I recently had the opportunity to check out the brand new Cafe Bilboquet which just opened last August to plenty of fanfare including coverage in The New York Times. Centrally located at 26 East 60th Street just a few doors east of its highly-acclaimed parent eatery Le Bilboquet, this newcomer has everything you would want for breakfast, lunch or even just a quick snack at your fingertips. I will start out by saying that the variety of beverages are amazing. There is every type of American and European tea and coffee plus a unique variety of soft drinks that are hard-to-get even in New York including Beloit Lemonade and Alain Milliat Juices. A regular Americano Coffee is only $3.50 and definitely ranks in New York’s ten best “cup o’ Joes”! Cafe Bilboquet does serve Euro wines and beer as well.Now, while you have to go up to the counter to order your food–and it is a very beautiful retro wood and glass one–this does not mean that it is not classy. Cafe Bilboquet reeks with class and I honestly can say that after having a great brunch on one of its beautiful velvet banquettes, I never want to go into a Starbucks again, LOL!While parent resto Le Bilboquet serves all the hardcore classic French fare that takes hours to make (they have dishes in there that would intimate the late Julia Child to make), Cafe Bilboquet has “Simply French” fare like Croque Monsieur, beautiful croissants with different fillings, frittatas, elegant salads and more. There are lots of “hand helds,” but mixed in are a couple of beautiful homemade soups like Lobster Bisque and Vegetable, as well as three types of quiche (plain, mushroom and spinach).I had to try the Croque Monsieur just because it is so classically French–and I tried both the version on homemade boulangerie style thick white bread and on a croissant. They are pressed after you order them from the case and they have beautiful fresh ham and Gruyere for massive “ooziness” and stretch. The croissant version is so buttery that your taste buds just might blow out (if such a thing can happen), LOL! Sandwiches here are generously filled with veggies, meat and cheese here and run a very reasonable $7-9. There are mini brioche sandwiches for only $5.50 and the Brie & Green Apple one just looked so divine to me; I am going to try it next time I got to Le Bilboquet Cafe. I saw several people buying the Salmon Mini Brioche and they all commented on how it is their favorite Sunday breakfast item and that they travel from 20 or 30 blocks away to get it. I also had the widely heralded frittata which is actually Italian and not French but who is keeping track, LOL! It is very filling and features a tremendous amount of farm fresh herbs including rosemary, oregano and basil, beautiful freshly roasted grape tomatoes and a large amount of artisanal goat cheese. I had to try one of the salads available as they are large and truly “farm to table.” They range from $9 for a lentil or quinoa salad to $14 for one of the XL sized salads like Nicoise or Chicken Cobb. When I saw the Spinach Salad in the counter, I fell in love and had to have it: it is chock full of extra fresh organic baby spinach leaves, Greek-Style black olives, the juiciest sun-dried tomatoes that I have ever had, creamy goat cheese and walnut halves. The dressing was as spectacular as it was simple–it is a beautiful lemon vinaigrette made with fresh lemon juice, herbs, sea salt, pepper and EVOO.You need to leave room for dessert–even if you are at Cafe Bilboquet to eat a quick breakfast–just because they have a stupendous assortment of authentic French pastry including the legendary Paris Brest. My dining partner Gail joked that they “look like breasts,” and they are indeed round and beige, LOL! Paris Brest are a simple cruller-type pastry cut in two and then filled with fresh whipped cream and topped with slivered almonds and confectioners’ sugar. My mind was blown at the first bite! Other legends of French pastry on display in the beautiful glass cases at Le Bilboquet (and almost all priced at $7) are Chocolate Eclairs, Opera, Apple Tart Tartin, Lemon Raspberries Tart, Louvre and a long rectangular chocolate wonder simply titled Decadence. I plan to go back and have the Beignet Trio with one of Macchiatos a cafe regular recommended so strongly to me.The breakfast rolls and muffins–which are officially called “Viennoiseries” here–are as decadent as the pastries! You will swear that you have died and gone to breakfast heaven after trying the luscious fresh baked Pistachio Roll or Almond Croissant like my pal Gail and I shared. These have layers upon layers of buttery, flaky dough and the fillings are perfectly moist and flavorful. Just so you know, the Pistachio Roll is kind of like a French version of a cinnamon roll only is is teaming with dark chocolate filling and a fine mist of crushed fresh pistachios. The Almond Croissant had a very generous amount of freshly made almond filling that was velvety smooth.Cafe Bilboquet is quiet and features a diversity of art on the walls that you will definitely want to walk around and take in. They do not have a website and do not take reservations. It is an ideal place to hang out if you’ve just been shopping at Barney’s and want to mellow out for an hour or two, and also perfect for when you want a “grab and go” breakfast or lunch that you know will be quick, healthy and of the highest quality ingredients. Everything here truly has sophisticated French flair and the service is friendly and attentive. Cafe Bilboquet has consistently high reviews on all the reviewers’ sites like Yelp but if you want to find out more info about what’s new and happening at Cafe Bilboquet, call them at (649) 869-8660.
(Photos of assorted breakfast rolls, Croque Monsieur and Paris Brest by Gail Worley; all others by Anne Raso.)