Millesime's French Cuisine
January 10, 2011 | by by julie bensman | Food & Drink News
The nexus of Madison and 29th Street has rarely tempted a hungry passerby in the past. I can barely remember the last time I was over that way, let alone over that way based on the promise of decent food. But with recent favorable reviews by the NY Post and The New York Times, Millesime—located in The Carlton Hotel—beckoned me to visit and take a taste.
Don’t let the Vegas-like font and flashy lights of the hotel fool you: a modern, lofty, highly-designed yet cozy space lies within. My date and I headed through Salon Millesime to the stairs, which led to our dining destination: a bright, bustling, red-boothed French bistro where conversations of finance, fashion and food floated past ears. The tables are straightforward and uncluttered, and despite the white paper tablecloths and tin buckets holding silverware, the setup is decidedly un-casual.
I’d heard amazing things about the tuna tartar for days and had incredibly high expectations. How innovative could it be? In a word: very. It arrived in little piles, the tuna (topped with a runny egg) surrounded by circles of minced garlic, slivered almonds, dates, mint and various spices. It was my favorite dish of the night. Meanwhile, the deconstructed Caesar salad—a trio of grilled romaine topped with smoky black cod, Parmesan and thin wafers of toasted bread—was mellow, buttery and texturally perfect. We mopped up every bit of dressing up with our table bread.
Vegetable gratins, when smothered with gooey cheese and topped with crispy breadcrumbs, have no place under the “sides” menu. But the ingredients in Millesime’s root vegetable gratin were tender yet distinct and the shaved cheese on top added just the right amount of sharp contrast. As rich dishes go, the quenelles push the envelope—share this dish or risk becoming drunk on butter and cream. Overall, everything here is an experience to savor. And I’m more than happy to do so again… and again. 92 Madison Ave., 212-889-7100