Gallic Goodies At Cherche Midi…

Cherche Midi  Photo/eater.com
Cherche Midi Photo/eater.com

No more Pastis. What is NYC without a plethora of McNally dining opportunities?! Not to fret. Cherche Midi has arrived…Keith McNally’s empire is still thriving.

Last week I had a brief interlude at Christian Louboutin and since we were mobile, I suggested we grab an early dinner at the 2 week old, Cherche Midi.

Cherche Midi
Cherche Midi

It was meant to be as we discovered a parking place right in front of the restaurant.

The old Pulino place is unrecognizable. I walked past the spot on the corner of Houston and the Bowery…it is looks like an upper east side matron who just had a major facelift with Dr. Baker.

Keith McNally’s new french bistro is lovely. The food is wonderful…not inspirational, but if you are looking for a Parisian dining experience look no further than Cherche Midi.

interior cherche

The food is much better than the set up. It almost feels like 3 very separate dining areas and even though the color yellow is tres de rigueur, it just doesn’t shine.

We were seated by the windows and felt quite disconnected from the rest of the restaurant. I think I would have preferred dinner at the bar in order to feel the vibe or in the section to the left of the hostess stand where Heather, the only tolerable wife on the Housewives of New York City farce was dining with a bunch of animated women…my type of dinner partners.

Cherche Midi Bar
Cherche Midi Bar

The signature McNally mirrors, the traditional floor and tablecloths do hit all the right notes. I love that they change the paper covering the tablecloth after the main course. Finishing with dessert or cheese is just like starting all over again.

Cherche Midi is a French expression meaning, searching for midday. McNally says: “I have an attachment to the name because I used to live on rue du Cherche-Midi.” I actually love rue du Cherche-Midi. It’s a charming street, just like the new restaurant.

The gentleman greeter was a delight…I wish I remembered his name. He was all about charm. The two young women were tighter than the aforementioned face lift and so were their clothes.

Our server, Jean Marie, was lovely and steered us deliberately and was on the money with her personal recommendations.

bread cherche

The bread arrived, soft, fresh as was the butter and the salt added just the right touch.

Asparagus Salad
Asparagus Salad

We kicked off our virgin experience with an asparagus salad with pickles chanterelles, frisee parmesan and garlic breadcrumbs ($15). The asparagus were blanched perfectly and the salad had the crunch we all crave.

Whole Roasted Daurade
Whole Roasted Daurade

Our main was the whole grilled daurade with crispy herbs ($34). It was presented beautifully with tempura basil leaves adorning the top of the fish. We requested de-boning and back it went to the kitchen, but was not gone long.

I love the olive oil served in a gravy pitcher with herbs entwined like a broom so that you could sweep the oil over the white fleshy meat. It was light and delicious, seasoned perfectly.

Shane McBride, who worked as the chef de cuisine at Balthazar and Schiller’s, is running the kitchen with former Minetta Tavern sous chef, Daniel Parilla.

The menu offers (among other selections) roasted chicken breast ($28) prime rib ($38) homemade lobster ravioli ($28), steak frites with Bearnaise sauce ($28) and a prime rib burger with bacon marmalade, aged gruyere cheese, roasted mushrooms and pommes frites that rivals Minetta Tavern’s infamous Black Label burger ($21).

Mushrooms With Kale and Shallots
Mushrooms With Kale and Shallots

We had a fabulous side of roasted mushrooms with kale and shallots served in an adorable little cast iron pan ($9).

cheese cherche

We mixed it up and ordered a savory course to end the meal…the Chef’s selection of 3 cheese ($14) which was accompanied by grapes, thinly sliced apple, toasted walnuts, honey and apricot preserves.

The cheeses were wonderful as was the Sancerre Rose, Michel Gerard ’13 that I selected. ($10). The rose was dry, fruit forward and truly delicious.

Apricot Preserve and Honey Comb
Apricot Preserve and Honey Comb

The word analogous with Cherche Midi is lovely. It won’t take your breath away, but it is a cozy, comfortable place with excellent food, attentive service and  a dash of sex appeal… it won’t rock your world….but speaking as a married woman, who needs it every night?!

Cherche Midi, 282 Bowery Dinner: Monday-Saturday 5:30pm-12am. Sunday 5:30-1pm. www.cherchemidiny.com. For reservations call: 212.226.3055.

2 RUE DU CHERCHE-MIDI

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