The closing of Pastis left many a fashion exec wandering the streets aimlessly. The city was worried. Luckily, the McNally Ark has saved them, and reinvented the old Pulino’s space into a bright, chic French spot on the East side. The facelift is subtle, in the “did you do something to your hair?” type change. The vibe is its namesake: Parisian chic, with pale pink table cloths and off-white tiled ceiling. We were lucky enough to go to a friends and family tasting last night, and basically ordered the whole menu in order to do some proper dining out recon.
The menu is subtly intimidating (frogs legs–which were tasty but had a lot of little bones… good if you like a strong crunch) yet welcoming (burger, prime rib, peppercorn filet mignon–phew! you’re still in America). Price points seem to be a little on the high side, but the clientele who will inhabit this space will be used to it. After all, they did just make the journey from West to East. Menu highlights: grilled sardines (amazing) beet salad (elegant), peppercorn filet mignon (incredible), and the burger, which is ironically one of the best things on the menu. Sacré bleu! Desserts were also amazing–our favorite was the lemon tart which was light and clean.
Interesting in that there were no raw bar options. I wonder if this is to differentiate Cherche from Balthazar, which is smart. There are many fish options on the menu which we will try on our next visit after feasting through the carnivore options.
Overall, we loved the new bright modern French décore. Whereas Pulino’s felt almost aggressively loud, Cherche’s color palette is more muted and subtle. The banquette style seating and oversized flower arrangements creates a relaxed atmosphere that will keep people lingering around for hours. By day, I envision high fashion and literary types seated in their favorite corner, munching on sardines and frogs legs while reading Le Monde through their Selima Optique chic glasses. By night, ditch the glasses, slap on some lip gloss and enjoy the hustle and bustle. This will be the new place to see and be seen. Corner banquette tables and the few round tables in the front will be prime real estate.
Cherche Midi has enough uniqueness for the picky New Yorker. The food is upscale but cozy, with simple presentation. We loved the little cast iron pans for the sides and the no-fuss style for the main dishes. Food wise, everything we sampled tasted fantastic and we suspect that the Cherche burger will generate its own cult following. Cherche is a great revamp for the Bowery, and we foresee loyal crowds parked here day and night once they open the gates.
Cherche Midi (pronounced ‘shar-sh-medd-ee’)
New York NY 10012
Tel. +1 212 226 3055