THE EATBEAT: Nice/Matin offers a taste of Paris in downtown New YorkIf a croque monsieur is good, a croque madame must be better. That was my thinking earlier this month when I visited a French bistro in New York called Nice/Matin. That would mean morning in Nice.
By: Marilyn Hagerty, Grand Forks Herald
NEW YORK– If a croque monsieur is good, a croque madame must be better. That was my thinking earlier this month when I visited a French bistro here called Nice/Matin. That would mean morning in Nice.
It’s located at the busy corner of West 79th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. And it’s adjacent to the Lucerne Hotel, where I was staying.
It brought back memories of a French bistro we visited in Paris years ago. There, we found the croque monsieur a great, substantial sandwich. The Nice/Matin version is made with Black Forest ham and melted gruyere. And when a croque madame was listed with an egg on top, I knew I should try it.
The place was filling up around 11:30 a.m. and was full to the brim by the time I left around 1 p.m. It’s a cozy, crowded restaurant with windows from ground level to ceiling that give you a feel of the traffic and busy sidewalk — where food also is served in fair weather. There is a French ambience in the artwork on windows and throughout the restaurant.
“Would you like tap or distilled water?” my waitress asked.
“Tap,” I said, figuring it would not cost extra. I looked over the extensive cocktail menu and figured I better not. I was amazed at the wine list — it boasts 500 labels — one of the largest in the city.
People kept coming in … single people, people with children, couples. One sensible gentleman ordered soup. That’s all. One young couple seated next to me both dug out I-phones when they sat down. He was playing a game. She asked him not to do that. Then they talked.
I studied the menus and watched the people.
The waiter appeared with fresh warm and coarse bread from the kitchen. Before long, the croque madame ($13.75) arrived. It was of excellent quality with the egg perched atop making it more of a meal.
I am not sure the French would approve, but I ate my croquet madame with a cola. It was served in a glass with a stem — not in one of those grossly large glasses we see so often.
I enjoyed eating it the croque madame because of the taste and texture of the toasted bread. But alas, it was very rich and too much for me to handle in one setting.
I wondered what it would have been like to order the Five Napkin Burger ($15.75), which also is on the luncheon menu.
And I noticed the customers around me were ordering varying items from the menu. Entrees included Tuscan chicken “cooked under a brick” with rosemary rub and garlic mashed potatoes. Duck breast, Boston blue cod and grilled lamb sirloin also are featured.
By New York standards for dining, this is probably moderate. My check was $19.33, and I left a $3.50 tip. Pretty generous for me, but my server was very helpful in finding menus for me to take out.
Checks are in the $20 to $30 range for dinner entrees. Salads, appetizers and desserts are extra. And on the check, you get an estimate of appropriate tips in the 18 to 20 percent range.
Hors d’oeuvres at Nice/Matin include escargot, duck liver mousse and tuna tartare. There’s also a Mediterranean lamb salad and a house smoked trout salad.
201 W. 79th St., New York
Telephone: (212) 873-6423.
Report card: As close as you can get to Paris without going there, Nice/Matin offers a bistro-style menu that is varied and inviting. Price range is moderate-high for New York standards. Service excellent. Toilet facility small and barely adequate.
Reach Hagerty at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (701) 772-1055.