When fine-dining, sit-down restaurants started popping up in New York in the mid-1800s, the trend of the era was French, which brought a sense of refinement to the dinner table (it also brought some confusion, since menus were written in the language).
Over time, the French dining scene faded into the background as places like the Four Seasons and Delmonico’s took the lead with American cuisine. Today you’ll find just about any type of food in New York, of course, but over the last few months, French brasseries, cafés and fine-dining establishments have been popping up around the city, signaling a new trend.
One of those new French spots is Mominette, located in a small shop in Bushwick, Brooklyn. The French-countryside bar and bistro, which opened in late 2012, is the first French eatery in the neighborhood, offering hungry Brooklyn patrons classics like onion gratinee, escargot, moules du jour and an Angus steak, with or without frites.
Last week, Brooklyn also welcomed Three Letters, a restaurant styled after a French truck stop café. Chef Pip Freeman is dishing out plates of moules poutine; mushroom tartine; lamb shoulder with flageolets, carrots and mustard; and pots of crème brûlée with caramelized honey.
In the West Village, Angelo Peruzzi’s La Villette is a bistro meant to reflect the cafés of Provence. Open all day, the restaurant serves fresh-baked croissants in the morning, croque-monsieurs at lunch, and classic dishes like le lapin à la moutarde — or braised rabbit in mustard sauce — for dinner (with a glass of wine, of course).
And speaking of croques, Union Square in Manhattan now has a shop devoted to the rich French sandwich — La Maison du Croque Monsieur. Order up one of the restaurant’s many inventive croque variations, such as the Mr. Lawrence with spicy tuna and cheddar, the Mr. Hugh with goat cheese and Saville orange marmalade, or the Mr. Gore with portobello mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and pine nuts.
French patisseries, too, are having their New York heyday. Last year Parisian master baker Eric Kayser’s collective boulangerie, patisserie and café chain, Maison Kayser, opened on the Upper East Side. Right across the street at The Plaza Food Hall is FP Patisserie, François Payard’s 40-seat salon that serves French pastries, tea, chocolates and ice cream. It’s a fine finale to any French meal in New York.
Photos Courtesy of iStock/Cristian Baitg