News of a respectable restaurant opening on the Upper West Side is always notable. And Jacob’s Pickles proved a welcome addition indeed when it opened on Amsterdam a few years ago — serving southern-styled comfort food, craft beer and of course, plenty of house-brined pickles. Well, the affection seems to be mutual, as the eatery has proved faithful to the neighborhood with its reason expansion; debuting Maison Pickle a short jaunt away on Broadway.
Aside from a “nosh” of vinegared crudité, the pickle influence is negligible this time around. As for the “maison” part of the name, there is indeed a French bent to the menu, but don’t expect faithful renditions of bourride and quenelles a la Le Coucou. Instead, the lineup favors American appropriations of French foods, from gruyere-bombed onion soup and duck fat fries, to chicken and shrimp francese and smoked blue fish nicoise.
But it’s the French dip that’s been positioned as something of a maison specialty, with five different variations on offer. Owing nothing whatsoever to France (except for the banh mi-like bread), the entirely American invention is presented in its most classic iteration — boasting thinly sliced roast beef, doused in jus, with more on the side for dipping, as well as a restrained restaurant flourish of horseradish aioli and a side of pickled peppers. But that’s just the jumping off point — fried onions and fondue get thrown into the mix for the “Deluxe,” the “Cochon” swaps in pork as the protein, slathered in spiced apple compote, and there’s a “Lamb” entry as well, rubbed with sprightly mint chimichurri. And then there’s the “Royale,” which rings in at $37 (the “Classic is $18), but for legitimate reason; the whole thing’s crowned with fat, cross-hatched lobes of Hudson Valley foie gras.
Maison Pickle may have more kinship with over-the-top America than moderate France, but it’s certainly not lacking in joie de vivre.