Note: Frenchette is one of 10 finalists for our inaugural Best New Restaurant Award! We’ll announce the winner in mid-January. Until then, you can check out who else we nominated and learn more about our esteemed panel of judges. Thanks for reading and happy eating!
Frenchette has made itself right at home in Tribeca. It took longtime collaborators Lee Hanson and Riad Nasr (Balthazar, Minetta Tavern, Schiller’s Liquor Bar) nearly two decades to branch out from restaurateur Keith McNally’s shadow, but the duo’s brasserie already acts as a second home for the downtown Manhattan elite. Why should you book your reservations sooner rather than later? I’ll tell you.
The exquisite hors d’oeuvres steal the show.
These aren’t your grand-mère’s small plates. Here you’ll find bistro standbys with Manhattan sophistication. I died for the snails and sea urchin placed atop eggs soft and scrambled; my tender frog’s leg meat fell off the bone; and the gnocchi baked with Comté and thin slices of ham was wonderfully rib sticking. I could have easily made a satisfying dinner out of five different smaller portions.
But save room for the rotisserie lobster!
The tender, smoky shellfish with curry butter is the overwhelming gustatory and aesthetic showstopper here, but I also loved the brasserie standards like the duck frites, brick chicken for two, and veal sweetbreads.
You’ll be raving about the butter for days. Seriously.
Perfectly churned, subtly salted, and amply portioned to spread on every last nook and cranny inside your bread basket (which I did!): Frenchette’s is a serious contender for the best restaurant butter in NYC.
The decor is timelessly sexy.
And that’s because Brooklyn-based design firm The Springs Collective designed the space that way. Cream walls are accented with hand-stenciled florals; orange leather banquettes encourage lingering; and warm custom woodwork is presented throughout the room, from the long bar counter to carved pillars to arched doorways.
It is the definition of “buzzy.”
Retro jazz instrumentals can be faintly heard from the speakers, but energetic conversations—over organic and regional wines—coming from every which way will double as your soundtrack the moment you walk into Frenchette. And that’s a good thing.
You’ll want to linger for hours.
Such was the case for the couple cozied up in a bar banquette during my visit; they started the night nibbling on brick chicken and creamy mashed potatoes with their kids, and closed out the bar with a trio of their friends. (Don’t worry; a nanny picked up the kin long before closing time.) The temptation to stay from opening until closing will be even more irresistible when the bistro eventually launches all-day service.