Note: After 28 years, Le Madeleine closed in March 2007, when they lost their lease.
My brother and his wife are visiting from California. They bought tickets the other night for Movin’ Out, and on short notice we needed a restaurant reservation. We’re dropping some major dough on food this weekend, so I wanted to keep things on the inexpensive side. It’s here that OpenTable.com came to the rescue. I chose Le Madeleine, a French bistro slightly to the left of the Theater District.
Entrées are generally in the $15-20 range, with an entrecote steak priced at $25. Appetizers are from $6-11, and side dishes all at $4. However, as all of the entrées come with appropriate vegetables I really see no need for the side dishes unless you want to load up on such things as braised red cabbage, Israeli couscous, or creamed cannellini beans. You can read the menu at Le Madeleine’s website, although the at present it’s showing the winter menu; what we saw was a bit different.
My sister-in-law chose the Spice Crusted Duck “Aigre Doux,” which is served with creamy polenta, braised red cabbage, and caper-currant-cranberry sauce - a clever preparation that was full of diverse flavors. My brother chose the braised Berkshire pork (I didn’t know the Berkshires were known for that), which he described as wonderfully tender. I had the grilled marlin, an off-the-menu special, which tasted a lot like swordfish. It was served in a sweet lemon butter sauce.
Le Madeleine is clearly oriented to the pre-theater crowd, and service is organized to get patrons out to their shows on time. Service was friendly, if occasionally frantic. There is a lovely garden room with a skylight, as well as a more conventional indoor room that resembles a hundred other bistros.
This is a solid pre-theater restaurant off the beaten path of Restaurant Row. It offers inventive fare that, at its relatively low price point, is well worth a try.
Le Madeleine (403 W. 43rd Street, west of Ninth Avenue, Theater District)