From the classics on the menu—pâté, escargots, blanquette de veau, and the like—you might think you know what Le Philosophe is about. Think again. Matthew Aita, a former sous-chef at Jean-Georges, updates and lightens French standards like frog legs (pictured), sautéed with hen of the woods mushrooms and sunchokes and served atop a sauce of puréed watercress and garlic. "Completely not what I expected," Ziggy41 writes on Chowhound. "More like a beautiful little salad."
Other winners: fat Maine mussels in broth seasoned with Aleppo pepper; perfectly cooked duck à l’orange, nicely crisped and not too orangey; and escargots sauvages with garbanzos and a curryish black-garlic sauce—"another classic that didn't look anything like the classic," as Ziggy41 describes it. Le Philosophe arrived in November, part of a new wave of downtown French restaurants, and sam1 says it's a keeper: "Of all of the new French places, I like Le Philosophe the best."
Le Philosophe [NoHo]
55 Bond Street (between Lafayette Street and Bowery), Manhattan
Photo by Chowhound user Ziggy41