If you want to experience what a brasserie in Paris can offer you, Cafe 123 is your spot: classic dishes and rude service characterize this French restaurant located in the heart of Times Square, where theater goers can enjoy a good meal. Yes, you can feel that this reasonably priced joint attracts lots of tourists and pre/post theater people, especially when you arrive in a packed restaurant that becomes empty after 8pm...
Decor wise, it had definitely the feel of a brasserie and I would say also the atmosphere. But it is the food that interests me the most: they have quite few classics, like the escargots de Bourgogne (snails), the pâté de campagne (country pâté) or the foie de veau (calf liver). However, they also have a bunch of dishes that are surprising to see on a French menu. Of course, there is the burger, but I was surprised to see the Peking duck sandwich that I did not try, although I got a delicious crepe des Pyrenees that was made with duck confit and hoisin sauce (a bit salty though). In fact that have a nice selection of crepes and they are making them pretty well. Dessert wise, I admit that I was a bit disappointed: I do not know if they are trying to be original, but their dessert falls a bit short. The only exception might be the profiteroles that were good, although the choux were a bit tough to cut through. I would still order that one.
Overall, it is a decent French restaurant. Not the best for sure, but decent and conveniently located, with again, reasonable prices. Would I go back? Probably.
Here is what I tried at Cafe 123:
Bread basket: It is a French restaurant so you would expect some good baguette. Well, not there and when the bread comes hot, it usually means it is old or not good...
Escargots de Bourgogne: good, but missed a bit of butter and had a bit too much breadcrumbs.
Salade de chevre chaud (goat cheese salad): good, but could have had more cheese.
Moules frites, a classic, that are steamed mussels in a white wine shallot broth with a touch of cream served with French Fries: great dish with the best part being the dipping of the fries in the sauce...
Then they have crepes. We tried: crepe classique, a very good ham and cheese topped with a fried egg crepe.
And the crepe des Pyrenees, stuffed with duck confit, black olives and scallions, but not so French as it had Peking duck sauce.
I have to say that I really enjoyed the crepes, even if the duck one was a bit too salty for my taste, probably because of the olives. The crepe itself was nicely done and thin, not like these weird ones you sometimes see at street fairs.
Then, for desserts, we tried:
The tarte tatin (why did they put some apricot sauce there?):
The profiteroles (again, the best): these are puff pastry filled with vanilla ice cream smothered in a warm chocolate sauce topped with sliced almonds.
Crêpe au Chocolat: made of chocolate, Banana, shaved coconut, and coconut sorbet.
Crêpes Suzette, flambéed with Grand Marnier and Cognac.
Enjoy (I did)!
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