NYC French Restaurant Week: Five Favorites to Feast On

In honor of Bastille Day on July 14th, French Restaurant Week kicked off in New York City on Monday, July 13 and runs through July 19th. Commemorating the start of the French Revolution and the storming of the Bastille, Bastille Day is a national celebration in France. As the French have contributed so much to America’s culinary culture, and, in particular, New York’s, restaurants around the city are celebrating with delicious dining deals and dishes. Here are five favorites to feast on during NYC French Restaurant Week. 

The super-stylish Brasserie 8 ½ features a sweeping staircase, a sleek bar, and a mod, airy dining room with original artwork by Léger, Matisse, and others favored by the Louvre! Très French! With three courses for $35.78, diners can kick things off with a staple, such as steak tartare, and a choice of entrée, including the classic confit de canard. Whatever you choose to begin with, consider ending your meal with the pêche, or peach, Melba. This once-ubiquitous sweet treat deserves its own renaissance. Conceived by chef Auguste Escoffier (and inspired by his admiration for the Australian opera singer Nellie Melba) in the late 1890s, the medley of peaches, raspberries, and vanilla ice cream is served at Brasserie 8 ½ with an almond financier and toasted almonds. As the height of peach season hits, this is not to be missed.

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Le Cirque has built its reputation on sophisticated spectacle. Named for the French word for circus, it is the creation of Sirio Maccioni, who perfected his version of personal hospitality as maitre d’hotel at Manhattan’s elite clubhouse-to-the-stars Colony, which shuttered in 1971. Le Cirque attracted a similar bold-faced name crowd, thriving over the course of three locations in more than 40 years, providing doting service and refined dining to famous guests as well as your average Joes and Joans. Despite Maccioni’s Italian heritage, Le Cirque is decidedly French in its cuisine. The luxe $178.90 NYC French Restaurant Week menu includes a bottle of bubbly Champagne (natch!) and lobster salad, but it’s the closer of crackly, creamy crème brûlée that’s our pick for the coolest course.

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Perennial favorite Orsay, a classic Manhattan bistro that opened in 2000 whose lineage extends from the team behind La Goulue, which closed its doors in 2009 after nearly 40 years of foie gras and frites, describes itself as a work of art – and we couldn’t agree more. The décor, the high-backed banquettes with frosted glass, and the flattering lighting will transport you to Paris’s Art Nouveau age. Go for the multi-course $35.78 lunch – and order the elegant and artful skatefish. Delicate and healthful with its parsley, capers, and deceptively simple brown butter sauce, the dish is a staunch reminder of why the French seem to have such enviable physiques despite their gourmet appetites.

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11 Très Magnifique French Restaurants Where You Can Celebrate Bastille Day

Time to get out your beret. July 14th is Bastille Day, marking the kickoff to the French Revolution in 1789. In the intervening years, the holiday has evolved into a larger celebration of French culture. It would be impossible to salute the country’s traditions without indulging in some classic cuisine from the land of éclairs and escargot. So you don’t have to buy a high season ticket to Paris, here are 11 très magnifique French restaurants where you can celebrate Bastille Day.

Brasserie 8 ½, New York, New York
The showstopping brasserie puts out pleasing plates that recall simpler times. All the regulars are present and accounted for –lardon topped frisée salad with a soft-poached egg cozied into its leafy center, duck breast with braised red cabbage and chestnut flan, and an all-killer, no-filler jumbo lump crab cake. Bon appétit! [Photo courtesy Philip Greenberg]

Brasserie L’Oustau de Provence, Manchester, Vermont
Vermont’s natural resources are transformed into Gallic gastronomical delights at this countryside brasserie. Expect plenty of French favorites – from steak tartare and moules frites to boeuf bourguignon and onion soup gratinée. The restaurant has some nice options for petite gourmands, such as a croque monsieur and a Gruyere-topped burger with pomme frites and haricots verts.

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DBGB, Washington, D.C.
Daniel Boulud planted the other red, white, and blue flag in the nation’s capital late last year. The brasserie menu boasts plenty of familiar faces – such as coq au vin, tarte flambée, and steak tartare – all executed with precision and care by executive chef Ed Scarpone. Of course, you probably shouldn’t leave without trying the Baked Alaska, which is set ablaze tableside to create a fiery finale to your meal.

DBGB, Washington, DC

The Goodstone Inn & Estate Restaurant, Middleburg, Virginia
Nestled in the heart of Virginia wine country, the 265-acre estate is home to a working farm that provides some of the ingredients you’ll dine on. Executive chef John Leonard crafts seasonally inflected French fare that’s worth the drive from D.C. Béarnaise-sauced filet mignon, artfully executed chateaubriand for two, and escargot practically floating in garlic herb butter are all tender tributes to the Hexagon’s heritage.

"Goodstone Inn, Virginia"

laV Restaurant and Wine Bar, Austin, Texas
The Provence-inspired eatery is putting on a party to celebrate Bastille Day. Expect an Eighties cover band, photo booth, complimentary beer and wine, and French fare ($40 in advance/$50 at the door). If you don’t make it in for the holiday, hone in on the chicken liver pâté, basil escargot with tomato butter, and the foie gras torchon enlivened with figs, basil, and black pepper almond crumble.

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Le Diplomate, Washington, D.C.
From July 11th through the 14th, the patio of this Stephen Starr stunner is transformed into a pétanque court (think of it as France’s answer to bocce), while a mime walks through the restaurant, amusing guests and posing for selfies. Executive chef Michael Abt serves all his usual highlights – foie gras parfait, steak frites, and skate grenobloise – as well as a special of pike fish quenelles with a creamy Nantua sauce packed with crayfish.

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Dinner Theater: 7 Restaurants with Great People-Watching

A great dining experience is the culmination of many key elements. From the quality of the food to the service, the setting, and, finally, one of the most important factors that can make or break a meal: the people. And it’s not just the people you intentionally choose to dine with that will affect your meal, but those others around you whose conversations you will inadvertently hear, whose fashions you will admire, whose names you may even learn. Welcome to the delicious sport of people-watching!

What makes a great people-watching restaurant? For me, it is all about diversity. I want to see people I don’t see in my home or on my phone, in my neighborhood, or at my workplace. I want my imagination teased as I play an unauthorized version of What’s My Line, guessing at their professions, aspirations, and passions. From around the nation, here are seven restaurants with great people-watching.

Betelnut Pejiu Wu, San Francisco, California
The extensive menu of Asian fusion cuisine at Betelnut Pejiu Wu (literally, “beer hall” in Chinese) will satisfy you to no end. But it’s the liveliness of the room itself that will make you feel at ease. At this happening Cow Hollow joint, the best of Asian street eats meets up with large mugs of cold beer that refresh and fortify. Expert tip: Grab a streetside table and observe San Francisco’s passers-by in all their fabulousness.

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Cascina Spinasse, Seattle, Washington
Sometimes great people-watching is the result of a positive shared experience. At Seattle’s Cascina Spinasse, you’ll be joined by foodies in search of culinary greatness (be prepared to hear a lot of “mmm” sounds). Here, in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, authentic Italian cuisine comes to life in an atmosphere that is classy yet cozy. Fans rave about both the great presentation of the oft-changing menu and the beauty of the quaint room. Drinks at Spinasse’s adjacent ARTUSI, a modern aperitivo bar, are not to be missed. [Photo Credit: Tom Barwick]

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Girl & The Goat, Chicago, Illinois
Top Chef winner and executive chef Stephanie Izard’s Girl & The Goat is the place to see and be seen in Chicago’s West Loop. Reservations are hard to come by, but patrons insist the culinary creations are well worth the intense OpenTable’ing. Choose from a wide array of seating choices in the warmth of spacious, wood-framed rooms from which you can enjoy contemporary American small plates, local craft beers, and wines from around the world. Look for Izard working her magic in the open kitchen — as well as for Chicago’s trendsetters who flock there to admire it. [Photo credit: Anthony Thalier]

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Le Cirque, Las Vegas, Nevada
If you’re looking for an interesting cross-section of the population, you can do much worse than visiting Las Vegas. And if you’re a high roller (or just want to eat like one), you’ll want to make the scene at Le Cirque. The festive dining room at restaurateur Sirio Maccioni’s AAA Five Diamond-rated restaurant is drenched in color and whimsy. This is opulent French cuisine at its best. It is also one of Las Vegas’s most treasured gastronomic destinations, so make sure you occasionally glance up from the stunning visions on your plate to see who is sharing the room with you.

No Va, Austin, Texas
Rainey Street is a popular historic district in downtown Austin known for its bungalow-style homes and businesses. No Va (Spanish for “It doesn’t go”), located in a renovated two-story house, is home to one of Austin’s most beloved happy hours. Whether you grab a booth or a seat on the upstairs balcony, you’ll have plenty of sights to take in along with your meal. The spaciousness of No Va and the light of the Austin sun will charm you as much as the wonderful people that help keep Austin weird.

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Get Freaky with Tiki: 11 Tiki Cocktails Approved by the Polynesian Gods

Yum, yum, yum, and a bottle of rum! It usually only takes one look to spot a Tiki cocktail. The brightly hued, over-the-top summery spritzers utilize a rainbow of juices, Polynesian-themed glassware, and colorful garnishes galore. Oh, yeah, and lots and lots of rum, so they’re typically super strong. Warning: You may start drinking one at a stateside bar only to wake up days later on a Mexican beach with no recollection of how you got there. To help you cool down during the hot summertime months, we’ve compiled a list of 11 truly tremendous Tiki cocktails. Whether you wear a Hawaiian shirt or lei while you’re drinking them is totally up to you.

Bird of Prey, Hello Betty Fish House, Oceanside, California
Any cocktail served in a pineapple is A-OK our in book. The Bird of Prey is a buzzy blitz of rum, Campari, pineapple gomme syrup, and lemon juice. Just to clarify: you can’t eat your glass when you’re done with your cocktail.

HELLO BETTY FISH HOUSE - Bird of Prey

Blood of the Kapu Tiki, Three Dots and a Dash, Chicago, Illinois
Shiver our timbers! The gory-sounding-but-delicious Blood of the Kapu Tiki is a heady mix of aged rum, aged rhum agricole, grapefruit, lime, curacao, grenadine, absinthe, and Angostura bitters. “Sharks” swim in the icy slurry, so be careful when you sip.

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Holy Terroir, Jockey Hollow Bar & Kitchen, Morristown, New Jersey
We love paper umbrellas. When a cocktail arrives with one of those pretty parasols jutting out from its depths, we suddenly feel like we’re lying underneath a palm tree as an ocean breeze ruffles our hair. There’s one shading the side of the Holy Terroir, which unites rum, lime juice, golden falernum, and bitters.

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Jamaican Mule, Paladar Latin Kitchen & Rum Bar, Rockville, Maryland
Twisting up Tiki tradition, these bartenders put a Spanish accent on their Jamaican Mule. Rum, allspice dram, lime, and ginger beer come together to create a buzzy beachside bevvie.

Jamaican Mule

Lychee, BDK, San Francisco, California
The Lychee cocktail is much more complex than its name implies. It’s made with smoky tea vodka, salted pistachio syrup, lime juice, housemade coconut-lychee milk, rum, and grated ginger. As if that wasn’t enough, it’s coronated with shaved toasted coconut and lime zest, then presented in a ceramic pineapple cup.

The Lychee at BDK Restaurant & Bar

Tai One On, Alder, New York, New York
Bar director Travis Brown wanted to riff on the classic Tiki ‘tail, the Mai Tai. So he swirls together cachaça (a soulmate of rum distilled from sugar cane rather than molasses), lime juice, coconut orgeat, and Angostura bitters. It’s the taste of island living in a glass.

Tai One On

Missionary’s Downfall, Farmers Fishers Bakers, Washington, D.C.
You know any cocktail named Missionary’s Downfall is going to be devilishly good. Remy VSOP and peach cordial are the main stars here, though there’s plenty of rum blended into this slushy sipper. Perfect for those days when it’s hot as hell.

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