Monday, July 25, 2011

Restaurant Week: L'Ecole Review

After six years in New York, I feel like a veteran Restaurant Week eater. Each time it comes around, there are new restaurants added to the usual roster, but the list of places I get excited to make reservations for is now often composed mostly of old favorites that I can rely on returning to for a good meal. But this time, a coworker mentioned that L'Ecole, the restaurant at the French Culinary Institute, was on her to-try list. So, I thought I'd check it out.

The space is lovely, elegant and comfortable. And the RW menu was extensive with many options for each of the three courses.

Lunch even began with an amuse bouche — a delicious potato and chive ball topped with crème fraiche and salmon roe.

The seasonal salad was better than your average boring mix of lettuces. It had watermelon radishes, shimeji mushrooms, pickled cherry tomatoes and sherry shallot vinaigrette that made it all a bit tart, in a good way.

The corn bisque with duck confit was slightly sweet and rich. The confit provided texture context and the richness of the meat paired with the soup wonderfully.

I loved the sauteed duck breast with a warm multicolored fingerling potato salad and sour cherry sauce. The meat was tender and the cherry sauce was a terrific complement.

The grilled hanger steak with Vidalia onion rings and creamed corn was also tasty, but it came to the table cold. I also thought the onion rings could have been crispier.

The fresh strawberry tart with balsamic creme fraiche, basil sauce and creme fraiche ice cream was a classic expression of summer sweetness. And it was delicious. The tart crust was buttery and the strawberries sweet. And the combination of the berry with basil and balsamic flavors is undeniably good.

The lemongrass rice pudding with peach sorbet and coconut-mango compote wasn't my kind of meal ender. But my dining companion enjoyed it. The peach sorbet had an icy texture though it was strongly flavored.

The service was polite, if not a bit poky. But overall, lunch at L'Ecole was quite nice and worth checking out.


  1. Anonymous4:19 PM

    didn't your dining companion have to ask for a coke refill 3 times, and it finally came right as the meal was ending?

  2. Anonymous4:20 PM

    oh i guess by "poky" you mean slow, like a slow-poke. i thought you meant"poky" as in they were poking at you, coming too often to the table to see how you were doing.