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La Gamelle

Restaurants, French Lower East Side
2 out of 5 stars
 (Filip Wolak)
Filip WolakLa Gamelle
 (Filip Wolak)
Filip WolakDuck confit at La Gamelle
 (Filip Wolak)
Filip WolakSteak tartare at La Gamelle
 (Filip Wolak)
Filip WolakAsparagus mousseline at La Gamelle
 (Filip Wolak)
Filip WolakPâté en croûte at La Gamelle
 (Filip Wolak)
Filip WolakCharcuterie sampler at La Gamelle

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

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“It’s fine.” Two words that will become your oft repeated mantra the longer your meal lasts at La Gamelle, a lovely if blasé retro brasserie from Motorino pizza mogul Mathieu Palombino, in the space that previously held the restaurant’s pop-up prelude, Chez Jef, and, before that, Bowery Diner.

No ghosts of the old diner haunt the space—Formica counters have been replaced with an imported vintage bar, schoolhouse chairs swapped for dark-wood two-tops—but there is some restaurant déjà vu going on. Maybe it’s due to the restaurant’s name (it’s christened after a long-shuttered Grand Street bistro) or its design (that bistro’s owner-chef Alex Gherab had a hand in

its Paris nostalgia).

It doesn’t help matters that Palombino’s menu is so play-by-the-numbers Gallic, loaded with exactly the sort of butter-shot foodstuff you’d find at any garden-variety French concept. Asparagus “mousseline” ($9) coats adequately tender stalks with a stock eggy hollandaise and little more. Steak tartare ($12), though generously portioned, arrives a touch formless and soft, and short on much-needed crusty baguette accompaniments.

The menu’s charcuterie section hits many familiar, and favorable, beats, appointed with snappy gherkins, good butter and more bread-basket refills than an Olive Garden: salty ribbons of country ham and petit jesus salami, porky cervelat rings, and creamy rabbit pâté en croûte paved with chewy prunes and crunchy pistachios ($12). You could easily make a whole meal there—a half-portion charcuterie platter sets you back $34, a few dollars above a number of the entrées—and you should.

That’s because main courses leave you stuck with jus-parched duck confit ($24) with smashed potatoes that betray not a dash of the spring garlic promised on the menu, and wine-splashed moules frites with oversalted fries and underseasoned bivalves ($24).

The cooking at La Gamelle is as tired as you’ll be after a bread-loaded meal here. No effort is made to live up to the legend of such dishes, let alone rewrite them. And that is, simply, not fine.



Address: 241 Bowery
Cross street: between Rivington and Stanton Sts
Transport: Subway: J, Z to Bowery
Price: Average main course: $24. AmEx, MC, V.
Opening hours: Daily 5pm–midnight
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