Belated Valentine’s Dinner at Jacques Brasserie
Happy Belated Valentine’s Day! Well, my honey is really good at the romantic stuff. He gets lots of brownie points for that. I’m a lucky gal. He never forgets those little things like Valentine’s day and anniversaries and stuff. But, this year, we mutually agreed to forgo the restaurant thing on the actual night of Valentine’s and instead go on Friday to avoid the crowds and lame expensive Prix Fixe menus. We made a reservation at Jacques Brasserie. Jacques is located on 85th Street near the SE corner of Third Avenue on the Upper East Side. I think I’ve been there a dozen times or more. It is one of my very favorite places in the neighborhood.
This is a nice photo I pilfered from the web that shows the place from the outside. During the summer, they offer sidewalk dining:
The place has a very European feel. As you walk in the main entrance, it is kind of dark in there. They don’t let a lot of natural light in and there is a lot of dark wood and red banquet upholstery. It has those old smoky looking mirrors.
There is a very traditional looking bar on the right as you walk in. They have a full bar which includes many specialty Belgian beers and some decent wine by the full bottle, half bottle and glass.
Now just for completeness, there is another dining room through the door pictured above. I have sat in there a few times. Frankly, I like the bar area better. It has a cozier feel. The other room seems a bit more formal.
Jacques is not perfect and is not meant to be. But it is very good at many many things and I think that is part of why it seems to be a fixture in the neighborhood. I don’t think it will be going anywhere anytime soon.
We were seated at the corner banquet, sitting side by side. I always like that better so you don’t have to shout and keep yelling “What?” I think it was the best seat in the house. We got a couple of glasses of red wine (half bottle) and nibbled on some bread while the lush voice of Sarah Vaughn serenaded us in the background and we perused the menu. The music selection was just what I love on nights out like that. I think they must have the same collection of old Verve jazz classics on their IPOD that I do!
If you take my advice and check it out, you must get the moules frites. This is the dish the place is known for. There are many French joints in NYC where you can get moules frites. I have sampled quite a many of them. But Jacques’ moules are my favorite. There are several different preparations you can try. For the beginner, I suggest the classic “MARINIERES” with a Chardonnay garlic and parsley broth. You simply can’t go wrong if you are a seafood lover. The frites are great too.
I’ve tried various things on the menu. The house salad “SALADE VERTE” is a big portion so be aware of that. I never was adventurous enough to try the escargots but the couple next to us were loudly raving that they were the best in New York. For dinner, I had never tried the POULET so I got that this visit. It was slightly dry, but there is a dipping jus that comes on the plate with mashed potatoes which is super tasty. Roberto had STEAK FRITES, medium-well. His reports that his steak was excellent 🙂
Our waiter was very attentive and very sweet. I hadn’t been back in quite a while and the staff seems to have changed somewhat, but all were very professional.
Now, I always save room for dessert here. I love to get the “BITTER SWEET CHOCOLATE SOUFFLE” (allow 15-20 min extra time). What can be better? Also, j’adore le Creme Brûlée! I love tapping my spoon on the crusty top until I breach the surface and get to the creamy goodness beneath. They use real vanilla bean so there are little black bits of it in the creme. So delicious! Roberto likes his iced desserts, so he had a raspberry sorbet which he also enjoyed.
All in all a very enjoyable evening!