Let’s discuss hotshot Bellatrix, she thought that she was the Queen Bee of New York City. Staying at the Gansevoort Hotel, feeling baller, she thought that on a Friday night she would stroll into Pastis, one of New York City’s hottest restaurants and get a table. Maybe? Well how about for nine people? In Old Montreal that is highly unlikely, in New York City, well it is just laughable. One week before our trip, Whitey, Bellatrix and Diva #1 were chatting after work and learned of Bellatrix’s plan to just walk in and get reservations. Whitey and Diva #1 looked at each other, you know with the “is this bitch for r-e-a-l“ look? So we checked their online reservation options: Pastis was booked solid. We called the restaurant; Pastis was still booked solid, and then we called the concierge at the Gansevoort Hotel begging for a table at Pastis and they said that they would see what they could do. To be honest, we assumed that they were just going to blow us off.
Of course we were antsy; we HAD to eat at Keith McNally’s Pastis! We called back the concierge the next day, he was still waiting on Pastis. And we called him again a few hours later… now delving into restraining order territory, something Diva #1 knows all about! Finally we were told that we could have a reservation for nine people at 9:00pm on the Saturday instead of the Friday, which was Bellatrix’s actual birthday. And after tasting the exquisite food, we are so absolutely happy that she conceded. She had to sign a contract, leave her credit card number as collateral, was told that we would only get one bill for the whole group, and she would be charged if we were less than nine people. But this is Pastis, so we agreed to all of their terms. This was quite nice of Bellatrix who initially wanted to give them a fake credit card number … but somehow we convinced her to not scam, for once!
After Diva#1 threatened to call the cops on a poor cabby who asked for a large tip from Whitey, we “elegantly” arrived at Pastis on our second night in New York City. Vegan Vixen, Diva #1, Sweet Pea, Whitey, Bellatrix and 4 other girls walked into Pastis, mesmerized by McNally’s French bistro masterpiece. The restaurant is closing for renovations in January 2014 for an undetermined period of time, so going ASAP was imperative. The line at the door showed that people were doing their best to squeeze in at the bar. We waited awhile for our table but we were in no position to complain: this reservation was a miracle sent by the gods. Diva#1 was told that she could not take pictures of the restaurant, just the food; since much of their clientèle was exclusive and did not want their picture taken… that truly didn’t deter her. She took a few anyway, just more discretely than before.
Vegan Vixen ordered the French onion soup because Diva #1 and Sweet Pea were dying to try the steak tartare, and we always order together. You would think that there is not much to say about French onion soup: a staple in many a French bistro, it is usually as expected, delicious but that is it. WRONG! This French onion soup was perfection, the onions were not overcooked, the broth was surreal, the croutons crispy and not soggy, and the cheese plentiful. The broth really made a difference; Diva#1 guesses that Calvados was in the soup but she truly has no idea, and no matter because it was spectacular.
Diva #1 and Sweet Pea, who had gone to France together in 2007, back when they were young and adorable… well somewhat, had truly forgotten what real steak tartare tasted like. That’s not to say that Montreal doesn’t have some phenomenal steak tartare, but Pastis brought them back to the bistros of Paris. The big difference is that Pastis does not cube their meat but shreds it, as they do in Paris. This creates a texture that is almost creamy in consistency. Perfectly seasoned, the tartare arrived spread on a plate and not in a perfect mold because that’s how you receive a plate of steak tartare in France! Only a few baguette croutons adorned this dish and it came with a tasty salad of mixed greens…like in France. Easily the best that we had ever had, even Vegan Vixen caved and tried some steak tartare, yet again breaking her vegetarianism oath.
Diva #1 tried to convince Whitey to try a little bite of steak tartare, after all it was just steak … and she likes steak … alas she answered with a glare and a firm NO. I guess Bellatrix is rubbing off on her… pfffft. Of course we threw in a few oysters for good measure. What’s the perfect meal without oysters? Like everything at Pastis they were magnificent, meaty and perfect. It came with the usual red wine vinegar and onion mignonette, a cocktail sauce and lemon wedge. We ate them in seconds, and as Diva #1’s dad would say, “we inhaled them.”
Since Diva#1, Sweet Pea, and Vegan Vixen were sharing everything, we ordered the macaroni gratin which Bellatrix had raved about. It came with bacon but Vegan Vixen gallantly offered to just eat around the bacon. Our waitress explained that the bacon was cubed, lardons-style, so avoiding it would not be a problem; even though we know that Vegan Vixen loves bacon. How do we explain this mac n’ cheese? The cheddar was definitely aged because the strong cheesy taste was so strong. Never have we tried a mac n’ cheese which such a robust taste. Pastis did not skimp out on the quality of their cheese to make this dish; the macaroni was not overcooked at all, which is often the case, and the dish was so good that we were almost licking the mini cast iron pan clean. Bellatrix was right, this was the best mac n’ cheese.
Notice the trend with Pastis? Everything we had had thus far was top notch, the best, indescribably delectable. Our second dish was the gratin dauphinois, a French dish that consists of thinly cut potatoes traditionally baked in cream fraîche, and gruyère cheese. Ladies, don’t bother counting calories when eating gratin dauphinois. It was a side dish so it wasn’t large but rich, buttery perfection. Often served with duck confit, it reminded Diva #1 of many a wonderful French meal. It also wonderfully arrived in the little cast iron pot that it was cooked in; this pleased Diva #1 who hates it when gratin dauphinois arrives after being cut out of a larger pan. The individual little gratins are always creamier!
We were full but more food was still coming, so we ordered more wine and our homemade mushroom ravioli with mushrooms, walnuts and spinach in a butter sage sauce arrived. Once again we were wowed, the Divas like to complain, and we did not get a chance to do that at Pastis! The mushroom ravioli was made in house, meaning that every little stuffed pod was misshaped and lovely. The butter sage sauce was light and perfect when tossed with spinach and walnuts, and a few more mushrooms for good measure. Dry raviolis are horrible, but fret not, at Pastis, each perfect little ravioli was stuffed to the gills and wonderfully tender. Every time Diva#1 makes ravioli from scratch they are denser that she would like but Pastis ensured that the pasta was paper-thin and the stuffing plentiful.
There were a few fish dishes on the menu: we couldn’t choose between the skate, trout and other delicious sounding seafood options. We asked the waitress and she recommended the roasted codfish with potatoes, fennel and lobster in a white butter sauce. Decadence explains this dish; it was wonderful. Codfish can be boring or wonderful depending on if it is well seasoned. Thankfully at Pastis we enjoyed this dish tremendously. The lobster pieces were not plentiful but the taste prevalent.
At this point we were all quite full and happy, congratulating Bellatrix on choosing such a fabulous restaurant. Even good ol’ Whitey agreed that this was one of the best restaurants that she has ever been to. This is a compliment coming from her because she is a drinker, who will eventually join AA with the rest of this group, not a foodie. So when she likes food, we beam with pleasure. Apparently we may also need fat camp along with our AA meetings if we keep eating like this. For now we remain beautiful, which is easy to say because dear readers, you don’t know what we look like
Bellatrix and Whitey both ordered the sliced steak sandwich with onions and gruyère cheese. Thick slices of crispy baguette hugged the beautiful pieces of medium-cooked steak with extremely melted gruyère cheese with caramelized onions and a little shredded lettuce. There were tons of French fries, golden and delicious, and in general it was a huge plate. Diva #1 stole a few bites of the sandwich from Bellatrix, who on this night was feeling kind hearted. Who would have thought that a steak sandwich could taste so good? Oh but it can.
It is a testament to Bellatrix’s love of Pastis that she accepted that her wine was poured in a stem-less wine glass. Bellatrix and Vegan Vixen are “classy” ladies *cough* *cough* and have demanded (though they would say that they kindly asked) for stemmed wine glasses at many an establishment that didn’t have them. On this night, these two self-entitled bitches were so happy with the food and ambiance that they chose to not make a scene. Sweet Pea and Diva#1 were petrified for a few seconds when the stem-less glasses were first placed on our table. Alas all was well… lucky for Pastis
One of the girls ordered the seared tuna Niçoise salad; this excited Diva#1 because a neighbouring table had ordered it and it looked spectacular. It was a small dish with arugula at the bottom, lightly seared tuna on top with grilled red and yellow peppers. Black Kalamata olives were tossed in the dish along with green beans and halved cherry tomatoes. The tuna was well seasoned and perfectly cooked, slightly seared and raw on the inside. The dressing on the salad was simple which was necessary since there were so many flavourful ingredients tossed together.
Another one of the girls enjoyed the fish and chips with tartar sauce. Those delicious French fries were also a side in this dish but the fish is what was truly impressive. Flaky white fish covered in a well seasoned batter and deep fried until the perfect caramel colour. Loved it!
At this point Diva#1 wondered what the tripe tasted like on the menu; when she sees such an oddity on a menu she has to order it, but we were honestly too full. Plus Bellatrix’s lip would have curled, Vegan Vixen would have clutched her Star of David pendant, Whitey would have gagged and who knows about the rest of the girls. But Diva #1 knows one thing… Sweet Pea would have had some … hmmmm maybe it would have been worth it?
We were ready to explode, we were so full; a few of us had undone pant buttons, shifted in our chairs uncomfortably or pulled up the leggings to their nipples. We made the executive decision to not go out after Pastis. By now, it was past midnight, we were too full to dance, it would have been more of a titter totter, and we needed our bed. Too much roaming around in NYC and eating during the day and night left us in a food coma. So we decided to return to our hotel… but after dessert.
Bellatrix insisted that the best dessert was the sticky toffee pudding with caramel and ice cream. And once again she was right! Delicious sticky toffee pudding cake topped with thick homemade caramel and a scoop of vanilla ice cream made for the perfect sweet touch after a perfect meal. Delish! We also heard from our Sensei that they also have a mean brunch, something to return for. We left Pastis feeling satisfied and we all agreed that when we return to New York we will want to try completely new restaurants, except for Pastis; we will always return to Pastis every time we are in New York City.
Our Rating: Always on Thursday
Tagged: 10014, 9 Ninth Ave, 9th Ave, Always on Thursday, Bar, bistro, Breakfast, Brunch, Chef Pascal Le Seac'h, Cocktails, Codfish, Croque-Monsieur Croque-Madame, Fish and Chips, French, Gratin Dauphinois, Keith McNally, Lamb, Macaroni Gratin, Manhattan, McNally, Meatpacking, Mussels, New York, New York City, NYC, Onion Soup, oysters, Pastis Manhattan, Pastis McNally, Pastis Meatpacking, Pastis New York, Provençal, Ravioli, Reservations Needed, Scallops Provençale, Skate, Smoked Herring, Steak Frites, Steak Sandwich, Steak Tartare, Sticky Toffee Pudding, Tripe, Tuna Niçoise, USA, Veal, wine