15 West 18th Street – Flatiron
French Bistro, French Influenced American
Alison Price Becker, formerly of Alison on Dominick Street in Tribeca, has returned to the restaurant business in Manhattan after 10 years. Her new venture opened a year ago in January 2012. The concept is French Bistro without the literal translation. The menu features rotisserie items and local ingredients. The vibe is warm and inviting.
The decor here is very warm considering the giant space. The entry has a really cute breakfast bar. The bar area has plenty of space and a row of booths. It is separated from the dining space by a huge wall of curtains. There are great curved booth areas in the back as well as a wall with a banquette and plenty of larger tables in the center. They’ve got adorable wallpaper as well. All photos are directly from the Alison Eighteen website.
We went specifically for the duck for 2 on a Sunday night. As a note, you need to call the restaurant specifically to reserve your duck for 2 prix fixe, which is served with a glass of wine, salad and a dessert for $75. However, this is not to be confused with the duck for 2 on the regular menu, which is $62. Since I did the reservation on Open Table and did not specify, we were told we could not have it. Duly noted two walk-ins sat next to us and had it. Hmmm? I am thinking that was more our waiter?
That leads me to a brief segue on the service. The bartender was pretty flaky and rather slow. And I apparently made a poor drink choice, the Sage vodka drink. It had aperol, which was my own fault for ordering. But it was pretty.
Alison herself was hosting and she was quite gracious. But after we were seated, we sat around for quite some time and we were really getting concerned. When our waiter did come, he was pretty flaky as well. He brought us the glasses of wine that go with the prix fixe from the next table over moments after we ordered a bottle. We saw him actually knock over a bottle of wine at somebody’s table. He was a nervous nelly. But finally after we got our order in, things improved dramatically. The duck was out of this world and made up for the whole thing.
The duck was served on a bed of roasted root vegetables and we ordered a side of maple sweet potato puree. Wow, did we enjoy this meal! We’ve had some crazy good meals of late and this was something truly different. The duck was perfectly roasted with amazing crispy skin. I cannot recall all of the veggies, but I do think it was potato, fennel, carrots and maybe parsnips? Only one way to get it right and that’s to go back! Unfortunately it was entirely too dark for a photo, which usually jogs my memory on the ingredients…
We finished with a delicious maple pudding.
Despite somewhat spotty service, we are more than happy to go back to Alison Eighteen for another round. Alison Eighteen was featured in Adam Platt’s Where to Eat Right This Minute for their braised lamb shoulder sandwich served on olive oil bread with aioli. That sounds pretty damned amazing.