As New York City continues to be overrun by Italian restaurants, and French cuisine drops in the world's culinary rankings behind Spain, Italy, and Norway, it is sometimes refreshing to take refuge in a classic French bistro. Lucien, near the corner of First Avenue and East 1st Street, exudes an authentic Parisian atmosphere with a menu to match. Start with merguez sausages, escargots, foie gras, soupe de poisson, or soup de l'oignon gratinée.
While the bouillabaisse may be tempting, the highlight of the menu, which you'd be hard-pressed to find anywhere else in the City, is the lapin de la moutarde served over broad bright yellow egg noodles. Now I know there are those who cannot bring themselves to consume bunnies — and they are truly missing out. As a child, I was in the minority as one of the few persons who rooted for Elmer Fudd over Bugs. The moist breast and leg of rabbit are made even moister after a swim in the creamy mustard sauce and pair perfectly with the pappardelle-like egg pasta.
End your repast with a homemade warm upside-down apple tarte tatin, which instantly transforms the accompanying vanilla ice cream into vanilla cream. Although lapin even in Paris is typically only offered during winter, I'm pleased to report that at Lucien it's always "wabbit" season.