Once in awhile we always hear about that one annoying kid in high school who wasn’t that great but somehow got into Harvard. Someone like a Jared Kushner. That’s how I feel about Frenchette, the critically acclaimed French bistro in Tribeca that’s been on many “Best of 2018” restaurant lists. On the surface, it looks very pretty and polished, and there were glimmers of brilliant potential, but the meal lost a lot of steam very early on.
At the beginning of our dinner, I did indeed feel as if I had a seat at the table of one of the best restaurants in New York City. We had ordered the spanish omelette, and I was really blown away by it. It was truly better than a lot of the omelettes I had at tapas bars in Spain, and I could envision this plate coming out of the kitchen of Barrafina, an excellent restaurant in London.
But it was downhill from there. The brouillade, which Grub Street billed as a “luxurious plate of eggs”, was certainly very rich, but in a much too extra type of way. It needed some texture to offset the soft mushiness, but instead they piled on some soft-bodied garlic snails, which only made things worse.
The duck frites is Frenchette’s signature dish, and in most cases, the house signature tends to be a sure thing. I tasted the duck wanting it to live up to all the expectation, but it didn’t. There are so many other impressive fowl dishes out there, like the duck at Vaucluse or the chicken at The Nomad. This didn’t even come close, and once again, I’m scratching my head at why everyone insists that the duck here is so amazing. And even more disappointing was how unspectacular the frites were. Balthazar brasserie frites, these were not.
I don’t even know what compelled me to order the vegetarian tagine dish, but since it was recommended by Pete Wells, I figured it must be worth a shot. While the prior dishes had been just disappointing, the tagine was flat out disgusting. I could barely get down the big chunks of root vegetables, and the fennel was especially challenging. I would not even recommend this to my vegetarian friends. Order a side of fries, but whatever you do, don’t get this.
To take a step back, the food at Frenchette is solid, just not mind-blowing like the critics make it out to be. If you want to eat in gorgeous surroundings with cool, downtown people, then Frenchette is not a bad choice. It’s still impossible to get an online reservation, but there usually are seats for walk-ins or at the bar earlier in the evening. And if you do get turned away by the hostess, no big deal, because it’s really not worth all the trouble.
241 W. Broadway (between White and Walker St)
New York, NY 10013