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.
Inside, it is certainly French Bistro.
(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.
We did enjoy the wine selection very much.
We started with some raw oysters, which were a hit for all.
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.
I chose to start with the steamed artichoke vinaigrette, because steamed artichokes are one of my favorite foods of all time.
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.
Mike went with the salade verte with vinaigrette, which, despite this awful picture, was quite tasty with an awesome dressing.
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.
One person at the table got the mussels mariniére with frites. She really enjoyed them.
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.
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.
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