A proliferation of innovative, French restaurants on the New York City culinary scene is transforming stereotypical notions of stuffy haute cuisine. Relaxed elegance exudes from some of the city’s most beloved eateries, which are serving accessible and delicious French fare. In an update to our previous article, the following list illustrates the dynamic longevity of French cuisine by highlighting traditional restaurants and contemporary newcomers.
Daniel is a prominent restaurant located in the heart of Manhattan’s affluent Upper East Side. Since opening in 1993, this renowned restaurant has been delighting French cuisine aficionados with a delicious and luxurious menu that features a contemporary take on traditional French fare. Their seasonally changing menu, created by acclaimed chef and owner Daniel Boulud, showcases his ability to consistently reinvent the haute cuisine dining experience with inventive dishes from the chorizo-wrapped swordfish to the white sturgeon caviar. Due to innovative taste, impeccable presentation, and elegant ambiance, Daniel is one of the few New York restaurants awarded three Michelin stars and the James Beard Foundation Awards’ Outstanding Restaurant of 2010.
Daniel, 60 East 65th Street, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 288 0033
Brasserie Les Halles
Started by well-known chef Anthony Bourdain, Brasserie Les Halles is a bustling, spacious Park Avenue restaurant with an intimate ambience reminiscent of authentic Parisian bistros. Serving classic French cuisine, Les Halles’ menu is guided by Bourdain’s principles of freshness and simplicity, which can be seen in his New York Times-bestselling book Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly. Traditional appetisers like French onion soup and escargots roasted in garlic butter are perfectly executed while mains like steak au poivre accompanied by Les Halles’ award-winning French fries illustrates the restaurant’s continued legacy. Finish the meal with a quintessentially French dessert like crème brûlée or crêpes.
Brasserie Les Halles, 411 Park Avenue, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 679 4111
The original Benoit opened in Paris over a century ago, in 1912. The New York based-iteration was established in 2008 by renowned chef and restaurateur Alain Ducasse. Benoit exudes classic French elegance with rich oak interiors and red upholstered seating. Inspired by the original Benoit’s century-old recipes, they serve traditional Parisian bistro fare updated with seasonal produce and contemporary culinary techniques. Try their twice-baked upside down Comté cheese soufflé or duck à l’orange for a typical French meal before indulging in their monthly changing tarts crafted by pastry chef Benjamin Grue. September ushers in a fig tart with shortbread crust and almond filling that can also be taken home with Benoit’s tarts-to-go program.
Benoit Bistro, 60 West 55th Street, New York, NY, USA, +1 646 943 7373
Williamsburg-based restaurant The Elm serves French fare based on traditional recipes with modern twists. Since opening in summer 2013, they have received rave reviews for their inventive menu and stylishly spacious interior. Try their foie gras with apricot, peanut, and orange blossom or salmon with red curry, eggplant, and kale. Located near historic McCarren Park, The Elm’s décor, conceived by local design firm Parts and Labour Design, is inspired by their surroundings and features exposed wooden beams, a living green wall, an axe installation, and modern lighting.
The Elm, 160 North 12th Street, Brooklyn, NY, USA, +1 718 218 7500
Founded in the 1960s by Charles Masson Sr., La Grenouille has delighted customers with their traditional and superb French haute cuisine ever since. Freshly cut flowers that fill the interior with a floral perfume, impeccable customer service, and consistently delicious staples have earned this famed French restaurant a loyal fan base. Traditional dishes like frog legs Provençal-style and grilled Dover sole showcase La Grenouille’s mastery of French skills while their zucchini blossoms in ravigote sauce highlight modern twists. To top it all off, La Grenouille appears on seven Zagat lists including Best Service, Best Décor, and Best Food.
La Grenouille, 3 East 52nd Street, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 752 1495
La Bonne Soupe
Wander into midtown’s La Bonne Soupe for a quick lunch or casual dinner before the theater. This small midtown café, started by Jean-Paul and Monique Picot over 40 years ago, offers American classics with French twists. Lively and local, it’s perhaps best known for its namesake offering: La Bonne Soupe, or good soup, that’s a key favourite in addition to the fresh breads, salads, desserts, and beverages. Choose between their scrumptious French onion soup oozing with sizzling Gruyere cheese, tomato-based vegetable soup crème andalouse, a mushroom and barley soup, or mulligatawny. La Bonne Soupe also offers delicious bunless burgers served with thin-cut fries and melt-in-your-mouth Quiche Lorraine.
La Bonne Soupe, 48 West 55th Street, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 586 7650
Le Bernardin was started in Paris in 1972 by siblings Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze as a seafood only establishment before moving to New York City in 1986. Gilbert is a self-taught seafood genius who quickly redefined notions of oceanic cuisine within the States. Chef Eric Ripert, who worked closely with Gilbert, took over the kitchen in 1994. He continues to delight and surprise guests with seafood-centric creations that will turn dedicated carnivores into fish aficionados. Considered one of the best restaurants in New York, Le Bernardin has also earned a three-star Michelin rating, five James Beard Awards, and maintained a four-star New York Times rating since inception.
Le Bernardin, 155 West 51st Street, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 554 1515
Master Chef David Bouley’s most noted restaurant Bouley offers a fresh take on contemporary French cuisine. The porcini flan with Alaska Dungeness Crab, and black truffle dashi illustrate his traditional culinary ability while the fresh Malibu sea urchin with green apple cloud and Oscetra caviar showcases his modern sensibility. Their prix-fixe menus offer a sampling of Bouley’s innovative creations that consistently surprise in both taste and presentation. If a six-course dinner is not in the cards make sure to try their five-course lunch tasting menu, which at only 55$ is one of the best fine dining bargains in the city. Bouley is consistently ranked as one of the best restaurants in New York City.
Bouley, 163 Duane Street, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 964 2525
Opened in 1997 to critical acclaim in the Trump Hotel Central Park, Jean-Georges offers a unique culinary experience with their seasonally crafted prix-fixe menus and sophisticated, lush interior that looks out on Central Park West. The crowning jewel of chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten’s restaurant empire serves innovative dishes that blend French, American, and Asian influences. Dishes like peekytoe crab salad with honeydew gazpacho, lime and mint and sautéed foie gras with black olive seasoning, lychee, and brioche showcase his inventive culinary mastery and redefinition of contemporary French cuisine. Listed on over ten Zagat lists including most popular restaurants and best service, Jean-Georges is a city staple on the French culinary circuit.
Jean-Georges, 1 Central Park West, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 299 3900
Eleven Madison Park
In a sky-high art deco dining room next to iconic Madison Square Park sits Eleven Madison Park. This revered restaurant serves greenmarket-inspired French cuisine by noted chef Daniel Humm. The multicourse tasting menu showcases Humm’s sophisticated playful attitude towards contemporary French cuisine – picnic baskets filled with high-end pretzels, jam, and cheese is a noted special. Their acclaimed gastronomy paired with gorgeous floral arrangements, unique light fixtures, and generous customer service earn them the number four spot on San Pellegrino’s Worlds 50 Best Restaurants and four stars in the Forbes 2014 travel guide. Do not miss this life-changing culinary experience.
Eleven Madison Park, 11 Madison Avenue, New York, NY, USA, +1 212 889 0905
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