Well, this is the second time I will be writing this, since just as I finished and thought to copy it into Word, my internet connection cut out. Arggh. However, I will try to persevere and replicate it.
We stopped in at about 1pm yesterday after seeing The Counterfeiters (highly recommend) at Lincoln Plaza. I could immediately see the issues others have had with the entrance - there is only a tiny space for waiting customers, and there is quite a chill when a breeze goes by. I wouldn't want to sit in the front on a cold day. I would note that the general feeling when arriving would be much improved if there was also less chill from the hostess, who was quite unsmiling and acted more like a saleswoman at Chanel upon the arrival of poorly dressed person at her store, than a welcoming face.
We didn't have a reservation and were offered seats at the large round "tasting table" in the back. There is also a rectangular tasting table. We walked back there, past the bar with many empty seats, and asked to be seated there instead, which we were - at the back end of the bar. The bartender gave us menus and a winelist. We ordered a $50 Burgundy and two pates – I had the guinea hen one and my husband the pate de grand-mere. For our main courses, we ordered the steak frites (rare) and the lamb ragu papardelle, with olives, grape tomatoes and what I think were tiny cubes of celeriac. The brunch menu isn’t on the website yet, but offers two courses for $29 and three for $38, with a $10 supplement for the steak. Overall the food was excellent – lovely bread, a nice frisee salad with each pate (served with toasted bread, which was quickly replaced when we used up the first plate of it) very tasty steak with great frites, and I really enjoyed my pasta dish, as did my husband. I ordered the iles flottantes (sp?) for dessert, thinking that the rose petal croquante would be interesting, but it was a bit overwhelming in rose flavor, as rose flavor does tend to be. We capped this off with two well drawn espressi. Service throughout our meal was professional and friendly.
Chef Boulud arrived shortly after we ordered and lingered in our area, which serves as a service station of sorts – drinks, as well as food, since the stairs from the kitchen open up at the bar. He noticed my picking out a piece of cork from my wine glass and asked if we needed anything, and we had a nice brief chat about screwtops versus corks. He also stopped at several tables to "check in", before settling in at the other end of the bar for what appeared to be a meeting with someone.
We’ll definitely return, as it is a nice option after an early movie. Tab before tip was about $140. I did get the sense that certain tables were having service issues, based on overhearing waiters etc. in our vicinity, and a lot of wrong drinks going out, but they had two suited men who seemed responsible for smoothing over any ruffled feathers.
The bartender told us, by the way, that they eventually plan to be open from lunch straight through dinner - we'd stopped by the week before at 2:30 and they were closed.