- scene: White tiles, red banquettes and a beautifully lit (and stocked bar)...Welcome to the Left Bank
- sip: Rosè, wine, anything
- savor: Beet salad; burger; fries
- sit: With a girlfriend for some wine and whining; with your lover
- spend: $$
- address: 282 Bowery (at Houston)
- phone number: (212) 226-3055
- website: www.cherchemidiny.com
Walking into Cherche Midi I literally had a case of deja vu and thought that I saw the bar at Pastis. The recently shuttered Pastis had such a beautiful, authentic French bar, and I never expected to be hit with the same love when walking into Cherche. I miss Pastis almost daily, for its consistently expectional food, fool- proof menu, and one of a kind vibe. Seeing that bar upon entering immediately lifted my spirits and got me in the mood for carafes of wine and fun conversation, the stalwarts of any meal at Pastis. Although nothing will bring Pastis back, this seemed like a next best bet. The greeters were friendly and accommodating, not full of efficient attitude as expected. The bartenders were also super friendly and talkative, and imagine my surprise to receive a house special shot as soon as I sat down, wooohooooo! I asked about their recommended dishes, and a local on a bar stool was more than happy to chime in as well. Armed with information and a warm boozy glow, I was excited for my friend to arrive and get eating.
Our waiter was weird; there is no other way to say it. Poor thing was trying too hard and talked too much about nothing at such a volume to be almost imperceptible, and he didn’t exactly hover but he definitely got a little close. The volume at Cherche was manageable, even once the place got busy. To me the menu is not as perfect as Pastis’ was, but it also represents a slightly different nod towards French food, while being different from Balthazar as well. I heard good things about the beets, and although my initial reaction was not to get too revved up about beets ( I mean, really?!), this dish was outstanding. Shaved thin and presented like a work of art, multi-colored discs of beets were arranged on a plate with a dusting and pistachios and a tiny bit of cheese, new and familiar at the same time. Just gorgeous. The burger was also suggested, and it was a smokey, solid delight. The fries, as to be expected from Keith McNally, were crunchy, salty little Freedom friends. My friend’s steak au poivre was also satisfying, and not a giant dinosaur portion.
I am feeling Cherche Midi, in no way as a substitute for Pastis, but as a promise of cool restaurants and good times to come. Strongly recommended…