I’ve already disclosed that East 7th Street between Avenue A and 1st Avenue is my favorite culinary stroll in the city. When I heard a new restaurant, Taureau, had been added into the mix, I couldn’t wait to try it out. Located only a mere few steps east from a fellow fondue establishment, the Bourgeois Pig, I was curious to see how this restaurant would differ. First of all, I learned that Taureau actually means “beef” in French, so clearly the beef fondue must be amazing. I was unfortunately there with my sister who doesn’t eat red meat, so I’ll have to save that for a subsequent visit. However, I can attest that the scent aggresively permeating the sidewalk in front of the restaurant’s doorway would indicate it can’t be anything but amazing.
I love fondue restaurants, but I typically find the service either to be generic and blase (my experience with chain fondue restaurants) or pretentious and aloof (local establishments trying too hard). I found Taureau a refreshing change, where we were greeted by the owner, who apologized for not saying hello as I waited out front for my sister. He also apologized for his strong French accent, which my sister and I found to be an addition to the charm of the establishment. The restaurant is BYOB and intends to remain so indefinitely (they’re technically in a soft opening phase, although Urban Daddy’s coverage has caused them to be slammed with patrons). They currently are cash only as they set up their credit card system, but they’ve confirmed that should be rectified shortly. It’s also a smaller restaurant, so I’d probably not recommend this for a group unless you’re planning to come very early on a week night.
For cheese fondue, we had a list of seven to choose from. There was the “Canadian” – a mix of Swiss and fresh goat cheese. Or the Cheddar Monterey blend. Or the “Soprano” – an Italian Gran Paddamo combined with a white American cheese. Or one of their simpler offerings – a 90 day aged Swiss. Or the Rocammadour, which uses Roquefort cheese and was promised to be nice and strong. Or the “Pyrennees” (I’d read was their signature) – a blend of white wine, garlic, and nutmeg. Or you could go with the “Perigord”, which took the ingredients for the “Pyrennees” and added truffles. The cheeses were mostly between $23-$29 per person for a pot to serve two. The menu also indicates this will change up as they will be making additions/adjustments over time.
Once you made your selection of your cheese, you have to decide if you need any additional items for dipping. The cheeses come served with a long dish for each patron with a generous portion of homemade garlic crouton squares (about 1.5″-2″ in width), a small oven-baked potato loaded with sour cream and chives, and a mixed green salad. The main downside I’d say in general with the fondue is that it doesn’t include veggies, as is the norm. For a nominal cost per item, you can include a mixture of veggies, fruits (we added apples for only $1.50), or even cubed chorizo (we didn’t have this but it looked amazing and for only $5 can add a touch of protein to your cheese – plus!). They will also bring you as many croutons as you want, so there may be no need to add in too much to the mix.
Our Pyrennees was amazing. Other places locally, such as the Bourgeois Pig, do not have the heating mechanism built into the table – so the fondue ends up lukewarm to start out and downright clumpy and cold at the end. I love my cheese, but I far prefer it warm and gooey for fondue. The tables at Taureau ensured the cheese maintained it’s warmth until the last bite was (sadly) gone. The garlic and nutmeg was plentiful, which I loved. Watch out as that garlic looked curiously like a bit of unmelted cheese until I ate a big chunk! I definitely recommend trying this cheese as it was a flavorful one to start out with. Next time, I’ll be adding in some chorizo for extra kick.
For dessert, I really appreciated the option for a full or half-size portion (the “petite”). There were two types of chocolate offered – Big Barry Cocoa Dark “Refined” or Barry Cocoa Au Lait (milk chocolate). It was $22.75 per person for a full portion or $9.75 per person for the half-portion. We went with the petite size milk chocolate fondue. The fondue is served with one fruit tray. The assortment depends on what is available each day. Ours included bananas, apples, pineapples, strawberries, dried figs, dried apricots, and mini marshmallows. The fondue was just the right degree of sweet and the fruit was extremely fresh. The owner was particularly concerned with what we thought of the fondue, stating he’s especially picky about his chocolate fondue. The chocolate was very milky. The only thing I’d say that would be an improvement would be maybe to add in some flavor options along with the fondue itself, but there’s something to be said for simplicity when it comes to chocolate.
Taureau’s stolen the crown of my fondue favorite. Fabulous food and impeccable service. I can’t wait to see where this restaurant goes once they’ve fully settled in to my favorite East 7th Street block. Kudos Didier Pawlicki! See you all again soon…
Taureau – 127 E 7th St (bet 1st Ave/Ave A) – 212.228.2222