Who’d have thought that a French restaurant that serves meats on a rôtisserie would be one of the breakout hits of 2014?
Georgette Farkas thought so. After 17 years as Daniel Boulud’s head of in-house PR, she left last year to open Rôtisserie Georgette on the Upper East Side, steps away from Central Park South and the posh Fifth and Madison Avenue shopping districts.
It might strike you as an obvious move, but according to the Post’s Steve Cuozzo (who awarded three stars), there hasn’t been a French rôtisserie restaurant in New York since D’Artagnan in 2001—and that one didn’t last long. But Farkas’ instincts were spot-on: Rôtisserie Georgette is consistently full, and I had a tougher time booking it than almost any restaurant I’ve visited in the last year.
This isn’t chef-driven cuisine. Barely over two months into its run, Ms. Farkas parted ways with opening chef David Malbequi and brought in Chad Brauze from Daniel. The place didn’t skip a beat. It’s a monument to doing simple things well.
There are just six entrées ($24–60), all prepared on the rôtisserie. These are mostly à la carte, so plan on side dishes ($7–12), which are very good but make the restaurant more expensive than it appears. Starters ($14–28) run the gamut from a traditional French Consommé de Volaille to a basic salad of roasted artichokes and peppers that could be served anywhere.
Dinner begins with robust country bread (above left).
Roasted Leeks ($14; above left) are plated with greens, duck prosciutto, and a red onion vinaigrette. I had it twice, and was pleased both times. I was even more impressed with Roasted Artichokes and Peppers ($16; above right), a deeply satisfying dish.
Compared to the other starters I tried, the pâté du jour ($18; above) was respectable but unmemorable.
They serve a lot of poultry here. There’s a quail entrée that we didn’t try; a half roast chicken for one ($24; above left); or a whole Poulet de Luxe for two ($36 per person; above right). It comes on a pedestal, and you see these all over the dining room. It is probably the most-ordered dish.
And a very good chicken it is, tender and smoky from the rôtisserie, served with decadent slabs of foie gras (foreground right in the photo) that are really unnecessary. With appetizers and side dishes, three or even four could share this chicken and be happy.
Rôtisserie potatoes ($8; above) are the simplest of the side dishes, and perfectly done. On an earlier visit, just a few days into the current chef’s tenure, I tried the Brussels Sprouts ($11; below left), which were soggy. They are now off the menu.
On my second visit, I was recognized later in the meal, and a parade of comped side dishes came out of the kitchen, and they were all beautiful. These could be dinner, all by themselves. The first one shown, I believe, is the buttered spring peas with fresh mint and bacon (above right).
Also excellent were crisp pencil asparagus (above left) in hollandaise sauce. A plate of whole roasted sweet carrots (above right) was a masterpiece, the best side dish of the evening.
The dining room is upscale casual, without tablecloths. Banquettes are comfortable, and some tables have luxurious high-backed chairs; but others are just plain two-tops, the likes of which you’d find downtown or in Brooklyn. They serve food at the bar too, which is usually packed at the dinner hour. I went twice and ordered the same cocktail both times, the 60th & Bourbon ($15) with bourbon, cognac, vermouth, and pêche.
The mostly-French wine list fits on a single, large sheet of paper. It skews expensive, which is not a surprise, but there are acceptable reds in the $60–80 range. It goes up from there. For a restaurant where the food is this good, you’d like to see more options.
The service is informal compared to the Boulud restaurants that Georgette Farkas came from, but we were well taken care of (and not just after I was recognized). This is the sort of restaurant the downtown-centric food media would dote on, if it were south of 14th Street. Rôtisserie Georgette doesn’t need them. Those who live or work near the Upper East Side know how lucky they are.
Rôtisserie Georgette (14 E. 60th St. between Park & Madison Ave., Upper East Side)
Food: French-inspired rôtisserie cuisine
Service: Informal for this neighborhood
Ambiance: Upscale casual; comfortable, but a bit crowded