This restaurant is closed!
City: New York, NY
Phone: (212) 226-3055
Site: Visit the restaurant site
Chef: Shane McBride
Entree Price: $15-$40
Autumn flowers, including hydrangeas, mums the size of pom poms, and bright sunflowers offered a burst of color as we entered Cherche Midi, Keith McNally's new French bistro on the Lower East Side. It's located in the same spot as Pulino's, his now-defunct pizza palace. Pulino's was a rare miss for a chef known for so many hits, like Balthazar, Pastis and Minetta Tavern. So, there is a lot riding on the success of Cherche Midi and early reviews are quite favorable. [An added bonus this visit; a McNally sighting, first at the bar and then at a table, wearing a signature blue sweater.]
The restaurant seems brighter than what I recall at Pulino's. Chalk it up to a fresh paint job. Otherwise, the space really hasn't changed much with its wide arches and columns covered with subway tiles. But, don't come expecting a quiet, romantic meal. This place is bustling at times and the accoustics can be quite loud.
I heard good things about the Prime Rib Burger and decided to try it for myself. It's the kind of burger any carnivore could love. The patty is close to an inch thick, topped with aged gruyere, roasted mushrooms and bacon marmalade on a brioche bun. Priced at $21, it comes a side of crunchy pommes frites and manages to live up to its lofty expectations. It also happens to be the cheapest entree on the menu.
Other dishes range from an heirloom tomato salad and frogs' legs to start, to entrees like homemade lobster ravioli with piquillo peppers, filet mignon au poivre and mussels in a basil broth. Desserts include a chocolate espresso pot de creme (think pudding on steroids) and a French classic, crepes suzette.
The staff at Cherche Midi seems genuinely friendly, and with most prices not out of reach, it makes for a great neighborhood spot. Bon appetit!
Review By: Thomas Rafael