It has been such a long time since I have fallen instantly in love with a restaurant. But the elegant charm of Excuse My French (96 Orchard St b/tw Delancey and Broome, 212-780-9600) had me at first bite. A French tapas bar, this intimate little spot on the Lower East Side is the perfect spot for a date or a girl’s night out.
I was blessed to attend a small press event and got to try out a wide range of the amazing things on the menu. Since I am mostly vegan (but eat fish) and gluten-free, special accommodations were made for me and you can request the same. For example, I had the delectable Brussel sprouts without the lamb.
During the press dinner, which will be the first of many excursions to this lovely spot, I tried the Garlic Shrimp Skewers served with Basil Spaghetti Squash, the Butterfly Salmon with Lemon Pepper served over the yummiest Ratatouille Provençal I have ever had, and scallops, which I no longer see on the menu. Though Crepes Suzettes were the dessert for the evening, the wonderful host for the evening, co-owner Ricardo Valdez had the gluten-free, flourless, Chocolate Coulant prepared just for me.
Everything on the menu is top-notch. Chef and co-founder Johann Giraud is now one of my favorite chefs in NYC. His take on every dish is Although it is far pricier than most tapas bars — small plates start at $17 and are as high as $24 — the portions are ample. So you can order two dishes per person and be very full. For drinkers, there is a full and innovative drink menu and for teetotalers like me, the bartenders are also very creative. They make their own “royales” of rose, lavender, sunflower, orange blossom, hibiscus or kir that can be made into gorgeous mocktails.
I prefer the indoor dining for the speakeasy feel but there is also outdoor dining. My one caveat with this spot is that it is definitely more a special occasion locale than a place that most New Yorkers will be able to afford regularly. It’s very expensive and is definitely not a cheap night out. With a couple of tapas, drinks, and tip, expect to spend at least $100 per person.
That said, you simply must go and experience Excuse My French for the most incredible meal you will ever have in a warm, romantic atmosphere.