The other night I was waiting for Jay at Adour, Alain Ducasse’s new restaurant at the St Regis. Since it was Jay I was meeting, I wasn’t too surprised to see him saunter in with the great Ducasse himself who naturally wanted to be on hand for a glass of champagne with the great McInerney. The occasion of our dinner was to celebrate Jay’s getting a private wine locker at Adour. So cool, so Jay! We chatted for a bit and it turned out that M. Ducasse was in town for a few days to open another version of Benoit, the Paris restaurant I loved and wrote about last fall. Was I the last to know? Yes, indeed I was. Ah, Benoit! The food, the room, the service, perfect French. And when a French restaurant is perfect, it is genius.
So Alain has brought Benoit to the space previously occupied by La Cote Basque and may open more Benoits in other cities. I got so distracted by the prospects of several baby Benoits that I will have to blog Adour later. Anyway, I need to go again before I can write about it with confidence.
If you know anything about Alain, you know he is obsessed with collecting and shopping. Apparently he bought an Offcinie, a 19th century apothecary that specialized in herbal therapy in Bordeaux and has had it transported to New York and installed upstairs in Benoit as a private dining room. He invited me to take a tour of the new place the next day.
Naturally I went and while we were walking around several people came in to say how happy they were to have something open up in the old La Cote Basque space. So am I. La Cote Basque was one of those restaurants that felt like an essential institution I couldn’t afford to go to but whenever I had the chance to be taken I loved it. The paintings on the wall, the banquets, all so grand. It’s true that the patina wore off and the food went down, but I have only the fondest memories of it in its day.
One of things that caught my eye at the new Benoit were the decanters at the bar. I loved their shape. When I asked about them Alain told me that he’d bought out the complete stock of a German glass factory that made decanters for perfume. Beautiful.
I was telling Alain how much I loved the Savarin at Benoit in Paris, ( similar to a baba au rhum dessert but made in one mold, not individual molds like a baba ). In fact it became an obsession of mine, and I read every recipe I could get my hands on, bought the mold and have been making them ever since. Alain said the two desserts I had to try at Benoit in NY were the Baba Rhum and the Mille-Feuille which he said is perhaps the best he has ever tasted. With a recommendation like that, you bet I will.
They are serving breakfast, lunch and dinner every day. I’m going to give them a few weeks or so before I go to eat there, but I can tell you if the food is as good as Paris I will be a regular, and that is saying a lot for someone who lives downtown.
60 West 55th street
New York City, NY 10019