Glass feasts on fine French cuisine at Papilles, New York

MODERN French dining earns top marks at Papilles, an elegantly casual restaurant that recently opened in the East Village. Far from being stuffy or too earnest, which, let’s be honest, French cooking can sometimes be, the dishes at Papilles are cool and clever, while maintaining superior flavours.

The Papilles team - Nicolas Thoni, Elena Oliver and Chef Andrea CalstierThe Papilles team – Nicolas Thoni, Elena Oliver and Chef Andrea Calstier

The cosy navy-and-white-hued space, with bare brick walls and touches of velvet, is the brainchild of three French expats: Chef Andrea Calstier and Elena Oliver (who happen to be married), and their close friend Nicolas Thoni. Oliver serves guests and runs the front of house, while Thoni creates inventive cocktails as part of the restaurant’s drinks programme, manning the small bar at the front of the room.

The cosy dining space at PapillesThe cosy dining space at Papilles

You’ll notice on the front door, printed under the restaurant’s name, the phrase “cuisine vagabonde” –  a curious term created by the team that sums up the approach to cooking at Papilles. Though Calstier starts with French-Mediterranean techniques, he makes a point of borrowing from various other flavours, so the end result feels truly international rather than stuck in a regional rut.

He has done a fabulous job of constructing a thoroughly enjoyable menu, the beauty of which is in its structured simplicity. When was the last time you ate somewhere that presented three appetizers, three mains and three desserts? That’s what you’re going to get at Papilles, and we couldn’t be more thrilled about it.

The Manjari Dark Chocolate dessert at PapillesThe Manjari Dark Chocolate dessert at Papilles

Citrus-cured mackerel at PapillesCitrus-cured mackerel at Papilles

During our recent visit, we started with a delightfully fresh summer salad that was centred by the most interesting preparation of burrata – a type of semi-broth that sat in the middle of the plate. The citrus-cured mackerel is also a stunning dish and has proven to be a favourite with guests (Instagram coverage is testament to this).  A slow-poached cod was chosen for the main course – the softest, flakiest white flesh  – and came with whole baby artichokes that had also been pureed and arranged in dots across the plate. Dessert options are equally exciting.

We chose the dark chocolate pudding that provided a surprise of goat cheese in the middle, which worked exceptionally well. The craftsmanship shown by Calstier was terrifically evident here – chocolate pieces were put together in the shape of what looked like a crown, and the flakes of gold leaf that surrounded the top of the construction only echoed this regal tone.

Papilles is a genuine winner and if we lived in the East Village we would be eating there every single night.

by Derby Jones

All photos courtesy of Jai Nima Idowu

Papilles, 127 East 7th Street, New York, NY 10009
Tel: +1 646 850 5345

Follow Papilles on Instagram.