As expected, Pete Wells reviews Cherche Midi, Keith McNally's new French bistro on the Bowery this week. He approves of the "healthy disregard" for all current dining trends, and notes an emphasis on red meat:
Steak frites does a fine impersonation of a Parisian bistro steak, the kind you don't mind chewing and chewing between glasses of the house Beaujolais Villages...Filet mignon au poivre is far more tender, of course, with less sacrifice in flavor than usual. The tall, compact, rather lean, drip-free and wholly excellent burger is made from dry-aged prime rib; if you put your nose close enough, you can smell the meat locker right through the aroma of onion-bacon jam.
So Cherche Midi is good. But then comes the kicker: for the purposes of comparison, Wells visits some old McNally classics, and the scene is not so rosy. At Morandi, only the pasta surpassed "mediocrity." Schiller's Liquor Bar is "full of disappointments." And the one and only Balthazar has, the critic declares, "become utterly mundane." Ultimately, Cherche gets two stars. We can only speculate about the rest.