Frenchette and Legacy Records

Of course, it was essential to hit up some of the new openings in NYC the first week we were back.  I got to Frenchette and Legacy Records.  Both extremely different experiences.

Let’s start with Frenchette.  Two seasoned co-chefs who worked at many of the famed McNally restaurants from Balthazaar to Minetta Tavern.  A French Bistro with NYC charm.  The bar in the front of the house covers the room from end to end with tables surrounding it.  In the back room are plenty of booths and tables.  The place hums, the noise is loud and the food is quite good. You know that the owners are professionals because even on day two the table turn on time, the food comes out at the right pace and the staff is friendly and knowledgeable.

I went one night with a friend and one night with the family.  My friend and on shared a few things.  Highlights were the carrots and labneh.

White asparagus with leeks and truffles.  I am betting that Frenchette will be here for years to come.  A perfect addition to this neighborhood.

Legacy Records is located on 38th street between 10th and 11th avenues, an area that will continue to change once Hudson Yards is completely filled and humming.   The owners of Charlie Bird and Pasquale Jones, two bedrocks in downtown NYC, partnered with a developer of a new type of building where above the restaurant are residential apartments for rent.  The restaurant is open all day and they also run the second-floor bar that includes a private room for events.  A smart new way to think about residential living.

You walk into a large open room with a semi-circle bar on one side and a coffee bar across the way in the corner.  It is big and airy with small groups of seatings around the periphery.  The wine menu is huge and anything under $150 can be bought as a half bottle which I really like.  The playlist is also excellent so a perfect spot to grab a drink pre or post theater.

The duck is becoming their signature dish.  I didn’t capture the entire duck before but was able to pull it off the web.

The menu is similar to Charlie Bird where there are small plates to big plates.  The crudo is a nice way to start off.

Five different kinds of pasta.  The ravioli with peas, leeks, and parm makes a beautiful presentation.

I wanted the space to be better.  They were 30 minutes late in seating us which is truly unacceptable.  Once you walk past the bar into the dining room, there is a disconnect.  The lighting is just completely wrong.  It as if they changed the entire seating arrangement after the build out.  The ceiling lights don’t line up with the booths so the booths are dark and don’t glow as they should.  The tables are lined up in a way that doesn’t allow you to see what is happening at other people’s tables.  It feels as if you are at a diner.  The architecture in the back feels mid-town not the wonderful vibe of the other two restaurants downtown.

I am a bit obsessed with architecture and lighting and I am having a hard time moving past it at Legacy Records whereas Frenchette has just taken a nod from old French bistros and given it a new life.  I returned to Frenchette for a second time.  We went on a Sunday night.  The place was packed with at least 7 chefs in and around the city including some other leading food people.  That says something right there.  Frenchette is a winner.


Comments (Archived):

  1. Robin Bobbe

    Needed to find a restaurant this week for a group of friends. Two in our party were visiting from Santa Cruz and disappointed when we couldn’t get into Per Se. Then, I remembered your review of The Grill. You saved the day or I should say the night. Thank you for that. I will definitely try Frenchette. It does sound like a winner. So glad you are back and scouting out the restaurant landscape.

  2. awaldstein

    Gonna try Frenchette.1.5 pages of Pet Nats on the wine list is a good sign.Having my fave winemaker friends in the Jura-Domaine de la Tournelle is another.Wonder though if a French Bistro in NY can have wine from Slovakia it should also have it from Portland.Thanks!

    1. Brass

      How does that follow?

  3. Pointsandfigures

    Went on consecutive weekends to two places in Chicago. Without talking about the food, my gripe is the noise. All the hard surfaces cause the place to echo and I cannot hear the people on the opposite side of the table. Eating is for conversation. Understand the reason for concrete etc everywhere, but it would be nice to have some soft wall hangings or architectural baffling on the ceiling to cut the din.

  4. awaldstein

    If you hadn’t seen Eric’s writeup on the wine list.…Thrilled to have this in the neighborhood as with this and the massive changes going on Racines, I am the happy beneficiary!