60 W. 55th St. New York


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The legendary bistro, Benoit, has been open in Paris since 1912, but its New York branch is far younger. As soon as patrons step through the front door, however, they feel transported to an authentic Paris bistro. The classic bar with black-and-white-striped wallpaper and a tiled ceiling has putti dreamily floating over the leather upholstered stools, and near the few tables is a brass rack from which the daily newspapers hang. The dining room is lined in blond wood paneling with mirror insets. The chandelier and Art Nouveau sconces remain from La Côte Basque, the fabled café society haunt that used to occupy these rooms, as does the giant ceramic Art Nouveau bird sculpture. The charming portraits of well-dressed flâneurs that parade around the room’s perimeter above the mirrors were kept from Le Choux, the restaurant after La Côte Basque. Owner Alain Ducasse has added his own details, like the salvaged brass-edged milky glass dividers that separate the tables from an old Banque de France building. Antique carafes and liquor bottles from his collection line the bar and reception areas.

Just as Ducasse has honored the restaurant’s namesake, its predecessors and his own tastes in the décor, so does he pay homage to all three with the menu. You’ll find Benoit classics such as paté en croûte (recipe dates to 1892) alongside lighter, more modern renditions such as braised barbue with Champagne, asparagus and sabayon. The chocolate soufflé and vanilla millefeuille will please the La Côte Basque loyalists.

The private dining room upstairs competes with those at 21 Club (now closed). Ducasse found ornate 19th-century apothecary cabinets from an old pharmacy in Bordeaux and had them refurbished and installed in a second-floor room. They surround a glorious antique dining table and the hallways and meeting rooms bear the oil paintings of sailboats off the Basque coast for which the former watering hole was named.

Written by Melissa Biggs Bradley

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