It is a bit the war between Uptown and Downtown people, but some of them are almost crying that Eric Kayser takes so much time to open its second location at Gramercy. So in the meantime let’s say you have a good excuse to come to the “suburb” and visit a museum between the brunch and the “goûter” to try everything my Parisian bakery has to offer to New Yorkers.
They serve breakfast, lunch, brunch, snacks and dinner so you have plenty of options, mostly offered all day. When I came for the opening, the quiche lorraine was several inches high, which I love. But a couple of weeks later it was thin like most of the quiches found here. I am not sure if they realized the American palate preferred this version or if the cost was too high but I would recommend them to go back to the first one. It is not really the season anymore but the foie gras is at least not this duck mousse but has the same consistence that the French one and tastes as good. And bonus every meal is served with a bunch of bread, including my favorite turmeric-hazelnut bread.
Ask for a tea or coffee, they serve it with their adorable mini-financier, but you can also order the full size pistachio one that is to die for.
My favorite desserts on earth are tartes… and Eric Kayser has everything I could dream about. Just watch them and you will understand why French chefs master the art of pastry. It is almost the only time I had real shortcrust pastry covered with either the raspberries or the a creamy, rich chocolate ganache and not this frozen dough bought in grocery stores that almost every pastry has when it comes to pies.
And do not leave the place without your old-style baguette that will keep fresh longer than one day. Trust me, it tastes exactly like the Kayser bakery in France.
1294 3rd Ave 74th St
New York, NY 10021
Harlem is more and more having nice restaurants opening. Maison Harlem is one of them. Located in the very quiet West Harlem, this French restaurant is a nice place for brunch once you are done with the traditional Gospel church and if you are not ready to do the line in one of those Soul Food restaurants serving fried chicken. Avoid the Abyssinian Baptist Church since it seems all the NYC tourists have been told to get there. Canaan Baptist Church has also tourists I won’t lie, but at least if you are a little early you will probably get a seat and will forget those people holding their city guides as soon as you listen to the different choirs.
Canaan Baptist Church
132 W 116th St
New York, NY 10026
It seems everybody is French at Maison Harlem, so I felt home very quickly. You first walk through the bar when your table is ready. The atmosphere is very friendly, and feels different and more relax than any downtown restaurants.
As part of the food, I can only say it was excellent. If you order the coq-au-vin, be patient and order an appetizer to kill the time they cook it to order. The portion was generous, and you feel definitely you are in France with this traditional dish.
341 St Nicholas Ave
New York, NY 10027
You may have still some room for a desert, head to Levain Bakery, it has the best chocolate chip cookie ever. These are so dense and heavy you may probably need a friend to split it. The Harlem location is bigger than the one in the Upper West Side and offer other pastries I have not tried. I can just tell you to order the chocolate chip walnut cookie. And to go for a run later.
2167 Frederick Douglass Blvd
New York, NY 10026
Cathedral St John The Divine
If you are in West Harlem and want to visit around, check Columbia University and its campus. A couple of block down is the Cathedral St John the Divine, the 4th largest Christian church in the word. Started late 19th century, it was interrupted by the two World War and remains unfinished.
If by any chance you like history, art or you are just curious about seeing parts from five French cloistered abbeys reassembled brick-by-brick before being shipped to New York, head to The Cloisters. Besides the view on the Hudson is blind blowing, like all the 12th-15th century pieces of art this branch of the MET museum features.
New York, NY 10027
The Cathedral Church of St John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Ave
New York, NY 10025
99 Margaret Corbin Dr
New York, NY 10040
Le Philosophe is another French restaurant that opened a couple of months ago in NoHo. And the NYC food scene created a buzz about this place. What is so fantastic about this place that it got unanimously rated top of the best new restaurants? The Chef, Matt Aita, who worked with the best French Chefs in town Daniel Boulud and Jean-Georges Vongerichten, is cooking inspiring French bistro style food.
I got randomly there for brunch and it was one of my best experiences in town. The venue is small with an open kitchen. Try to guess the list of philosophes printed on the wall, if you fall they give you a cheat sheet so you will leave smarter by the end of your meal.
Crêpe au foie gras
Truffled Croque Monsieur
As part of the food, the crêpe au foie gras was beautiful to watch, and so tasty to eat. The candied pistachios added some crunchy. The passion fruit curd was maybe too strong, but it is only a detail since I consider this dish one of the finest I ate in town. I would have the same comment for the truffle croque-monsieur, made with the best ham and comté. However I was a bit sad not to actually taste any truffle flavor…
You want to know what is sophisticated food for an affordable price? Just head to the Philosophe for brunch and enjoy!
55 Bond St,
New York, NY
On March 5th, Planet Bordeaux, the syndicate of Bordeaux Appellation, was featuring an event called “A Goldmine of Bordeaux Wine” at the Metropolitan Pavilion in NYC.
20 importers and producers were part of the event; more than 60 wines were featured. The aim of the event was to bring the most affordable and accessible wines from France’s most famous wine producing region. Since the US has become the world’s largest wine-consuming nation for the first time in 2011 (even though it is 5 times bigger than France), there is a real opportunity for our wines to increase exportations.
We know that French wines and everything France related is appealing to the American consumers. However, there are two challenges for French wine, which is the basic consumer challenge, as they do not understand it and is not necessarily appealing to him because of the lack of differentiation. It is then also a distribution challenge created by producers themselves. Retailers have stopped importing top wines in the States as they will not be bought by the consumer who does not know about it.
However, I don’t know if it is because of the 4 wine tastings organized in Manhattan on the same day, the bright sun, or the disappointing French style cheese and charcuterie buffet that cost the event a small number of participants.
Like every tastings, people just walk around the room with their glasses, talking to producers. However, some of them did complain since they could only feature their wines from any other appellation than AOC Bordeaux and AOC Bordeaux Superieur. It could have been one of the reasons of the poor involvement.
The funniest part of the event was the Master Class led by Kevin Zraly. The guy was hilarious, trying to teach us how to taste and appreciate affordable 2009-2010 Bordeaux. I would have appreciated a bigger discussion about tasting notes. 10 wines tasted later, I leave the event with a great wine list for my dinners to come.
Every time I go study abroad, I crave for food I usually do not eat back home. I’ve never eaten so much cheese since I’m in the US, allowing myself eating French fries, French toast, French croissants because sometimes, I agree, I miss home.
Dominique Ansel Bakery is part of these French places in NY I got excited about, and I would be ready to make the trip everyday to Soho just to try all the pastries. He worked as the Executive Pastry Chef under the famous chef Daniel Boulud, and his immaculate bakery a bit too bright for me, smells heaven, and pastries look even better.
Obviously I tried the only American pastry of the shop: the pistachio sticky bun because 1) I’m always trying to get one as good as Flour in Boston and 2) I irreparably choose everything that is pistachio flavor. As a result, it’s sticky, tasty, not to sweet, a real puff pastry with whole pistachios.
To be able to try as many restaurants as I can, I force myself not to go back to a place I tried. Unfortunately I will have to make an exception for this one and get this gorgeous Religieuse.