Love haute Parisian or Lyonnaise, or Provençal cuisine? New York City has some memorable Gallic landmarks that have elevated French cuisine for discerning diners into the stratosphere. Haute cuisine is about studying and research as chefs trained in the school constantly innovate and search for new ideas.
The Michelin Guide started as a guide for motorists looking for a place to stay before including lists of restaurants. The guide introduced a three-star rating system in 1931 which grade 1-star as a very good restaurant in its category, 2-stars for the excellent cuisine, worth stopping by if you are driving nearby and 3-stars for outstanding cuisine, worthy of a special visit or trip.
This is a round-up of the Michelin star French restaurants in NYC, all of which guarantee not only a serious dent in one’s wallet but also a sublime meal. All served in beautifully appointed dining spaces with well trained and the best service staff money can buy. Haute cuisine prides itself as a new art form and the chefs are the trailblazers and practitioners.
All the restaurants featured in this post hold Michelin stars, so diners can expect to be blown away and swoon over their meals. Ready?
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- Per Se – Contemporary French – 3 stars
- Daniel – French – 2 stars
- L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon – Modern French – 2 stars
- La Jardinier – French Contemporary – 1 star
- Ai Fiori – French/Italian – 1 star
- Le Couchon – Classic French – 1 star
- L’Appart – French Contemporary – 1 star
- Carbone – Italian/US Italian – 1 star
Per Se – Contemporary French – 3 stars
Address: 10 Columbus Circle, NYC
With gorgeous views that every table can look out on, a Thomas Keller’s Per Se experience is to be savoured and enjoyed slowly. Diners will not forget the experience at this 3-star beautifully appointed French Michelin star NYC restaurant. The two menus (including a vegetarian) of nine courses end in a grand dessert. Think cappuccino semifreddo served with brioche doughnuts. Apparently, no single ingredient is repeated throughout the nine course meal!
Daniel – French – 2 stars
Address: 60 E. 65th St., NYC
Set in a neoclassical citadel with impeccably dressed tables, Daniel is the epitome of Gallic sophistication. Attention to detail is appreciated by patrons who are presented on leaving with a personal printed menu and a box of canelé to take home. There is foliage everywhere but patrons can opt to dine alfresco under pink canvas. With the French Rivera in mind, diners can enjoy a saffron-tinged bouillabaisse, generously stocked with superb seafood, cod and artichoke, baked in olive oil and draped over a lentil purée followed by a bright and sunny tarte Tropizienne bursting with ruby grapefruit-tinted cream.
According to the restaurant, Chef Daniel Boulud’s namesake restaurant offers a 4-course seasonal prix fixe menu whereas Chef Eddy Leroux presents a menu driven by the classical French technique featuring local seafood, vegetables and meats. They are happy to adjust menus to suit dietary requirements if enough notice is given.
L’Atelier de Joël Robuchon – Modern French – 2 stars
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Address: 85 10th Ave., NYC
Although temporarily closed at the time of writing, it is worth including this restaurant as the website indicates that they will be re-opening as the pandemic dies down. This fashionably-addressed restaurant promises first rate food, hefty prices, and the best pommes purée in town. With its pristine open kitchen and a dining room centred around a cherry wood counter, the space could be likened to a top Spanish tapas bar. Chefs use lavish ingredients in must-have dishes such as sea bass with fennel broth to spiced Long Island duck with young turnip. But the prix-fixe is the best way to sample the creative menu. Check the website regularly for updates on opening.
La Jardinier – French Contemporary – 1 star
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Address: 610 Lexington Ave., NYC
La Jardinier’s Chef Alain Verzeroli spent two decades crafting the menus of the late, great Joël Robuchon. La Jardinier is his first solo project. Located in an iconic tower designed by architectural heavyweights, Foster & Partners, this space is a green oasis, with tasteful olive-green velvet furnishings, green-veined marble flooring and lush plants everywhere. Diners start with an “amuse-juice” cocktail of vegetables and herbs. Even the ice cream is plant-based.
Signature dishes include Maine sea scallops with a carrot purée, snap peas, and grilled spring onion. This may be followed by a beautifully prepared whole lobster, sliced from its shell and served with a foamy bisque as well as tender, colourful potatoes smoked over cherry wood. A must-have dessert is the lemon tart with crispy meringue. The nouvelle cuisine menus use the highest quality vegetables and ingredients seasonable available.
Ai Fiori – French/Italian – 1 star
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Address: 400 5th Ave., NYC
Patrons access Ai Fiori by means of an elegant staircase or lift in the Langham hotel’s lobby on the famous Fifth Avenue. The space is all expresso-dark wood and wall to wall windows and a distinctive marble bar. Comfortable banquettes promise comfortable seating. The menu features Italian favourites touched with contemporary flair.
Pastas are sublime, so a must-have starter is the thin spaghetti tossed in a chunky tomato sauce infused with garlic, scallion, spicy Chili and sweet crabmeat. Seafood features strongly with Atlantic halibut crowned with yellow squash and purple radishes, or a plate of perfectly aromatic bouillabaisse. Ai Fiori’s menus celebrate modern interpretations of regional dishes from the Liguria and South of France. Ai Fiori features two private dining rooms that can be combined to create one large private room.
Le Couchon – Classic French – 1 star
Address: 138 Lafayette St., NYC
Edgy and uber cool, Le Couchon is one part Chef Daniel Rose, France’s favourite American expat, and Philadelphia-based power restaurateur Stephen Starr. Picture plush velvet chairs and chandeliers, with a view of the bustling open kitchen. Featuring classic French cuisine, Chef Rose infuses dishes with a powerful personality, resurrecting classic dishes fallen by the wayside.
For example, a selection of “gourmandises” (or more indulgent delicacies) showcases such exemplary classics as pike quenelles or sautéed sweetbreads paired with tomato crème. This may be followed by beef cheek and foie gras terrine in a sumptuous sherry vinaigrette. The rabbit comes in three variations and is a firm favourite. Daniel Rose began cooking simply because he liked eating.
L’Appart – French Contemporary – 1 star
Address: 225 Liberty St., NYC
Designed to resemble a Parisian apartment, guests may be forgiven for feeling like they’re at a private dinner party. Chef Nicolas Abello greets patrons at the door with a drink. Do try the canapés before moving on to the modern entrées. These include panko-crusted scallop with beurre blanc or sweetbreads with shiitake mushrooms. Flavours are rich but never overly so. The French Michelin star NYC chef favours market availability and seasonality so no two visits will be identical.
Chef Nico will also create a personalised menu for guests with food preferences and favourites, catering to all palates. Most ingredients are sourced from the Greenmarket in Union Square.
Carbone – Italian/US Italian – 1 star
Address: 181 Thompson St., NYC
A paean to Italian-Americana, one would almost expect a cast member from The Sopranos to make an entrance for lunch or dinner at Carbone. The menu consists of mid-century classics and staff offer loaves of garlic bread with fresh mozzarella. Spaghetti alla gricia is a must-try dish, as is the chicken scarpariello in a chunky pepper- and mushroom sauce. Meals are followed by a six-tier blackout cake.
Carbone was created by Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick who aimed to pay homage to the essence of the great Italian-American restaurants of the mid-20th century in NYC. These joints were simply elegant, comfortable and served delicious well-prepared fare. Classic dishes such as Seafood Salad, Linguini Vongole, Lobster Fra Diavola, Chicken Scarpariello and Veal Parmesan.
So gastronaughts, look no further than these top-rated (and top dollar) Michelin star French restaurants NYC has to offer. Bon appetit!