It's been a while since we wanted to try Cherche Midi, one of the multiple restaurants of Keith McNally, who owns Balthazar, Morandi, Minetta Tavern and Pastis. Not because of his other popular restaurants, but because we loved Pulino's the restaurant that used to be there before Cherche Midi. Unfortunately the restaurant did not work as expected and was replaced. It is a nice place, with some elements of the decor kept. A bit dark though when going for dinner...
I started off my meal with an Old Fashioned that was pretty good, quite strong for sure.
For appetizer, I went for the octopus, a bit disappointed that they did not have the classic escargots or foie gras. Well cooked and nicely charred, it was served with fennel, leeks and salsa verde.
For her entree, Jodi ordered the Cherche Midi salade Niçoise that was a bit pricey for what it was. At least the tuna was delicious, cooked as requested: rare.
On my side, I ordered the Bouchot Mussels, prepared with caramelized fennel, Pernod, crème fraîche and tarragon. I was a bit surprised when they asked if I wanted to order a side of fries as the mussels came with bread only. I declined: can't they just throw fries in a $26 dish? The sauce was good and the mussels ok, with a couple having a weird taste (it's ok, I survived).
For dessert, Jodi was looking forward to the coconut cake that was probably the same served in McNally's other restaurants and from Balthazar. Well, it seemed stale.
I was luckier with my tarte tatin that was succulent, delightfully buttery.
I was disappointed with Cherche Midi: the food had nothing extraordinary and is a bit pricey for what it is. For a French restaurant in the area, I definitely prefer La Gamelle, not just because more traditional, but also because the food is much better.
Enjoy (I did)!
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Cherche Midi - 282 Bowery, New York, NY 10012