Concept/Cuisine First Authentic French Brasserie in Harlem, NY
Executive Chef: Thomas Obaton
Chef/Partner: Matthew Tivey
Managing Partner Jerome Bougherdani
Location: 308 Lenox Avenue (between 125th and 126th)
Contact: (212) 289-5555
Menu Description: French Classics (salad nicoise, tuna tartare, steak tartare)
Beverages: Cocktails, Wine (by bottle & glass), beer, coffee, tea and soda
Ambiance: Charming classic French bistro décor. Warm and friendly environment suited for all types of diners.
Seating: Table Seating: 60, bar 10, outdoor seating 40
Private Parties: Yes, upon request
Special Promotions: Yes
Hours: Brunch 11 a.m.-3 p.m. (Sat-Sun)
Lunch 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. (Mon-Fri)
Dinner 5 p.m.-11 p.m. (Sun-Thu) and 5 p.m.-
Price Range: Main dishes average $Under $20
Signature Dish: Traditional Steak au Poivre and Papillote du
Credit cards: Yes, Amex, Visa, Mastercard
Take Out and Delivery: Yes
By Nancy Walman
With a menu featuring dishes such as onion soup, quiche Lorraine, poulet basquaise with French fries, calf’s liver with puree and pork shank with pomme darphin, you get the idea that Chez Lucienne takes its kitchen seriously, when it comes to French Bistro classics. And you’re right, but don’t miss sampling some of the elegant contemporary offerings like : tuna tartar with wasabi-spiked caviar, cucumber, red pepper puree, and parmesan cheese crisps. You won’t find a better version of this dish anywhere, although you’ll probably pay 50% more than the $12.95 price tag that Chez Lucienne charges (and that’s one of the most expensive appetizers). The escargots are garlicky and wonderful as well.
While Chez Lucienne may be the first and only French Brasserie in Harlem, the deep rooted kinship that Harlem and Paris have shared goes back many decades. Beginning after WWI, many writers, artists, and musicians who emerged from the Harlem Jazz scene, moved to Paris where they were accepted with open arms.
American Jazz was the fuel that drove the vibrant new cultural scene in Paris. Specifically in Montmartre: a thriving and color-blind community where people of all backgrounds and lifestyles came together to listen, philosophize, eat, drink and live. Many of these same musicians came out of the Harlem Renaissance and played the Harlem clubs such as the Cotton Club, the Lenox Lounge and Swing Street.
The Brasserie Spirit Comes To Harlem
Chez Lucienne, Harlem’s own French Brasserie, has been a hugely popular success ever since it opened its doors a mere six months ago. The Brasserie/café is historically a place where people of different walks of life come together to exchange ideas, be entertained, meet, and enjoy life over good food, wine and company. Chez Lucienne embodies and celebrates this spirit of food, drink, and commeraderie.
Executive Chef Thomas Oberton is from Lyon, France, and cooked with Guy Savoy in Paris. His talent extends to a Moroccan festival Wednesday nights complete with belly dancers (we hope to go back and do a report later on), The rest of the cast includes Chef/Partner Matthew Tivey have created a menu of classic French fare served in a very convivial and decidedly French ambiance that includes a spick and span room with wainscoting, ceiling fans and hanging bulb lights, exposed brick walls, green banquettes, set with sparkling white tablecloths, faux gas lights and a friendly bar that turns out first rate cocktails. The wine list is short and well priced, with loads of choices by the glass and the service is non-nonsense, friendly and helpful. The clientele is a mix of good looking locals and international types, who know a find.
In the entree department, you’ll find fresh seafood and a fine steak, but we loved a really authentic cassoulet toulousain, chunk full of sausages, lamb and duck and fascinating rendition of Quenelle de poisson or light-as-air sole dumplings in a zesty crayfish reduction with basmati rice.
The restaurant just hired a new pastry chef and the results show promise with a floating island, homemade ice creams and a tarte tatin the stars. A very special place!