(Quite sadly, second owner Stefan wasn’t able to make a go of this place after superb host John Blakeley sold out a couple of years ago, and it closed in August 2018. The loss of this old favourite is in our minds on a par with that of Lumiere, although in a completely different league cuisine-wise. Sic transit gloria.)
We’ve been to this favourite dozens of times over the years, and keep returning. The dinners are delicious and about as close to a Paris bistro as you can get “without a plane ticket” as one review suggests.
In December 2013 we had brunch as we do frequently, and everything was quite wonderful. John the owner is friendly and informed, and treats everyone as a regular. His staff is professional, and he seems to find people who know instinctively just how friendly and how unobtrusive to be. They tend to speak French, and to be charming.
The room is long and thin, with a cozy fireplace space at the rear, and a couple of tables right at the front which look onto the busy 4th Avenue sidewalk.
On this occasion we had croque monsieur, perfectly crisp and tangy with gruyere and French ham, and a fabulous off-eggs-Benedict creation that combined duck confit and shredded potato in a crisp pancake, topped with poached egg and lemony hollandaise. John’s wine list is short but well-chosen. On this weekend daytime occasion we had a sancerre smelling of flowers and sugarcane. Other times kidneys, calf liver, steak frites, duck breast, onion tart, etc. have kept us happy.
Prices are reasonable for what you get, and our paying a little more reflects a tendency to go for the higher end of the wine list and to tip well.
Although we keep trying new middle-priced restaurants in town, so far nothing has tempted us to stop returning regularly to this standby. Nobody is pretending to haute cuisine here, but I can’t remember ever being disappointed. Food 9.0 service 9.1 ambience 8.8 value 8.5.