Hot on the heels of Jonathan Gold’s review of Alain Giraud’s new home, Besha Rodell files her thoughts on Maison Giraud. Recalling her first torrid affair with a chocolate souffle, she writes of the restaurant, “there are a lot of reminders of why we loved dining in the first place, up to and including a giant, glorious, piping-hot chocolate soufflé that instantly made me feel like the most sophisticated 10-year-old on the block.” Calling Giraud’s nouvelle cooking “endangered” in this country, she notes that his (dare we say the word) authenticity might be the main draw here as his “homage” to French food is “intensely comforting to those of us who came of dining age during its heyday.” Unconcerned with the waiter’s sporadic appearances, she notes that Noubar Yessayan’s pastries and baked good are “to be reckoned with,” while giving Giraud credit for excelling in “simple luxuries,” with the caveat that, “There’s nothing earth-shattering here, just good ingredients presented in their best light.” Then comes the bad news.
Rodell points out that “there are oddities to this restaurant, issues of cooking and ingredient choices that point clearly, in some cases, to taking the easy way out rather than hewing to strict quality.” Greens feel like they came from a mixed bag of mesclun and the interior of a quiche with a “lovely crust” is “basically a slightly better version of the kind you buy prepackaged at the supermarket.”
The “confusing” issues may be fixable, however, as Rodell notes, “The things about this place that need improvement are simple issues of ingredient sourcing and careful cooking. The hard things — the bread, the fussy egg with caviar, the beautifully cooked piece of fish — they get exactly right.”