Montmartre, the latest addition to Gabe Stulman's Little Wisco Empire, opened in Chelsea a couple weeks ago, with Tien Ho, formerly of Ma Peche, at the helm. The French menu features mostly bistro classics, with departures and riffs here and there. Though not every diner would move Montmartre to the top of the Little Wisco ranks, the early word is mostly enthusiastic about Chef Ho's return:
The Good News: Over on the blog Tasty Travails, there's this recap: "Tien has moved toward a more French bistro vein, which is OK in my book as its one of my favorite cuisines (and his too, from reading about him). So there's an excellent brandade and a fine beef tartare with mustardy gaufrettes to liven things up; radishes (a classic bistro snack) get an update, served both raw and cooked along with trout roe and olive smears..." His favorite dishes were the frisee au lardon?"a salad loaded with duck confit and topped with a runny duck egg,"?the cassava chips, the blanquette de veau, the lamb, and the potatoes Gascognaise, "because if you don't love fried potatoes over caramelized onions and foies gras, you're nuts." Besides being a little disappointed by desserts that "didn't move me" and a cavolo nero tart that "was fishy with anchovies even by my anchovy loving standards," Weinstein concludes there was "plenty to like." [Tasty Travails]
The Less Good News: A tipster writes in with both hits and misses from a recent trip: "Had dinner at Montmarte last night. FOH was great and only waited about 15 min for table (2 top) in the downstairs dinning room at 7:30p (place was packed too). Wine list was not the most extensive but well thought out and not overly ambitious or middle of the road.
Food for the most part was above average to very good with the lardon salad being the standout and surprisingly, the side of sticky rice coming in a close second. The chicken liver crostini was way too salty and the cassava chips with cashew dip and caponata were just weird.
Having been open for just under a week though, service was spot on and staff was extremely attentive." [Eater Tipline]
The Solid News: One Yelper is mostly positive about Stulman's new venture: "While I do believe part of the charm of his restaurants resides in the hood it coexists with (West Village) Montmartre does not disappoint. Food is solid but not in the same class as Fedora or Chez Sardine. I was sad to not see oysters on the menu but very pleased to be able to have steak tartare. Portions are small, cocktails are delicious and potent, atmosphere cozy and warm, staff friendly, knowledgeable and top notch." In the end, however, she's not entirely convinced: "While Montmartre presents a strong reason to come to Chelsea, I'm not so sure it offers enough to leave the West Village." [Yelp]
The Decadent News: NYC Foodie Girl is pleased if a little overwhelmed by the lobster, which she describes as "just a gargantuan plate of succulent crustacean." The only downside, she says, "is that you have to work at it a bit - meaning, you have to be prepared to get some of the meat off the shell. Chef does a great job making it accessible as possible, but you'll still need to be prepared to dig in. Literally. It's why they give you one of those smaller seafood forks. It's also smothering a lot of potatoes -which are delicious, but the portion is beyond manageable for one person. Consider making this a sharable dish for 2." She also recommends the sticky rice: "it's not what you think it is - it's a bit more complex and has a savory and a sweet flavor. This, in my own opinion, is what Chef Tien Ho is about; this is his signature and eclectic style: the element of surprise with the simplest of ingredients that encourages me to try things that he puts together time and again." [NYC Foodie Girl]
The Almost Good News: One Eater commenter chimes in: "Nice frisée, blanquette de veau. Kitchen still working out delivery issues, but I will be back for sure." [Eater Comments]
The Foursquare News: Sticky rice and the potato souffle are the talk of the check-ins. From David F.: "The potato souffle and sticky rice are life changing. Just order like 3 of each." Jasmine M. chimes in: "Sunchokes & Fluke both hits. Brandade a MUST. Cavolo, saucisson & frisee all great. Potato souffle are like steak fries without the innards; all crispy, salty edges. Both bourbon cocktails rock." While James Y. has the simple advice: "Get the sticky rice. It's okay to have carbs sometimes, and this is the time." [Foursquare]
The Twitter News: From Bon App's Matt Duckor: "At Montmartre, @tienhonyc has created the perfect caesar salad. He calls it 'Calvalo Nero Tarte Renversee.' Order it." And Clarkson Potter editor-at-large Francis Lam: "So psyched @tienhonyc's back in the game at Montmartre. Cassava chips and brandade crazy good. Leftover sunchokes even better for breakfast." [Twitter]
· All Coverage of Montmartre [~ENY~]
? Marguerite Preston