Spring Fever Cure: Chicane's Coastal French Fare
We feel reasonably assured that this New York City winter will soon release us from her icy clutches for good, letting us feel warm and happy again after a very bleak season. In the meantime, we have Chicane (430 Broome Street, 212-226-5999), a SoHo bistro that specializes in food from the French Riviera. This is a good place to eat on those warm days that still feel too few and far between right now; make the most of them by lingering over a table in this romantically appointed joint and drinking a bottle (or two) of rose.
Chicane via Facebook
On that rose: The list is short but tight, and we could drink the Gueissard Cotes de Provence the spot is pouring by the glass like it's water. If you're willing to shell out more cash, consider the spendier Provencal examples on the list -- because is there better rose on the planet than what's made in Provence? We doubt it.
Chicane opened in the middle of this winter under the control of Clovis Lambardan and Jérome Solamito, who is a native of Monaco, and they've installed Andres Grundy in the kitchen. The chef has done time behind the burners at heavy-hitters Le Cirque and Daniel; here at Chicane, he's offering a menu rooted in specialties of the French Mediterranean, though the board isn't as heavy on seafood as you might expect. There are the mussels -- which are worthy of your attention, especially because they come with crisp and salty twice-fried French fries -- and the bouillabaise, which was overpowered by clams and otherwise underseasoned the night we tried it. But you'll also find lamb shoulder, hanger steak, risotto, and macaroni gratin.
Start your night with crunchy rice croquettes stuffed with rich, earthy champignons, and petits farcis, which are little zucchini boats filled with rice and sausage. Both are labeled Riviera specialties.
The room is built for a long night -- it's soft, gilded with art nouveau sensibility, and aglow under dozens of marquee lights, but it retains the charm of a seaside eatery. It fills with a well-heeled but trendy crowd, and some people crowd into the small bar area up front, finding stools or room in the plush booth. If you can grab a seat on that bench, we'd dine there -- service can be slow in the dining room, and a perch behind the host stand lets you people watch as parties come in.
Chicane is open for dinner Tuesday through Saturday; it will launch brunch soon.
See photos of food on the next page.