I always worry about NYC restaurants that occupy large spaces in areas with low foot traffic. Few of these establishments survive. I immediately think of English is Italian. I loved dining there…and then it was gone. Millesime may survive it’s large interior and geographic location. It is located at the Carlton Hotel in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, the food is delicious and the decor is outstanding. For my sake and my love of oysters I hope it does.
Upon walking in I was immediately impressed by the space. Corner entrance, small and unassuming. I found myself making my way down a set of stairs, through revolving doors into a space as open as Eleven Madison. Huge ceilings, fashionable chairs that seemed to be offering me a martini. I walked to the end of the space and up a set of stairs that led into a the restaurant which has a completely different feel. Millesime screams: French! Brasserie! Seafood!
I came in for a leisurely lunch with friends. We were seated and water was immediately offered. We perused the menu and quickly decided on wine and dishes. Our server came by and took our order. We received bread, butter and water. Our wine took a bit long to get to the table, but that was no worry today. Besides, I was quickly settling back into France mode where time is not an issue when enjoying food and good company. Maison Champy Saint Romain 2008 Burgundy; a lovely Chardonnay from Cotes de Beaune was our choice of wine. It was crisp yet had a creamy mouthfeel. Fruity with good acidity and elegant understated oak; a perfect selection for the seafood bonanza we were about to indulge in.
We started off with Le Plateau Normale ($40): shrimp, two types of oysters, abalone and mussels. I can tell you this girl was happy. I could have devoured the entire thing alone. Every piece on the plate was fresh, delectable. Sure there were sauces to go along with our shellfish, but as a purist, I was fine with just delighting in the taste of the sea.
I had a hard choice to make for the main course. My friend Eric (who happens to be from Lyon) was raving about the Quenelles Jean Louis ($14), I was seriously jonesing for some lobster. After hard consideration, I ordered the Lobster Brioche Sandwich ($25), let him order the quenelles and figured I could steal some off his plate. Smartest idea I had all day. The sandwich was warmed to a perfect temperature, hints of tarragon played with the flavors of the bread. The fries that accompanied my sandwich were perfectly crunchy (without being oily). Truly satisfying. The quenelles were made of pike and came in a lobster sauce that begged to be scooped up with bread. They were comforting and decadent while retaining a light feel.
Overall, Millesime was a delightful lunch experience and I look forward to my next visit.
Millesime is located at 92 Madison Avenue (on the corner of 29th Street) in New York City. (212) 889-7100