I have left California permanently and moved back to NYC. The Boy is working on the law school writing competition and I'm searching for jobs, so we haven't had much time to eat well. Nevertheless, we did find a charming cafe down in the West Village where the entire staff is French and speaks that food-friendly language to one another. And, of course, any place that reminds us of Paris is a place to which we're happy to return again, . . . and again.
We spent most of Wednesday in the house and, late in the afternoon, realized we were starving and that I was really craving a good cup of coffee. So we wandered South and West and stumbled upon A.O.C., which we had read about several times in Time Out but had never actually tried. (Apparently, A.O.C. is named after a French foodie-film, L'Aile ou la cuisse, which I am now on a mission to see.) Two women had just sat down for a drink at one of the small sidewalk tables, so we knew they were still serving.
Inside, the restaurant was empty, so we chose a small table next to a big window looking out on the street. The walls are covered with old French advertisements, which were fun to read as we were brought our menus. The names of the dishes were in French, with the descriptions in English--a perfect compromise.
The first thing to arrive after we ordered was my Cafe au Lait--a big cup of coffee with the foam glistening on top; kind of like a combination between a Caffe Latte and a Cappuccino. The coffee itself was strong and only slightly bitter.
Next we received our meals. I ordered the Salade de chevre, which advertised itself as "Phyllo pastry filled with goat cheese and spinach over a spinach salad." Normally, a salade de chevre comes with two or three small crottins of chevre on a big bed of greens. Not so at A.O.C. There was as much Chevre as there was Spinach, if not more. The cheese was stronger than Chevre normally is in the States--a welcome change. The Spinach salad was very lightly dressed with a mustardy vinaigrette and the Spinach sitting underneath the Chevre was cooked by the heat of contact. The Phyllo outside was also wonderful--a perfectly crispy texture contrast to the smooth, creamy Chevre inside.
The Boy opted for the Steak a cheval, Ground sirloin topped with a sunny side up egg and served with parsley mashed potatoes. Ordered medium, the Burger came as the French rose--brown outside, pinkish-red and warm inside. The Egg on top mixed wonderfully with the meat. Unfortunately, the Parsley Mashed Potatoes suffered in comparison to everything else. Although quite buttery, they were a little dry and had nowhere near the grand assortment of flavors everyhting else shared.
All in all, we've found a new neighborhood restaurant.
314 Bleecker Street
New York, NY 10014
Food and Drink and Restaurant and New York City and French and Dairy and Meat