Note: Click here for a more recent review of Benoit.
After mostly horrendous reviews at Benoit, Alain Ducasse demoted executive chef Sebastien Rondier to chef de cuisine late last year. His new boss is Pierre Schaedelin, formerly of Le Cirque, who had been Martha Stewart’s personal chef for the last two years. We liked Benoit (earlier review here), but the negative critical reaction was unmistakable.
A friend and I had dinner at Benoit the other night, my first visit since Schaedelin’s arrival. In a brief interview for TONY last week, Schaedelin spoke about some of the new menu items. One of them is a choucroute garnie ($32), a weekly special served on Thursdays. It’s an enormous plate of sumptuous sausages and cured meats served over sauerkraut. We skipped appetizers, and I still did not finish it. My friend had the Cassoulet ($26), which she graded B+. A cheese plate ($17) was also quite good.
Business was slow. When we left at around 7:40 p.m., there were still tons of empty tables. Service was attentive, and managers came by several times to ask if we were enjoying ourselves—a trend I’ve observed at numerous restaurants lately. If they’re looking to make improvements, transferring bar tabs to the table would help. I asked, but the bartender shrugged: “It’s too late. I already entered it in my system.”
The menu has changed considerably, and it is no longer presented inside a picture frame that takes up half the table. We didn’t have French Fries this time, but I noted that they’re no longer served “L’Ami Louis style.” Given the disaster they were before, it has to be an improvement.
It’s still early in Schaedelin’s tenure, but I like what I see so far. Benoit deserves more attention than it is getting.
Benoit (60 West 55th Street between Fifth & Sixth Avenues, West Midtown)