Just about everything at Jubilee on New York City’s East 54th Street screams “French!” Walking up to the restaurant’s front (which is quite adorable) a cozy friendly feeling immediately enters ones stomach. Though it looks tiny on the outside, this confidently basic French brasserie has quite a number of seats that seem to begin being claimed just as the doors open.
As of late, I have been having a hankering for steamed mussels and French fries. Going through my Mussels Memory Bank, Jubilee was at the top of the food memory list. Going in for an early dinner, I chose to sit in the bar area, not so much at the bar. Luke, the bartender/server was by far one of the most hospitable people I have had serve me in a while. He was in charge of the entire bar area and treated each of his guests as if he had known them forever. Truly genuine and charming.
After I was given the run-down of the specials, I decided to start with a glass of Chardonnay and the appetizer special, a cold artichoke salad with tomato vinaigrette and shaved Parmesan cheese. Both were of full flavor and excellent choices. Later I told myself that the next time I was to dine at Jubilee, I would be ordering the Soup de Poisson for my starter, as the number of bowls filled with the classic French soup was quite noticeable and obviously notable.
The menu at Jubilee is quite extensive and full of many of France’s favorites. There is also a Prix-Fixe Dinner menu offered ($25 for 2 courses, $30 for 3 courses). The “Les Moules” portion of the menu could have opened a restaurant of its own. Ranging from the traditional mussels mariniere, to curried mussels, to mussels with chorizo, or those with a creamy chicken broth, I was ready to see what Chef Freddy Tito’s magical culinary fingers could do to satisfy my recent mollusk cravings.
As the large cast iron pot was presented to the table, a smile drew over the sides of my cheeks as my olfactory system reached a euphoric peak as the lid was removed from the top of the mussel pot. The simple mussels mariniere (white wine, shallots, and parsley) were enough to keep me busy (and quiet) for at least 20 minutes or so. Just as the server was going to take the pot, I went in for one last chance to soak a hunk of the crusty sour dough bread in the briny, winy, broth. I used this broth to dip my hand cut French fries in as well, gladly skipping the ketchup.
Sticking with the French theme, the profiteroles are what were beckoning to me form the dessert menu. Like the dinner menu, all items were French originals. A self-proclaimed profiterole connoisseur, Jubilee’s “cream puffs” were spot-on with an sprinkle of almond on top.
All in all, Jubilee is a French restaurant that serves as a reminder to all diners why many cuisines use the French’s basic cooking techniques and flavors to alter a bit and make them their own.