The very first thing I noticed one latest afternoon at L’Ami Pierre, a brand new French café in midtown, was a person with a hunk of baguette hanging from his mouth. The second was not staged. The man was on the transfer, holding the remainder of the paper-sleeved loaf within the criminal of his arm as he pulled on his jacket. The bread had been genuinely irresistible.
It appeared believable, earlier than I attempted it, that this baguette may very well be the very best on the earth. L’Ami Pierre (149 W. 51st St.) sits throughout a pedestrian walkway from the restaurant Le Bernardin, and, although the companies will not be technically affiliated, they’ve in widespread Eric Ripert, Le Bernardin’s longtime chef and co-owner. In September, Ripert opened L’Ami Pierre along with his pal Pierre-Antoine Raberin, a former co-president of the macaron model Ladurée. (Ripert serves principally as a marketing consultant, however his title is on the awning.)
The café is a collaboration between Pierre-Antoine Raberin, a former co-president of Ladureé, and Eric Ripert, of Le Bernardin.
In November, Le Bernardin turned fifty. Its founders, the siblings Maguy and Gilbert Le Coze, opened the seafood-focussed restaurant on the Left Bank of Paris in 1972, and moved it to New York in 1986. Ripert, who’s fifty-seven, started working there in 1991. In the many years since, he has managed to keep up the very best accolades—Michelin stars, Times stars, high positioning on native and world best-of lists—and has grow to be a star.
On one other afternoon, I went to Le Bernardin alone for lunch. I drank champagne, and ate a exactly round disk of scallop tartare topped with a beneficiant quenelle of caviar, then medallions of lobster in a verjus sabayon, then a plump fillet of halibut over sunchoke-truffle purée, surrounded by tiny, toylike carrots, roasted to perfection. For dessert, I spooned chocolate pot de crème and caramel out of a hollowed eggshell. The meals was lovely, the service impeccable. I couldn’t take my eyes off a pair sitting a number of tables over. Both had been dressed to the nines however their method was completely blasé, as if this hushed, virtually holy eating room had been a mere cafeteria.
A choice of pâtisseries consists of chocolate-raspberry tarts.
The man with the baguette appeared, someway, to have had a extra sensual expertise. It could be exhausting to argue that L’Ami Pierre’s baguette is the very best on the earth, and even in New York, however I’m prepared to make a case that there’s nothing extra luxurious than a jambon-beurre, the basic French sandwich of ham and butter. The model at L’Ami Pierre fulfills its primary promise. With a shiny, golden, crackly crust and a smooth however chewy crumb, the baguette, baked on the premises, holds as much as its luscious fillings.
The café’s grab-and-go salads on refrigerated cabinets—rooster Caesar; spinach with goat cheese and pine nuts—left me chilly, and a butternut-squash soup was on the bitter finish of earthy. But the viennoiseries—significantly the ache aux raisins—sang with clear notes of butter, as did a chocolate-chip cookie, additional distinguished by its uncommon, tart-like form, barely dipped within the center, with steep, crisp edges and rectangular morsels of dense, wealthy chocolate.
A number of blocks away, Ignacio Mattos reveals us what can occur when a chef of the very best pedigree lends experience to the pursuit of small each day pleasures, along with rarefied multicourse eating. At tables on a lined “terrazza” at Lodi (1 Rockefeller Plaza), his Milan-inspired café, you may order a lavish meal. Don’t miss the elegant squiggles of ravishing chicken-liver pâté on crostini, or the bone-in pork Milanese, when accessible. Inside are a espresso bar and a bakery that uphold the identical requirements extra casually, astonishing amid the sterile salad bars of midtown. An peculiar cardboard container may comprise a unprecedented farro, cabbage, and prosciutto soup, or a lentil salad, crunchy with fennel. The different morning, as I sat sipping a macchiato and consuming a wonderful maritozzo—a terrific pouf of brioche sporting a thick stripe of whipped cream and crammed with vanilla custard—a nattily dressed older gentleman on the stool subsequent to me was doing precisely the identical. He gestured to the pastry with glee, explaining that it was from Rome, as was he, and set off into the coolness with a pep in his step. (L’Ami Pierre $2.50-$14; Lodi pastries and panini $4-$15.) ♦