Tout Va Bien, which opened in 1948, claims to be the Theater District’s oldest French restaurant. There can’t be many older than that anywhere in the city. It’s family-owned, now in its third generation.
The restaurant is low-key, old-school, and not especially charming. The cramped dining room has two dozen closely-spaced tables covered with butcher paper (and one lonely table outside). An old-fashioned L-shaped wooden bar has a TV showing a hockey game. The usual French posters share wall space with photos of B-list celebrities who’ve visited (probably none recently), augmented by chintzy Halloween decorations. A low ceiling lends an air of claustrophobia.
But I heard French spoken at the bar and at the tables, so to some visitors this must be a reminder of home.
The menu doesn’t change frequently (mine sported a cigarette burn), although I noted they now have a burger, which was probably not offered in 1948. Otherwise, it’s all French bistro classics, with many entrées under $20. A breaded pork cutlet in mushroom sauce was strictly diner food. My friend enjoyed the steak frites, but I found the fries a bit greasy.
I booked a 7:30 p.m. table, to avoid the pre-theater crowd, but they had a decent crowd even after that, so apparently the place is still popular. I suspect the pork was not their best performance, but I won’t be rushing back.
Tout Va Bien (301 W. 51st Street, west of Eighth Avenue, Theater District)