127 East 7th Street
New York, NY 10009
Written and Photographed by: Jennifer Baker
Food & Service - Le Village’s executive chef and owner Didier Pawlicki says “I want my customer happy.” He lives by this. The details, the care, the experimental yet classical nature of his gluten-free, vegan, and / or low-carb takes on French cuisine amounts to satisfying comfort food. Le Village is a narrow, intimate eatery with muted tones on one side, and a wooden skyline underneath illuminating iron artwork on the other side. The tables are a smooth sea
green reminding one of a modern Formica table top. The space holds two dozen people, though customers will not feel as though they’re on top of their neighbor
Le Village is Pawlicki’s third restaurant in Lower Manhattan and has been open for a year. Pawlicki’s newest French bistro has entrees that stand out because the flavor isn’t lost in even though cooked without fat. As a starter the French Onion Soup is reminiscent of a savory bread pudding, it is slow cooked with a consistency akin to gravy soaked in thick cubes of bread and a lovely layer of melted cheese. On a day that clocked in at less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit, this soup is a warm, filling introduction to the rest of Le Village’s dinner menu.
The Sauteed Brussels Sprouts with balsamic glazed strawberries were an experiment…and a delightful one at that. Fresh herbs are sprinkled atop this mix of vegetable and sweet berries, with the balsamic glaze acting as a tether to the essences coming through. It’s a great side dish, not heavy, full of flavor, and fits the vegan / gluten free / low carbohydrate check box. The
menu itself is very tantalizing, including dishes like the No Frills Black Angus Burger, folllowed by these components and instructions; “Ask your server for GF buns if available, Home Ground Superior Quality Beef Sharp, Cheddar + $1 – Jalapeno +$1 – Swiss +$1 – 180 Days Old Gruyere +$2″… I want to try that 180 day old Gruyere! Also this duck dish sounds great; Rohan Magret Du Chef (GF, locb) for 31.00. A Seared 8 oz Duck Breast, Cross Breed Special from Dartagnan, which is served with Unsweetened Chocolate Sauce, Red Bell Pepper Coulis and Pistachio…really? Just a couple of other intriguing items on this unusual restaurant’s menu. Only a few items contain meat as the protein.
The Gnocchi Parisian au Gratin is made with gluten-free flour, not potatoes. The use of flour has the gnocchi disintegrating on contact with your tongue, alllowing the truffle Mornay sauce and Swiss cheese take hold. Pawlicki calls this dish the “French mac and cheese” and I’d dare say that it gives traditional U.S. macaroni and cheese a run for its money. Truffle oil can also be found in another cheese dish; Royan’s Ravioles a la Crème. Small raviolis are stuffed with creamy Comté cheese ( a kind of gruyere), garlic, parsley and a heavy cream sauce. The portions are good for one or two people to share when ordering several plates. As with the Gnocchi, the truffle oil is aromatically delicious, and the cheeses that Pawlicki utilizes have a slight sweetness to them.
One of the most appealing dishes is the vegan Cassoulet made with vegetable stock, three different beans (kidney, dark, and fava), smoked Portobello, oyster and shitake mushrooms and a sprig of rosemary sticking out of the small pot it is served in. Cassoulet is traditionally made with duck fat, but it takes on a new rustic flavor relying on the smokiness of the mushrooms and the steady simmer of all the ingredients.
The Coq au Vin is one of only a handful of dishes available containing meat. And again, the time and care Pawlicki puts in is evident. This entree is made over the course of a week. The difference between Pawlicki’s gluten free / low carb version of Coq au Vin does not deter from one’s familiarity with the version that has gluten in it.
While some of the desserts are gluten free and / or vegan they are definitely not low carb. Items such as the Fondant au Chocolate (dark chocolate lava cake) and the Banana Brulée are the needed contrast of the sinfully rich desserts versus the popular lighter fare.Prices here are very fair considering the Manhattan location.
Le Village is open for dinner only and is BYOB – Bring Your Own Bottle (of wine only). There’s no corking fee but a limit of one bottle per couple. Stop in soon and experience Le Village’s delicious healthy fare for yourself! Make sure you tell them Jennifer from DinnerReviews.com sent you!
A native New Yorker, Jennifer Baker has been writing since she entered the academic institution and continues to do so every moment she gets. Jennifer has a particular love for desserts (both eating and baking them) and while partaking in some of the sugary treats NYC has to offer, she has interviewed local bakeries such as Ivy Bakery, First Prize Pies, Hot Blondies, and Zugar Haus. Jennifer regularly posts about writing, books, baking, and food events in addition to reviews and hosting giveaways on her website: jennifernbaker.com. You can also follow Jennifer on Twitter at @jbakernyc and check out her site at www.jennifernbaker.com