Saturday, February 18, 2012

Le Singe Vert - New York, NY

So when my good pal Joe of Foodie and Blogger fame sent me a note saying that he was heading to NYC from DC, I knew a little trip on the train was in order to meet up with him.  After going through a plethora of Manhattan options, he said that we must make a visit to Le Singe Vert, aka The Green Monkey.  So a trip on the NJ transit got me into Manhattan around 3:30PM, so I killed some time at Chelsea Market before heading back to 7th Avenue to meet up with Joe.

I walked in around 5:15PM, and they were just getting the restaurant in order, and ready for tonight's dinner service.  I was greeted by French hostess Melissa, and grabbed a seat at the bar, for a glass of Cotes du Rhone as I waited for Joe.  In this case it was an '07 Mas des Roches, and who can complain really at a NYC restaurant.

Joe arrived a few minutes later, and were were greeted by Chef Pascal.  He found us a table in the back right hand corner of the restaurant, and talked to us about a few of his specials tonight, and some things that we just couldn't pass up.

First up was the Chacuterie plate, and all I can say about this is wow!  This was absolute heaven, loaded up with prosciutto from pig raised in Missouri, a salami of sorts from New Jersey I think, and a ham of sorts from Virginia.  All 3 meats on this plate were to die for, however, the prosciutto melted in your mouth, and was absolutely amazing.  You can see that fatty prosciutto near the top at the picture, and words cannot describe this heaven.  There were also 2 pates, both made from pork if I remember correctly, and these are made in house and delicious.  The one on the left was the rillette, and had some great clove and cinnamon spice to it, while the one pictures above was amazing as well.  Add some crusty French bread, and this is something that I could nosh on several days a week for lunch, or even dinner.  Awesome.

From here, Chef Pascal sent out his famous steak tartare.  This could very well be the best steak tartare I have ever had.  Chef Pascal takes much pride in this dish, making it from raw filet mignon.  As a binder for the tartare, he uses his homemade cocktail sauce, and that adds a great element.  If you didn't know however, you would never guess there was cocktail sauce in there, so don't take that the wrong way.  This had some nice onion flavor as well, and was topped by a quail egg, which I poured right over the top.  Again, this was amazing, served with a side of French fries, and a small watercress salad.  Next time, I may be very tempted to make a meal out of this, as it was absolutely delicious.  The mustard that is served on the side of this is also fab, and has a great hot spiciness to it.  All in all, this dish is an absolute winner.

For entrees tonight, I was absolutely torn.  I really wanted to try the Cassoulet, especially at a restaurant like this, however, I was already starting to fill up.  Plus Joe said that he was going to order it, and I really didn't want to order the same thing, so we agreed that he could try some of my entree, and I could try some of his.  Needless to say, I am glad that we agreed to this!

This was a very traditional cassoulet, and absolutely delicious.  As fun as this can be to make at home, it just isn't worth the time when I can come here and have this for under $25.  This was a white bean stew base, with great tomato flavors.  It was then topped with some braised pork belly, duck leg confit, and a delicious pork sausage.  The flavors and seasoning here were right on, and this was a winner!  I would definitely order this again for all of the different elements, and that says a lot considering I am not a big white bean fan.

For my entree tonight, I went with the chef's recommendation, and ordered the New York strip.  He said that he is getting great cuts of meat right now, and for the price, in Manhattan even, this was a heck of a bargain.

The steak was cooked to a perfect medium, with a nice char on the outside, and a very juicy, hot pink center.  The flavors from the grill were very nice, and you could tell that this was no cheap cut of meat.  The texture and flavors melted in your mouth, and the Maitre de hotel butter on top wasn't even necessary, but it sure did add some nice flavor to it.  This too was served with French fries, and a side of watercress.  All the items were very nice, and at this point I was stuffed.

We ended up skipping dessert, because at this point we were stuffed.  Joe's good friend George ended up stopping by, and we hung out and shot the bull with Chef Pascal for a while, as we sipped our beverages.  At this point, I had switched to a nice Grenache, Carignan, Syrah blend, that was going down smoothly, and very nicely.

All in all, this was an absolutely fantastic dinner, and given the location, I think the pricing was extremely affordable.  It was nice to meet Chef Pascal, who was a great guy, and who has a true passion for food.  Having the opportunity to talk with a very talented chef throughout the evening is a bonus anywhere, but in Manhattan it is almost unheard of.  He obviously has a great staff who he can trust behind the line, and I think this restaurant is turning out some great French cuisine.

In short, I found a great new spot, with great ambiance, a nice selection of wines by the glass that you may not see on most wines lists, and great food.  If you are ever in the area, I highly recommend it, and I know that I will be back for the Chacuterie alone soon!  Cheers!

Le Singe Vert
160 7th Avenue (between 19th and 20th) in Chelsea
New York, NY
Phone:  (212)366-4100

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