Downtown Manhattan below SoHo has been undergoing a tremendous change over the past couple of years thanks to the rise of new complexes like Brookfield Place that offers something for everyone who lives in the city, from family with kids to single New Yorker professionals and students. I’ve been particularly a fan of the upscale French market Le District inside Brookfield Place since its opening, with its fresh food selections and the casual wine bar on the outside where I would sip on a glass of white wine on a gorgeous summer afternoon. I was very intrigued, of course, that a new “chef’s apartment” restaurant opened early this year inside Le District. L’Appart has long been on my hit list and I found my birthday dinner with my girlfriend as a perfect opportunity to see how the kitchen prepares the food. Overall, I was very impressed with the refined sophistication of modern French.
There is only one tasting menu at L’Appart, with prices varied depending on the number of main courses you want to have ($105 per person for one course, $125 for two and $145 for all three). My girlfriend and I went for the two-main course options. The dinner started with a series of pleasant bites, of which I was particularly fond of oyster that was submersed in cauliflower puree for a elegant touch of flavor. Next came the aromatic veloute soup with roasted duck and onion marmalade that I was also a fan of.
The dishes at L’Appart displayed a high level of consistency in maintaining the balance of flavor and texture, with some pleasantly surprising twists here and there. Truffle accompanied by quail egg and parsley was delicious in and of itself, but the addition of crunchy vegetables called crosnes (pronounced “crones”) really added something extra to the table. I’m generally not a huge fan of foie gras but the one at L’Appart had delicate texture and potentially greasy flavor inherent in this famed French dish was substantially neutralized by the addition of Tibetan pepper and mango.
Compared to these delights in the starter courses, the main dishes were a little bit more predictable. I chuckled at the witty plating of black sea bass wrapped inside the “hands” on the plate, but wished the fish was cooked with a little bit more firmness to texture. Lamb (which came in a rack and also inside a pot of couscous) was nicely cooked but the seasoning was somewhat uneven and the one with couscous came a little bit too heavy than what I had hoped. The desserts overall were quite special. Followed by delicious apple ice cream and butter accompanied by cinnamon powder, pineapple consommé and jam provided nice refreshing touch, but my favorite was definitely the last one, with chocolate and bourbon ice cream and chestnut truffle sprinkled on top for rich, decadent flavor so fitting to showcase the opulence of French desserts.
Getting a reservation at L’Appart is pretty manageable, and I was actually surprised the dining room was not quite full despite the high level of cooking here. Perhaps the restaurant has been staying under the radar since its opening? There is full bar with French-centric wine selections that you can use to complement your meal. I liked the air of coziness within this “secret” room inside the market that would make for a really nice dinner date, and the service was attentive without being stuffy. L’Appart is a gem in Battery Park that I’m so glad I finally checked out. If you’re tired of going to all the high-end restaurants in the city that are out there for a long time, give this restaurant a try.
- Creativity: 8.5/10
- Execution: 8.5/10
- Ingredients: 8.0/10
- Flavor: 8.5/10
- Texture: 8.0/10
Address: 225 Liberty Street, New York, NY 10281
Telephone: (212) 981-8577