“Lunching A La Midtown” – L’Esprit Bistrot Alain Ducasse


Restaurant Week continues and it is extended now until February 27th! Perfect for those taking their sweetheart out on Valentine’s Day. Whether a business lunch, romantic lunch or late lunch after seeing an exhibit at the MoMA, why not Benoit? This lovely restaurant, which is a traditional Parisian Bistro created by world-renowned chef, Alain Ducasse, opened in April 2008 and is located in the space formerly occupied by La Côte Basque.

Benoit opened its doors in Paris in 1912 and is now one of the last remaining authentic Parisian bistros, to retain a Michelin star. The restaurant became part of the Groupe Alain Ducasse in April 2005 and is part of the Châteaux et Hôtels Collection.

Benoit New York is a rendition of the 1912 Paris Benoit and like its namesake, is a lively, warm and magnificent brasserie that transports you to the “city of light” in the middle of midtown Manhattan. Alain Ducasse and executive chef Sébastien Rondier, a close collaborator of Ducasse since 2000, have composed a clever and charming menu that respects tradition and technique, with dishes drawn from Benoit’s repertoire of 50 to 100 year old recipes.

Giant seaside murals of locales in France are embellish the main restaurant walls, however, I prefer taking one of the plush red velvet booths in the back portion of the restaurant, where it is a little quieter for a conversational business lunch.

Highlights include their Cheesy Onion Soup, Rustic Country Pate, Garlic Roasted Chicken and Steak Au Poivre with Pommes Soufflés. Pair that with a custom designed carafe of red wine or something finer from Benoit’s wine list which features more than 200 whites and reds, with about 65% of the list from France and the rest from the United States.

Interesting, and very French touches, include the red coffee cups by Pillivuyt, steak knives by Opinel, colorful individual “cocottes” for side dishes, and slate lion’s head soup bowls.

The bar scene is very lively. A series of black and white photos of patrons past line the walls above the checkered countertop. The house special cocktail is the Montmartre ($15), made of pomegranate vodka, pineapple vodka, pineapple juice, pomegranate syrup and champagne. There is also an upstairs private room that can accommodate 60 dining guests. There is a “late night” menu served from 10:30 – 12:00 pm that includes Tarte Flambée, Escargots, Croque Monsieur’s and even a Burger.

If you are dining for Restaurant Week, here are your options for Lunch. The full three-course menu is $24.07 and dinner is also available, with a slightly different menu for $35.

Soup of the Day
Leek & Mustard Vinaigrette Salad
Nicoise Salad

Main Dishes:
Trout Almondine
Chicken Breast Chasseur
Crispy Duck Leg Confit

King Cake
Crispy Praline with Chocolate Mousse and Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
A selection of a dessert from the Trolley

Benoit is located at 60 West 55th Street (near Sixth Avenue), New York, NY 10019. The restaurant serves lunch and dinner Monday-Sunday. The bar is open seven days a week. For more information please visit

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