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LCB Brasserie Rachou


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Some people just can't seemed to quit. At close to 70 years old, Jean Jacque Rachou of the legendary La Cote Basque is re-opening another restaurant, Brasserie LCB, at the La Cote Basque location. The interior of the original restaurant has been revamped to resemble a Parisian brasserie, and the menu is lighter and more casual while keeping with the French tradition. This is a place where you can order one of the three tiered raw seafood platters, or that onion soup you've been dreaming of since the last time you left France. You can even get escargot here. There is an a la carte menu with prix fixe lunches at $25 and dinners at $39.-by Y. Yang

Brasserie LCB

60 West 55 Street

(212)688-6525

source: press release from Morse Partners

eGullet.com NY News Team

nynews@egullet.org with press releases, news reports, and food-biz gossip

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  • 2 weeks later...

Brasserie LCB is most certainly open for business. On a saturday night, the place was littered with the crowd from the former La Cote Basque. From what I gathered, the place is very different from its former La Cote Basque incarnation. According to the couple next to me the old La Cote Basque had a lot of private booth and alcoves. The new decor was more like a Parisian bistro with penny tile floors, dark leather banquettes and art nouveau lighting. Food is traditional French and, from what I heard, very similar to the old La Cote Basque food.

I started my dinner with an amuse made of puree chick pas and tomatos, which has a lot of flavors in a very small portions. Next, I had a crab salad on sliced mango toped with lobster and caviar for appetizer. The crabmeat was complimented by the sweetness of the mangos. While the caviar made sense as it sweetned the mangoes, the lobster seemed rather superfluous to the whole dish. My friend had the escargot, which was nice and garlicky with an interesting topiing of pine nuts. For entree, I ordered the Salmon which was marinated and served with citrus burre blanc. May be it was the combination of a fatty fish like salmon with a butter sauce, may it was the overly sweet orange slices placed around the salmon, this dish didn't work for me. Thebster are was not enough citrus to balance the fatty taste of the salmon and the butter sauce made the fish taste cloying. Meanwhile, my friend's lobster and shrimp fricassee was a lovely and rich dish, though I wouldn't have want to eat it in such great proportions.

Dessert was a grand marnier souffle and profiteroles, both solid comfort food. The service was excellent and the staff was extremely knowledgeable about the food and wine pairings.

Brasserie LCB raised several questions for me: Although the food was undeniably authentic French, and expertly executed, there was so much butter, cream and fat in each of the dishes that it daunted even a habitually unhealthy person like me. While there is an older crowd that sees this style of cusine as the essence of fine food, I think the younger generations of Americans are not used to eating like this. Even though, many of the four star restaurants in NYC are still decidedly French, these restaurants are increasingly being influenced by lighter mediterranean and Asian elements.

So, are Americans redefining the concept of "fine dining"? If so, has traditional french food become "old fashioned"?

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Bond Girl, I think you're right, just look at all those healthy dishes all over the place, butter poached lobster (at Per Se and Craft), pork belly at WD-50, a slab of seared foie gras at Bouley and maybe finish it all off with some Kobe beef at Megu? :wink:

edit:

More to the point, based on one visit, Brasserie LCB delivers some excellent and authentic traditional French cooking (one particularly lovely dish is their pig's trotter meat with foie gras) at reasonable prices for the neighborhood and settings.

Edited by Orik (log)
M
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I just saw a picture of the new restaurant in this week's NY Magazine. The problem I had with La Cote Basque is still there and that was the proximity of one table to another. I don't want to hear anyone's conversation and I don't want them to hear mine.

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Mr. Rachou is not fussing with French staples or fusing them with other types of cuisine, in the fashion of the times. He is not delivering them at bargain prices: that duck is $31 and that lamb $32. He is not trying to give the brasserie a funky, glamorous or youthful spin, à la Balthazar or Pastis.

He is betting that the brasserie's traditional virtues and dishes are timeless. This is a bit of a gamble, and it won't pay off if the service doesn't become much more attentive than it was during my visit, when I waited a good 20 minutes after asking for the check.

LCB Brasserie Rachou (Frank Bruni)

Soba

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. This is a bit of a gamble, and it won't pay off if the service doesn't become much more attentive than it was during my visit, when I waited a good 20 minutes after asking for the check.

LCB Brasserie Rachou (Frank Bruni)

Soba

That's pretty wild. I had great service at Brasserie LCB. To my great embarrassment, my friend had one too many to drink and was flirting shamelessly with the maitre'd. Thinking back, may be that was why we had great service. It was embarrassing though...

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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In my opinion, definitely not three. They might be shooting for two, but I don't think they achieve even that. I've had 3 meals here recently, with enormously varied results. The inconsistency shown by this restaurant is the most extreme case I've encountered. I had a glorious lunch, followed by an absolutely horrible dinner the following week, and another bad dinner just a few days later. I plan to return for lunch one more time to see if the anomaly is based on the dinner service, but I suspect I got lucky with my first experience here.

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This is definitely not two stars. I would probably put it at a one star category. The food is not contemporary enough and many of the details in the restaurant needs to be ironed out.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Ya-Roo, what does "not contemporary enough" mean (enough for what?), and why is that important to you? It's obvious that this place is concentrating on classics, right? That being the case, isn't the real point how well or poorly they're making them? It seems to me that those who don't want to have classic dishes should simply go elsewhere.

Details of service and so forth are another issue.

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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I think food is an evolving art form, even our concept and definition of what is "classicism" evolves over time. As a musician, you are probably more familiar with the evolution of classicism than anyone else here. And, understand that it is in the subtle change of nuances of that re-interprets the classics, while in keeping with the true spirit of the art form.

The problem with LCB's food is that it seemed rather stuck in time. Take the appetizer I had for example, you get a very giant silver martini glass with a lump of crabmeat sitting on a bed of fanned out mango slices. On top of the crabmeat, you get another huge lump of lobster meat, and on top of that you get a dollop of caviar decorated with a tall sprig of chives. It's all very impressive looking. And, I'm sure that many years ago, this is the sort of dishes that people go out to dinner for. It puts together three or four ingredients that used to be considered "rare" and "expensive", so the customer is wowed by the sheer excess of the dish rather than the way the dish tasted. They can turn to their fellow diners and say "Look! I'm getting crabmeat! And, Lobster! and Caviar!"

Now with internet, global economy, overnight deliveries and vast agri-farming, you can practically get anything you want at any given point in time. It is no longer an impressive thing to put crabmeat, lobster, and caviar on a bed of mangos. With the exception of Caviar, you can basically find all the ingredients in your local supermarket and if you really want to you can mail order the caviar and have it sitting on your door steps by the next day. So, the diners now re-define their sense of classicism. Instead of being wowed by the whole combination, they are asking question like: What am I tasting? Is it crabmeat, the lobster or the caviar? Why put a sweet fruit like mango with a sweet meat like crab? How many grams of carb is in there? Should I be worried about my cholestral level? And, what's this tuft of chives doing here?

Like a Chanel suit, bell bottoms, or the mini-skirt, you can bring back the classics, but they have to be slightly different each time you bring them back.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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Ya-Roo, I get part of your point about formerly wowing presentations no longer being all that, and if you find a dish wanting in terms of taste, classic or not, it's an unsuccessful dish (or its execution is wanting). But I really think people worried about their carb and cholesterol ingestion should stay away from a dyed-in-the-wool classic French brasserie. It would be like going to a place that specializes in New York cheesecake and looking for a low-fat, low-carb version. What's the point? If you're looking for low-carb, low-fat foods, you are clearly not part of the target audience for this place.

Edited by Pan (log)

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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Steve Cuozzo reviews Brasserie LCB in today's New York Post, awarding 2 1/2 stars:

This place has done the impossible, evolving from venerated but archaic haut-French temple La Cote Basque into an endearingly antiquated brasserie without making a joke of itself in the process. It's no contemporized number like Artisanal or Orsay, but the real escargot, steeped in old-school Gallic excess.

Longtime owner-chef Jean-Jacques Rachou banished every trace of La Cote Basque's famed murals and plush carpeting. Pumpkin walls with wood trim and floral sconces now frame a sea of shiny black leather banquettes. Period fixtures from Paris, a towering 1865 majolica heron and wall cameos inspired by 19th-century cartoons scream, "Belle Epoque."

... ... ...

I rarely review a place open only a few weeks. But Brasserie LCB has the same kitchen team as La Cote Basque and an eerily familiar menu (now à la carte) from chef de cuisine Xavier Mayonove. Traditional starters thrill, like aromatic Marseille fish soup ($12.50) and bacon-rich quiche Lorraine ($12.50) that for once is firm, not runny, under a sparkling crust.

The menu's heart lies in meat entrees in some of the thickest sauces west of Lyon. Pork tenderloin ($29) weds provincial heartiness to Parisian refinement, the buttery pork permeated with the heft of savoy cabbage and smoked bacon.

... ... ...

So why not three stars? Every seafood entrée I had was poor, even Dover sole — a $40 fiasco, overcooked and flavorless.

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  • 1 month later...
But LCB Brasserie Rachou stumbled repeatedly with its curtain raisers and curtain calls. It should stop trying to amuse anyone's bouche. One night, it started my friends and me with deep-fried seafood croquettes that resembled something from the frozen goods section of the supermarket. Another night, a crab and monkfish mousse tasted precisely like tuna salad with Russian dressing. A seafood salad appetizer that followed had been subjected to the same cloying treatment.

LCB Brasserie Rachou (Frank Bruni) (from the DIGEST update for 1 September 2004. Scroll down for the appropriate link.)

It seems that the dream of La Côte Basque doesn't translate well to modernity.

Soba

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May be my palates got screwed up in my ripe old age, or may be it was an off night. I was sick with the cream sauce and butter from that place. I simply don't find the food modern enough, everything there seemed too excessive. While the road of excess may lead to the palace of wisdom according to some, this one is morelikely to land you in some cardiologist office without the taste to make up for it.

Ya-Roo Yang aka "Bond Girl"

The Adventures of Bond Girl

I don't ask for much, but whatever you do give me, make it of the highest quality.

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We ate there a month or so ago. While I wouldn't call it a destination or anything of the sort, it may be the finest example of classic French Bistro food in the city. The bouillabaise was excellent, as was the cassoulet, for which LCB was justifiably famous.

It's worth going for these dishes alone - sadly, the other, less classic dishes don't fare nearly as well.

I want pancakes! God, do you people understand every language except English? Yo quiero pancakes! Donnez moi pancakes! Click click bloody click pancakes!

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I think food is an evolving art form, even our concept and definition of what is "classicism" evolves over time. As a musician, you are probably more familiar with the evolution of classicism than anyone else here.  And, understand that it is in the subtle change of  nuances of that re-interprets the classics, while in keeping with the true spirit of the art form.

.......

Like a Chanel suit, bell bottoms, or the mini-skirt, you can bring back the classics, but they have to be slightly different each time you bring them back.

Actually, classical music doesn't really evolve much at all. New pieces in more modern styles are created, but the old pieces pretty much stay the same (except perhaps for exact details of the instrument they are played on). Bach hasn't been revised much lately....and the execution of a performance is generally not linked to the time in which it is played....rather old performances are pretty hot re-issues...heard any Toscanini recently? Those close to 60 year old recordings sell pretty well.

More to the point, I think cooking evolves a little less than you think. Or if you think it has to be new and modern to be good, I hope you don't eat any of the following, all of which have had standardized recipes for at least a 100 years:

Vanilla ice cream.

Water.

Many breads.

Most cheeses, other than processed types.

Butter.

Olive Oil.

Roast Chicken.

A beefsteak (Porterhouse is probably named after a tavern in Cambridge, MA)

Corn flakes.

Hot pepper sauce.

A chocolate bar.

Hot biscuts

Pancakes

Many soups.

Varying the sauce doesn't count. I have a decent old cookbook collection and you would be amazed at how many "new sauces" are in hundred year cookbooks.

I'm bored, and probably so are you.

It's true that over time cooking tastes change, partly in reaction to new ingredents. But not always. 15th century cooking in England used all kinds of spices that you would think of as a middle eastern influence--- for example, they put rose water on all kinds of things.

Sure, cooking changes. But just because its old doesn't make it bad. And it doesn't have to revised to stay in the market. I think top chefs like to invent "new" things for several reasons. One is that new things are fashionable, and to a certain market segment, that makes them good and attracts business. This ties back to the "What's a four star review" thread....people expect top places to be innovative....I think that is an example of peoples want Limoges....which by the way Sears sold by the barrel in 1900. High end dining is as much about fashion as it is about the taste. That is why people will spend $200 on dinner, even though my $3 bowl of soup is better than some of things I've had at Bouley lately---he has the Limoges. (Ok, so I crossed threads). My more cynical reason reason is that new cooking makes it tough to compare!!!! We can all argue about who has the best porthouse in town----it's harder to argue about the most recent emolusion from Jean-Georges. And I think chefs like difficult to compare food---it makes them better. My Japanese friends make the same point. I have one Japanese friend who grew up in Tokyo and was lucky enough to have the type of job where she ate out in fancy places on a regular basis---she knows what places like Sugiyama and Masa are supposed to taste like---unlike the rest of us.

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Todd, I disagree in several ways with your remarks about classical music, but I shall refrain from going further down that tangent. I agree more with your remarks about food (though I wonder whether that reflects my lesser degree of knowledge about food history and cuisine as compared to my knowledge about classical music).

Michael aka "Pan"

 

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May be my palates got screwed up in my ripe old age, or may be it was an off night. I was sick with the cream sauce and butter from that place. I simply don't find the food modern enough, everything there seemed too excessive. While the road of excess may lead to the palace of wisdom according to some, this one is morelikely to land you in some cardiologist office without the taste to make up for it.

It's very easy to compose a meal at LCB with little (or no) cream or butter in it, just as easy to compose a low carb meal. I can't see how ordering a raw platter and steak there is any different than at other brasserie/bistro places in the city. Looking back at a meal there, there was only one dish out of four that had any cream in it.

I think you're trying to push an idea here of some imaginary modern, healthy cuisine, where flavor is obtained without the use of luxury ingredients or fat, but when you look at dishes served in top nyc restaurants, you'll see that idea has little to do with reality.

M
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