Back in the postwar years when elegant French restaurants came to define fine dining in New York, Le Veau d’Or served boeuf bourguignon, céleri rémoulade, and other bistro classics to the likes of Orson Welles and Princess Grace. Decades later, the faces have changed but the menu hasn’t, and Db Cooper says the food still has considerable charm.
Moules de roches (mussels in white-wine/cream sauce) are perfectly done, he says, and “every bit of the sauce was mopped up with the bread.” Escalopines de veau (veal slices in lemon-butter sauce) are also seasoned and cooked to a turn. His wife’s coq au vin looked and smelled wonderful, he reports, but “she enjoyed it to the point where it was not possible for me to get a bite.” bronwen recommends the vichysoisse, chicken livers, and for dessert, oeufs à la neige: islands of meringue on a sea of crème anglaise.
Not everyone is enchanted. “The outpouring of enthusiasm is heartwarming, if a little surprising,” says Wilfrid. “The food really wasn’t good when I ate there.” But to the restaurant’s partisans, its appeal goes well beyond what’s on the plate. They love its serene, slow-paced vibe; its old-world service, with meats carved tableside by Robert Tréboux, the owner for the past quarter-century; and its intimate, clublike dining room (“I want to join this club,” ardent fan Anthony Bourdain exclaimed on TV).
As Db Cooper puts it, Le Veau d’Or is “a time capsule that brings you back to an older New York [where] women dress formally and men wear suits and ties out at dinner. A restaurant that gives you a feel as to what four-star dining and service consisted of back when Don Draper owned Madison Avenue. It’s about the classics and paying respect to that tradition. Those that go with that in mind will not be disappointed.”
Le Veau d’Or [Upper East Side]
120 E. 60th Street (between Park and Lexington avenues), Manhattan