Chez Jef at the Bowery Diner

5 May

I love using the Eater Heatmap to find new places to try with friends and family.  I’m a big fan of the curated restaurant review lists, and Eater never disappoints (even if they hate my blog name… but I can take it). We were looking for a place to go with my cousins and stumbled upon their recommendation for Chez Jef, which is a pop-up in the Bowery Diner space from Chef Mathieu Palombino.

I was amused as we came upon the address to see that the “Jef” was a clever way of changing the old “DINER” sign.

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Inside, it is certainly French Bistro.

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(It was a bit dark inside, so please excuse the not so great photos.)

The bread came out and it was a fine crusty bread but with a very cold and hard slab of salted butter.

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We did enjoy the wine selection very much.

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We started with some raw oysters, which were a hit for all.

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The menu has an incredibly well priced 3-course prix fixe for $35, but we were so curious about many things on the menu that we all ordered a la carte (which was still very well valued).

The french onion soup was fantastic, which a great blend of gruyere cheese and sweet onions.  I always prefer more crispy cheese on the outside of my bowl, but it was still damn good.

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I chose to start with the steamed artichoke vinaigrette, because steamed artichokes are one of my favorite foods of all time.

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This was displayed very well, and with a really, really good dipping sauce.  The artichoke itself was well cooked but it suffered from the artichoke curse of some being great, and some being just average.  It’s a temperamental vegetable. Sadly.

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Mike went with the salade verte with vinaigrette, which, despite this awful picture, was quite tasty with an awesome dressing.

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For my main, I chose the lamb “navarin” with spring vegetables.  The waiter explained it as being like a stew, so I was all over it.  The plate that came out was a bit weird though.  A white salad plate with a small (but filling) serving. Had it been served in a bowl, it would have looked much better, but I absolutely couldn’t fault the flavor. It was absolutely delicious with tender, flavorful lamb pieces, a nice, not to heavy sauce, and well cooked simple vegetables, including some fantastic pearl onions.

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One person at the table got the mussels mariniére with frites.  She really enjoyed them.

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Mike went with the steak grillé and frites with béarnaise.  The steak was well cooked and had great flavor and it was excellent with the béarnaise.  But those frites… wow!  I could not stop eating them right off of Mike’s plate. They were perfect.  Crispy on the outside while still potato-y.

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Then for dessert, we had to try the Crème Brûlée.  It was exceptional.  Smooth, vanilla-y custard with a perfectly sweet, but not too sweet, crispy brulee on top.  Super duper.

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Overall, our meal at Chez Jef was really spectacular.  Everything had great flavor and it reminded me of being in Paris. The entire meal came to less than $50 per person, which seemed like an excellent value for sharing a bottle of wine, shared oysters, an app each, an entree each, and then splitting a dessert between 4 of us.

Not sure how long this pop-up is going to be around, however, the $35 prix fixe sure seams like a steal if you’re in the mood for some good French food!

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

 

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