I know what you are thinking. 2020 was not the best year to open a restaurant, especially not one that stretches the entire length of the 6 1/2 Ave block from 53rd to 54th Street, but that is exactly what Emil Stefkov and the team behind La Grande Boucherie NYC did. The project defied the notion that New York City is a ghost town, and it certainly provided hope for staff and patrons alike. I felt lucky and excited to be a part of the opening night, it was the first time I attended an in-person industry event in about nine months.
You should now I take the pandemic very seriously, the first thing I did was request an outdoor table. As a Francophile I enjoy all of the Boucherie locations. The menu, created by executive chef Bill Brasile (formerly of Minetta), promised French classics, a very serious meat program, bistro favorites and a drink program that centers around absinthe-driven signature cocktails. If you enjoy wine instead, you can always opt for the extensive wine menu, most of which is sourced from France. Pescatarians will not be disappointed either, Boucherie made sure to have a spacious seafood raw bar.
One thing is for sure, the Boucherie staff just wants you to feel welcomed and be happy. I ordered the Boucherie Old Fashioned cocktail with escargot to start. I will try any cocktail with the lavender ingredient and was not disappointed, ordering one more immediately after. Full disclosure, this was my first time trying escargot. It is not for my lack of adventure, but I feel there are far more tastier dishes on the French menu. The escargot was served in a buttery sauce that had an almost herbal taste. The outcome: I am not a fan of escargot, but my dining partner loved it. Next came the NY Strip Steak, because when in Rome do as Romans do, served with herb butter and pommes fries. Meat-eaters have always enjoyed the Boucherie’s menu, and this location elevates that experience with in-house dry-aging rooms. In fact, I was seated close by the in-house charcuterie, a bar showcasing their cured meats.
I just cannot miss eating something sweet after a meal, I think it might be a condition. I ordered the chocolate mousse and I am still dreaming about it. It was the perfect cool temperature, paired with strawberries, crunchy chocolate and whipped cream. I will keep going back to Boucherie just to eat the dessert.
La Grande Boucherie stretches the entire block of 6 ½ Avenue of the Americas, having enough room for a long raw bar serving oysters, shrimp, lobster and more.
Some parts of the restaurant look more like a shop with an in-house charcuterie, a bar showcasing their cured meats, and a cheese station.
One cannot talk about La Grande Boucherie without mentioning the interior. Since the entrance can be accessed from an open-air pedestrian walkway you immediately are welcomed with a feeling of grandeur. On the opening night a jazz band played and transported you to another time—one where masks and social distancing were not the norm. Social distancing and masks were enforced, with tables separated with very attractive custom-made wooden dividers.
The carefully designed interior includes french art, and an ornamental Art Nouveau style details.
All of the interior at La Grande Boucherie was custom-made, including the sturdy and attractive wooden dividers. The Art Nouveau staircase makes for great Instagramming opps.
The outdoor space can seat 174 and indoor 400. The outdoor seating area also has a soaring glass ceiling. As it is open air, the restaurant aims to seat guests outside for as much of the year as possible. Each table has a code that you can scan with your phone in order to view the menu. In addition, Boucherie uses an app to help guests minimize contact with restaurant staff. On the app, guests are able to book a table of their choice, order, pay, and tip for their meal all via mobile phone.
Absinthe fairies served shots of absinthe cocktails on opening night. The interior and exterior is vast enough to help you feel safe and comfortable.
Every detail of La Grande Boucherie has been carefully decided and made to look elegant. Designer Julien Legeard of the Prestige Group worked with the owner; importing cast iron railings made by artisans in France and even more impressively a 150 year-old decorative glass ceiling. Much of the design work in the restaurant was done by hand, including custom plasterwork. The one-of-a-kind brasserie is built in the tradition of the Belle Epoque, inspired by elegant and ornamental Art Nouveau style. Its 5,500 square foot dining room, bar, mezzanine and 6,000 square foot outdoor plaza will evoke the joie de vivre optimism from the turn of the century, transported to present-day New York. That concept was definitely felt at the opening and I cannot wait to plan my next celebration or just simply dinner with a loved one at this grander than grand location.
There is something for everyone on the menu. Whether you seek a simple lunch or a decadent dinner, it is designed to keep you satisfied.
La Grande Boucherie’s long bar will be able to serve a lot of patrons once the pandemic is a time of the past. For now, bartenders work hard to make their specialty cocktails and serve them at your table.
La Grande Boucherie, 145 West 53rd St (betw 6/7 Ave); boucherie.nyc