Although they are not catching fire as wild as the past year’s speakeasy concept explosion, a notable number of high profile French restaurants have opened in NYC in recent months. In chronological order: La Brasserie, new to the space made famous by Anthony Bourdain as Les Halles, then celebrity chef Daniel Boulud’s Le Gratin and now chef John Fraser’s La Marchande. Fraser’s latest follow’s last year’s highly-regarded Iris Mediterranean restaurant. Rick Horiike (Morimoto, Wild Ink) is executive chef.
La Marchande is a permanent resident of the newly opened Wall Street Hotel. It aims to apply a lighter touch than conventionally expected French fare, incorporating ingredients less typically seen in the cuisine. Its opening menu includes a roster of raw bar items, seafood towers, wok-roasted eggplant, duck breast carpaccio and crispy sweetbreads with toasted rice powder, smoked raisins and fennel. Dry-brined chicken, lamb prime rib and grilled lobster are among the entrées. Large format orders of dover sole and hanger steak can be plated for up to three. And a pandan-coconut gâteau, dulcey mille-feuille, Japanese cheesecake and assortment of French cookies are available for dessert.
The wine list includes 120 bottles with a French bent. Sixteen are available by the glass. A long list of vermouths served on the rocks are a casually lower-ABV option, and zero-proof cocktails were given equal creation consideration to the Champagne cocktail with with Calvados, cardamom, lemon and slapped peppermint, the Le Pause (gin, Avèze, watermelon, cucumber) and the coffee martini (vodka, thistle amaro, pandan, coffee liqueur, espresso).
A pretty bar is through a bright archway upfront, awash in gleaming marble and shades of emerald, gold and dusty pink. Plush booths and banquettes are farther back with ornate wall coverings and white tablecloths throughout. Curtains can be closed around some tables for seclusion, and a lovely private dining room seats 10 upstairs.
La Marchande is located at 88 Wall Street. It is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5pm to 11pm.