New French Bistro Has an Old Soul

Cote d'Or: big, bright, and Burgundian.Photo: Kyle Erin Schmitz

There is no shortage of French restaurants in New York yet Simon Orens mini-empire of Marseille, Nice Matin, and Caf dAlsace come to mind but its not like it used to be. Back in the day, French food was gloriously rich and heavy, the product of hundreds of years of home cooking in deep pots hanging over fireplaces. Orens new restaurant, Cote dOr, opens tomorrow and draws on the traditional cuisine of Burgundy: coq au vin, bouef bourguignon, pork rillettes, even the truly hard-core cassoulet of snails.

Such stuff was what portly trenchermen of the Gilded Age associated with French cookery, and they were glad to get it. Oren isn't taking too great a risk serving it; Cote dOr is his second foray into a heavier caliber of French food than New Yorkers were suspected of liking, and it follows on the success of Caf dAlsace, a restaurant not exactly known for spa cuisine. Philippe Roussel, the chef there, will also be in charge of the kitchen and dessert program at Cote dOr. Italy may have taken over from France as the leading light of European gastronomy in New York, and nouvelle cuisine may have taken over what remains of the Gallic hegemony. But as long as someone in this freaking town is serving snails and coq au vin, well rally around to enjoy it.

Cote dOr, 225 Varick St., at Clarkson St.; 212-727-2775.