23 May 2013, 1:13pm
New York Restaurants Travel:
Comments Off on Silhouette and Noir: Two Terrific French Restaurants in New York

Silhouette and Noir: Two Terrific French Restaurants in New York

Succulent Lamb from La Silhouette

Succulent Lamb from La Silhouette

Wherever I go, I like trying the French restaurants of the city or town I’m visiting. After having lived eleven years in Paris and experienced much excellent French dining throughout France, I feel I’m an expert of sorts. Plus, I love French cuisine and the panache that’s typically associated with its presentation.

During a recent trip back east, I put out a query on Facebook for excellent French restaurant recommendations in New York City. Not surprisingly, I received many. Foodie extraordinaire David Rosengarten came back with his:  La Silhouette. I dined here one evening with a dear friend where we enjoyed a sophisticated moment among a tony crowd of New Yorkers.

The Bar at La Silhouette:  Where the "In Crowd" Waits for Their Table

The Bar at La Silhouette: Where the “In Crowd” Waits for Their Table

Situated within Hell’s Kitchen, this style-ly, dimly lighted restaurant—at least in the evening—seems well suited for the theater crowd it attracts. (Their red-hued, sultry mood lighting is truly fabulous, especially for ladies past their prime.) If you are going to a show, leave plenty of time to savor all that La Silhouette has to offer. Here Chef Steve Luttrell presents a contemporary, innovative cuisine rooted in French fundamentals. He followed his father’s path—a chef trained in classic French technique at the Culinary Institute of America—by also enrolling at the CIA. Chef Luttrel honed his skills at the renowned La Grenouille before landing at La Silhouette where everything I tasted here reflected a perfect balance and combination of textures and tastes. Dishes such as the quenelles with lobster bisque, crispy toasts with foie gras poached pear en gelée and a lamb très parfumé left me thinking about this meal for days. (The glass of Gevry Chambertin served with the lamb was memorable as well.) Yet don’t think the chef or the rest of the highly professional staff at La Silhouette takes themselves too seriously; you’ll also find plenty of whimsical twists from the honey-roasted almonds prepared with cinnamon and sesame served at the bar to their popcorn crème brûlée offered for dessert. (Note:  Their menu is forever changing, depending on the season.) Indeed, the French-inspired dining scene at La Silhouette ranks among the best on my list.

Popcorn Crème Brûlée at La Silhouette

Popcorn Crème Brûlée at La Silhouette

My FB querying also produced Noir, another terrific French restaurant find in New York. Thanks to Bertrand Marechal, a wonderful French chef/caterer here in Telluride, Colorado and his lovely wife, Laura, I learned about Noir, a restaurant that boasts ties to Alsace, Bertrand’s native land. (Bertrand and Laura also conduct bicycle tours in France through their company Cobbles and Corks.)

Noir New York

Noir New York

I lunched with another girlfriend within the near show-stopping interior of Noir amid a luxurious array of deep, rich browns and beneath a chandelier that would make Liberace swoon. The seductive decor perhaps lends itself better to an evening experience, however, it worked out fine for a tête à tête among two old friends, two Francophiles, to boot! I delighted in Noir’s Alsatian pizza, a thin and crispy wonder that I hadn’t found on a menu since my last trip to Alsace. Order the one slathered with smoked hand-cut pancetta and sweet caramelized onion, the more traditional option of all those offered here. We sampled their expertly-prepared seared scallops along with a fresh red beet and goat cheese salad as we chatted about exquisite French ways such as how the French so beautifully launder clothes. (You haven’t experienced dry cleaning either until you have something done in France.) A light and luscious lemon tart completed the lunch merveilleusement bien, leaving us both longing for another trip to France.

Gorgeous Seared Scallops at Noir

Gorgeous Seared Scallops at Noir

Noir Bar

Noir Bar

Fortunately there are many fine French restaurants in the U.S. where one can find his or her fix. Et voilà deux à Manhattan.

For Upstate New York Travelers

Provence:  A Sunny Place in Albany, New York

Provence: A Sunny Place in Albany, New York

Last fall I wrote about an Albany favorite in the story Milano’s:  When a Restaurant Does the Right Thing. This prompted me to want to discover Provence, their sister restaurant that has enjoyed a terrific following in the capital district area since 1999. I dined here with my mom with whom I have experienced many wonderful restaurants in France. We enjoyed traditional French fare—moules marinières and salade au chèvre chaud—with a nice pour of crisp Sancerre blanc. Tucked within a brasserie-styled banquette late on a Saturday night, we enjoyed all the aspects of this French-styled restaurant from the wooden bistrot tables to the replicas of old faience that adorn the walls. There was even a jazz trio which as many of you Francophiles know, makes for a scene typiquement parisien. Provence is a happening choice for happy hour, too.

Provence bar

An Empty Bar at Provence: A Rare Scene

It’s best to reserve for all the above restaurants.


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