Travel to Another Time and Place in Alain Ducasse’s Benoit Bistro in New York City
Internationally acclaimed chef Alain Ducasse opened Benoit in April 2008 in Midtown Manhattan, just a block from the Museum of Modern Art. The stateside location echoes the chef’s original Benoit in Paris, which first opened its doors in 1912 and became part of the Ducasse enterprise in April 2005. In New York, guests enjoy a warm and authentic experience and a menu filled with classic French bistro dishes.
Alain Ducasse and executive chef Philippe Bertineau collaborated to create a menu that respects French culinary tradition and technique, and includes dishes from Benoit’s 103-year-old recipe repertoire, such as the pâté en croûte. Bertineau and his team clearly care a great deal about the food they plate, and the attention it’s lovingly given is evident in every bite. The charcuterie is an impressive spread and includes a terrine of foie gras mouse layered between strips of poached veal tongue, which is truly exquisite both in flavor and texture on the palate. All of the seafood dishes are impeccably prepared, with the poached cod and lump crab salad being stand outs. Also, do not skip dessert, as you will miss out on some truly classic—and delicious—French pastry and confections.
Although the restaurant’s illustrious history is at the forefront of the concept (as it should be), chef Bertineau capitalizes on opportunities to bring some modernity to his kitchen. One night in July, we were treated to the most gorgeous heirloom tomato salad in our memory—the tomatoes having been sourced locally and treated with the utmost care, allowing the lovely summer fruit’s flavors to shine.
Each staff member is clearly expertly trained in classic French service, but what stays in one’s memory is the kindness and unobtrusive care with which you and your entire meal are treated. Smiles are quick to form on the staff’s faces—the quintessential aloof French attitude has no place here. The sommeliers know the reasonably long wine list well, readily demonstrating that they are intimately familiar with each wine offered, and hence are extremely helpful with choosing the exactly right wine for your meal. Servers are soft spoken yet unafraid to engage with diners; they walk that delicate line of being warm and accessible without being overbearing and intrusive.
As we sat in the beautifully appointed dining room, our Pernod and waters refreshing and restoring us after our walk through sultry Midtown, we found ourselves reveling in the warm atmosphere of Belle Époque Paris, enjoying every bite.