Mon-Fri, 11:45am-3pm and 5pm-11:30pm; Sat-Sun, 10am-3pm and 5pm-11:30pm
1 at Christopher St.-Sheridan Sq.; A, C, E at 14th St.; L at Eighth Ave.
American Express, MasterCard, Visa
It might seem hubristic to call a restaurant "la ripaille," which means a sumptuous feast in French. But Alain Laurent, whose romantic, bistro-style hideaway has been welcoming repeat customers for a quarter century, makes good on his claim by putting a fresh, fragrant spin on classic ingredients. The trademark appetizer is broccoli mousse: a pristine half-sphere in a pool of butter-lemon sauce. No spiky florettes or granular stems get in the way—it's just pure, intense flavor, like a Platonic ideal of broccoli. And Laurent (who bustles from table to table in a pleasantly forbidding manner) does as well with the entrées. The sautéed fillet of bass, served with a champagne-rosemary sauce, is light and meaty; the duck magret is mauve and tender, though the black currant sauce could have stood more kick. Exemplary of country cuisine done with flair is the pounded chicken with grilled lemon and lime slices, which add a pleasant tartness to the moist, domino-thin meat. The restaurant's homey appeal reinforces the cuisine—besides the fireplace, there's a grandfather clock, a wooden two-pronged pitchfork overhead, and lots of flowers. And at the meal's end you're treated to one of the last remnants of bistro fare: a handwritten bill.Extra
Watch out on weekends—it can get loud as groups arrive.Recommended Dishes
Mousse de brocolis, $11