Keith McNally opened the doors to Cherche Midi (282 Bowery; 212-226-3055; cherchemidiny.com), his brand new French brasserie in the former Pulino’s space.
Instead of diving into the unknown, McNally is doing what he does best at Cherche Midi: A modern French-American bistro where classic French favorites meet NYC's downtown design and vibe. The pressed tin ceiling, hanging globe lamps, deep red leather circular banquettes white tiled walls were all present and accounted for.
The menu – presented on butcher paper, natch - features American twist on French bistro favorites. Think pan-roasted foie gras with rhubarb compote, mussels in a basil broth with broccolini, dry-aged prime rib, and homemade lobster ravioli in a ginger buerre blanc. There is one game changing entry: the burger. Already famous for the burgers served at Balthazar and Minetta Tavern, this is one dish that McNally really didn’t have to focus on, but he did. So he went big. The Carche Midi burger, officially called The Prime Rib Burger, was created with the help of Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors.
“Everybody wants to know what it is,” says Mark Pastore, the president of Pat LaFrieda Meat Purveyors told the NY Post. Pastore, who created the blend for Minetta’s $28 Black Lable Burger, also created Cherche’s special burger blend. It’s made up of a mix of aged prime rib (just like the one served as an entrée) and fresh prime rib. The grind here is slightly thicker than the average burger’s texture, so it’s a lot juicier and meatier than most. At Cherche Midi, the burger is topped with aged Gruyere, roasted mushrooms and bacon marmalade. Executive Chef Shane McBride says it took months of trial and error to get the burger and it’s toppings just right.
“The toppings came out of the fact that we wanted it to be different from the other burgers we do at the other restaurants,” says McBride.
The dish was the early fan favorite of friends and family Instagram posts. As was there bar where creative cocktails like The Flower of Scotland made with Henrick’s Gin, lemon, fresh basil and espelette syrp, and the Almost Midi - a mix of Wodka Vodka, Aperol and egg whites - are mixed up. A full lineup of Aperitifs, whiskeys, wines and beer are on offer, too.
The restaurant is not set up on Open Table yet but they are taking reservations the old fashioned way, with a two-week out window. Since this is a McNally restaurant, try your best at the prime corner banquettes for optimal see-and-be-seen dining real estate.