I fell in love with Le Marais at 150 West 46th the minute I walked inside. I love that 100-year-old tiled floors in the bar area and the beautifully worn wooden floors of the dining room. The high ceilings and retro light fixtures give you a warm, cozy feeling that you have been there before and you know that over the years it has been always used as a restaurant space. It is just so easy to picture Diamond Jim Brady and his colleagues dining in this space way back in the 30s. An interesting fact is that Le Marais was once the kosher sister restaurant to Les Halles in the Financial District where Anthony Bourdain cut his teeth as a chef and then wrote a tell-all book about his adventures there.
The menu focuses not only the steaks but some special French and Moroccan items that are personal loves of the owner like Frisée Salad With Duck Confit and Spicy Lamb Sausages With Couscous. There are several renditions of duck and lamb that can please even the fussiest palates. All meats and poultry are in a case in the very front of Le Marais and you can purchase some to take home and cook for yourself. Prices are much more reasonable than most of the high end meat purveyors that sell to Manhattan eateries and the quality is amazing.
So what did my colleague Gail Worley of www.worleygig.com and I eat upon our visit last week? We are probably the biggest steak lovers in Manhattan so we had to have the Prime Rib For Two. It is pricey at $120 but it is beautiful meat and an eyeball estimate is that two people get more than a pound of meat each! You can eat Le Marais’ Prime Rib with a regular knife as opposed to a steak knife–it is just that buttery soft. The Prime Rib comes with a large abundance of their famous golden fries so leave your diet at home if you plan to visit! I was delighted that are server gave me a nice meaty bone–you never can get those at any steakhouses these day and it is my favorite part of eating Prime Rib! If you like the deckle piece of a Prime Rib, go for the cut of beef called La Surprise. My friends who have eaten here rave about the Rib Eye and how beautifully marbles it is, so that is what I am planning on trying the next time I go to Le Marais. For the budget-conscious, there is a top-notch deal on Steak Frites and Salad for $28.00. The steak used for this deal is apparently a very tender sirloin. A dairy-free Bernaise accompanied most of the steaks and it is delightful.
I almost failed to mention that Gail and I started our wonderful dinner with Spinach And Corn Empanadas which are freshly baked, as is the French Bread served at each table. The empanadas are a good size (about three inches long) and you get three to a serving. The chipotle sauce that accompanies them contains some Tabasco has the perfect kick.
The string beans are the perfect side. The ends are left on but they are so tender that you do not have to remove them. They are sautéed in olive oil and had a nice garlic flavor. They are pretty addictive if you want me to be totally frank, LOL!
Gail and I were stuffed to the gills after the empanadas, beautifully medium rare Prime Rib, a ton of fries, the nice mixed greens that are a bonus with any cut of meat and the sautéed string beans–but you just know that we had to have a couple of desserts. We shared both the Chocolate Mousse which is made with fresh cocoa beans and is topped with homemade chantilly (and is served in a quaint old fashioned sundae glass) and the Opera Cake, which is a chocolate and mocha filled multi-layered torte style cake. They were both freshly baked and were of artisanal patisserie quality.
I can’t wait to go back to Le Marais and my hats off to owner Jose Meirelles for blending great French and Moroccan flavors with traditional steakhouse fare. Reservations are recommended but not necessary although it was very crowded when we had a weeknight res of six pm. For more info, go to www.lemarais.net. (Special thanks to my pal Gail Worley for taking these great food photos.)