Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two: Racines NY

Magazine article The New Yorker

Tables for Two: Racines NY

Article excerpt



94 Chambers St. (212-227-3400)

Open Mondays through Saturdays for dinner. Entrees $19-$35.

It takes guts to open a French wine bar across from Lot-Less, in the no man's land between Tribeca and City Hall. The facade of Racines NY, an outpost of a pair of successful neo-bistros called Racines, in Paris, is obstinately unchic. Inside, the bare-bones exposed-brick decor is less French sophisticate than generic financial-district drinking establishment. But once you sit down to order a glass of wine, from a list that is, as one bartender put it, "off the beaten path," you realize that these people know what they're doing. The name means "roots," and from the savvy sustainable wines to the thoughtful service and the impeccable tweaked versions of French standards, Racines NY pays homage to tradition with a keen eye toward evolution.

Start with the bar snacks, urban and modern, not too racy. Chicken-liver pate comes in two scoops whipped light as air, topped with sea salt, on a small granite board, next to a pile of olive-oil-grilled toasts. It may be disappointing to find that they don't have Sancerre (the path was beaten for a reason), but they do have an unusual Menetou-Salon Sauvignon Blanc that turns out to be a smart substitute. Panisse , crunchy fluffed rectangles of fried chickpea dough the size of your grandmother's Club crackers, arrive in a tiny cast-iron pot. Pork rillettes are so very French, the shredded pork mixed in with mild fat, without even a glance at American barbecue. …

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