We are lucky to have the advice of my nephew Boyd who lives in town. There must be a hundred relatively recent startups at any time in this rich sexy city, but which ones will deliver the goods? Boyd knows a few, and this is one of them. It’s a small room but quietly lets you know it’s an “airy French bistro” with incipient haute cuisine ideas.
Approaching it on foot, we walk an impressive few blocks of the northwest corner of SoHo, passing (and checking out) a very serious bakery, and a basement sushi bar packed with busy chefs and Japanese clients but without any exterior signage. Nice neighbourhood (is there a not-nice neighbourhood on south Manhattan anymore except for places like Times Square? Don’t think so.).
Unassuming young guys oversee the front end, there is a bar on the left and maybe fifteen tables. We are happy to be seated in the middle, not hopelessly noisy, but we are late for lunch so things thin out as we order and eat. Robin cautions me not to look but (XYZ. I’m so hopelessly out of the picture I not only didn’t recognize his name at first but can’t remember it now) a famous comedian is sitting at the next table. I’m finally allowed to look and I see six ordinary-looking fortyish people.
We started with the quinoa salad which was perfectly balanced with its vinaigrette, crunchy but soft. The French onion soup burger was a nice achievement, the classic dish sidling up to the American fast food standard like a Parisienne tentatively in the mood. The modestly named roast chicken sandwich was packed with succulent delights between pieces of bread that disappeared in their softness.
The chef is called Matt Conroy. His staff is sophisticated and engaging. Prices were consistent with the goodies. Food 9.1, service 8.8, ambience 7.9, value (neglecting the worthless Canadian currency) 7.1. This is one we would look for as default on a future visit.