Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Excellent French Brasserie Cuisine at CAFE UN DEUX TROIS

review & photos: Miguel Dominguez

Owned by restaurant team George Guenancia and Gerard Blanes, who have had over 35 years of experience in the business from Paris to New York, Café Un Deux Trois is located half a block away from the constantly bustling Times Square, but one wouldn’t know it from the quiet, intimate and relaxed atmosphere one immediately experiences upon crossing the threshold from a very inconspicuous entrance.

Owner Gerard Blanes flanked by general manager Randy St. Louis
and maitre D' Michael Ratel

This authentic French Brasserie that recently celebrated its 35th Anniversary, features a very Parisian decor. Designed by Pierre Hittie, he preserved vintage decor and facades plus kept the original mosaic tile floor from the turn of the last century. He recreated globe sconces found from the original Hotel Gerard ceiling fixtures, crystal chandeliers, historic black & white fashion art photographs, additional columns and original stained glass windows. Only some of the Parisian mirrors were imported from France to add to the true landmark features.

Executive Chef Luis Gonzalez

The executive chef, Luis Gonzalez, offered a tasting of his best dishes. I began the repast with Bisque de Homard (Lobster Bisque,) a lighter version of the traditional cream based soup, but just as wonderful. The perfect compliment for this dish arrived as a basket of freshly house made warm baguettes. The second dish was a stunning dish of Crêpe Chèvre Epinard (two crêpes of spinach and wild mushroom with a creamy filling of Béchamel crème and goat cheese) served with a small mixed green salad with true Parisian Vinaigrette. The crêpes themselves tasted just like the ones my Mom taught me how to make. This was followed by Brandade du Morue, a ramekin of codfish and mashed potatoes flavored with thyme and rosemary, and baked with breadcrumbs and olive oil.

Bisque de Homard (Lobster Bisque)
Crêpe Chèvre Epinard (Crêpe stuffed with spinach
and mushrooms in a Béchamel and goat cheese crème)
Brandade du Morue (Codfish and mashed potatoes baked in a ramekin)
The heartiest dish presented was the Tendrons du Boeuf, a superbly tender braised short rib in Merlot Sauce, served with Polenta that was topped with a Mushroom Ragout, but the dish that took me straight to heaven was the French ham and Swiss cheese Quiche Lorraine, also served with a small mixed green salad. Never mind the deliriously delicious taste, it was the texture of the concoction—that of the most delicate of soft custards—that sold me more than the other exquisite food I tasted at Café Un Deux Trois. The cherry on top of the cake came with desserts, a large oval plate featuring Panna Cotta, a vanilla crème custard topped with fresh seasonal fruit and raspberry sauce, Petit Fondant au Chocolat, which is a warm, flourless chocolate cake in a puddle of Crème Anglaise, and a scoop of homemade vanilla ice cream resting in a Coulis.

Tendrons de Boeuf (braised short rib in a Merlot sauce)
served with Polenta topped by a mushroom Ragout
The Star of the Show for me, Quiche Lorraine
To quote Stewey from the TV comedy Family Guy, this dessert serving of
Petit Fondant au Chocolat, homemade vanilla ice cream in a Coulis
and Panna Cotta, created an "Orgy" in my mouth!
A favorite hangout of celebrities and VIPs, Café Un Deux Trois must be the only place to dine for “Broadway Babies” before or after the shows, although according to management, it is best to be there in the time span when the shows are running. Café Un Deux Trois is located at 123 West 44th Street, just around the corner from the heart of Times Square, so that patrons near the almost ceiling to floor glass wall facing the street may catch the Theater celebrities passing by—which is quite often, since Café Un Deux Trois abuts the Belasco Theatre, now showing End of the Rainbow. The cast and crew of the show make a habit of lunching and dining at the Café quite often.

The very gracious and attentive waitress
who looked after my every comfort, Claudia Janelle 
For fine dining on a lighter, but just as tasty, version of traditional French Bistro cuisine, with some creative dishes thrown in seasonally, Café Un Deux Trois is the kind of experience one must have at least once in their life…Only once? LOL!

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