What To Order At Bistro Cassis In Midtown | Tasting Table MIA

The new Bistro Cassis serves authentic French cuisine in Midtown

It seems like Midtown has blossomed overnight. With international chains like Novecento and Baru Urbano opening outposts across the street from one another, some think the neighborhood is losing its Soho charm.

However, there are still some gems that cater to its bohemian allure: Newcomer Bistro Cassis is bringing traditional French cuisine to the eclectic culinary landscape of the ever-evolving neighborhood.

Walking into the Parisian-styled restaurant feels like stepping into a postcard—note the many hanging on the walls—of one of the Eastern neighborhoods of the romance capital, where cafés and restaurants line the pedestrian rues. The white ceramic tile floors are decked with wooden bistro tables and matching red upholstered chairs, while the round globe chandeliers hanging overhead seem like they've also been taken right out of a Métro subway station. Above the kitchen window hangs a set of antique copper pots that were acquired at a 1920s New York hotel auction alongside stenciled mirrors reminiscent of Belle Époque decor.

Rows of homemade pâté, olive oil and Niçoise olives

As for the food, it is the goal of restaurant manager and partner Horacio Oliveira, who was behind popular Downtown Italian lunch spot La Loggia, that you feel the passion behind the menu, "I have had the opportunity to work with different restaurants and chefs for over 20 years, and there are two different kinds of chefs: The ones who cook for money and those who cook for the love of life," he says. Which is why for this restaurant, he has put the kitchen in the reins of French-born chef Cyrille Bolle.

He focuses on high-quality ingredients and traditional dishes: Mussels are offered in five different sauces for lunch and dinner, in demi ($11) or full ($19) servings. It was the silky anise-Pernod cream sauce that had us using empty shells to scoop the last drop from the copper pot in which the bivalves were served. French staples like a foie gras terrine ($18) and steak tartare ($12) are offered throughout both shifts as well.

The lunch menu offers a larger selection of sandwiches and salads including croque monsieurs ($11) and madames ($12) on brioche, and a crackling pan bagnat ($15) with tuna fillets in oil, sliced boiled eggs, onions and olives bookended in house-made baguette—our new favorite loaf in town.

Later in the evening, more refined entrées are given center stage: a pistachio-crusted rack of lamb served atop creamy mushroom risotto and delicate steamed asparagus ($29); a Provençal-style seafood bouillabaisse ($29); and the Cassis duck Magret ($28), speckled with a tangy, thick currant sauce.

Eventually, the restaurant will have a full bar where house-made sodas will be mixed with eau-de-vie and liqueurs, such as Lillet and Dubonnet. Then, you'll truly get to experience la vie en rose.