A friend of mine is attending the French Culinary Institute and we’d been saying for forever that we were going to try out the restaurant associated with the school, L’Ecole.
There are two options: one is an earlier seating between 5:30 and 7PM with a $42 prix fixe four course meal, and the second is a later seating between 8 and 9PM and is also $42 prix fixe for a five course meal.
The meals prepared for the earlier seating are done by the chefs who teach at the school and the four courses include a choice of appetizer, entrée, pre-dessert, and dessert. The later seating is prepared by the students of the school and the five courses include a choice of appetizer, fish course, meat course, salad, and dessert. That’s a mouthful, but in a paragraph, that’s how it works!
We opted for the four course option, curious to see how the food was prepared by the teachers (and also because personally, I’ve never done more than three courses). I have been to very few French restaurants, so I was a little perplexed when they brought out the amuse bouche
, which I learned is always touted to be “compliments of the chef”. I must say, I agree with Cindy Adam’s recent assessment
of this gesture. As much as I wanted to be able to share with you what was included, I realized after the server rattled off the long list of ingredients that was not going to be happening. My apologies.
They had an interesting assortment of options for appetizers. I wanted something light, figuring there would be quite a series of food to follow. I went with the Heirloom Tomato Salad, which was made with feta cheese & corn vinaigrette. It was essentially slices of three different types of tomatoes (two red, one green) accented by small squares of feta cheese and a vinegrette which had a slight hint of corn about it. I though it was a perfect way to begin the meal. Very fresh and definitely light. The fresh corn soup, which was topped with lobster and pancetta also looked excellent.
For my entrée, I opted for the grilled skirt steak, which was served with cream spinach, roasted cipollini onions, and french fries. It was served with a trio of sauces, including chimichurri and béarnaise.
Following our entrées, we were served a pre-dessert, which was an assortment of sorbets – coconut, mango, and peach. For something seemingly small and perhaps insignificant, I thought their sorbet was excellent. One can only hope this is their regular option on this menu. The coconut was subtle and the mango a bit strong and too tart — however the two were excellent when eaten side-by-side.
For dessert, our group opted to each choose a different item on the menu. The crème brûlée (Le Cirque style) was probably my least favorite of the options. It was more generic and did not shine in comparison to others I’ve had (at a much lower pricetag).
The highlights were definitely the cheesecake and the cobbler. The Yuzu cheesecake was amazing, and was prepared atop a macadamia nut crust. This made the crust a little sweeter and also meant it was one of the times I wouldn’t have minded a thicker crust, even at the expense of sacrificing a little on the cream cheese. The white grape cobbler was equally amazing, in part because I had never seen grape cobbler on a menu anywhere else. The lemongrass ice cream was such a contrast to the rest of the dish, but somehow the zing of the lemon paired nicely with the subtle flavor of the grapes. My friends and I plan to come back and try the five course option next time.
L’ Ecole – 462 Broadway, between Grand and Broome – 212.219.3300