As my guest and I arrived a bit earlier than expected to Le Monde, we were pleasantly surprised that our quaint table for two was already set. With a rainy winter setting of the busy Morningside Heights streets as our backdrop, I was excited to begin our tasting. Our coats were taken and hung by the restaurant's manager and we were greeted with a warm welcome of hot bread and butter. First things first. With an extensive wine list and unique specialty drinks, my guest and I decide on two bellini martinis ($10 each) to start. Sweet, refreshing and garnished with a pretty lemon peel twist. Just what we needed to get our taste buds buzzing for our tapas selections (ranging from $7-$12).
Our waitress, Abby handed us a few menus and began to recommend her favorites of the tapas. She knew the menu inside and out and on top of being knowledgeable, was also sweet as pie. After looking over our options we decide to start with the goat cheese salad (a warm breaded goat cheese cake, roasted tomatoes, arugala, drizzled with olive oil and balsamic vinegar, $10.75). Included for garnish was toasted bread with spinach and cheese as well as a deep-fried parmesan cheese crisp. The warmth of the cheese paired perfectly with the peppery arugala leaves and sweet roasted tomato. This was a great start to what was in store. Abby suggested we try the goat cheese tempura for our first tapas. "Are you okay with trying more cheese?" she asked. If she only knew of my love affair with cheese. "Of course!" I quickly replied back. Out came a lightly warmed cheese puff. Inside was a sharper goat cheese drizzled with a berry marmalade. The fluff of the dough, the bite in the cheese with the mixture of sweet berries blew our minds. Every bite I held onto a little bit longer than the last. This dish could have even been good as a dessert. The homemade marmalade was sugary and had just enough punch to even out the sharp taste of the cheese and warmth of the tempura.
Next up was another one of Abby's suggestions. A sauteed foie gras taco garnished with shallots and truffled beets. The taco was lightly grilled and crispy. This was such a unique take on foie gras and came together so well in the initial bite. The foie gras was perfectly seared with a delicious crisp surface and the sweetness from the beets made the entire dish come together. This was my guest's favorite off the menu. More foie gras continued to top our cozy table for two. Foie gras duck sliders with sprouts and roasted tomatoes. A simple little slider was propped attentively in front of us. "What is on this burger?" asked my guest. "Nothing at all but delicious fat liver," I answered. This burger was flawless and trust that no bottles of ketchup or mustard would need to be brought to the table. I'd swear it to be a sin somewhere in the world of fine dining to top this savory meat with anything but our mouths.
The last tapas dish to arrive was our smoked tuna tartare. The tartare arrived plated in an upside down wine glass embodied with smoke. Once the plate was set in front of us the wine glasses were removed and a cloud of delicious smoked aroma hit our noses. It reminded me of my favorite BBQ smoke house I enjoy visiting on occasion, but there was no pork under these wine glasses. A finely chopped tuna steak with roasted tomatoes, garnished with sprouts and a cheese crisp was revealed. The tuna was seasoned just to my liking with peppery notes. This dish was light and fresh and exactly what we needed to end our tapas tasting.
Since the French are noted for their famous pastries and delicious desserts, I was excited when Abby gave us some of her favorites off the dessert menu. From the Mona Lisa (white, dark and milk chocolate mousse, flourless chocolate biscuit and chocolate glaze, $5.50) to the trio de creme brulee (passion fruit, raspberry and pistachio, $10.00), everything sounded appealing. But when I glanced over the crepe menu I knew exactly what I wanted.
A light and crispy crepe filled with sweetly poached peaches and topped with homemade vanilla bean ice cream, fresh whipped cream and drizzled caramel brulee. Another home run for Le Monde, I couldn't get enough of this dessert. My guest had her heart set on the tarte moelleuse au citron (lemon tart with lemon cream, lime mousse and crispy meringue, $5) but they were out. She then settled on the tarte aux fruits (assorted fresh fruit tart with almond cream, $5), which was just as delectable. Since we were in a brassiere coma we new a swift caffeine kick to the body was just what we needed. Le Monde has an extensive coffee menu offering everything from lattes to coffee drinks doused in chocolate liqueur. We both ordered the standard Le Monde cappuccino. Mine dressed with the cutest cappuccino bear art and my guest's sporting a lovely foam fairy. The sweetest of finishes to a perfect meal.
After finishing up our dinner I was excited to chat with Le Monde's manager and Abby, our waitress about Tour De France's Tapas Tuesday. They were happy to share that Tapas Tuesday will be permanent. Now, every Tuesday, a select few of Tour De France Manhattan restaurants will offer their customized tapas menus. For a complete list of restaurants and menus check out tourdefrancenyc.com. And, Le Monde is working on a Tapas Brunch. Think mini French toast, quiche, omelets and pancakes. Le Monde is opened Monday through Sunday. Breakfast (M-F) 9.00am-11.00am, Lunch (M-F) 11.00 a.m.- 5.30 p.m., Brunch, (Sat.& Sun.) 9:30 a.m. - 5:30 p.m., Dinner, (Sun. - Thur.) 5:30 p.m. - 12:00 a.m. and (Fri. & Sat.) 5:30 p.m. - 1:00 a.m.
Stop in for casual dining, coffee talk or my favorite, the delicious tapas.
Le Monde: 2885 Broadway, New York, NY 10025. To make reservations, call 212-531- 3939.