REVIEW #17

Picholine

Terrance Brennan’s mauve-bathed temple of French-Mediterranean haute cuisine has spawned legions of loyal Lincoln Center-goers for its refined cuisine, elegant setting and NYC’s greatest cheese cart. Picholine takes its name from the small, tender green olive that is harvested in the Mediterranean, and the menu bears traces of the time Brennan spent under the tutelage of Roger Vergé at Le Moulin de Mougins, the celebrated Cote d’Azur restaurant that was also a prime training ground for Alain Ducasse.

Picholine was extensively renovated in 2006 and has one of the most distinctive dining rooms in NYC: heavy boysenberry velvet curtains separate the no-reservations wine and cheese bar that is the unofficial clubhouse of Metropolitan Opera patrons from the pale lavender dining room.  The high-ceilinged dining room features heavy white molding, crystal chandeliers, tall seashell-shaped silk sconces, grey mohair banquettes and gray-leather chairs with deep purple piping. Though some have criticized the design as dated or frumpy, we think that it is unique and gives Picholine a distinctive identity among the other truly great restaurants of NYC. Unfortunately, the proprietors agreed the restaurant was due for a remodelling, and when it reopened in November 2012, it promptly filed for bankruptcy.   

Brennan’s cuisine is characterized by innovative reimaginings of classic dishes from France, Spain and Italy. The menu is separated into “Preludes”, “Day Boats” and “The Land” and often features exotic offerings like Scottish game birds (advertised with the somewhat ominous warning that “birdshot may be present”), including grouse, pheasant, wood pigeon, red-legged patridge and others. The best always comes last with Picholine’s famous cheese trolley (Brennan is also the chef-proprietor at the first-rate cheese-inspired Artisanal Fromagerie, Bistro and Wine Bar). In our meals, we were offered three amuse-bouches, including an exemplary poached quail egg wrapped in toasted brioche with sturgeon caviar, as well as an extra pre-dessert course. That level of noblesse oblige is rare nowadays and commendable. Picholine is also equipped with a superlative wine list and very professional service, elevating it to one of the best options for celebrating a special occasion or enjoying an elegant meal before Lincoln Center.

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INFORMATION

Upper West Side
35 W. 64th St.
New York (nr. Central Park West)
212-724-8585
Mon-Thu, 5pm-10pm; Fri-Sat, 5pm-11:45pm
    Terrance Brennan, Chef

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