- scene: Rustic French country charm- lots of couples, warm candlelight
- sip: Vin
- savor: Chicken Chicken Chicken
- sit: With your lovah; with another couple, with a friend from out of town staying in midtown
- spend: $$
- address: 1008 Second Avenue (between 53rd and 54th)
- phone number: 212-759-7086
- website: www.lamangeore.com
Bonsoir! There is a little piece of Provence on Second Avenue- all the charm, culinary skills and attention to detail that you can expect from the French without the passport, jet-lag or superior attitude. La Mangeoire is charming, cozy and according to an actual French person seated next to me serves “real food from the country.” This is a warming place- full of stick to your ribs fare like coq au vin and cassoulet (apparently only for January), and one of the best roast chickens I have ever had, in any country. Locals have been under the spell of La Mangeiore for years, happy to let others pass by the unassuming facade and keep this little gem all for themselves; apparently the secret is out, with Saveur naming the whole roasted chicken to the list of 100 best dishes in the country. This country- not France.
I accidently made my reservation for the wrong month, but the French staff still found a table for us, and did not reprimand me for my stupidity- Toto, we are not in Paris any more. Boyfriend and I went on one of the recent sub-zero nights, and we only had one thing in mind: chicken chicken chicken (poulet poulet poulet poulet). Now- there is a half chicken on the menu and also the whole chicken (under “family style”) and the waiter told us that they are different, despite the matching descriptions, so we stuck to our original inclination and ordered the whole roast chicken, served with natural jus, FRENCH fries and bibb lettuce. For $63, this is really a complete meal- the bibb lettuce salad is meant to be shared, and the acidic, clean dressing wakes up your pallette and gets you ready for the richness to come; it is actually nice to eat with the chicken as well, for a little crispness, if there is room on the table.
Now about that chicken-magnifique! They bring the beautiful whole bird to present to you in all of its browned, crisped, shiny glory, so you can nod your approval and send it off to its chopped up destiny. When it returns, it is a showstopper. The fries are underneath the chicken, coated in herbs and crispy, just waiting to soak off the extra jus that was placed on your table to be poured on the chicken. This chicken so simple and tasty, it is really just the prime example of French rustic cooking. I am obsessed with this place and can not wait to go back. A little red wine, a little sauternes for dessert, and our date night was so cute we could have been on a match.com commercial. Except that the lust in our eyes was for the chicken skin…