Note: Le Restaurant closed in June 2014. No explanation was given, but posters on Mouthfuls mentioned that the upstairs market was doing very poor business, and that the quality of the produce was no longer as good as it had been originally. We weren’t impressed with the restaurant, but most of the reviews were favorable, and it even won a Michelin star.
Le Restaurant at All Good Things is a mashup of trendy ideas:
3) It’s open only on certain days (Frej).
Despite the feeling you’ve been here before, Le Restaurant manages to seem new, and not quite derivative. Even if some of the trends are recycled, no one could say they played it safe. Not when the only menu is a $100 tasting, served just three days a week (Thursdays to Saturdays).
The good news is: the Great Recession is officially over, if places like this can open and thrive. And thrive, I hope it will. New York needs more restaurants willing to take chances, even if this one misses the mark.
The chef is Ryan Tate, formerly of Cookshop and Savoy, where he was chef de cuisine. He told Grub Street that his approach “is really just meant to get people to relax,” a peculiar aim. I never before thought that people needed $100 tasting menus to accomplish that.
I wish I could endorse it. They’re such nice people here, clearly trying hard, clearly eager to please.
And they’ve done such a lovely job decking out the post-industrial basement, in the bowels of Tribeca’s new upscale grocery, All Good Things. It’s a comfortable, minimalist, quiet space, admitting plenty of natural light from an outdoor garden.
But ultimately, the chef must be held accountable for his $100-per-head 7-course tasting menu (over $200 after drinks, tax, and tip). There was only one outright dud, but most of the remaining courses were more “interesting” than good.
They’re bumping up against the price of many three-star, and even some four-star restaurants. Jean Georges is $118 for four sublime courses, and after amuses, it’s more food than Le Restaurant. The pre-opening press referred to a $70–80 menu. Even that, in my view, would have been pushing it.
The wine list (above right; click on the image for a larger version) exacerbates the sticker shock, given that most bottles on the short, handwritten document are $70 and above—not really outrageous given the restaurant’s overall price level.
But then again, you expect a wider variety at a restaurant this expensive. The 2010 Clos de Gat, an Israeli Merlot, was inoffensive, but you wonder why they could find nothing better to serve for $80, especially when that’s one of just five bottles of red wine on offer, and three of the remaining four are north of $100.
It’s almost beside the point to describe each dish in detail: you can’t choose what to order, and the menu changes every night. Some of the write-ups in other online reviews sounded better.
I suppose that when the chef rewrites the menu every day, they can’t all be home runs. But I can only write about what we were served, which, at the price, was underwhelming. (Click the red image, above left, for the handwritten menu distributed at the end of the meal.)
The bread service (above right) was pretty good, with both bread and butter made in house.
Yucca (above left), coated in squid ink and dappled in aioli, tasted kind of funky, like a sour cheese. Then came Roasted Radishes (above right), with little sheets of fried chicken skin, whey, and tapioca, which I noted was a “fun” dish.
The next dish (above left) didn’t register much flavor: onions, rabbit liver, sherry vinegar, and quail eggs. Following that was one of the oddest items I’ve tasted all year (above right): Savoy cabbage hiding a couple of small oysters, with celtuce (an obscure vegetable in the thistle family) and creamed coffee.
I cannot complain much about snails on a skewer (above left) with chickpea polenta, green garlic and blue cheese, except that I was waiting for the “I must have this again” dish, and it hadn’t arrived yet.
But then the bottom fell out with flavorless roasted wood pigeon (above right), which had the consistency of cardboard and wasn’t redeemed by cauliflower florets, yellow beets, and a saffron foam.
Dessert was wonderful: a disc of spiced butternut chocolate (above left) with white mulberry, and a riesling and milk jam, followed by petits fours (above right). But it didn’t efface the sense that we’d paid over $200 a head for a mediocre Israeli Merlot, a handful of unimpressive hors d’oeuvres, and an overcooked roasted pigeon that I won’t soon forget.
The staff, it must be noted, were unfailingly attentive and professional. If I were giving stars for service, they’d get three. The food, on this particular occasion, came nowhere near living up to that.
On a Saturday evening, the space was reasonably full by 9:00pm. There is no indication from the street that this space houses a restaurant, so obviously there is word-of-mouth bringing people in. To keep them coming at this price, they’ll need to do a lot better.
Le Restaurant at All Good Things (102 Franklin Street at Church Street, Tribeca)
Food: Austere, market-driven American cuisine
Ambiance: A post-industrial space with minimal decoration, but quite comfortable
Rating: Not recommended