Best Bistro - 2009
Joseph Leonard; Standard Grill
RobtS: You know I loved Minetta Tavern, but that can't be my favorite bistro, because the place is way too velvet-ropey. You have to be able to walk into a bistro and sit down without being scrutinized. SarahDG: Agreed. RobtS: So I'm picking Joseph Leonard, a tiny place that offers a traditional bistro menu, with a few modern notions. SarahDG: What makes this one better? RobtS: I especially dug the frisée aux lardons—the classic salad of chickory and bacon topped with a runny egg. This being 2009, the salad arrives deconstructed, with the egg on a plug of toast, which is great. SarahDG: I do love a runny egg. RobtS: Also loved the farm-raised arctic char seared on one side so the skin gets super-crisp. SarahDG: What else? RobtS: The peach salad, a savory starter that no French chef could have invented. It fits perfectly into the bistro canon. What have you got that's better? SarahDG: It's sad that two of the best bistros of the year are so freakishly hard to get into. Minetta Tavern, yes, but I'd pick Standard Grill. RobtS: That ridiculously hyped place? The building looks like a pair of Kindles about to mate. SarahDG: Whoa, you're right! I was thinking a Soviet housing block, but mating Kindles is much better. It's a funny place, with highly amusing people-watching, but it's got the heart of a bistro—salads, simple, well-cooked proteins. RobtS: I'm not drooling yet. SarahDG: Get the silken chicken-liver pâté, which comes in a bucket sealed with schmaltz. The pork chop is one of the best I've ever had—it's almost like char sui. I also loved the rainbow trout with crisp, flavorful skin. RobtS: Now I'm drooling, but it might just be the second cosmo I'm drinking. SarahDG: You do strike me as a cosmo kinda guy.