A Bite of the Big Apple: Benoit New York
The Rake's Travel Correspondent divulges why one visit to Benoit New York simply isn't enough.
I once had the pleasure of having a meal at the newly restyled Midtown Manhattan bistro Benoit. I also had the joys of sharing that meal next to its owner Alain Ducasse. I must confess I am a big Ducasse fan and was just a bit distracted to say the least as he took the kind liberty to serve me his favourite dishes and made sure my wine was always topped off. All I can really remember was that I loved the room and Mr Ducasse served me some very delicious plates. That being said I needed another visit with out the super fan distractions for a fair judgement, so I booked a table for four the next week and asked friends to join – the more the merrier. The original NYC Benoit was opened in 2008 (the original Paris in 1912) and was recently refreshed by Dekar Design. The once dark and moody interior in now clean and bright. You walk through the entrance with a big zinc bar to your left – rattan chairs sit on colourful cement tiled floors. The main dining room has white washed wood panelled walls, red velvet banquettes and lighting and fixtures from the Paris flea market. It all makes for a warm and airy interior. The highlight for sure was the menu. We ordered starters from the first page. Plates of radish with cucumber and mint, egg mayonnaise and crispy pig trotters where followed by the most delicate crispy crab fritters with a corn velouté. We of course could not resist the escargots and mopped up the dishes with fresh baguette. For mains – the poulet roti with fries, hanger steak, and scallops with creamy and crunchy cauliflower were passed with delight. This was all washed down with bottles of white and red wines selected off the very extensive and thoughtful wine list put together by restaurant and beverage director, Guillem Kerambrun. The dessert list has some crowd-pleasing classics like crème caramel and tarte tartin but the stand out for me was the lemon curd with cucumber, citrus confit and thyme. It was so refreshing and perfect. A wonderful white vermouth from the Poitou-Chanentes region of France was offered (the executive chef Phillipe Bertineau hails from there) and it could not have been a more delicious pairing with the sweet and bitter flavours of this epic dessert. Overall I am delighted that I can now curb those Parisian Bistro cravings with a quick trip to Benoit. Not to mention the oasis that Mr Ducasse has created in this pocket of midtown Manhattan.