On a recent Saturday night we strolled up to an adorable little bistro on the Bowery, right next to the New Museum. The first thing that came to mind was “authentically French”, as the decor of La Gamelle reminded us of our trip last summer to Paris–appropriate, since the bar, furniture, and fixtures are all imported from France, right? It’s not just the design that transports you–that’s just the glaze on the croissant–but rather the classic French food, wine, cocktails (and not so typically French) service. Cause let’s be honest–every restaurant we went to in Paris unfortunately fit the rude stereotype, which thankfully, the staff at La Gamelle were anything but.
La Gamelle presents traditional French fare–filling, hearty, and reminiscent of the motherland–a delicious reminder of why the Michilen Stars originated in France. The menu, which is updated seasonally and offers daily specials, includes all the dishes you’d expect of a French bistro—onion soup gratinee, foie gras terrine and pate de campagne to start; four variations on moules frites (saffron, mariniere, Provençale, and curry), duck confit, steak frites with béarnaise sauce as mains—but the execution exceeds expectations. For example, an appetizer of roasted octopus “citronette” is tender and charred in the right measure, escargots are served piping hot in the shell with compelling garlic parsley butter, and steak tartare is seasoned to perfection. I Instagrammed a photo of the spring salad with the caption, “If ever there were an award for the most sensational salad in NYC, this would be it.” #truth
For the main course, the hubby had the beautifully filleted branzino, crisp around the edges and moist in the center, with a colorful Mediterranean flair from the braised cherry tomatoes, fennel confit, artichokes, olives and bright green olive oil that surrounds it. I enjoyed the mushroom risotto, creamy, rich, with a melt-in-your-mouth finish.
For dessert, the selection is just as traditional and just as outstanding. We split rich chocolate mousse (oh, how delicious!) and a crème brulee with a crackling sugar top that broke open just perfectly when popped with a spoon…probably my favorite moment of the evening. I ask you, fellow foodies, is there anything more pleasurable than that first crack?
Our meal was perfectly paired with the finest French wines throughout the night, thanks to the master sommelier, Harold Toussaint, founder of the Wine School and winner of many French wine competitions. We chatted with Harold throughout much of the evening–he’s knowledgable, approachable, and truly knows his reds, whites, and bubblies. He took our meal to the next level with his spot on pairings. Honestly, I would go back just to get schooled in the art of French wines by Harold again–what a gem!
For the final transportation to Paris (ala the 1930’s), La Gamelle had wonderful live musical entertainment, as it does all Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays from 7:30–10:30pm, as well as a Jazz Brunch on the weekends. As they’d say in France, “Santé!”
Details: La Gamelle is located at 241 Bowery at Prince, 212-388-0052, and is open Mon-Thurs from 5:00pm-11pm, and Fri-Sat from 5:00pm-midnight, and for brunch on Sat-Sun from 11am-4pm.