France? No, the Bowery. Rich in culture and outstanding cuisine, France is everyone’s dream vacation. But if you can’t make it to France just yet, La Gamelle, under the new direction of chef Denis Kuc and consulting chef Michael Burbella, is your perfect alternative in NYC. When you think of Bowery the first thing that comes to mind is not French fare, but all of that is about to change.
Under the direction of sommelier Harold Toussaint, the bistro offers a generous selection of wines from all over France and some from the U.S., by the glass and by the bottle. Staying true to the classics, I ordered a fantastic Bordeaux. I also got to sample the Hemingway Daiquiri, a refreshing cocktail made with vodka and grapefruit. Yes, the French are known for great wine, but you might be surprised to know that the French are also very serious about their cocktails. La Gamelle’s cocktail menu was inspired by cocktails created by the expats who escaped Prohibition by settling in Paris, and the cocktails that they crafted in the 20s, 30s and 40s.
The hors d’oeuvres options include an improved raw bar with more varied offerings of East and West Coast oysters and the addition of raw clams. But you can’t forget the more traditional French fare like escargots, oysters and Oeufs Mayonnaise — soft boiled eggs served with salad and mayo. We opted for the oysters and escargot — served piping hot in the shell with garlic parsley butter. The chef graciously surprised our table with an order of Roasted Octopus Citronette — roasted octopus with a citrus sauce. It was charred and roasted to perfection.
For the main course, I ordered the Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb. Prepared medium rare and served with fava bean puree, baby fennel, sauteed spinach and a red wine lamb jus, it was tender and seasoned well. Steak Frites served with a béarnaise sauce, Duck Confit, Steak Tartar and Branzino are also wonderful main course options.
The French are quite famous for their decadent desserts, so I definitely had to taste couple on La Gamelle’s menu. The options include a rich chocolate mousse, crème brulee with a crackling sugar top and profiterole-choux pastries filled with vanilla ice cream.
And obviously, we New Yorkers love to brunch, so definitely check out La Gamelle on the weekend. The brunch menu showcases the Angus beef burger (also available at dinner) served with gruyere cheese, truffle mayonnaise, caramelized onions, mushrooms and frites, and thick slabs of applewood smoked bacon, as well as their classic bistro sandwiches.
The cuisine is not the only thing that will transport you to France. Giving you a rustic and authentic feeling, the furniture and fixtures are all imported from France. The ambiance is quaint and the service is superb. You might head to the Bowery for some punk music and an art exhibit but don’t forget to check out this new and improved gem!
Twisted Talk: Have you ever been to La Gamelle? Where do you go to get your French Fix in the city? Discuss below!