Nestled inside the Sofitel Hotel in Midtown Manhattan is a stellar French restaurant named Gaby Brasserie Français. The Rouen-born chef, Sylvain Harribey, trained in Bordeaux and was previously the chef at the Sofitel in Philadelphia before winning on Food Network’s Chopped. Today he’s at the helm at this hidden gem, turning out some truly delicious French fare, with his own personal twist.
Because of union-related laws in hotel-based restaurants, traditional sauces, stews, and other long-simmering items can’t be on the menu for complex reasons, but Harribey makes the most of this potential setback. His French onion soup is spot-on, the crab cake is elevated by the addition of cranberries, and the decadent foie gras “spring roll,” a torchon wrapped in prosciutto and served with fig compote and frisee, is even more delicious than it sounds, which is quite a feat.
Entrees include a “gratte-ciel” (skyscraper) of salmon and sautéed spinach; a garlic- and scallion-accented shrimp risotto; a roasted chicken breast smartly paired with lobster ravioli; bordelaise-topped Angus filet mignon (at a reasonable $37, the most expensive item on the menu); a serrano ham omelet, not currently found on many dinner menus; and two vegetarian options: a vegetable lasagna and a mushroom risotto. Opt for the French desserts sampler (pictured); it’s stunning that Harribey does double duty as pastry chef, and he absolutely knocks these desserts (including macarons, crème brulee, and chocolate lave cake, pictured) out of the park.
Chef Harribey was given the opportunity to showcase both his classical French training as well as his creative here, and Gaby is a perfect canvas for him. It’s clear from a visit to his restaurant that he’s destined for greatness.