Monday, April 3, 2017

BRASSERIE 8 ½ -Midtown Restaurant Review

With a clever address (in the landmark 9 West 57th Street building-right off Fifth Ave.) and a grand entrance (a wide sweeping spiral of a  staircase-down)...

...Brasserie 8 ½'s first impression is that of a glamorous ocean liner- transporting guests to a Parisian 'modern slice of la belle époque' or civilized Mediterranean seaside enclave-but decidedly on land-in a spacious midtown eatery -with a dedicated luxe lounge (perfect for cocktails), multi-seat bars made for conversation (sans TV screens) -and a plush leather banquet lined main dining room-elegantly adorned with framed Matisse prints and original artwork by Marco Del Re and dramatically partitioned from the kitchen by a striking stain glass artistic tour de force.

From our welcoming greeting at the street level-to the last sip of after dinner espresso-our experience was intuitively well paced-with professional service as befits an upscale dining experience...and relaxed environment-polished, not precious.

And better yet, the tasty, elegantly plated food-lives up to the luxurious ivory tablecloth setting...with an internationally inspired appetizers, traditional and modern entrées, a fresh raw bar, and sides offerings-tempting palates ranging from the typical French gourmand (Cote du Boeuf with Sauce Bordelaise $49, Saucisson Chaud with Lentils du Puy +Fingerling Potatoes $25) -to lighter cuisine delights that many diners prefer.

Noted chef Franck Deletrain clearly sources the freshest ingredients-notably fish options-from both sides of the Pond, livened up with plethora of thoughtfully selected sauces and fragrant spices- to please the varied crowd of business, regular guests and a few tourists- who were in attendance the Wednesday night we went.

First Up:
Selecting our by the glass wines (a deliciously crisp Sancerre $16 and bubbly Moet Chandon Brut Reserve $18)-from an excellent, focused wine list that included well priced half and full bottle selections from mostly USA and French wine producing regions.

Amuse Bouche=Layered smoked salmon+dollop creme fraiche

Bread selections-chewy sour dough baguettes, sliced whole grain breads and chewy rolls-a must to soak up the sauces!

Appetizers-Field Greens Crudités in Sherry Vinaigrette $13--other choices range from the classic French Onion Soup Gratineé Emmenthaler, Gruyere Cheese $14-to Jumbo Lump Crabcake with Celeriac Remoulade, Grain Mustard Sauce and Horseradish $18-which also doubles as the perfect bar foods. 

Yellow Fin Tuna Tartare-a bursting with flavors-stacks of chopped seasoned fresh fish layered with chewy nicoise olives, tangy capers+sun dried tomatoes adorned with crisp cucumbers, radishes-$15
Seafood entrées grabbed our attention-including this LOUP DE MER- perfectly tender seasoned Branzino-a Mediterranean white fish-with bits of Manila Clams, Wilted Mustard Greens -garlic flecked, in a light Champagne Beurre Blanc-def. sauce to sop up $32

Atlantic Salmon-generous square-flaky texture of this popular fish-adorned with Braised Escarole, small pieces of Ricotta Gnocchi and bits of red/yellow peppers-flavorful-balance of land/sea in wholesome dish...$29.
 Other choices-range from the iconic Moules Frites in a white wine garlic sauce $22-to Aged Black Angus Steak made traditionally-in  Béarnaise, classic  herb butter, or Au Poivre Sauces $47 -both served with what else...Pomme Frites-which can order as a side too ($6).

Eating healthy ? Opt for  the naturally sweet Fresh Berries...with dab of indulgent real deal whipped cream $9 -but there's also a tempting Cheese plate features balanced selections from Italy, USA and France and Dessert Menu with French appeal including a Classic Creme Brûlée----
A two to three course meal-easily leave guests fully satiated...whether opting for heavier fare or  warm weather friendly-lighter dishes.


A cocktail list featuring signature drinks, small batch bourbons, aged fine scotches, French liquors and upscale lager/beers--- Lunch ($29) and Dinner $42 Prix Fixe)---Dessert -Cheese Plate Menu---an Oyster Happy Hour--- a goregethon Sunday Brunch Buffet (with kids-$17, adult $34)---

 ...Soft Shell Crab & BYOB on Sundays/Mondays $45---as well as holiday menus for special occasions-including upcoming Easter and Mother's Day.

BRASSERIE 8 ½ is open seven days a week Sunday 11AM-9PM, Monday-Friday 11:30 AM-10:30 PM, and Saturday 5PM-10PM
-located in the midtown Manhattan Solow Building, 9 West 57th Street