Having opened more than a dozen places over the past 30 years – including Tribeca institution Odeon, Franco-American favourite Lucky Strike, swish Soviet speakeasy Pravda and the très chic but currently closed Pastis – chef and prolific restaurateur Keith McNally proves (yet again) that he’s still the undisputed don of Downtown dining with Cherche Midi, a smart bistro in Nolita serving up classic French fare in a laid-back setting of wine-lined walls, booth seats and subway tiles.
Offerings like fried frogs legs with garlic velouté, and parmesan custard with anchovy butter toast are perfectly prepared and wholly unpretentious, but it’s the meaty mains that really beef up the flavour profile with succulent dry-aged prime steak (finished with robust jus and puffed pommes soufflées), filet mignon au poivre and a rib burger boosted with umami-rich extras like bacon marmalade, roasted mushrooms and gruyère cheese. Pair that with Euro and local drops (the carafes are particularly good value) and ripened cheeses for a full savoury showcase, or sate your sweet tooth with old-fashioned comforting desserts like buttery crêpes suzette, exceptionally light raspberry soufflé and rich espresso-spiked pot de crème. The cherche for fine bistro fare stops here, mon ami.
282 Bowery / Nolita / +1 212 226 3055 / lunch Wed-Sun, dinner daily / cherchemidiny.com