Dominique - Parisian Charm in Manhattan's West Village
Today’s featured restaurant is a small French bistro in the West Village – Dominique Bistro. There are a bewildering number of small bistros in every area of Manhattan. However not all bistros are created equal and when locals find a gem like Dominique they file it into their mental guidebooks.
I first went to Dominique a couple of years ago with my husband for lunch. At the time, it was called Why Not Bistro. We were impressed with the quality of the food and the setting. Dominique is located on the ground floor of a beautiful, white, five story building with black iron terraces at the corner of Gay Street and Christopher Street. The West Village doesn’t stick to a square pattern street grid and Gay Street curves around behind the building giving it a charming Parisian feel.
When customers step through the heavy wooden door they are greeted with a light filled, high-ceilinged, room with rustic mid-century décor. To the right of the entrance there are three or four small two person tables bordered on one side by the large front window. To the left, there is another row of tables arranged to face several very large windows. Patrons who take one of those tables can either sit on a window bench with their backs to the window or facing the window. Either way it’s especially lovely on a mild Spring or Fall day when the windows are open. There is also bar seating and additional tables a little further back.
This review is of Dominique as a lunch spot – I haven’t been there for dinner. Since it is a small place, it’s probably necessary to make dinner reservations – I once attempted to go without a reservation and it was totally filled. However, for lunch I’ve always just dropped in and have never had a problem getting a table. At lunch the vibe is casual and it’s usually quiet enough to be able to easily talk. Soft jazz adds to the ambiance without being intrusive. The cuisine is French and served on white plates with gold rims.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I went to Dominique again for lunch. We ordered an appetizer of escargot, which was served shelled and with a pesto type of sauce of basil and parsley. It was good, but it was a new recipe and since I much preferred the old version which featured a very traditional butter and parsley sauce, I was slightly disappointed. For my entrée, I chose the half croque (a French sandwich) and soup. I chose the soup of the day, which was a tomato bisque – deliciously creamy, slightly tart, and slightly acidic and sweet. Some broccoli sprouts served as garnish on top. I ordered the croque champignon – which was served as a close faced sandwich with mushrooms in the middle. Gruyere cheese was melted on top.
My husband, looking for a healthy lunch, went with the duck salad. It was made with very fresh lettuce, red and yellow cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and hard boiled eggs, topped with large pieces of duck cooked to perfection. It was tied together with a very light raspberry vinaigrette.
This is a great place for a good lunch. During the week, when it’s not too crowded you can linger over an excellent cup of coffee afterwards. As I mentioned earlier, I've gone several of times with my husband, and I've also brought my sister and parents-in-law when they were visiting the city. It's the sort of comfortable, low key but polished place that's great to bring visiting friends and family on a weekday morning. Check out my ratings at a glance below and share in the comments if you have ever been and if so, your menu recommendations. If you have never been, do you plan to go or do you have any similar bistros (in or out of NYC) that you love?
Area – West Village, Manhattan
Recommendation – Lunch
Cuisine – French Bistro
Volume – Quiet (at lunch)
Bar Seating – Yes
Nice Ambiance – Yes
Price - $$
Atmosphere - Casual
Perfect for – brunch dates, friends, relatives of all ages, colleagues