Branden McRill and Patrick Cappiello have been talking about opening a French restaurant with a focus on wine for nearly two years. And, on Monday, Rebelle will finally make its debut in a big industrial-inspired space on the Bowery, just next door to their wine hotspot Pearl & Ash. The two teamed up with Daniel Eddy, an American chef who was cooking at Paris's acclaimed restaurant Spring but looking to return to the New York. It's "a French restaurant run by American kids," explains Cappiello. And rebellious kids at that. The team is hoping to break the mold by opening a wine-focused restaurant this far downtown and on a block of the Bowery that's mostly still restaurant supply shops and home of The Bowery Mission.
In a small nod to the neighborhood, the red wines are stored in a cellar lined with old CBGB concert flyers. Cappiello's wine list is long — 1,500 bottles long — and unlike the selection next door, the wines here are sourced entirely from France and the U.S., with a particular focus on bottles from winemakers who go against the grain. It includes many natural wines, and bottles from places like New Mexico and Vermont. Cappiello is also determined to keep the list accessible. Two hundred of the bottles are priced under $50 and another 600 fall under the $100 mark. There are still some "trophy bottles, too" says Cappiello, but don't expect any bubbly to be sabered. Cappiello's leaving that for Pearl & Ash, saying the environment will be a bit tamer here, at least in the dining room.
Eddy's menu is made to go with the wines (recipe testing often involved cooking with 20 bottles open on the table) and shows plenty of classic French technique, but he says the food here isn't meant to interrupt the dining experience. He describes it as "approachable and easy...classic French flavors in a more contemporary form." The opening menu offers dishes like leek vinaigrette with a soft boiled egg, dijon, and leek ash; and monkfish with sunchokes, hen of the wood, and mussels, but Eddy plans to change out dishes as new items become available in the markets. Like Cappiello's approach to wine pricing, the menu here is reasonable: $59 buys four courses. For those who just want to pop in for a drink, there's a bar menu with oysters, fried pig's head, and other snacks available up front.
The restaurant will start with dinner service on Monday, and may add a weekend lunch down the line. Check back next week for a look around, but in the meantime, here's a glimpse inside:
Tucked away downstairs is the red wine cellar with those vintage CBGB flyers: