatpacking district. What a welcome change for what's widely-regarded to be an unsurpassed collection of modern and contemporary art.  And what a fitting tribute.

Read More
9/11 Memorial and Museum

If you have but one day to spend in New York, do what Pope Francis did and visit the 9/11 Memorial Plaza and Museum. Situated in what may well be the hippest, most dynamic,  part of town, the neighborhood surrounding the memorial is now home to 64,000 residents, including many families. Before the year 2000, a mere 22,900 residents called this Wall Street—Battery Park area home.

Read More
Where’s My Armani?

Wherever I turned last week, from You Tube to the Wall Street Journal, there was talk ofediting your life, your home, your wardrobe -- talk of Les Classiques. The siren song of Less is Best floated in the air. Along with suggestions that when adding items to your wardrobe,  to choose pieces that not only make you feel good and are comfortable, but are stylish and will stand the test of time. In other words, traditional pieces--Les Classiques.

Read More
Cherche Midi: Those Old-Time Pleasures

At first sighting, Cherche Midi—aqua blue awnings, antiqued wood paneling reminiscent of Paris, and a menu bounded by a simple glass box—looks so much a part of the neighborhood that you would think it had been there for years.  Which is not the case. Indeed, at the corner of East Houston and Bowery, the restaurant is an upstart on the Lower East Side, having opened its doors in June 2014. Speaking of doors, do not be put off by the plain-vanilla metal front door, so utterly plain my companion, mistaking it for a service entrance, suggested we walk around the corner to find the front door. Don't do that.

Read More
Taittinger Gallery: Pop the Cork!

The opening of the Richard Taittinger Gallery on Tuesday, March 3rd was propitious, or so I thought, coming as it did the same week as the opening of the 17th Annual Armory Show. Hosted at Piers 92 and 94 on the ice-bound Hudson River, the Armory show attracted more than 200 top-flight galleries from around the world. With so many important works of art from the 20th and 21st centuries on display, thousands turned out despite the bitter cold, the snow and ice.

Read More
New York or Paris: I Love Buvette

Whenever I would start talking French restaurants, someone would invariably ask: Have you been to Buvette? Buvette had the buzz, there was no doubt about it, the consensus being that the food was excellent, the ambiance divine. Everyone said:  It’s like being in Paris!

Read More
The Super-Star & the Sandwich: Cotillard & Tartinery

The 2015 Oscar buzz for Best Actress includes the award-winning Marion Cotillard as the depressed wife in Two Days, One Night. Having previously won an Oscar for her spellbinding performance as Edith Piaf in La Vie en Rose—only the second time an Oscar was awarded a woman for a non-English speaking performance—she’s up against stiff competition that includes Reese Witherspoon, Julianne Moore, Rosamund Pike, and Felicity Jones.

Read More
The Odd Couple: Altun-Ha and Jacques Pepin

Unlike the Spanish forts dating from the sixteenth century or the British Colonial settlements, the ancient Mayan ruins at Altun-Ha in Belize, a country on the eastern coast of Latin America and bordered to the north by Mexico, date back thousands of years. Of course, the challenge for your trusty correspondent, someone desperately seeking Paris, will to unearth something that's très chic, something with a glint of French style.

Read More
Maison Kayser: The Once Square, Now Hip UES

When there are no errands to be run or chores to be done, no appointments to be kept or parcels to be schlepped...what is it that you most like to do?

I’ll tell you what I like: I like to hang out in places where you can linger for an hour nursing a cup of coffee, doing little more than watching the passing scene. Preferably, places that open early and stay open late, with no reservation required. Growing up in Sherwood Park in southeast Yonkers—the most boring place in the world—the only exciting thing that ever happened was the opening of a diner on Yonkers Avenue. It was a classic All-American diner with a red neon sign, Formica counters wrapped in chrome, red leather booths with tabletop jukeboxes, and waitresses in black uniforms with pencils tucked behind their ears.

Read More