When we first learned that chef Didier Pawlicki was opening a fondue restaurant, we had high hopes—he is, after all, the chef whose Soho bistro, La Sirene, helped reinvigorate casual French dining in the city. Though the fondues are good, Taureau does not give Switzerland the same boost. The restaurants share some similarities: Each teeters between cozy and cramped; they’re BYOB; and neither can fully contain Pawlicki’s exuberant personality as he flits from table to table. But that’s where the similarities end. Taureau’s single-subject purview (typically a winter meal, but just fine in warmer months) encompasses a dizzying selection of cheeses, various cuts of pork and beef, dark and milk chocolates, and sides for dipping. On a recent visit, we opted for the Perigord, a black-truffle-enhanced mix of Swiss cheese, white wine, garlic and nutmeg. The creamy fondue (placed atop an induction burner cleverly built into the table) was a fine coating for garlic croutons; in fact, we had nearly finished half of it by the time our other accoutrements arrived (delicate white asparagus and unfortunately musty cauliflower). Next, we submerged cubes of marinated hanger steak in peanut oil (you can also choose canola, olive oil or vegetable broth). Despite four tasty dipping sauces (a robust peppercorn, for one), the rich meat cried for salt. A simple salad, delivered with both of the fondues, would have made for a light counterpoint had it not been tainted by slimy leaves. For dessert, molten dark-chocolate, with a predictable mix of fruit and marshmallows, seemed ordinary. Perhaps we had inflated expectations, but it’s just as likely that Pawlicki’s talents are lost on a concept this limited.
558 Broome St
|Opening hours:||Mon–Thu 5–10:30pm; Fri, Sat 5pm–1am; Sun 1–10:30pm|
|Transport:||Subway: F to Lower East Side–Second Ave, L to First Ave, 6 to Astor Pl|
|Price:||Average fondue: $24. Cash only|
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