Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Le Grainne Cafe

It was a shame that we only ate at Le Grainne Cafe (located at 183th Ninth Avenue) just a few days before we moved out of the city. It would have been our perfect neighborhood brunch spot.

It's a sweet and simple Parisian bistro in Chelsea. It really does look like it could be in any street in Paris.

We were seated right by the counter/kitchen, which was torture since we had to see and smell all the delicious foods being brought out. Our seats also gave us a perfect view of how hard the guys in the tiny kitchen work. It looked like only one or two guys were doing the cooking, which explained why it took so long for us to get our food. Although it took awhile for our food to hit our table, the chefs were working as fast and diligently as humanly possible. Like most restaurants in New York City, the chefs and people that cooked our food - whether French, Italian, or Chinese - were Mexicans. We were impressed with what was going on in the kitchen - when they weren't cooking or plating, they were cleaning or organizing. Basically working their asses off.

This fresh bread saved us.

We absolutely loved Le Grainne's menu, which was simple but savory. It was like taking me back to France: French onion soup, cheese plate with fruits, pate, snails with garlic butter sauce, croque monsieur, croque madame, warm spicy lamb sausage on baguette, and crepes (sweet or spicy sausage, goat cheese and leek, smoked salmon with fresh basil cream and grilled vegetables, butter sugar with ice cream). We noticed everyone was ordering Moules. If not for the price, we would have loved to order the Provencales Moules (mussels in white wine, shallot, garlic, and fresh herb sauce with tomato concassees, black olives, and pesto). The fiance, trying to lower his cholesterol and be healthy, could only order the Salad Nicoise (grilled tuna, boiled eggs, roasted peppers, potatoes, string beans, black olives, and anchovies on a mesclun salad, $14.00). Although it was hard for him to eat this while smelling butter and everything cholesterol-unfriendly in the restaurant, he enjoyed this fresh, filling and pricey salad.

I ordered the Saucisson Beurrer (handmade sweet sausage and butter on baguette, $8.75). The baguette tasted out-of-the-oven good, the sausage was delicious and was perfectly complemented by the rosemary. We've since tried to recreate this at home.

We ended our meal with a great Cappuccino, $3.50.

We went to Le Grainne Cafe around 2:00 PM on a weekday and it was still pretty crowded, so we know this place gets crazy during weekend brunch. One thing we found amusing while people watching at Le Grainne were how many people were drinking champagne and mimosas in the middle of a weekday. We watched a young man near our table polish four glasses of champagne before he received his food. Yup, it was like being back in Europe - people drinking at all hours of the day, enjoying themselves, not working, eating good food. The life.

Le Grainne Cafe is a wonderful place to go for simple French classics. We love that they serve breakfast all day. We bet just ordering their basic Petit Dejeuner Continental (tartine, croissant, chocolate croissant, orange juice, fruit and coffee or tea, $13.50) is splendid. We can picture a writer going to Le Grainne Cafe to enjoy a cup of Rhum Lait Chaud (spiced rum, milk and honey) and an almond croissant. Le Grainne Cafe is open from 8 am to midnight, delivers from 10 am to 10 pm.