Cherche Midi, Keith McNally's Latest French-Inspired Eatery, Opens on the Bowery
Keith McNally still knows a thing or two about opening a restaurant. His latest venture, Cherche Midi, which opened officially this Friday in the former Pulino's space, he's kept a relative secret thusfar (save for a short blurb in the Times). The outside menu displays are empty and you can't even peek inside as giant ivory steel doors and frosted windows obscure the view even from the interior vestibule. Despite McNally's secrecy and the eatery's seeming exclusivity, it was surprisingly easy to secure a Sunday night reservation for two. Based on all the fuss surrounding it, we wanted to hate it, but have to admit it runs like a well-oiled machine even after only three days. Check out our findings below.
The space: McNally once described the place to us as "a rather intimate, French restaurant. Perhaps the kind you might happily stumble on by chance in the French countryside." And this space certainly is reflective of that description. While it's not wildly different from Pulino's, it's brighter and the space has been Frenchified. It almost looks like a mini Balthazar, filled with globe lights, red banquettes and round corner booth tables, ivory walls and mirrors galore.
The food: The restaurant has two chefs at the helm — Shane McBride and Daniel Parilla — who have put together a menu of mostly takes on classics with a few twists. A particularly outstanding lobster ravioli with ginger beurre blanc was by far the stand out of the night. A prime rib cheeseburger topped with mushrooms and bacon marmalade is also worth a try, but not sure Midi has perfected it just yet (Minetta Tavern still has a leg up in the burger department). A spin on the classic frog's legs, the tiny appendages are delicately breaded and fried and served atop a green garlic veloute. A buttery salmon with beluga lentils is finished with a quenelle of cumin scented yogurt on top. Check out the full menu below.
Salmon with lentils and cumin-scented yogurt
The drinks: The cocktail program also did not disappoint with a range of very well balanced concoctions using an array of liqueurs including the Green and Gold: cahaca, agave, cucumber, dill; and the Flower of Scotland - gin, lemon, fresh basil, espelette syrup.
Prime rib burger with bacon marmalade and roasted mushrooms
The service: Exceptionally friendly and seamlessly operational, especially for this early in the game.
The details: 282 Bowery; 212-226-3055