Honoring Burgundy Roots with Amour – Chef Claude Godard and Jeanne & Gaston

BY ELENA MANCINI

Jeanne & Gaston
212 West 14th Street
West Village
(212) 675-3773 / jeanneandgaston.com

The cuisine of Burgundy occupies center stage at Jeanne & Gaston, a West Village yearling that breezily weds French country charm with urban understatement. The restaurant is refreshing addition to a neighborhood that in certain respects suffers from a glut of generically trendy and overpriced restaurants, and is a keeper for its inspired menu that features Burgundy specialities with a twist as well as a number of brasserie favorites in an elegant, unpretentious downtown setting and favorable pricing. Casting the spotlight on his Burgundy roots is chef-owner restaurateur Claude Godard. Godard hails from a long line of chefs, starting with his great grandfather. From early on, food played a central role in his life, and with Jeanne & Gaston, Godard pays homage to both the cuisine of his native region of his birth and to his restaurateur grandparents, after whom Jeanne & Gaston is named.

 

Chef Claude Godard

A member of the Maitres Cuisiniers de France and inducted into l’Academie Culinaire de France, highly prestigious culinary associations, Godard completed his formal training at the School of Culinary Arts in Paris and worked with a number of renowned chefs in France,including Alain Dutournier and Jean-Pierre Vigato. From these chefs Godard took away the emphasis on the freshness and quality of ingredients, and this constitutes the backbone of Godard’s culinary approach. Godard enjoys cooking with fish and seafood. He cites Paul Bocuse as a vital influence on him for his democratic approach to chefing and opening the kitchen doors to chefs of his generation with his lighter style of cooking.

In the late nineties, a combination of curiosity and ambition inspired Godard to leave his native France to come to New York City to ply his trade. Upon arriving to New York City, Godard dove right into his dream and opened his first Manhattan restaurant, Madison Bistro in 1998, which is still going strong today. In hindsight, the extremely shy and  humble Godard admits that going straight to opening his own restaurant might not have been the easiest way to go about establishing himself in New York City, but the exceptionally talented and multiply occupied chef (In addition to serving as Executive Chef at both of his restaurants, Godard is also the wine director and pastry chef of Jeanne & Gaston) has no regrets.

Following are a number of the dishes from Jeanne & Gaston’s seasonal menu that I particularly enjoyed:

Escargot a la Bordelaise

The Escargot a la Bordelaise (13.00) – plated in a traditional escargot platter and bathed in a rich coat of piping herbs and spices, the escargot were fragrantly fresh, yielding to the bite and seasoned to perfection. The flavors and textures reached a pitch that quietly transported me to the charmed corners of Western Europe.

Quenelle

Simply put: the Quenelle (20.00), prepared with Pike Mousseline in Nantua Sauce was outstanding. What I found particularly extraordinary about this dish, apart from the freshness of the ingredients and the harmony of the flavors was the fact that the perfectly executed cloud-like texture of the quenelle was so flavor-rich. It was geniously served in a thick wine sauce with cremini mushrooms. Executed in this way, would cause me to order this dish again and again and again.

Duck Magret

The Duck Magret was served with a side of tempura vegetables and a mango emulsion. The duck was hearty, moist and velvety tender. A perfectly crisp side of mushroom and asparagus tempura accompanied the duck along with a spoonful of mango chutney. The mango had a lovely cleansing effect and brightened the dish like a burst of summer.

Poached Anjou Pear filled with Chocolate Mousse

Poached Anjou Pear filled with Chocolate Mousse

The Poached  Chocolate Mousse Pear was a glorious fall dessert. The presentation of this dish alone was mirth-provoking. However, the real reward was delivered by the supple chocolate mousse filling couched into a firmly poached Anjou pear–resulting in a truly elegant and satisfying pairing.

A great way to experience Jeanne & Gaston is with a three course $40.00 prix fixe, which includes all menu items–an incredible deal not only for Manhattan, but for the caliber of the dishes.

In addition, a 3-course $29 pre-set prixe fixe dinner menu has been recently introduced.

A full bar and wine list offer specialty cocktails, and global wines by the bottle, glass and carafe with a focus on French wines.

Every night features Happy Hour from 4:00 PM until closing on specialty cocktails and select wines by the glass.

For Chef Godard’s recipe for Chicken Crepe Roulade, click here.

Jeanne & Gaston on Urbanspoon

 

French, Filling, and Flavorsome – Review of Balthazar

BY STEPHANIE HARRISON

Balthazar Restaurant –
80 Spring St, Soho
212-965-1414 :: www.balthazarny.com

courtesy of luxist.com

courtesy of luxist.com

Hungry couldn’t have described how I felt.  With a no-breakfast morning to begin with and noon rolling around, my stomach was half way done eating itself.  I arrived at Balthazar having no expectations of how the nourriture – that’s food in French – would be like.  This French inspired restaurant is staffed with the most polite hosts in New York City.  Their smiling faces and light voices convinced my cousin and I that a 40-minute wait for lunch was worth it.  Good thing we had no obligations for the rest of the day.  Our entire lunch lasted about two and a half hours, including the pre-lunch cocktail and wait, the meal and conversation, and the dessert that HAD to be ordered although we were stuffed to the bone.  This gorgeous eatery was crowded during our entire meal – from businessmen and women to young couples, Balthazar is the place to be on a Friday afternoon if you have a half-day off!

Duck Confit at Balthazar - courtesy of picasaweb.google.com

Duck Confit at Balthazar - courtesy of picasaweb.google.com

With two Johnny Walker Black and Cokes guzzled, we were finally seated at a booth served by a French waiter (or at least he had the accent, we will deem him Jacques).  After careful deliberation, I decided on the Duck Confit with crispy potatoes, wild mushrooms, and frisée salad, and my cousin choose the Moules Frites (the best $21 mussels I’ve ever had with skinny fries on the side served with a mayonnaise-based sauce – aioli perhaps?).  To accompany our meals, we were recommended with two beers, Chimay (darker, more bitter) and Duvel (more hoppy, light body).

Sir Jacques made rounds to our table at a comfortable pace, not too smothering.  The service was exceptional.  Normally, when I acknowledge that my jeans are getting a bit too snug, that means I’ve had enough.  Not that day.  We topped off our delicious entrees with the infamous Crème Brûlée.  Not too sweet, sugar perfectly browned, Balthazar offered a superb lunch spot for those who have more than 20 minutes to inhale their food.

They also offered their recipes for sale in a book entitled, The Balthazar Cookbook.  If you can’t afford the dish, then try cooking it yourself!

Share/Save/BookmarkSubscribe

Balthazar on Urbanspoon

An oasis of bygone pleasures – Review of Le Perigord

BY ELENA MANCINI

Le Perigord
405 East 52nd St.
Midtown East
(212) 755-6244 /
leperigord.com

Main Dining Room at Le Perigord

Main Dining Room at Le Perigord

Even though the New York City restaurant scene has experienced a series of revolutions (read: Batali, Vongerichten and David Chang to name a just handful) since that day in 1964 in which Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton were photographed underneath the awning of Le Perigord, this delightful Beekman-Place-neighboring flagship continues to shine as an oasis of  Classic French cuisine and hospitality. For those whose celebrity-royalty radars don’t stretch that far back: think Brangelina of the sixties and seventies only more glamorous and  far less self-conscious.

Le Perigord has retained a great deal of the formal elegance of Classic French’s heydey. Diners who enter the intimate and  softly-lit dining room are welcomed by Gallic waiters donning bow ties and smoking jackets, who greet you in French. While the sartorial choice of jeans and a T-shirt might well feel out of place in this solid four-and-a-half decade old flagship of Classic French cuisine, the cordial staff is at a far remove from the stuffy and snubbing sort that rightfully remain the object of caricature. Le Perigord, which is still managed and graciously hosted as a labor of love by its owner of forty-five years, Swiss-born, Georges Briguet,  is a neighborhood restaurant that continues to attract a loyal Sutton Place following and UN diplomats, as well as those who appreciate quality and Old World refinement without the noise and hustle that is typical of trendier establishments on the average yelper’s circuit. [Read more...]

l’Absinthe Brasserie Restaurant

227 East 67th St.
New York, NY 10065
212-794-4950 / www.labsinthe.com

It’s the glamor of turn-of-the century Paris in all of its sumptuous glory at Jean-Michel Bergougnoux’s l’Absinthe. However, unlike many establishments that aspire to reprise upon this theme and wind up delivering tired, static, campy-cliched gimmicks, there’s a soulful engine of passion behind Bergougnoux’s complex and multi-layered interpretations of this vibrantly sexy historical epoch. From featuring the beverage that bears the restaurant’s name at its bar to the gorgeous Art Nouveau posters, to the liberty style mirrors on the wall to masterfully-executed haute cuisine and friendly, top-notch service, l’Absinthe offers a sensuous, full-bodied experience in Old World elegance.

l'Absinthe Captures the Spirit of Art Nouveau

[Read more...]

l'Absinthe Brasserie Restaurant

227 East 67th St.
New York, NY 10065
212-794-4950 / www.labsinthe.com

It’s the glamor of turn-of-the century Paris in all of its sumptuous glory at Jean-Michel Bergougnoux’s l’Absinthe. However, unlike many establishments that aspire to reprise upon this theme and wind up delivering tired, static, campy-cliched gimmicks, there’s a soulful engine of passion behind Bergougnoux’s complex and multi-layered interpretations of this vibrantly sexy historical epoch. From featuring the beverage that bears the restaurant’s name at its bar to the gorgeous Art Nouveau posters, to the liberty style mirrors on the wall to masterfully-executed haute cuisine and friendly, top-notch service, l’Absinthe offers a sensuous, full-bodied experience in Old World elegance.

l'Absinthe Captures the Spirit of Art Nouveau

[Read more...]

Allegretti

46 West 22nd. Street, btwn. 5th and 6th Avenues,
Flatiron District, Manhattan
www.allegrettinyc.com
212-206-0555

Nicois cuisine; cost of average meat or fish entree, $33

While this Flatiron newcomer, eponymously named for its chef-owner Alain Allegretti, captures the light, subdued elegance of Provence through an understated, elegant decor accented with sea coral and other marine fossils, the service exudes the haughtiness of Paris in July. Unfortunately, the cuisine at Allegretti is also disappointingly uneven. [Read more...]

Telepan

Upper West Side – 72 W. 69 St, btwn. Central Park West and Columbus Avenue
212-580-4300; telepan-ny.com

New Yorkers are a cynical lot, or at least that’s how the cliche’ goes. But, how could it be otherwise in a place where even the mold in your rusting pipes is turned into an inflated commodity for which you can be made to overpay? We all know these embarassing costs of letting down overworn guards. And in this era of mushrooming celebrity chefs, iconic restauranteurs and gastronomical temples, a pound of skepticism is a good thing, especially in this economy.

So if we succumb to the buzz, our attitudes are generally, let’s see what all the hype is about. These were the thoughts going through my head when someone very dear to me invited me to celebrate a personal milestone at Telepan. [Read more...]