Jeanne & Gaston – Classically French

Prix fixe menus can be murky territory, especially when it comes to gourmet cooking. If it seems like a bargain, usually it’s because the food is atrocious with only a few selections available. On the flipside of this, there are some great prix fixe meals that cost about as much as I make in a week. Thankfully, Jeanne & Gaston offers a nightly (yes, NIGHTLY) three-course prix fixe meal for only $40. Not only is the meal affordable, the menu offers a wide selection of Burgundian delicacies, made with great care by Executive Chef Claude Godard.

The restaurant itself is a site to behold, foregoing the typically austere, minimalist look that many contemporary restaurants have embraced, instead using dark woods and two great paintings – Ferdinand Bol’s Governors of the Wine Merchant’s Guild and Albrecht Durer’s haunting Self Portrait – to give the venue a unique, refined feel. In the very near future, Jeanne & Gaston (named after Godard’s beloved grandparents) plans to have an outdoor seating area behind the restaurant. It is a large, quiet space that seems miles away from all the noise.

For appetizers, Theresa ordered the tuna tartare, a delicious and lightly seasoned helping of raw tuna. I opted to try a French specialty that I’ve only had one other time: foie gras, served as a terrine, with wine-soaked pear slices on toast. Foie gras is a food that I can definitely place in the same category as black licorice: either you love it or you hate it. I thought it was a great combination of flavors (the delicate, buttery liver combined with the tart wine and the sweet pears) and textures.

Perhaps the most impressive feature of the prix fixe menu is that the entire menu is available to include in the meal. There are thirteen options each for both appetizers and entrees (yes, you read that right), offering specialties for meatless diners as well as for fans of seafood and shellfish. Theresa ordered another raw dish: steak tartare, prepared to order with onion, egg yolk, olive oil, lamb’s lettuce, and mustard. It may be an adventurous recommendation to those who have never enjoyed it before, but it is certainly worth it. For my entrée, I went for something I’d never tried before: squab, or domestic pigeon. Despite the stigma they have in the city, pigeons are considered a delicacy (in fact, that’s why the little buggers were brought over to the States in the first place) in France and elsewhere. I can see why: it’s lean, healthy, and quite flavorful. That said, pigeons used for squab are farm-raised, having little to do with their city cousins.

Theresa ordered crème brulee, made with Tahitian vanilla and served with a spoon made out of a lemon cookie (opening photo). For the hungry diner, they do also bring out regular silverware. I ordered the soufflé Grand Marnier, another first for me. It was a delicious way to end an incredible meal, topped off with an espresso.

At the end of our three-course feast, Chef Godard came out and thanked us for coming. The pleasure truly was all ours. Jeanne & Gaston is open weekdays for lunch from 11:45 to 4:00 and open for dinner Sunday through Thursday from 5:00 to 10:30, closing at 11:00 on Fridays and Saturdays. Additionally, they offer brunch on weekends from 11:00 to 3:00. Once the outdoor dining area opens next month, it will be available for private parties.

Photos by Theresa Giannetti

About Alex DiBlasi (72 Articles)
Alex DiBlasi is a writer and musician based out of Philadelphia. As a journalist, he has contributed articles for the Queens Courier, Long Island City magazine, the Journal of Rock Music Studies, and the American Music Review. As an academic, he has written about Frank Zappa, The Monkees, The Kinks, and the cinema of the Czech New Wave. He also previously taught literature at St. John’s University in Queens. His first book, an anthology of scholarly essays from all over the world on Geek Rock, co-edited with Dr. Victoria Willis, will be released in October 2014 by Scarecrow Press. Alex spent most of 2013 and part of 2014 on the road with his partner Alexa Altman, visiting each of the Lower 48 states as the basis for a book. Aside from his work in the arts, Alex also works with the Manhattan-based Sikh Coalition as an advocate for religious freedom.