The Rise of French Cuisine
As you read this, Manhattan is being invaded by modern French cuisine and wine (which, admittedly, is delicious).
La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels opened a branch this April in SoHo, boasting a 21-page, 600-label carte des vins, and a menu of small plates from co-chefs Tibor Kogler and Armand Arnal.
Restaurateur David Lanher recently opened a version of his wine bar, Racines, in TriBeCa, with Sommelier Arnaud Tronche and Chef Frédéric Duca, formerly of Michelin-starred L’Instant d’Ôr in Paris.
Buvette, another City of Lights bistro—with its farm-fresh menu and approachable French wine list—has fast become the hottest brunch spot in the West Village.
And more are coming.
Although plenty of French chefs and sommeliers made their name in the Big City over the years, New York hasn’t seen such a bistro boom since after the 1939 World’s Fair, when France’s top chefs first seduced the American palate.
Those very same white coats eventually returned and opened some of New York’s most legendary eateries—La Pavillon, Lutèce, La Côte Basque, Le Périgord—whose influence can still be seen in menus and wine lists across America.
La Compagnie’s owner, Romée de Gorianoff, says this latest influx will turn diners on to new French cuisine and potentially influence American menus. But no one should fear a full-on French takeover—at least given our current immigration laws, which make it difficult to hire French-born sommeliers and chefs for stints longer than a few months.
Georges Briquet, who opened Le Périgord 50 years ago, agrees.
“Three decades ago, I brought over a French chef who worked on a tourist visa for seven years before he got his green card. Now, my lawyer refuses even to attempt it. It’s far too frustrating.”
La Compagnie des Vins Surnaturels (pictured)
With more than 600 wine labels, sofas, hassocks and banquettes, it’s as louche as the original in Paris. The small plate standouts: jamon de bellota, tartinettes, terrines and confits; chocolate dulce de leche cake for dessert.
The wines on this TriBeCa winebar’s list are largely made by vignerons who practice sustainable, organic and biodynamic farming.
The wine list is as enticing as its cocktail menu, and the cooking is resolutely French, from aligot potatoes with smoked ham and croques monsieur grilled cheese sandwiches to coq au vin and cassoulet.
A carbon-copy outpost of the original on Paris’s Rue Royale, its arrival in SoHo caused a splash with New York’s own bon ton, who come here for breakfast, lunch and dinner, no one leaving without sampling the famous macarons and chocolates.
- 1Paris in New York