Last night, Keith McNally thrust open the doors to his Gallic revamp of the old Pulino's space, Cherche Midi. This is a softer, prettier restaurant than the Italian one, with a menu that includes French brasserie favorites, original dishes in the New American vein, and several big slabs of meat. McNally and his crew also spent months developing a fancy burger to rival the one served at Minetta Tavern. The process of creating this burger sounds similar to what Apple and NASA go through when they're building a new iPhone or spaceship.
As is always the case with Keith McNally restaurants, the food nerds and members of the media turned out en masse on opening night. The first reports on the food, service, and overall experience are starting to hit the web right now. Here's a roundup of the early word on Cherche Midi:
Eater reader Mike writes in with a report from night one:
We went for dinner tonight at 6 PM. It was still slow, but was packed by 7 and heard them quoting 2 hour waits by the time we left around 7:45.Check out a picture of the burger here, find the souffle here, and read more of Mike's thoughts here.
All the food was great. Frog Legs to start were a little small for the price ($19), but everything else was worth it. The Onion Rings and Roasted Cauliflower were amazing. That Prime Rib Burger is worth any and all hype and rivals the Black Label Burger from Minetta Tavern.
The hot Chocolate Soufflé was a perfect ending to the meal.
An effusive Yelper by the name of Julie M loves the burger: "I usually write more detailed reviews but this merited an immediate, simple review. The burger. O. M. G. As a huge fan of the Minetta Black Label burger, I now am immensely conflicted about where I should be sending my burger love. The only way to solve this is with several more visits to each establishment. Thank you, Cherche Midi, for enlightening me and helping satisfy my burg'n (for those uninitiated, those are burger cravings)." [Yelp]
One Mouthfuls forum member has a note on the decor: "[O]ne thing he did was to make the corner virtually invisible from the inside. From lacy curtains to a new wall where there were windows in the old space, you might never guess on what corner the restaurant sits. Didn't eat — just stopped in for a digestif on our way home." [Mouthfuls]
Former Times critic Mimi Sheraton jumps in the comments to share her thoughts on a preview dinner: "After a tasting last night, I have to say the food is totally delicious...foie gras, frogs legs, filet au poivre, parmesan custard, saddle of lamb, lobster ravioli, souffles and ile flottante." [NYT]
Yelper "DineGirl K." also thinks that the revamp is a success: "Cherche Midi has enough uniqueness to make the space feel fresh and new. The food is upscale but cozy, with simple presentation. We loved the little cast iron pans for the sides and the no-fuss style for the main dishes. Food wise, everything we sampled tasted fantastic and we suspect that the Cherche burger will generate its own cult following." [Yelp]
Photographer Melanie Dunea:
When you go to Cherche Midi (McNally's feminine version of Minetta) do yourself a favor and get the Prime Rib. pic.twitter.com/l2yHahO1Wu— My Last Supper (@mylastsupper) June 14, 2014
Writer Mark O'Flaherty:
Great food, booths and buzz last night at Cherche Midi, which Keith McNally tells me is his "feminine version of the Minetta Tavern".— Mark C.O'Flaherty (@markcoflaherty) June 14, 2014
Veteran critic Gael Greene:
ChercheMidi room glows, Keith's signature mirrors. Golden glow behind bottles.Pulino's unbearable noise muffled. Menu mimics Minetta Tav.— Gael Greene (@GaelGreene) June 13, 2014
And Post critic Steve Cuozzo almost had dinner there last night:
Skipped Cherche Midi mob scene for DBGB across street, approaching 5th ann'y. Excellent sausage, salad, soup, wine by glass. Full house— Steve Cuozzo (@stevecuozzo) June 14, 2014
· All Coverage of Cherche Midi [~ENY~]