Location: 50 East 86th Street (At Madison Avenue) New York, NY 10028
Overall: It’s a little taste of Paris’ La Rive Gauche (the Left Bank) on the Upper East Side. A night in this sweet French restaurant may leave you expecting to wander out onto cobblestone streets – and not into a sea of yellow cabs.
For the fashion crowd, the name Demarchelier evokes thoughts of intensely beautiful images that have graced the pages of Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar by the photographer, Patrick Demarchelier. But for Upper East Siders, Demarchelier evokes thoughts of classic French cuisines set in a warm and charming environment. Eric, who is the brother of Patrick Demarchelier and visionary of the space, has owned the restaurant for over twenty-five years. He has made the eatery a neighborhood staple with one simple recipe – mixing great food with great service. Currently, Eric’s daughter Emily runs the bistro and has kept her father’s legacy alive. And although the restaurant has added an on-trend organic menu that includes locally-farmed, natural, and grass-fed options, she has not yielded to newer restaurant ideals like culinary plating with smears and negative space. In fact, she leaves the artistry to her father, who provides the rotating artwork, and Chef Marc Tagournet, who provides flavorful heartfelt meals.
Diners who are snail averse might gravitate towards a signature starter like Moules Mariniere Au Vin Blanc, but we seem to fall prey to this particular delicacy which is cooked in the perfect combination of butter, garlic, and parsley. The escargot comes to the table still bubbling in its dish but is well worth waiting a short cooling period before enjoying the tender appetizer. The escargot is a great starter, along with a glass of wine.
Pescatarians are sure to claim this as their ambrosia. Made with scallops, shrimp, and chives in a fish broth, this pasta dish is in no way short on oceanic flavor.
Balancing fish with a creamy sauce may seem like an easy task, but it can often require Goldilocks-like precision. Chef Tagourent’s combination of flouring, seasoning, and sautéing weren’t lost under the lemon-butter sauce, and the fish maintained a firmness that was “just right.” Our only advice: be cautious of the bones.
Hanger Steak & Pommes Frites
A French bistro wouldn’t be complete without this classic duo. The slightly charred steak was juicy and almost impossible to stop eating, especially with each of the traditional (Béarnaise, Peppercorn, and Shallot) sauces. The fries were also thin and crisp making this course one of our favorites of the evening.
To complete our experience we tasted two classics – crème brulée and crepe Suzette. Initially, the crepe came out first and was swiftly returned to the kitchen when the server realized only one dessert was ready to be presented. A short moment later, he returned with both desserts and gave us the complete culinary experience drizzling Grand Marnier atop the crepe and immediately igniting the liqueur. The freshly flambéed crepe was light with just a touch of citrus flavor. The crème brulée, which had a crisps caramel top, was smooth and creamy with prominent notes of vanilla. When paired with one of the restaurant’s Fonseca Port wines, the taste on your lips is magnifique.
Demarchelier Restaurant doesn’t just practice the art of French cooking, it invites its patron’s to enjoy the art of living. When you leave your expectations– and terribly cliché berets – at home, you are ushered into a space that prepares a table where all are welcome. On the chilly Tuesday night we visited, we witnessed book lovers enjoying a meal alone, friends exchanging stories about their latest travel, and romantic partners passing touches across the table. These are the things that lasting memories are built around and it likely contributes to why this delightful bistro has lasted the test of time.
Demarchelier Restaurant Hours:
Monday-Friday: 11:30 AM – 4:00 PM lunch; 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM dinner
Saturday: 11:30 AM – 4:00 PM brunch; 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM dinner
Sunday: 11:30 AM – 4:00 PM brunch; 4:00 PM – 10:00 PM dinner
Visit www.demarchelierrestaurant.com for more information.
– James Bianca