Voted one of the best new restaurants in America for 2018, this Tribeca French bistro, at 241 West Broadway is showcasing its talent by bringing back some nostalgic comfort as well as a mix of modern French cuisine. I knew Frenchette was going to be good, because it is helmed by former Balthazar alums, Riad Nasr and Lee Hanson. They know a thing or two about the perfect formula for success, running two of the most famous restaurants in Keith McNally ’s brassiere empire. Then they went and hired Minetta tavern’s pastry chef. The only difference here, is the scene is less about decor theatrics, and more about a cool, casual, modern French Bistro, and concentrating solely on the food and expert service. Here at Frenchette, the room has cream walls that have hand stenciled florals, burnt orange leather banquets, carved pillars, arched doorways, ceiling fans, and the requisite great bar up front. The place had a great feel and buzz from the moment you walked in the door.
The menu features dishes you would typically find in a French bistro but also had some new and interesting choices. So you will find things like steak and frites, but here they are duck frites. Or oysters, roast chicken, tarts tartin, pork terrine, soupe de poisson, or sardines. But here the sardines are garnished with aubergines, capers, raisins and pine nuts. I had a fabulous dish of buttery snails in a pool of soft scrambled eggs, that had more of a texture reminiscent of polenta. My fluke tartar was in a shiso sauce with sea beans and tri-star strawberries.
The bread was a dense rye served with dreamy French butter.
It took me an hour in rush hour traffic to get to the restaurant. You really should avoid the Holland Tunnel at all costs at this time of the day. Plus, my Uber was rear-ended and I had to hop out, and find another driver in 90-degree weather. I walked into the restaurant in a foul mood, and I emerged, seduced by the food. Now there is a second home for the downtown Manhattan elite, with carefully rendered French dishes, top-notch service, and a noteworthy buzz.