Sadly, the era of the formal, traditional French restaurant seems to have passed. Lutece and my old favorite, La Cote Basque are just two of the standards who are no more. Happily, however, La Grenouille remains and flourishes. For a glimpse of old New York/Park Avenue money, this is the place to go. Everyone is impeccably dressed and coiffed. A jacket, without a tie, even at lunch, seems oddly out of place. There’s air kissing, name dropping and obvious sugar daddies, all the things that make a power restaurant interesting.
Many of the guests appear to be regulars and are warmly greeted by Armel, Maitre d’ Hotel. No one is rushing back to the office or anxious to leave their table. This is a place for romance and for catching up with friends.
The small 8 seat bar anchors the front of the room and serves as the place to wait for dining partners. Peanuts and chips are offered with your cocktails. The dining room is stunning with the most breathtaking flower arrangements you will ever see. The walls are decorated with oil paintings in gold frames and sconces provide soft, romantic lighting.
Waiters are dressed in white waist jackets with black bow ties and the service is effortless. It is so enjoyable to see tableside service where your meat is carved or your fish de-boned. It has become a lost art.
The Le Potage Saint Germain was the best split pea soup I have ever had (sorry, Mom), perfectly flavored, and velvety with tiny croutons. It is not often you find authentic Dover Sole on a menu anymore, so my entrée choice was not difficult to make. Served with a mustard sauce, de-boned at the table and perfectly cooked, I was reminded why these restaurants were so popular at one time. The fish was served with crisp delicately herbed green beans that were the ideal accompaniment to the meal. A delightful Riesling with the meal, a small cheese course with a glass of port and my meal was complete.
Cavier and Foie Gras appetizers, Frogs Legs and Pike entrees and Chocolate Mousse and Souffles are just some of the other traditional dishes you can enjoy. This is not a restaurant experience you will soon forget.
Lunch upstairs beside the fireplace is about the most romantic spot in New York.
ROMANTIC QUOTIENT: The perfect seduction restaurant.
WHAT OTHERS SAY…
AAA Four Diamond Award
Forbes Four Star Award
Ever “intoxicating”, this Midtown “bastion” of “fine-dining nonpareil” remains a “top-tier” source of “fantastique” French classics and “exemplary service” in a “dressy”, jackets-required setting heightened by “stunning floral displays”; the “steep tabs” are “not for the timid”, but the consistent “level of taste” makes you “feel special.” ZAGAT