This cozy corner bistro isn't pushing any boundaries when it comes to food or decor: the former—hearty Provençale-style dishes—are rendered straightforwardly, while the latter—a French country-style look accented with red leather banquettes—is welcoming but unremarkable. Unlike many of NYC's envelope-pushing eateries, Chez Jacqueline isn't experimenting with agar agar on the plate or abstract art on the walls—and therein lies its appeal.
Keeping up with the city's ever-evolving dining scene can be exhausting: sometimes, it's best to quit comparing Yelp reviews and surrender yourself to the comfort and dependability of one of New York's steadfast cafes and steakhouses, the kinds of places where you're guaranteed smooth service and tasty, uncomplicated food. Chez Jacqueline, open in the bustling West Village for more than three decades, is an exemplar of this genre. Service at the restaurant is flawless from start to finish, with attentive, solicitous waiters and hosts, and the plates, if unexciting, are well-executed and quite a good value.
Of the appetizers, it's best to stick with the robust Provençale options. Panisses, hearty chickpea fries shaped from a polenta-like batter, are a spot-on rendition: burnished and crispy on the outside, tender within and flecked with plenty of piquant black pepper. A classic crock of French onion soup doesn't fare so well, lacking the deep, beefy flavor of more expert preparations and boasting a handsome cap of melted Gruyere but missing the traditional crunchy crouton.
Entrees are a veritable parade of all the well-known classics, from roast chicken to seared duck breast to cassoulet. Trout amandine is deeply satisfying, the filets of fish sporting a surprisingly crispy skin and drowning in a lemony brown butter sauce; a pile of perfectly snappy green beans on top helps cut through the richness. Likewise, a textbook steak frites hits all the right notes: perfectly seared medium-rare beef served alongside crisp, salty fries.
Chez Jacqueline tends to fall down on dessert. The best versions of tarte tatin, perhaps France's most iconic pastry, sport a crisp, brown, puffy crust laden with caramelized apples, but Chez Jacqueline's take has a disappointingly thin, soggy crust. A special of tiramisu is a bit chalky, and not altogether sweet enough. A better idea, at the end of the meal, is to request a cheese plate, linger over one last glass of red wine, and let the restaurant's staff take care of you, as they always do.
BY TIME OUT COMMUNITY REVIEWER: LAUREN ROTHMAN
|Venue name:||Chez Jacqueline||Contact:|
72 MacDougal St
|Cross street:||between Bleecker and Houston Sts|
|Opening hours:||Mon–Thu 5–11:00pm; Fri 5–11:30pm; Sat noon–11:30pm; Sun noon–10:30pm|
|Transport:||Subway: A, C, E, B, D, F, M to W 4th St|
|Price:||Average main course: $28. AmEx, MC, V|
|Do you own this business?|