French Bistro in NYC

Jun 28th, 2007, 03:18 PM
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French Bistro in NYC

Years ago (20 or so) I met the man I was then engaged to for a romantic weekend in Manhattan. He took me to a small, very intimate bistro, I believe in the Village. If my memory serves me, it was called the Paris Bistro. Since then, I have been unable to find anything like it at all.

I am planning to take my daughter, sister in-law, and niece (they are from Cleveland, and have NEVER been to New York at all!) to Manhattan in early August, and would love to take them to this bistro, or something similar. It was small, cozy, rather dark, but lit with candles, and the food was amazing. I think it might have been on MacDougal Street??? My familiarity with the city is limited, so I am not sure this is even the village is even the right area for MacDougall... sorry. If anyone knows of a very nice intimate French bistro I'd really appreciate your help. I DO NOT want to do the touristy things -- like Tavern (UGH) or teh Marriott Marquis. I would prefer a "real people" restaurant, with great atmosphere and food. I'd also appreciate any suggestions for a small, Italian restaurant as well.
This is the first time our girls have seen each other in 15 years, and it's a final pre-college fling for my daughter , who just graduated, so we want to make this very special. Thanks in advance for your help!
kathie2 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2007, 04:57 PM
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I vaguely remember a small place around Bleecker and Macdougal that fits that description, but I really think what you're remembering was Paris Commune on Bleecker and W.11th Street. It has now moved to bigger quarters on Bank Street. It was small, candle lit, the quintessential "Greenwich Village" place . . . it's still good, but the atmosphere is different. So few of those small places are left, but here's a few ideas:
The Place - 310 W. 4th Street
Le Gigot - 18 Cornelia St.
CamaJe - 85 Macdougal st.
The food at these restaurants is greatly enhanced by the lovely low key atmosphere. They are usually family run and may not be so sophisticated, but they make up for it with attentive service.

For Italian you might try Bella Vitae on Minetta Lane or for a very different type of Italian experience - that is energetic and boisterous - Lupa on Thompson Street.
Check out menus and prices at
mp is offline  
Jun 28th, 2007, 05:46 PM
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Maybe you are thinking of Paris Commune? It is near McDougal on Bank St.
Or maybe is was Le Zinc, which is now closed.

Maybe you should take for friends to Pastis or Balthazar for the scene?
marginal_margiela is offline  
Jun 28th, 2007, 05:48 PM
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Oh, wait....I just noticed the "20 years ago." It wasn't any of those restaurants then. Your restaurant is probably long gone.
marginal_margiela is offline  
Jun 28th, 2007, 06:42 PM
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Not a fan of the new Paris Commune though people seem to like it.
Try Raoul's in SoHo. Though it may not be as small and intimate as you want.
williamscb13 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2007, 06:42 PM
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I love Le Bilboquet on 63rd between Madison and Park. My favorite is the cajun chicken (which really isn't cajun...just very tasty and buttery with excellent fries). The restaurant is tiny with tables spilling out onto the sidewalk, a European vibe, great people watching, and lots of fun. Later in the evening, the tables get pushed to the side and everybody dances. Your daughter and niece will feel tres chic.

I usually go for a late lunch (after shopping) and just kind of hang out for awhile, but dinner is excellent too.
hills27 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2007, 08:00 PM
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Thank you all for your help. As I was looking over the responses to my query, I suddenly remembered what I had for dessert all those years ago... a pear poached in port wine with gorgonzola cheese and walnuts. Funny what memory will do, once provoked.
I didn't see the bistro of my memory, but the closest to it was the old Paris Commune. So I think we may give that a try.
Any thoughts about Gavroche? And is the food in Little Italy as "not so good" as I have read? What about a place for good espresso and gelato?
Again - thanks so much for your help.
kathie2 is offline  
Jun 28th, 2007, 08:39 PM
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There are a number of French Bistros in the East Village. Among our favorites are:

Flea Market
Le Tableau

Aduchamp1 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2007, 02:54 AM
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Not in either village but I adore
L'Absinthe, a brasserie on upper East
Side. You can book on:
Rhea58 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2007, 03:40 AM
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Oh, I too love L'Absinthe (227 East 67 St.)! Recently "rediscovered" it after a number of years and it is easily my current favorite.
monet77 is offline  
Jun 29th, 2007, 04:39 AM
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Funny how these memories carry for so many years. mp and I usually agree and I think her reco of Camaje on MacDougal sounds similar to your old place (but no poached pears)

I think Le Gigot is probably the best French bistro in the village.

Jarnac also looks like it would fit your bill and they have a pear dessert! Bosc Pears cooked in Honey and Green Cardamom with Caramel Gelato.

If you like mussels, I like Jubileee in midtown (!)-small, neighborhood place with great moules frites.

Jules Bistro in the east village is also very nice and they have live music.

Many of the other recos that you've gotten on this thread are also very good. I haven't been to Gavroche recently so can't comment on how it compares to some of these others.

As to Little Italy, there are some places there that are good to very good. Lombardi's is considered by many to be the best pizza in Manhattan and is in Little Italy.

For gelato, Otto's in the village at 1 Fifth Ave. (right in front of Washington Square Park) has very good gelato as does a place called Cones also in the village. Il Laboratorio de Gelato on the lower east side is famous.
mclaurie is offline  
Jun 29th, 2007, 05:23 AM
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Gavroche is our neighborhood 'old reliable'. It has a very lovely garden in the back, the food is French comfort food - very good mussels and frites, hanger steak, coq au vin, skate, roast duck - not adventurous food, but well prepared and authentic. The staff is very warm. It's a cozy place.
mp is offline  
Jun 29th, 2007, 06:28 AM
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For hanger steak or moule frite, I would go to Les Halles.
Aduchamp1 is offline  

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