Serge Bistro recently opened it’s second location on 1099 Second Avenue at 58th Street and hosted an Experimental Press Dinner to celebrate! I was lucky enough to attend and sample some of the tasty treats on the menu, which included fresh bread, pate de Campagne with Cognac and French pickles, onion soup gratinee, feuillete aux champignons, frog legs persillade in garlic butter, grilled striped bass in a green sauce, lamb shank Provencal with risotto, and champagne and wine to pair! The meal was followed by a dessert assortment of profiteroles, chocolate cake, lemon tart, ice-cream and freshly brewed coffee. (photos below)
When I first walked in I was greeted with a sparkling glass of champagne, a smiling Chef Serge, and offered some pate de Campagne as a starter. This French Chef is well known for his characteristic personality of cheerfulness and charming hospitality. Born in Somain in the North of France, Chef Serge started working int he business at the age of 13 where he multi-tasked as a waiter and in the kitchen, while at the same time attending school. He has worked in numerous restaurants, including the popular restaurant at the Hotel Royal in Nice, France. He left France exactly 12 years ago and arrived in NY not knowing a word of English and in the quest to do something different. “It was a difficult time,” he recalls, “today I have 44 years of being in the restaurant business and I love the job”.
The atmosphere was warm and welcoming as I sat at the small bar with the other members of the press (you can see it on the back left of the photo below). After a while, we headed over to the table where we enjoyed a wonderful evening of food and conversation over a nice glass of wine. Or two. Or three.
Appetizers: Onion Soup Gratinee, Feuillete aux Champignons, and Frog Legs Persillade in Garlic Butter
I love French Onion Soup and this little number was melt in your mouth delicious! I have a bad habit of peeling all the cheese off of the dish when I’m done – I won’t stop until it’s all gone.
Or until someone puts a pastry puff filled with savory mushrooms in front of me.
Now I’m not saying that I wouldn’t eat frog legs; I’ve eaten plenty of other interesting foods like alligator in the Everglades and bison in the Rockies, but as anyone who knows me knows, I’m allergic to garlic. So, I had to pass on this one. Looked and smelled delicious though!
Entrees: Grilled Striped Bass, Green Sauce paired with Sancerre Les Marennes, 2011
This was really good. The Bass was fresh and flaky and the sauce was delicious and lemony. It will be on my list of entrees to order when I go back.
Lamb Shank Provencal with Risotto paired with Chateau du Bousquet Cote de Bourg, 2009
Granted at this point, I can barely take another bite, but it is very hard to resist this dish. I was only able to get about half way through, but was disappointed in having to leave any on the plate! Like the Sea Bass, this is a dish that I would like to have again.
Dessert: Assortment of profiteroles, chocolate cake, lemon tart, and ice-cream.
I took a nibble of each to sample and again, was sad to leave the rest on the plate – If those desserts were in front of me right now, they would be gone in minutes!
1099 Second Avenue at 58th Street
165 Madison Avenue between 32nd and 33rd Street
About: Serge started working as a waiter in NY, and after 2 years of saving, was able to buy off the restaurant. The old Cafe Creme was revamped and changed to Serge Brasserie. Chef Serge has been on top for 9 years, serving customers traditional French cuisine in a family feel candle lit dining room with white tablecloths and a quiet and comfortable setting.
This month, Chef Serge has taken a new challenge with the opening of his second restaurant.Serge Bistro on 1099 Scond Avenue. Serge Bistro is a 48 seat restaurant with a similar traditional French menu but on the lighter side and with a modern twist. “As with Serge Brasserie, I want to offe the same family feel in my new home, to build strong customer relationships like one tI have nested her” he adds.
Serge Brasserie is one of New York’s best kept secrets, where diners get quality at an affordable price. Highlight menu items include Scallps Provencal style, perfectly seared and soft to the bite in a balanced tomoto sauce infused with garlic and herbs. The Coq au Vin Old Fashion is tender, the meat falls right off the bone, braised in a rich and flavorful . Desserts are a special treat too, such as the Profiteroles au Chocolat Chaud, Ile Flottante, Lemon Tart, and Salade de Fruits Frais et Sorbet. Another highlight is the wonderful service, where attention is a priority. Servane has been working since the opening of Cafe Creme in 1996 and knows most of the customers by their name.
“People like me because I’m crazy” comments Chef Serge between laughs; he then gets serious and adds “I try to give them the best – every time”. Serge Brasserie serves the best French food in Murray Hill, and now Midtown East will get its spot too, with Serge Bistro wine base.
Note: I have a photo of Chef Serge on my desktop, which I will post when I am back home in NYC!