Today, I’m sharing one of my major “coups de coeur” when it comes to restaurants in New York City. In fact, it would not be exaggerated to refer to it as my new favorite restaurant in the City, (at least in this category). Chef Nicolas Abello (“Chef Nico” for the connaisseurs) has done a fantastic job in combining a great atmosphere and an exceptional tasting menu. This relatively new establishment received its first Michelin star last Fall. Not only is it much-deserved, but compared to other one-star restaurants in Manhattan, I think it should even get two!!!
I can’t remember when was the last time I left a restaurant with a “wowwww”. Most of the time, places are overrated. It’s good without being great. Being European (and worse, French!), my level of expectations tends to be quite high. Same thing for Monsieur Chéri. As you can imagine, Italians don’t joke around when it comes to food either. Well, all of that to say that we are not easily impressed.
A quite and elegant dining experience
L’Appart was a wonderful surprise! More than a simple dinner, it is an experience from beginning to end. The service is impeccable without being obsequious. There isn’t a thing I hate more than waiters who are all over you during the entire meal. The service at l’Appart, on the contrary, strikes the right balance between being attentive to clients’ needs without being “too-much”. At the entrance, we were welcomed with a complementary cocktail, which we drank outside in a mini-garden. Chef Nico came to greet us personally. We had a nice chat. Then, the maître d’hôtel showed us to our table.
L’Appart looks like a big living room opened on the kitchen where the brigade cooks your dinner before your eyes. And they do so in silence. New Yorkers, I think you can agree that it’s a HUGE plus for any restaurant. You know, being able to hear the person you’re having dinner with… Due to the limited number of tables and the overall atmosphere of the restaurant, l’Appart allows you to do just that. The restaurant itself is located on the Hudson River, in a neighborhood that gets totally empty at night, which guarantees a quiet moment. At night they dim the light, thus creating a very pleasant atmosphere (romantic as hell!).
An inventive, sublimated and exceptional cuisine
The tasting menu is unbelievable. It changes very often, as the Chef prides himself on cooking the best seasonal products he can find. Basically, the quality of the products dictates the menu, which means that the food is always super fresh. Not to mention oh-so-yummy! Depending on your appetite, you can choose one main course, two or three. With one, we had the perfect amount for our European appetites.
The meal starts with some amuse-bouches (three or four), very elegantly presented. Then come some appetizers, the main course(s) and several deserts (plus cheeses if you wish). Each dish is promptly served. Witnessing the ballet of plates is like attending a culinary fashion show: it’s exciting, it’s surprising and it makes your night… Quantities are perfectly dosed out, meaning that when you get to desert, you are not completely full. Thus, you get to enjoy the entire meal, not just the beginning. I won’t get into the way the flavors are subtly mixed: this is something you’re gonna have to experience yourself. And you really should!
We also really appreciated the way each dish was presented. Very refined!
A great staff
The staff was professional, nice and not pompous at all. The Chef often leaves his kitchen to come chat with guests about his cooking. He’s very open to remarks and feedback (although, as far as we were concerned, we had nothing but compliments to address). We truly wish this young and talented Chef the best for the future.
Will I be going back to l’Appart?
Absolutely, it’s already scheduled!
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NB: The photos come from the restaurant official website