Hi friends! So there I was, eating this French food in the East Village like one does...
That sounds so bourgeois. However, I promise you that Le Village is anything but that. Le Village is a small French bistro on the east side of Manhattan. Restauranteur Didier Pawlicki (owner of La Sirène and Taureau) opened up the restaurant in January 2014. It's focus is on gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan French bistro dishes. Le Village also features a selection of meat dishes for those who are not any of those things.
Walking in, you immediately notice that the restaurant is quite small, but it's not overcrowded with tables and chairs like many other NYC restaurants. There's still a lot of space for everyone to move about. The interior is minimally decorated, but has a rustic, urban appeal.
Now let's get into the food!
Le Village is a BYOB restaurant; however, you can purchase a bottle of wine at nearby liquor stores. There's no corkage fee if you decide to bring your own alcoholic refreshments.
Our meal started out with a vegetarian French Onion Soup. If you desire, you can also request a gluten-free option, but I welcome carbs in my life so I had no problem with the crispy, cheesy bread piled on top of this soup. The soup was delicious, even though it was scaldingly hot. Once it had cooled down a bit, I was able to really get into it. The broth was not as rich as I had expected, but I didn't know that it was vegetarian until about halfway through eating it. I still thought it was quite tasty and enjoyed it so much that I almost ate the entire crock before realizing that I had a few more courses to make it through!
Next up, we were served two more appetizers: Royan's Ravioles a la Creme and Sauteed Brussels Sprouts. The raviolis were stuffed with comte cheese and cooked in heavy cream and truffle oil. These were a delicious little treat. I think it's pretty easy to overdo it on the truffle oil, so I'm usually nervous to order anything containing truffle oil at restaurants. However, this dish contained the perfect amount of truffle flavor to balance out the pasta, cheese, and cream.
I have to say that the star of the appetizers in my opinion were the Sauteed Brussels Sprouts. And I (usually) detest brussels sprouts! These sprouts were served with balsamic glazed strawberries and I thought the pairing of the roasted fruit and vegetables yielded that salty-sweetness that I'm absolutely obsessed with. The sprouts were roasted to perfection and maybe I wished I didn't have to share this.
After we took a quick breather and a beverage break, it was on to the entrees!
The first entree I tried was the Coq Au Vin. This dish was not messing around. Le Village serves up coq au vin every day, unlike many restaurants that only serve it once a week since it takes so much time to prepare. Le Village's version of this classic French fare was simply amazing. It was definitely my favorite entree. The chicken was perfectly cooked, juicy, and flavorful. The potatoes were tender and paired excellently with the rich broth. I'm gonna need more of this.
We were also served the Cassoulet, which contained mixed beans, oysters, and an assortment of mushrooms. This is a vegan and gluten free version of a regular cassoulet. I liked this dish but it wasn't my favorite, which was most likely due to me not being fond of beans and oysters. If you like those ingredients, I think you would like this dish as I thought it was still pretty good.
Finally, we also had the Gnocchi Parisien au Gratin. Didier calls this a French mac and cheese and truly it is an accurate description. To put things over the top, this gnocchi also contains truffles! As before, much restraint was exercised in adding in the truffle flavors. This worked out excellently, as the truffles complimented the pasta and Swiss cheese instead of overpowering them.
Beverage break! Now let's talk about my favorite part of any meal: Dessert!
We had three plates to sample from: Banana Brule, Minute Baked Vegan Seasonal Tart with Coconut Sorbet, and Fondant au Chocolat. As you may have guessed, the banana brule is a banana-infused version of the classic Creme Brule. And of course the caramelized sugar on top of this produces that satisfying cracking sound when you break through it. Excellent! The next item I sampled was a baked vegan tart with coconut sorbet. This tart contained apples which turned out to be a delicious option. The coconut topping was a cool and sweet addition to the dessert. My favorite dessert was definitely the fondant au chocolat. What can I say? I'm a sucker for anything chocolate and this was no exception. Essentially, this is a chocolate lava cake but it is executed so well that I could not get enough of it!
Le Village is the perfect environment for classic as well as unconventional French food. Although they do cater to gluten-free and vegan customers, the fare is not exclusively geared toward them. The menus change slightly with each season and Didier plans on adding hanger steak and filet mignon to their menu in the next few weeks. Meat-lovers, keep your eyes open for that!
This cozy bistro is the perfect place for any night out, whether it's with family, friends, or loved ones. The menu is diverse enough for everyone to find something that is to their liking. It's also adventurous enough that you for sure won't get bored with the options.
Note: Le Village is open most days for dinner from 5pm - 10pm (or 11pm on Fri and Sat). They are closed on Tuesdays.
**Disclosure: I was provided this meal free of charge. However, all opinions are my own!