After a hiatus of five years, the Meatpacking District’s trendiest restaurant reopens its doors at a new address without losing a bit of its original charm.
De La Bonne Bouffe
When the restaurateur Keith Mcnally decided to open Pastis in 1999, there was no Highline, no boutique stores, and almost nothing in the way of tourist attractions for visitors in Chelsea. McNally cleverly realized that, in such a setting, there would be little competition for a great restaurant. His creation would help boost the culinary and cultural scene of the formerly anemic neighborhood, as he pioneered a landmark restaurant on ninth ave and Little Street.
Born in London, McNally moved to New York in 1975, where he worked in dozens of restaurants. In the mid-‘80s, McNally opened his first venture, The Odeon. He hasn’t stopped expanding his business since, with staggeringly successful restaurants like Nell, Balthazar, and Pastis, among others, totaling 39 restaurants in all.
Entering the new Pastis location is something akin to having déjà vu. Located only a few feet away from the original address in the hippest part of the Meatpacking District, the new restaurant has been reborn through the partnership of McNally and restaurateur Stephen Starr. The opening celebrates the return of McNally, who spent three years away from the business while dealing with health issues.
The yellowish light, the stainless steel doors, the tiled floors and antique mirrors with plates of the day written on them – all of these details reference the first Pastis (including the telephone number, which remains the same despite the former closure.) The improvements, however, make a significant difference.
The new menu features classic dishes that made the locale one of the most sought after gastronomic destinations in the city. Nonetheless, the owners saw fit to institute a few changes. The steak (the restaurant’s signature dish) now comes with a side of fries, and the Au Poivre can be ordered in three sizes, with prices ranging from $32 to $48.
As for appetizers, the French classics are a hit, such as a tuna in ravigote sauce, escargot à la bourguignonne, herring with roasted potatoes, and the famous salad niçoise, accompanied by a red wine vinaigrette. The steak sandwich makes a return to the menu with onion and gruyère cheese, in addition to other delectable plates such as the cheeseburger à l’Américaine, roast duck with olives, and the mustard skate.
The breakfast menu also features traditional French dishes such as ham, egg, and gruyere crepes and Florentine quiche. Classic American dishes are also available, such as avocado toast and eggs Benedict with Parisian ham and hollandaise sauce. Buttermilk pancakes make a triumphant return, as well as Croque monsieur and organic-egg omelets with fries. For desserts, bet on handcrafted ice creams like Coupe de Cerises made with pistachios, among other French innovations.
If your idea is to go to Pastis for just one drink, you would do well to remember that each drink has been carefully selected. You can’t go wrong with Champagne, beer, and of course, the classic Pastis house drink. The highlight, however, is the French wine list, which has a collection of red, white, rosé and sparkling varieties, all coming directly from renowned French wineries.
The wine selection was carefully crafted to transport each customer from New York to a true Parisian bistro. Guests can experience a kind of taste-bud wine tour of France without leaving New York. Pastis has 180 indoor seats and an outdoor patio with seating for 30 people. Reservations can be made through Resy.
Photos: Courtesy of Pastis