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I just checked out Le District. Yeah, it kind of sucks. Nowhere near the wonderland that Eataly is. I'm pretty sure you can find 90% of what they sell at any upscale market. The main things that would be difficult to find would be the French sweets. I did like their selection of cheeses and the little case of French butter. I'm excited about the return of Robuchon, though.

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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/10/realestate/the-financial-district-gains-momentum.html?hpw&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&version=HpHedThumbWell&module=well-region&region=bottom-wel

I love the idea. There's Epicerie Boulud, but the city has always lacked French food markets even on a small scale.

Kenny Shopsin?

Not that it matters in the least bit, but I don't think Robuchon will part of Le District.

 

If the new Robuchon is priced anything like the old Robuchon, this will be a really tough test of that neighborhood as a home for high-end destination dining.

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I wish Keller's Bouchon bakeries in New York came with the Bouchon restaurants.

 

Was the new Robuchon supposed to open in March?

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  • 3 weeks later...

The Post's Steve Cuozzo gives a whopping four stars to Le District.

 

I like Cuozzo for his willingness to buck the conventional wisdom, but this one's a head-scratcher. He concedes that Le District's only currently-operating full-service restaurant is Beaubourg, to which he'd give two stars if he were reviewing it alone.

 

Where he finds the other two is a bit of a mystery. I mean, he obviously likes it, and that's fine, but nothing he says (even if all of it is assumed to be true) sounds remotely like four stars.

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I think he's rating Le District as a whole on what he hopes it will become. And how it (presumably) raises the level of shopping on that side of West Street, which was pretty dismal except for the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't Greenmarket.

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I think he's rating Le District as a whole on what he hopes it will become. And how it (presumably) raises the level of shopping on that side of West Street, which was pretty dismal except for the now-you-see-it-now-you-don't Greenmarket.

 

That would be my interpretation too, but it's a bit crazy to give four stars for what something could become, or to give extra stars because the dining options there were formerly dismal.

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taion: I am not a butter connoisseur, but the cheese counter has a variety of a half-dozen or so, none of which I can remember except for tiny portions of salted (iirc) Vermont Butter and Cheese cultured butter. Oddly, they had one French butter in three versions all the same size (25og)--blocks of salted and unsalted, plus rolls of unsalted--but all at different prices; even the two unsalted butters.

 

Overall Le District reminded me more of Grand Central Market, meant for the office lunch trade and for workers to shop at to bring ingredients home. More spread out, but still a lot like GCM. Some prices seemed quite reasonable (sandwiches, for example) while others were high, if I could see them at all.

 

The ice cream from La Pâtisserie was mixed: Chocolat Belge and Caramelle au Sel both very good, the former very chocolately with chunks of dark chocolate, the latter not at all too salty; Praline aux Noisettes (Hazelnut) and Coffee (yes, en anglais) were a bit odd, as they tasted like plain sweet cream ice cream with ground hazelnuts and finely ground coffee, respectively, mixed in.

 

But our dinner first at Beaubourg was quite nice. FYI: Chefs de cuisine are now listed as Fabrice Renaudin & Nicolas Abello on the website; Abello was on the menu, iirc. We sat in the bar (tall tables, stools with no backs) because we had no reservation in the main restaurant. But the full menu is available in the bar. Which menu, btw, looks only partly like the one posted. Ours had far more English than French, and pretty generic, mostly boring, dishes. However, the ones we ordered were good. The Beaubourg Salad had some of the items listed: smoked duck breast, warm goat cheese, walnuts. But the greens were mostly just escarole or chicory, the goat cheese was melted onto a very thin, almost burnt crouton, and the too-abundant dressing barely hinted of herbes de Provence. We liked it anyway. A shrimp salad was only slightly overcooked shrimp, wedges of (canned) artichoke hearts, wedges of the very interior of romaine hearts, drizzled with just a tiny bit of oil (no real dressing), matignon of sun-dried tomato, and very fine julienne of flavorless parsley. We liked it anyway.

 

It was only about 6:00 pm, and we were still going back to more of the Bang on a Can Marathon, so we were eating light. We shared one main--and the kitchen very nicely split it for us--of seared scallops with a gingered tomato confit and saffron beurre blanc. The only misstep in that dish was the threads of saffron sprinkled as a garnish, tasting too medicinal. Otherwise, it was lovely, with perfectly seared scallops, tasty tomato mush, and good beurre blanc. My only objection to sauce was that I suspect they cheat and add cream; it makes it less likely to break, and much richer, but it's still a cheat.

 

We had beers to drink: a Blanche de Corse for me (wheat beer, quite refreshing) and something from Achouffe for Paul.

 

The first server to approach us was totally clueless--had no idea what oysters they had ("They're from Massachusetts" was his first answer, and he had to run back twice to the raw bar to get the actual varieties--and still got the names wrong), didn't know how much the seafood a la plancha cost ("Squab" he said it was; "Sea squab?" I asked. "Um" he said). But he disappeared before he could take our order. The one who did said he left because his shift was over, not because I frightened him with my questions, and confirmed that he, the first, was in training. Um, he needs a LOT more training. The server who did take our order tended to disappear in plain sight to the waiter station in the corner, although he did eventually apologize for leaving us sitting with the dessert menu a long time (before I finally caught his eye as he was taking the order of a large party next to us).

 

The music in the bar was loud . . . and all disco. A couple of the servers were boogying to it quite actively as they waited to pick up bar orders. Or maybe just to fill some time instead of checking on their tables.

 

I'd probably be more likely to pick something up from one of the stations to bring home or to eat outside than to eat in the restaurant again. It wasn't bad, and it wasn't overpriced, but overall, the selections were . . . boring.

 

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I stopped in the bar for a drink during a break in the marathon. (I can't believe I didn't see Suzanne and Paul!*) I will review the (quite nice, esthetically) bar only as a source of cocktails.

 

Instead of performing good writing and stating my conclusion up front, I'll back into it like a first year associate writing a research memo.

 

The house cocktails on the list all looked too sweet. I wanted something citrusy and bracing, so I figured I'd play it safe with a G&T.

 

BARTENDER: Is there a particular gin you want?

ME: What do you have?

 

BARTENDER: Oh, we have so many. Let me see. Tanqueray, Bombay Saffire, Hendricks, Citidelle . . . .

 

ME (seeing where this going): Do you have Beefeaters?

 

BARTENDER (looking almost insulted -- the way bartenders as SCBs look when someone orders a vodka tonic): No.

 

ME: Do you have No. 3? Junipero?

 

BARTENDER (making a show of looking around -- and also making clear he'd never heard of at least No. 3): No.

 

So, a douchebar. Only "premium" gins of the sort that are softened to be palatable to vodka drinkers. No basic gin that tastes like gin. And no premium gin with the kind of challenging flavors that cocktail snobs like.

 

Now, every bar doesn't have to cater to cocktail snobs. But if you don't, you should at least have some of the basic quality products and not limit yourself to pretentious mush.

 

I'm sure I'll still go back here to eat someday, though. And they do stay open till a reasonable hour (I think 1 AM most nights) -- which in that location is very far from something you'd expect.

 

(Should have gone to Clark's for a Martini.)

___________________________________________________________

* Hey Suzanne, was that Chinese singer amazing, or what?

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Hmmm....

 

You guys are tough....but I suppose that's good, b/c if it doesn't excite y'all, then maybe I shouldn't schlep all the way down there.

 

B's in town for the next 3 weeks, and I was so looking forward to intro'ing him. Now, I'm not so sure.

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This is nothing like the markets you post pictures of.

 

There is no reason to take anyone here.

Agree. Meat, fish, charcuterie looked okay; cheese were pretty much all plastic-wrapped. You've (Soba) seen its equal or better elsewhere. One damning observation: the produce all the way at the back included nectarines. Excuse me? Nectarines in NYC at this time of year? No.

 

Sneak--yeah, she was incredible, not to mention gorgeous (what a dress!). Although I think my favorite for sheer fun was Cyro Baptista, followed by the Bulgarian stuff and Grand Band. We missed the first 3 hours or so, and were having dinner during Bobby Previte. And left as soon as they started giving out earplugs at the start of Glenn Branca.

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