Saturday, January 19, 2013

A Groupon virgin's experience in a French house

Two of my Japanese students recently ended their studies at Zoni. One had to work full-time, and the other is soon returning to Japan. They, along with a student from Korea, have become my friends and we had gone out on photo safaris or drinking in New York izakayas. I have learned so much from them in terms of food, culture, language. It was time to say our farewells, and for a change, they wanted to try French food. Knowing it could be expensive, even at bistros, I turned to the internet for deals, and ended up at the Groupon website. I found a good deal from Maison: $80 for 4 people, inclusive of an appetizer, entree and a glass of wine.

Maison has a cozy interior and a casual vibe
When we got to the restaurant, we were immediately attended to by a very nice and friendly server (I forgot to ask for her name). I thought that we would be given a set menu with limited choices. Instead, we were given the full menu and told that we could order a dessert in place of the appetizer or entree. What a pleasant surprise. There were some excluded items, like the charcuterie plate, the seafood items and the rib, and the salade Nicoise was considered an entree. My three friends decided on the steak, salad and calamari, and I the goat cheese tart and bouillabaisse. We were given the usual bread basket with two pats of anchovy butter. Although the butter was good, the bread wasn't. Made me miss the bread basket of Sala in Manila. 

We were each served a demi-carafe of the house Bordeaux, which I thought was a nice touch. 

Goat Cheese Tart
Our food arrived shortly, and although I liked the presentation of my goat cheese tart, I wasn't too happy with the tart, which was obviously pre-baked, and therefore ended up on my plate hard with burnt edges. I just scraped the cheese and caramelized onion from the crust and ate the dish as a salad.

Calamari with Aioli
My bouillabaisse was good, and I particularly enjoyed the savory broth and the garlicky rouille, but I would have preferred a bigger chunk of fish (cod I think). I suspect I was served the scaled-down Groupon version because my bowl was small with a puny serving of seafood (with shrimp instead of lobster). The fish was a bit rubbery, so I soaked it in the broth, and it turned out OK. Last night was a particularly cold night, which is why I chose soup over a heavy dish.

Hanger steak with really good mashed potato

Steak Frite. Deadly.

Clafoutis with Pistachio Ice Cream
I love crema on my coffee, and nothing else
We unwisely ordered dessert (not part of the Groupon). Not that the dessert selection was bad, except that we were just too full. Still, there is always room for dessert and I was delighted to see clafoutis in the menu, because the first and only time I had tried it was back in the 80s, a very good homemade version (using canned cherries, but I didn't complain). Maison's was disappointing. It had more flan than cherry. The flan tasted good, but I would have wanted more cherries. It is a clafoutis, after all, not a flan with cherry garnish.

Apple crepe
I should have ordered this sundae
I got to try my friends' dessert: a very simple but very good chocolate and vanilla sundae served with a yummy ganache, and an apple crepe, also good, but too heavy after a meal of calamari and steak.

Overall, I would do Groupon again. We each paid $42, with tips, for our very sizeable meal. I probably would go back to Maison, but order different things. It was crowded, and tables are set close together, so forget privacy. The table next to ours was occupied by a couple, and the guy kept on in a loud voice, as if he were in a sports bar instead of a bistro, and peppering his speech with salty words. There is a private dining area upstairs for bigger groups. 

1700 Broadway Ave (at 53rd and 7th Ave)
New York, NY 10019
(212) 757-2233



If you like to eat well, live well, listen well and have the patience to go through my kilometric but hopefully entertaining blogs, then this is the page for you. I chose EATERSHIP because it sounds like "leadership," and because if you jumble it up, it could also read "hip eaters." Eat and read on!