In its decor and its menu, the new hotel restaurant Plein Sud evokes a bistro in Provence. The farmhouse planks on the ceiling, lavender sprouts in the window and long list of French classics all seem to celebrate rustic tradition. Despite the restaurant’s premise, chef Ed Cotton (last of BLT Market) appears to have little interest in authenticity, cooking up an enormous menu of both classic and reimagined French standards—neither executed with particular aplomb. And so his escargots arrive out of the shell, tossed with whole hazelnuts and burnished hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. The snails, bland and rubbery, are missing the best part of the old-fashioned brasserie dish—the garlic-sopped butter no Francophile can resist. A thin, crisp pissaladire—the sweet and savory Cte d’Azur tart, blanketed in caramelized onions—is much more traditional, though unfortunately saddled with mealy anchovies and an overpowering layer of lemon zest. Cotton’s moules frites, meanwhile, abandon France altogether; the overcooked mussels are served in a Southeast Asian coconut curry with chalky fries that are more boardwalk than bistro. His coq au vin, too, takes an international detour, with a bland side of Germanic spaetzle and red-wine jus as thick and syrupy as jarred barbecue sauce. Desserts are just as muddled: A vanilla souffl is dense and eggy, while three too-sweet pots de crme have the consistency of Jell-O pudding. Despite appearances, Plein Sud isn’t really a bistro at all—the waiters, struggling with the French words on the menu, are as misguided as the food.
|Venue name:||Plein Sud (CLOSED)||Contact:|
The Smyth Hotel, 85 West Broadway
|Cross street:||at Chambers St|
|Opening hours:||Daily 7am–11pm|
|Transport:||Subway: A, C, 1, 2, 3 to Chambers St|
|Price:||Average main course: $22. AmEx, MC, V|
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