Mon-Fri, noon-2:30pm and 5pm-10pm; Sat, 5pm-10pm; Sun closed
C, E at 50th St.
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Entre vous into octogenarian chef grand-mere Marguerite Bruno’s maison, Chez Napoléon, and you enter 1960s France. Opened in the summer of 1960, nearly every inch of the bistro’s aged mustard-yellow walls are covered with vintage French-themed bric-a-brac and Bruno family memorabilia. Edith Piaf croons in the background. Two modest dining areas are adjoined by a petite one-stool bar tucked in the back and manned by bartender, grandson Guillaume. Fellow diners may include pre-theatergoers and English- or French-speaking neighborhood revelers, all of whom can be heard making guttural oohs and aahs over their meals. No wonder: grandma cooks to please. The menu is classic Provencal food presented in a properly no-fuss, rustic fashion. Escargot de Bourgogne—six sizable, chewy yet tender snails drenched in rich garlic butter are served piping hot in ceramic faux snail shells. But French comfort food at its finest comes in the form of cassoulet, a spicy tomato-based stew combining creamy white beans with hearty morsels of tender duck, lamb, pork cuts, and garlic sausage. Served with a “voila,” the light, airy chocolate soufflé is big enough for two and makes for a seductive finale. But order it when you sit down—it takes up to an hour to prepare.Recommended Dishes
Escargot de Bourgogne, $10; cassoulet, $27