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Week of April 8, 2002

Branch Location
First Chateau, then Industry (food), now Butter: Every new loungy restaurant seems to be going for a bark-and-twigs design scheme, though we don't know if it's inspired more by Ralph Lauren Country or by backwoods survivalism. Decide for yourself on April 23, when the tunneled space that used to be Belgo reopens with a back-to-nature motif, every conceivable surface clad in red cedar, walnut, and silver birch; love seats carved out of logs; moleskin Hollywood booths; and a gallery of artworks intended to raise money for charity. In an attempt to maintain that precarious balance between serious menu and serious scene, the owners, a pair of veteran party promoters, teamed up with a chef from Chanterelle (Keith Harry, pictured), whose contemporary log-cabin cuisine features dishes like sautéed calf's liver with coconut vinegar, and grilled turbot with sake beurre blanc.
415 Lafayette Street


best of the week
Taste of the Lower East Side on April 18
Twenty-five downtown restaurants will offer sample bites at this fund-raiser for youth programs at Grand Street Settlement. Participants include 71 Clinton Fresh Food, Le Tableau, Lansky Lounge & Grill, and Paladar. (April 18 at the Orensanz Center; call 212-674-1740, ext. 211.)

Ask Gael
Is Paris unfair to our homeboy Jean-Georges?
Critics filleted Market, a smartly clubby (and not too expensive) feeding station at Christie's off the Champs Élysées spun off by -- in their words -- "the Franco -- New Yorkais" Vongerichten. Still, tout Paris piled in, whipping up fierce heat. By March, when I arrive, the reportedly "arrogant" crew has felt the lashing and emerged so friendly and welcoming, I can't believe I'm in Paris. Yes, it's a menu of recycled favorites from Mercer Kitchen and Vong (as some complain), just the kind of fusion Paris is suddenly gaga about. Though I find the famous tuna-wasabi pizza wimpy, I am impressed by a worldly tuna tartare, the stylish scallop seviche, and luscious hamachi in a lemony olive-oil sheen. Pleased, too, by pigeon on noodle pancake, and lamb shank in a puddle of green curry, I hurry back with Parisian friends. Starters still score, but a motor-oil sauce overwhelms the splendid duck steak, and bubbling soy foam is lethal to my guy's faux filet. Amazingly, cheesecake and an adventure in green apples and basil olive oil are thrilling enough to send us home on a high.
15 Avenue Matignon, Paris

Bites & Buzz Archive

Week of March 18
Cabaret at Café Sabarsky; the latest in couture food
Week of March 18
Mugsy's Patio dining; Gael indulges at Orsay
Week of March 11
The chessesteak Czar; Greek Orthodox Lent at Estiatorio Milos; a female sushi chef?; Gael delivers the verdict on jury duty dining

and more ...

Photos: Patrik Rytikangas

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