What is it with Carnegie Hill and small French bistros? About a year ago, the Times published a profile of the neighborhood’s better restaurants. Three of the five mentioned were French bistros within a square block of 92nd and Madison. What also stood out was that, although this is one of the most expensive neighborhoods in Manhattan, it apparently does not suport expensive restaurants: none of the Times recommendations was particularly pricey.
For now, the neighborhood’s best known restaurant is Sfoglia, but thanks to Frank Bruni’s rave review a few weeks ago, you can forget about getting in there on anything less than a month’s notice. When I had an evening engagement in the area last week, I chose Table d’Hôte instead, partly because I knew my guest had a weak spot for anything French.
Table d’Hôte is a tiny restaurant, with only about ten or twelve small tables. It appeals to a slightly older crowd: my friend and I, both in our 40s, seemed to be among the youngest patrons. There’s nothing fancy about the décor, although it might remind you of about a hundred places you’ve seen on the side streets in European cities.
The menu is a mixture of French and Moroccan favorites. If you order à la carte, appetizers are $8.00–$13.50, and entrées are available either in tasting portions at $14.00–17.50, or full portions of $19.00–26.00. A $26.50 prix fixe gets you a soup or green salad, a tasting portion of an entrée, and dessert.
We had a $23.50 prix fixe, offered only from 5:00–7:00 p.m. with more limited choices: green salad or purée of vegetable soup to start; chicken paillard, hangar steak, or seared salmon to continue; and crème caramel or ice cream for dessert. I probably had the better of it with the vegetable soup, which was creamy and delicious. But chicken paillard was a bit too dry, while my friend’s hangar steak was rare and tender.
The wine list, though short, had a number of bargains (comparatively speaking), and we were pleased with a Crozes–Hermitage for $38. The bill for two was $85 before tax and tip, which these days isn’t bad at all.
Table d’Hôte (44 East 92nd Street between Madison & Park Avenues, Carnegie Hill, Upper East Side)