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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Dining Out on Valentine’s Day Is Twice as Nice in 2010, Survey Says

Dining-out-on-Valentines-Day-2010OpenTable diners are enjoying twice as many dining options for Valentine’s Day this year, thanks to February 14 falling on a Sunday. According to a recent online survey of nearly 1,000 diners, just as many people are choosing to eat out on Saturday, February 13, in honor of Valentine’s Day as are dining out on the actual holiday. This doubles your odds of dining out at the restaurant of your choice. And, if you factor in Friday night or doing brunch on Sunday at a hotspot…well, you can do math!

In terms of who’s dining with whom, the survey revealed that more than 63% of respondents will be dining out with a partner during this romantic weekend. In good news for foodies who aren’t picking up the tab, 85% expect to spend at least as much as they did in 2009. Multi-course menus, here we come!

We also learned that while Paris may be the city of lights and love, 33% of Valentine’s diners are seeking out Italian cuisine most of all this year — though French cuisine is a close second at 29%.

The factors that contributed to a really romantic dining experience included a private table (28%), exceptional service (16%), and a beautiful view (13%). Most respondents didn’t care about candlelight (5%) or soft music (2%), calling into question two longtime courtship clichés.

Do any of these statistics shock or surprise you? Let us know here or over on Facebook.

And, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter to win one of five Valentine’s Day limo giveaways.

Dining out on Bastille Day

bastille-dayToday is Bastille Day, and at many French restaurants across the U.S., you’ll find special menus and dining deals. Bastille Day is a national holiday in France, honoring the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution. It’s a great day to visit your favorite French bistro or fine-dining establishment and commemorate these important events in France’s history.

French cuisine is the backbone of much of American cuisine, especially insofar as technique is concerned.  So even if you’re not dining out at a French restaurant today, the odds are that its influences are evident in the kitchen.

Look for the Bastille Day listing under “Offers and Events” on your OpenTable homepage to reserve a table today. Bon appétit!