Because we don't really hate France.0
Still stoned from vacationing in the Alps and day dreaming about cool French snowboarders with laid back accents, sunglass tans and shaggy hair, I arrived back in New York in serious withdrawal and in desperate need of something French besides McDonald´s fries. With my faux French beau on holiday and no poodles in sight, I found myself pacing back and forth in front of the French Culinary Institute’s reliably delicious Soho sanctuary, L’Ecole. Weeks ago, the marvelous Mirela suggested I visit to try the fairly new Chef’s Classic Menu at L’Ecole, where institute veteran chefs are featured on different weeknights twisting their own unique takes on timeless French standards like like bouillabaisse and cassoulet.
Wednesday nights feature choucroute from chef and Luceté proprieter, the 75-year-old Alesce-bred mastermind, Andre Soltner. And yes, I thought ahead and dined according to chef.
For the Classic´s menu you can enjoy a five course dinner prix fixe menu for $35 rather than the normal $42 or a 3 course lunch for a mere $25. Um, awesome deal for those unemployed foodies running a mill of Gotham. Basically, you choose the regular prix fixe subbing the meat course for the choucroute. I had the yellowtail tartar with parsnip puree appie and my dashing USA-citizenship craving (a.k.a. FRENCH) winer and diner ate lobster consomme with lobster tortellini…both thoroughly satisfying. Next up, fish!
One fish, two fish. Red fish, blue fish. Except my branzino was rightfully accessorized with mushroom fricassee, bay scallops and potato cauliflower puree while he noshed on the poached cod, which no offense, was second rate to the branzino. When in doubt, go with the sea bass. Post appetizer and fish we both marveled at how excellent the choucroute tasted. What IS choucroute? you ask. It´s technically any preparation of hot sauerkraut with meat and potatoes, for Alsace-esque purposes, it´s fatty, salted pork, champagne cooked fermented hot sauerkraut and oh so yummy potatoes. We then cleansed our palates with a ¨digestive salad.¨ Must the French always be so literal? I mean, srsly? DIGESTIVE? Topped off with cooked-to-perfection crème brulée that totes succeeded in extending my vaca high.
All in all, and by all in all I mean run, no sprint, to L’Ecole and eat your heart’s fill any night of the week. Just because we are in an apparent recession, doesn’t mean we should surrender our snobbery. The French wouldn’t! We could learn something from them. Bon Appetite!
L’Ecole, the restaurant of The French Culinary Institute. Reservations a must. For lunch 12:30-2:30, dinner 4 course 5:30-7 p.m. and 5 course 8-9 p.m. daily. Call 212-219-3300 or make reservations online via Open Table.
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