22 E 54th St between Fifth and Madison Aves (212-754-9006). Subway: E, V to Fifth Ave--53rd St. Mon--Sat 11:30am--11pm; Sun 11:30am--10pm. Average main course: $19.
The late, barely lamented singles scene known as Typhoon Brewery has given way to a new clich: a gargantuan bistro. Papillon (not to be confused with the shuttered West Village restaurant) has the look and feel of a Balthazar knockoff. The interior features the usual tarnished mirrors, French posters and red leather banquettes. And yet, while the decor and menu have changed, the old Typhoon vibe (along with the loud conversation and music) remains. It is not, however, a lost cause. Those who tolerate the noise and crowds discover solid renditions of bistro standards prepared by former Odeon chef Tony Shek. Of note: the runny-egg-topped frise aux lardons flecked with big hunks of bacon, and the garlic-drenched escargots (pictured) tossed with al dente white beans. Shek also prepares a formidable steak frites, with creamy barnaise sauce and slim, superbly crisp fries. Most exotic is his succulent Moroccan lamb shank, which comes with chickpeas and, yes, does indeed fall off the bone. By the time the profiteroles reach the table, you may have forgotten the surroundings, not to mention the Top 40 soundtrack blaring from the bar.—TONY