We’re always looking for new places to try before the theater, so when a new-old spot popped up on the Sifty Fifty — a list of New York Times restaurant critic Sam Sifton’s favorite New York City restaurants at the moment — I thought it good to give it a shot. Boo said: “If this is good, I’ll never have to think about going out in this area again. I hate thinking about going out in this area.”
Well, I don’t know if it’s never again. You might want to mix it up a little and try some different spots. Chez Napoleon is rather stuck in a time warp. And this is a good thing, when you’re wanting a dependable, cute cafe that serves French cuisine like your grandmere used to make.
The grandmere in particular here is chef Grand-Mere Marguerite Bruno, who came from Brittany. She was a waitress at the original restaurant, and then, with her family, took it over. A great bio of the whole gang can be found here: Meet the Family.
Some grandmere-ish food, for instance, is celeri remoulade. When is the last time you saw that on the menu?
It was lovely: it had a bite and wasn’t too doused with sauce.
Good but filling. you might want to split this between two or among more.
For our mains, I got soupe a la oignon gratinee (French onion soup):
Unfortunately, sometimes even grandmeres have missteps. Boo’s cassoulet was not that great:
Still, I wouldn’t write off Chez Napoleon. I plan on going back to try the roast chicken… the duck a l’orange… the steak frites….
The 411 on Chez Napoleon: 365 West 50th St., Manhattan. 212 265-6980, cheznapoleon.com
(By the way, the theater? A Life in the Theater, the Mamet play. Thumbs down. At least the dinner and the company were good!)