Thursday, February 3, 2011

La Ripaille, New York

Going to New York, I wanted to eat in all the little New American places I always read about. I failed pretty comprehensively in that. In the case of La Rippaile, I was at least please to confirm that that type of French bistro that so irritates me in Tokyo, the one where the chef is French or trained in France but has spent so many years outside the mothership that he's lost his skills, exists everywhere in the world. Here's one right here, in the West Village where J and I went for a couple hours while I was waiting for the weather to clear so I could go back to work. I suppose it's modern and hip to go out to dinner for 3 hours, then work until 1:30, but I don't like it.

La Ripaille has been open since 1980, and I can only imagine that the celebrity endorsements and quips like "Best creme brulee in NYC!" on their web site are from the distant past. The Zagat quote - “It’s like going to Paris without the jet lag.” - especially made me laugh, because it sounds like all the terrible sushi places of which Zagat reviewers say "So fresh it practically swims to the table!"

You wouldn't believe how dark and quaint this place is (especially with me forgetting to upload the interior atmosphere shot I took; I regret that, because the atmosphere really is a bit special.). You also wouldn't believe how bright and quaint the French maitre d' is. We really tried his patience, mostly by being completely unconcerned with the specials he offered us or the upselling he tried. He was really wonderful though. At first.
I had fish. In cream sauce. It was OK. I coudn't quite make it at home, and that's a positive indicator. Terrible picture, innit?

See, this is what really dampened the spirits of the waiter. We didn't get starters, we didn't get drinks...we just went right to main dishes. I admit, I feel odd doing that too, but I wanted to be sorta sharp when I got back to work.

One of the reasons we chose this place was...actually I don't know. J is vegetarian, and it's been a long time since I had to deal with that in choosing a place. In Tokyo I'd just throw up my hands. The menu outside appeared to have some veg options, but they were fewer and farther between once we were inside. He managed to special-order the cheese ravioli in a tomato-cream sauce. It looked pretty good on the night, but...Terrible picture, innit?

These vegetables didn't look like anything, but it's cool that they visited the middle of the table and kept us company.

Terrible picture, innit?

The creme brulee had a limited layer of broil on top, and the creme was dull too. Maybe this is the best creme brulee in NYC. If so, get your French food in Tokyo.

Terrible picture, innit?

The Tarte Tatin was maybe worse...geez, I don't know from where I got such an animus against this place. But this was described very grandly as 'La Tarte des Demoiselles Tatin', and for that I want a little caramelization in the apples. I want some crispness and flakitude in the crust. I don't want stewed apples on toast.

This is a kinda cool picture, wouldn't you agree?

Going back to work, I figured I should caffeinate. That as a good idea and kept me up through finishing, but drinking this horrid burnt brown beverage was a mistake.

And the picture, oi.

1 comment:

  1. Jon, thanks for memorializing our dinner, mediocre though it was. Let's do it again soon! J.