Dirty French, NYC
May 12, 2015
Dirty French was opened last September by the hot team of Mario Carbone, Rich Torrisi and Jeff Zalaznick. They started in 2009 with Torrisi Italian Specialties on Mulberry Street. Then they opened Parm nearby. Parm is now expanding and may try to follow the big bucks Shake Shack model. In 2013 came Carbone, described by one reviewer as a Greenwich Village boom-boom room in which the massive platters of food and the animated tableside patter seemed like a new form of downtown street theater. Then came ZZ’s Clam Bar. Last September they opened Dirty French in the Ludlow Hotel on the lower east side. Linda and I went for dinner on April 11, 2015.
Dirty French is announced by large shocking pink neon signs on either side of the front door on Ludlow Street.
Dirty French’s website says: “The restaurant takes its culinary cues from the timeless dishes and preparations of the classic French bistro and enlivens them utilizing modern techniques and bold flavors.” One review interpreted this formula as: “Something Clearly French Under Heaps of Post-Colonial Exotica.” You will see below that was accurate.
We started with glasses of Pol Roger Champagne. Very nice.
This was followed by a bottle of 2009 Aurelian Verdet, 1er Cru, “Les Damodes” Nuits-Saint-Georges. Excellent. The wine list is exclusively French and quite expensive. They seem to be promoting cocktails, which resonate more with the young, hip crowd.
Linda’s first course was
FOIE GRAS, CRISPY BRIC, BURNT LEMON
A block of very rich foie gras was inside a pastry that resembled brick, but its “grilling” gave the pastry the consistency of a Chinese egg roll. The purée underneath had a tart apple taste. But given the official description, there was lemon tartness, too. The richness and tartness made Linda ask for some bread to eat with the foie gras. Thick slices of excellent grilled country bread soaked with olive oil were brought, which made the rich dish good.
TRUMPET ROYALE, GREEN CURRY
I ordered this as several reviews had highly recommended it, even though the combination did not seem plausible. And it did not work for me. The “millefeuille” of thinly sliced trumpet mushroom stems was a technical tour de force and was quite nice on its own.
Linda’s main course was
LAMB SADDLE, POTATO, CUMIN
The two large, juicy pieces of lamb with excellent texture and flavor were cut off the bone, which was left on the back of the plate along with small pieces of lamb. This very good dish could have been shared by two persons. Its name comes from the thinly sliced potatoes in front: Pommes boulangère originated in France centuries ago when people in rural areas did not own ovens of their own. On their way to church, women would take the Sunday roast of lamb, surrounded with sliced onions and potatoes, to the baker to be cooked in his oven. After mass they picked it up and took it home for lunch.
My main was
Duck à l’Orange
RAS EL HANOUT, PRESERVED ORANGES
There were two whole duck breasts, making this a substantial dish. I do not think that they achieved the crispiness of the duck skin that they, and I, were hoping for. The orange sauce with its Moroccan spice mix was good, but the dish did not live up to its high recommendations in the reviews.
Well, you may wonder why we went. Now I wonder too. We had been coming off a succession of really good little East Village restaurants: Tuome, Prune and Dieci. I thought this might be similar despite the hype. Linda’s two dishes were really very good. They lacked the pizazz that had impressed Pete Wells and other reviewers in the dishes I ordered, but not me. I was warned about the noise, but we went anyway despite the generational gap. Well, we have to try.