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Chat Noir

In the spirit of not just eating, but also of dining out in support of restaurant newcomers, who have chosen to brave the joyfully overpopulated restaurant world in hopes of making an impression on the city’s fickle palate, I snuck a peek at two of fall’s newest food arrivals: Chat Noir & Goblin Market.  Both of these two newbies, smaller than the recent crop of mega-restaurants and thankfully devoid of over the top decor and staff with headsets, make you want to root for the little guy, or in the case of Chat Noir, the little woman.  Here’s a look at Chat Noir (Goblin Market to follow next week):


22 East 66 Street (btwn. Madison & 5th Aves.)
Savory NY video

Classic French (seafood-heavy menu)

VIBE: A petite Balthazar with a feminine touch
OCCASION: Boutique retreat or UES social gathering 

Salade chat noir
Loup de mer

PRICE: $40 (with a cocktail)
HOURS: Dinner, Monday through Sunday, 5:30-11:30 PM; Lunch, Monday through Friday, 11:30 PM-3:30 PM; Cafe Dinner, Monday-Sunday, 3:30-5:30 PM; Brunch Saturday & Sunday, 11:30 AM-3:30 PM.

RESTAURANT GIRL RATES: (too new to review)
60 seats & 12 on the patio (now closed for the season)
INSIDE SCOOP: Their liquor license has just arrived!

FINAL WORD: If you’re on the UES, graciously accept Suzanne Latapie’s dinner invitation and let her play hostess for the evening.

After twelve years of running the show with her husband at ultra-sceney La Goulue, Suzanne Latapie has moved two blocks away, taking the chef, Sebastian Baud, and her loyal clientele with her, to open a French bistro of her own (they remain happily married).  With aspirations of luring Upper East Side locals and ladies who lunch, Suzanne creates a definitively feminine and warm French brasserie – dark wood floors, white walls & tablecloths, brass flower sconces, and a rotating collection of her husband’s personal art collection – which make you feel more like you’re dining in her home than a restaurant, albeit a fancy brownstone.

Though traditionally French, Chat Noir’s menu is generously smattered with seafood offerings, I suspect a female-friendly gesture, and as Suzanne herself points out, even the meat in the roasted saddle of rabbit is “fat free”.   Having dined at Chat Noir pre-liquor license, I was welcomed into her charming lair with a glass of champagne and partner, Quentin Dante’s sincerest apologies for the inconvenience.  I went straight for the highly recommended wild salmon tartare, a refreshing and superior variation dotted with diced celery, apples and grapefruit segments, encircled by a lively citrus vinaigrette.  Though simple, the salade Chat Noir was memorable; a colorful melange of shaved mushrooms, radish and arugula doused with a creamy balsamic vinaigrette.

Unfortunately, both entrees failed to satisfy.  While my dining partner ordered the steak frites medium rare, it arrived severely overcooked (beyond repair).  Instead, we focused our attention on the accompanying well-browned, sea salted french fries (I highly recommend them).  The loup de mer, a whole seared branzino with citrus vinaigrette, lacked that kick of flavor necessary to endure successive moans from nearby diners that often follow a head-on fish gesture.

I appropriately ended my meal with a homey and warm apple cobbler, partnered with a scoop of luscious vanilla ice cream.  It may not win any dessert contests, but it was a satisfying ending to the evening.

Until we eat again,
Restaurant Girl

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