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The Food at the New Pastis ‘Is Better’ Than the Original, Wells Says

It’s two stars for the Pastis revival

Pastis Louise Palmberg/Eater

Keith McNally’s new Pastis serves “simple, unadorned, hunger-obliterating” French fare, Times critic Pete Wells finds in his latest two-star review.

Wells writes that the new version brings back some old-school Pastis originals like the onion soup and “meaty snails” with a generous helping of garlic butter, though the wine list is “less conservative” than it used to be now that slick restaurateur Stephen Starr is at the helm.

Some standout dishes include a “gorgeously smooth” boudin blanc served with nearly liquid puréed potatoes, a steamed branzino with “crisp” summer vegetables, and a salad of pickled herring and carrots with boiled potatoes, he writes. The seafood, such as that trout, is overall “very appealing,” Wells adds. But there are some mishaps, such as limp, oily fries served with the steak frites and the “acrid” sauce that comes with the duck in olives.

The new Pastis tries to imitate the original restaurant’s iconically cool vibe through its McNally-approved decor, though there are noticeable changes now that Starr has jumped on board. Wells says:

Familiar faces from La Mercerie and other Starr enterprises work alongside loyal retainers from the McNally empire. The McNally troops are exquisitely poised, self-assured, able to spot a misplaced butter knife from across the street. The Starr cadre is more casual, and occasionally a server will ask your opinion of “the flavors so far,” a question that has surely never been uttered at Minetta Tavern.

Overall, though, Wells says he’s reasonably sure that with Michael Abt in the kitchen — the chef comes from Starr’s Washington D.C. restaurant Le Diplomate — the food at the new Pastis outshines the original. Two stars.


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