The longer you’ve lived in New York, the harder it seems to find restaurants that feel like old New York. But in Tribeca, with all of its high-fashioned, high-ceilinged and high-ticketed lifestyle nowadays, a new neighborhood gem, Belle Reve (305 Church Street; 212-680-0101), comes close.
Bedecked in dark wood, orange-tinged lighting and legitimately old odds and ends, it’s the kind of place that draws an eclectic crowd, be they suited professionals, day drinkers or silver-haired tourists enjoying a leisurely sidewalk lunch. Revelers pack in at night for live music, burlesque dancers, and really-late-night festive debauchery. The chef, Paul Gerard, has evidently found fitting partners in fellow New Yorkers Billy Gilroy (of Employees Only, Macao Trading Co., Lucky Strike, Match) and Patrick Fahey (of Macao Trading Co., Naked Lunch, Peggy Sue’s). Together, the three like to push the ambiance above the food which, considering how quickly Belle Reve has found its footing as a good
Among many stellar plates, the Starving Artists Steak delivers Gerard’s gospel of simple, “three-chord cuisine” loud and clear. It’s salted and seared to perfection, drizzled with either a whiskey peppercorn sauce, or (my personal favorite), a robust but refined herb puree. It comes with two sides, meaning that you can indulge in the fatty-salty-crispy fries dredged in bone marrow, or partner up with a cauliflower-cherry pepper-caper pesto combo (above), asparagus drizzled with lemon, or any other equally delicious vegetable sides which could, alone, be a fully satisfying meal. Gerard applies his mad skills and many years at the stove to simple, satisfying dishes that pair perfectly with the upscale-but-down-home bar feel at which his partners equally excel. Yes, the burlesque and go-go dancers and random people tickling the keys are reason enough to head down to Church Street. But the food is, too. Welcome to old New York.
The Village Voice is counting down to our Best of New York City issue in October. We’re combing the city every day, one dish at a time, to guide you to the most delicious food in NYC. These are our 100 Favorite Dishes for 2015, in no particular order, save for the top 10.
Here’s our countdown up to now:
#93: Almayass’s Mante
#75: Ippudo’s Pork Buns